Phuket is filled with natural beauty to explore, from pearly white beaches to astonishing coastlines and monolithic limestone karsts. The rainforests and teeming marine life never cease to amaze, but Phuket’s cultural diversions can often stay hidden under the rock.
It should come as no surprise that there are plenty of amazing things to do in Phuket. Whether you’re looking to beach bum your holiday, go on outdoor adventures, or just to let your hair down and party the night away, you’ll find it all in Phuket. It’s easy to max out the whole tourist visa while spending time on the island, so make sure to reserve enough time to fill that memory bank with exciting adventures.
Here are our favorite tips and suggestions for the most unique destinations to bring your Phuket trip to the next level.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Thailand is famous for its toxic animal attractions, so it’s a welcome change to see ethical sanctuaries forming up. Visited by celebrities such as Leonardo Di Caprio and Britney Spears, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is t1he first ethical elephant camp to open on the island. It is also one of only two in southern Thailand, the other being Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park. The location is a jungle hideaway, and there are no back-breaking rides here; instead, visitors may observe retired elephants as they feed, swim, and happily trumpet through the jungle. There’s also a Gibbon Rehabilitation Project nearby if you’re looking more for that feel-good vibe.
Phuket Old Town
Full of colorful architecture that just breathes history, Phuket Old Town is one of our favorite places to visit. During the 19th century, traders descended from across China, Europe, and the Middle East came to mine Phuket for tin, which left rich seams of their culture behind. Stroll through the narrow streets to find stunning Taoist temples, Portuguese mansions, and Chinese shophouses spliced between Malay coffee shops, Halal restaurants, and organic boutique cafés. The Old Town has a unique selection of some of the finest street food in Phuket, including stir-fried ice-cream.
Big Buddha statue in Phuket
Phuket’s 45-meter tall landmark, the Great Buddha, smiles over Phuket’s majestic southern coastline. It’s one of the most popular and best-rated destinations in the bright-green Andaman Sea. Hiking up from the Karon beach is a vigorous workout with its almost 9-kilometer climb, especially in the baking heat. There’s always a possibility of taking a taxi, and maybe just hike back downhill. You might see some chained elephants along the way, which is considered a cruel practice by animal welfare groups. We recommend steering clear from these and supporting only ethical animal sanctuaries.
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint offers the most jaw-dropping view of the Phang Nga Bay. The viewpoint is on top of an elevation, that you reach by feet or serviced taxis. The taxis cost 30 Baht per person for a round-trip ticket. If you enjoy a refreshing nature stroll you can observe some exotic plants and the animals along the way up there. The hill is pretty steep, so taking the taxi is definitely the easier and more convenient option.
The view is magical, especially at the sunrise and the sunset. The scenery opens up with mountains, the Andaman sea, the rivers, and some small islands in a panorama view. The place can get crowded, but it’s definitely worth a trip.
Sea cave kayaking in Phang Nga Bay
Discovering the Phang Nga Bay is a truly magical experience, with its lurching limestone sea stacks, collapsed islands, and coral reefs, and the best way to explore it is with a kayak tour. You can opt for a full day package that includes lunch, snorkeling, a night paddle inside a pitch-black sea cave with bioluminescent waters that sparkle with touch.
Surf the waves in Kata Beach
The surfing mecca of Phuket Island, Kata beach is a popular place to tame the waves. It’s suitable for beginners and advanced riders as the waves don’t usually reach taller than 2 meters. The best spot is the southern end of the beach, which can be crowded at times. The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly, and it’s a great place to meet likeminded travelers and expats. The local surf shops provide equipment for rent or sale, and of course courses are available.
Wat Chalong temple
Phuket has 29 Buddhist temples sprinkled across the island, but the most famous of them is the Wat Chalong, located in the south of the island. The temple is surrounded by jasmine-scented gardens and lotus ponds with dozens of golden Buddha statues scattered around to admire. As is customary in Thai temples, knees and shoulders of both men and women should stay covered to enter the premice.
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