Phuket is best known for its sun-kissed beaches and lively nightlife but Thailand’s largest island offers visitors so much more. Whether you love to party or prefer a little peace, Phuket has something for everyone. Here are my top seven things to do in Phuket.
Try some Phuket street food
Don’t worry, it’s safe and absolutely delicious. Carts at Patong Food Park or the seafood grills at Rawai pier are a good choice for nervous first-timers. Follow the crowds to discover the best spots.
Visit Phuket’s best beaches
Thailand beaches are public so there’s no need to stay at a fancy resort to enjoy the best stretches of sand. Everyone seems to have their own personal favourite. At Mai Khao Beach, the longest beach in Phuket, nesting turtles share their home with a handful of lucky beach lovers.Further down the coast there’s another great beach which is a world away from the peaceful atmosphere of Mai Khao.
Have a Phuket beach massage
Hit the beach for a massage and be lulled to sleep by gentle hands and the sound of the waves. It only costs around A$10 for an hour of bliss. Some massages aren’t much better than what your partner could do so choose your massage carefully. Look for a steady stream of customers, especially if they seem to know the staff, as many will be staying for a week and having a massage every day if it’s good.
Go on a Phuket tour
Visitors are spoiled for choice with Phuket tours ranging from snorkelling to flying through the jungle on a zip line. Boat trips are also popular but the cheapest option isn’t always the best. It costs much less than you think to charter a boat and the crew will take you wherever you want to go. You don’t need a huge group of people to make it viable either, two is enough. Secluded spots off the southern coast are easy to find and hard to beat.
Explore Old Phuket
Phuket also has a charming historic area known as Old Phuket, a series of narrow alleyways located in the back streets of Phuket City on the eastern side of the island. It was tin mining which originally lured travellers to Phuket and the European-style mansions which were once home to Chinese miners show how lucrative this industry once was, before being overtaken by tourism in the 1970s. Many of the 19th century buildings are being restored while others remain dilapidated, lending an authenticity to the streetscape which prevents it becoming a tourist-trap. Local artists have embraced the area and opened eclectic galleries and there are atmospheric coffee shops hidden inside many of the old shophouses lining the narrow streets. Old Phuket is still evolving which makes it an especially exciting place to visit. Late in the evening, soft lights and cool jazz add a touch of romance to this historic area.
Have sunset drinks in Phuket
Cocktails are an affordable indulgence in Phuket, especially when ‘happy hour’ is conveniently timed to coincide with the sun sinking slowly into the Andaman Sea. Hotel bars are generally the best bet when it comes to significant savings because their fancy cocktails are more expensive.
Party in Patong
Patong is best suited to open-minded travellers who enjoy hedonistic partying combined with eye (and balloon) popping entertainment. For those after something a little less ‘adventurous’, it’s hard to beat the glamorous ladyboys at Simon Cabaret Theatre.
Disclosure: The writer paid for her visit to Phuket.