Enjoy Some Lazy Days at the Beach
The stunning west coast of Phuket is home to some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches which vary enormously in their size and popularity. Some of the more relaxed beach destinations can be found on the mid-west coast to the south of the Sirinat National Park. Bangtao Beach is a popular family resort which has a 6km long beach. A little further south is Surin Beach which was once known for its beach clubs but is now a more laid-back destination which houses some luxurious resort-style hotels. More affordable is the nearby Kamala Beach which is another family-friendly destination with a beautiful beach.
The busiest beach on the island is Patong Beach which serves Phuket’s most popular resort. It is more than 2km long and is usually packed with young tourists who are staying in the island’s nightlife capital. Two nearby places to escape from the masses include Paradise Beach and Freedom Beach which lie on either side of a headland just south of Patong. Plenty more relaxing beaches can be found in the south-west of the island such as Kata Beach which offers golden sand and crystal-clear waters. Perhaps even more beautiful and tranquil is Kata Noi Beach which lies just 1km beyond Kata.
Try Some Thai Street Food at the Night Markets
In Thailand there’s no need to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy the best of the local cuisine, you can simply order it from street vendors who set up temporary kitchens at the side of the road. A great place to experience this tradition is at the Sunday night market on Phuket Walking Street which runs along Thalang Road in the centre of the capital’s old town. From roadside woks you can try all kinds of stir-fried rice and noodle dishes together with spicy Thai curries and barbecued meats or seafood served on a skewer. You’ll also find a great choice of street food at the busy Phuket Weekend Market which takes place near the Central Festival Shopping Mall in Phuket Town.
If you’re staying in Patong and can’t drag yourself away from the beach and nightlife long enough to get to Phuket Town then you should visit Malin Plaza Patong Beach. This marketplace is a great place to enjoy typical street food in the early evening when the place is packed with hungry locals and tourists.
Visit Phuket’s Major Buddhist Sites
Whether you book a tour with a local travel agency or arrange your own transport it’s well worth making the time to visit some of the island’s most important religious sites. The most revered of Phuket’s 29 Buddhist temples is Wat Chalong which lies a short distance to the south-west of Phuket Town. Another impressive site is the 45-metre high Big Buddha Temple which is just a few minutes’ drive away from Wat Chlong. This one of the island’s main landmarks which can be spotted from Phuket Town and from some of the beach resorts along the south-west coast. Panoramic views of the island from the top of the hill where the Buddha sits are quite spectacular. To the north of the island’s capital is the seated, golden Buddha at Wat Khao Rang whilst further north (near the airport) is the reclining, golden Buddha at Wat Sri Sunthon.
Phuket Airport Transfers: Many visitors to Phuket will arrive at Phuket International Airport which lies 35km north of Patong Beach which is the island’s main tourist resort. There are bus services and shared minibuses which run along the west coast but services are often slow and unpredictable. Far more convenient is to pre-book a private transfer from Phuket Airport to Patong or any other resort on the island and have a vehicle and driver awaiting you on arrival.
Experience One Crazy Night in Patong
Phuket’s Patong Beach is up there with the red-light districts of Bangkok and Pattaya in terms of being one of Thailand’s seediest destinations. Yet this reputation is not fully justified as it specifically refers to a particular stretch of town along Bangla Road which is filled with go-go bars, nightclubs and some dubious adult entertainment. If this isn’t the kind of holiday you’re looking for you can avoid this street and enjoy the other side of Patong’s nightlife which is that of many lively holiday resorts around the world. All over Patong you’ll meet bar girls and ladyboys trying to entice you into their establishments but it’s all good fun provided you come with an open mind. If you enjoy people watching this is a great place to sit outside a bar with a cheap bottle of Chang or Singha beer and observe the crazy night of Patong Beach unfolding in front of you.
Book a Boat Trip to Some of the Andaman Sea Islands
Located in the eastern Indian Ocean the Andaman Sea surrounds Phuket and is home to a number of tropical islands which feature on the itineraries of local tour operators. One of the region’s most spectacular sights is the limestone scenery around Phang Nga Bay which is accessible by boat from Ao Por Pier on Phuket’s east coast. Popular attractions amongst the many islands in the bay include James Bond Island (Koh Tapu) and Koh Panyee which is home to a fishing village built on stilts. Another stunning destination off the east coast of Phuket is Koh Phi Phi which was made famous by the film ‘The Beach’. Unfortunately, this idyllic spot is visited by so many tour boats that any semblance of a tropical paradise is a long distant memory. Maya Bay which was used in the film has been closed to visitors since 2018 to allow environmental authorities to help rejuvenate the local corals reefs which have been largely destroyed by excessive tourism.
Visit the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary at Paklok
Located next to the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park in the north-east of the island, the Elephant Sanctuary at Paklok is officially recognised as a centre of ethical elephant tourism. Many of its residents were previously mistreated whilst working in the logging and tourism industries before being rescued by this sanctuary. Other such establishments on the island are not as reputable as the one in Paklok so be careful who you book with. Visitors can learn about the elephants and spend time with them in their natural habitat but are not allowed to ride them. Those with time to spare can sign-up for the sanctuary’s six day volunteer programme.
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