Phuket might as well be dubbed the tourism capital of Thailand thanks to its expansive coastline, crystal blue waters, colourful sunsets, and resorts galore. But there’s much more to Phuket beyond the westernised shopping malls and busy streets like Bangla Road… here’s our quick guide to Phuket to help you get to know the area beyond the hotspots and find hidden gems along the way.
Population: 378, 364+
Known as: The City of Happiness (Phuket Town)
Climate: Tropical Monsoonal (avoid September-October)
A Guide to Phuket Thailand
Prior to Arrival
Many nationalities are exempt from visa requirements for stays of up to 30 days (Australia, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore) are all exempt any many more – see here for a full list.
The easiest way to make your way from the airport to your hotel/resort/bungalow is via taxi or pre-arranged private driver (slightly more expensive of course!) However if you are on a budget, there is a new shuttle bus that takes travellers directly from the airport to Patong beach.
You just can’t come to Phuket without at least one ride in a Tuk-Tuk!!!
If you’re staying in Patong, the best way to get around the area is to walk. Elsewhere in Phuket (Karong, Kata, Kata Noi, Rawai, Nai Harn), the best way to get around is by taxi or to rent a motorcycle for your stay. While many people won’t feel comfortable renting a bike, I have personally not had any difficulty driving them around Phuket and find them my preferred way to get around. Depends on the person! The best part is that it is a cheap and easy way to get around.
If this is your first visit to a Southeast Asian country, be prepared for a culture shock! Nearly everything will be different and exciting – including the culture, food, language, customs and more. Thai is the official language and locals speak general but limited English. To show your respect (and get a smile from a local), try memorising the following phrases:
Excuse Me, Sorry: Kha-Toor
Thank You: Ka-cup-kun
What to See
Big Buddha – As it sounds, the big white buddha on the hill is an impressive sight to see up close.
Chalong Temple – An ancient temple that was home the Phuket’s monks who assisted the people in the Chinese rebellion.
Phuket FantaSea – A nightly show + theme park and a great choice if you are travelling with kids!
Waterfalls – Hire a private driver for the day (Cheaper than it sounds – around $50 for a full day) and go see some of Thailand’s waterfalls. A great option is to combine this with seeing the Big Buddha and Chalong Temple.
What to Eat & Drink
Thai food is perhaps my all-time favourite cuisine, so there has never been any holding back when I’m in Phuket! Be sure to try Pad Thai, Green Thai Curry, and basically any of the meals on offer (it is hard to be disappointed).
Some great restaurants include Mom Tri’s Kitchen (Kata Noi), Pad Thai Shop (Phuket Old Town), Green Tamarind Kitchen (Rawai), and Baan Noy Restaurant (Chalong).
Also be sure to drink out of a pineapple and a coconut! The perfect way to rehydrate in the tropical temperatures.
There are a number of great one-day tours to the outlying islands such as Phi Phi islands, James Bond Island, and Phang Nga Sea Kayaking.