The most common question that we get asked from the guests on our boat tours is “what are the best things to do in Phuket” (other than our Simba tour of course!).
The answer is not an easy one. There is an abundance of enjoyable locations, events and activities that can be experienced by couples and families alike. Therefore, to help us help you we have polled our staff and collated a list of the 23 things that we believe are the best of the best when it comes to enjoying Phuket!
Unless you are actually on board our Phang Nga Bay tour, we often encourage those on one of our other tours to put Phang Nga Bay at the very top of their wish list. A day trip to this location will provide you with some exceptional scenery and memories that will last forever.
The most memorable location within Phang Nga Bay is Ko Tapu, otherwise known as James Bond Island, made famous in the Bond classic “the man with the Golden Gun”.
Be sure if travelling to this location to book a tour that leaves early – the reason for this is two fold:
* To avoid the crush of tourists arriving in the region, or at least the vast majority of them.
*To get to the area with enough time to make an entire day of exploring the region and indulging in the atmosphere.
While most tourists come to Phuket to walk along some of the most glorious beaches in the world, doing so generally means fighting significant crowds (especially in peak season). Everyone knows about Maya Bay, Patong and Kata but what many aren’t aware of is the amount of lovely and isolated beaches that exist off the beaten track.
To reach these locations you’ll need to hire a car or scooter but the experience will be well worth it if you are looking to escape the crowds. Rather, than soaking in the sun elbow to elbow with other tourists, hitting a location like Banana Beach will provide you with much more space to read a book, lounge around and swim in the crystal clear waters.
The small fishing island of Koh Yao Nai simply must be reached by boat. Once there, tourists can hire a scooter or bicycle and spend a few hours speeding around the island. The island circuit on a scooter or bike is about 20km in circumference meaning that you’ll have plenty of time to explore the hidden beaches, farms and rice paddies.
There is also delicious local delicacies available for purchase making this location ideal for those looking to escape the crowds, have some fun and fill their stomachs with some spectacular food.
An extremely popular location, the Big Buddha is a statue of huge religious significance. The statue itself stands 45 metres high and is 25 metres wide. It is covered in beautiful Burmese marble.
Visitors to the region will be quick to realize that the monastery is under restoration and those who are feeling charitable have the opportunity to contribute to the restoration project.
The area can get crowded so take into consideration that if you are solely looking for activities to escape the crowds then this journey might not be for you.
For a spectacular view of the Phuket region, you are going to find it hard to beat the Karon View Point. A glorious location that affords visitors the opportunity to cast their eyes across three beaches – Kata Noi Beach, Koh Poo and Karon Beach.
The view point is an ideal location for a sunset stop and you’ll often witness many couples cozying up on one of the benches that are stationed on top.
Be aware though that this is a very popular location so you are unlikely to have it all to yourself unless you are venturing up during the middle of the low season when the weather is less than ideal and tourist numbers are lower.
Phuket is the home to a large number of elephant sanctuaries and this is a welcome change from the significantly larger number of elephant trekking companies that used to operate in the region.
This means that the Thai treatment of these magnificent creatures has shifted drastically to a more ethical and enjoyable way. Now not only can people get the enjoyment of being up, close and personal with these beautiful animals, but the elephants can find the experience much more enjoyable as well.
The best activity when visiting one of these elephant sanctuaries is without question, the elephant bathing. Here, guests can step into the mud and help to scrub the elephants as they frolic about. This is not a cheap experience, expect to pay a considerable amount for the activity – but we guarantee it’s money well spent!
When it comes to things to do in Phuket for adults, there is very little that beats a night on Bangla Road. Every night come 7pm, the streets close down to traffic and the people arrive in droves to soak themselves in the nighttime Bangla experience.
Bangla Road offers visitors a vibrant and colourful street full of bars, restaurants, shops and a boatload of colourful characters. Visitors are never left with nothing to do or see as they navigate the street and the enjoyment being experienced by all those in attendance is infectious.
Be aware though that the Bangla Road experience is definitely not one that will suit everyone, and those with young children are advised to steer clear, especially in the later hours.
When it comes to prime Phuket beach locations it is hard to match Kamala Beach. This superb destination requires you to travel south from Patong Road. Once here, you’ll find some sensational hotels, fantastic dining venues and not to mention a terrific lengthy beach encapsulated by crystal clear waters.
Depending on the time that you visit you’ll be afforded ideal snorkeling (December – April) or Surfing (May-November) conditions. It is also close to Phuket Fantasea Park making it that much more of a desirable location.
There are a large number of locations that offer cooking classes for those seeking unique things to do in Phuket. A cooking class in Thailand will provide you with an illuminating experience that will equip you with skills to wow your friends with an amazing feast.
Like most delicacies, something is missing when eating foreign food in your own country. The secrets of Thai food will be provided to you in these classes. Many of the locations offering cooking classes do so at all times of day – including morning, afternoon and evening. And the best part…. you get to eat what you’ve cooked at the end of the class!
The highest hill in Phuket, Monkey Hill is home to approximately 450 macaques and they can be spotted all the way from the bottom of the hill to the top. We suggest parking your car at the bottom of the hill (you can take a scooter or taxi to the top if you prefer) and trek up it on foot.
The walk up the hill is best performed in the cooler hours of the day, especially if you are traveling to Phuket in the summer months as you can get quite sweaty. Make sure to bring a bottle of water or two, or better yet purchase one at the bottom of the hill to help out the local vendors.
Just be careful when trekking up the hill to keep a close hold on your valuables as the monkeys can be quite cheeky and many have reported falling victim to their thieving ways.
Naka Market, known more commonly to tourists as the Phuket Town Weekend Night Market, is a great experience for those looking to mix with the locals and tourists and grab a bargain along the way.
There is a wide array of products available at the market including fruits, animals, clothes, nuts and local delicacies. The delicious smell that emanates through the area as you walk between the stalls is guaranteed to increase your hunger and you’ll likely look to satisfy your hunger with some tasty local produce.
We’d suggest arriving in the mid-late afternoon in order to look around before the Market becomes too busy and then hanging around so that you are witness to the lively atmosphere once the venue is flooded with people.
For a fantastic afternoon of hilarity, consider a trip to the Phuket Trickeye Museum. The interactive experience at this museum allows people to get photos up close with 3D art effectively becoming a part of the art piece themselves.
There are a number of permanent exhibits, however if you have been here before it is always worth a trip back because the museum constantly features temporary exhibits as well.
A travel adventure doesn’t have to mean you don’t do something worthwhile for others in need. One of the best opportunities to do so is to throw your support behind Soi Dog – A wonderful charity that helps care for the tens of thousands of stray dogs and cats in the region.
Those keen to offer support can provide it in a number of different ways. You can adopt a dog, sponsor a dog, help Soi Dog fight to end the dog meat trade, or simply make a volunteer contribution that will go along way in helping Soi Dog to continue their outstanding work.
A visit to Chalong Bay Rum Distillery is most certainly something worth experience for those who love frequenting distilleries or wineries. Chalong Bay offers a 30 minute tour that takes guests through the production area, the bottling plant before ending with a refreshing Chalong Bay beverage that has come straight off the product line.
As lovers of the occasional alcoholic beverage this is definitely one of our favourite things to do in Phuket
While not as “unknown to tourists” as it used to be, Nai Harn beach is considered a great option for those looking for an idyllic beach location absent of the large crowds that frequent some of the more popular phuket locations. Despite its growing popularity the fact that Nai Harn beach does not have a significant amount of hotels in close proximity means that it is able to retain its charm as a hidden beauty in the eyes of most that visit it.
Absolutely ideal to visit between late October and early May, because visitors are greeted with calm sea conditions. In the Mid May to mid October period the sea conditions are much rougher thus the swimmers are generally replaced with surfers, windsurfers and kiteboarders.
Muay Thai kickboxing is a traditional event in Thailand and well worth experiencing if you don’t mind a bit of organized violence. While there are a lot of organized events taking place around the island, the most official, and best to experience, take place at the Patong Boxing Stadium.
Fights generally take place most weeks on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and it is rarely not close to a sell-out. A regular ticket costs $42, but for only $5 extra you can sit ringside which is a much more vibrant experience.
With such crystal clear waters circling the surrounding islands it would be an extreme pity to miss out on the opportunity to venture underwater and see the variety of sea creatures in their natural habitat. This can be achieved in two ways – snorkeling or diving.
Snorkeling is most definitely the most popular of the two options given the ease and convenience in doing so. Most shops sell snorkeling gear and, of course, on boat tours like those operated by Simba Sea Trips, snorkeling is a major part of each of our tours and something we are super enthused to provide to our guests.
Diving requires certification as you head deeper underwater but certification can be sought from a number of dive schools in the Phuket area. Doing so will allow you to take advantage of the tremendous diving locations that Phuket has to offer.
The 8 kilometre stretch that constitutes Bangtao Beach is more than just a lengthy strip of white sand overseeing crystal clear blue waters. The many beaches that exist within the stretch (Karon, Kata and Freedom to name a few) are also within short distance of some of the finest establishments in the region.
Tourists have a wealth of choice of the many vibrant bars, restaurants and clubs that operate within the 8km length of the Bangtao Beach location. We guarantee that you won’t be disappointed as many of the best restaurants in Phuket lie within close proximity to the beaches in this region. The relaxed vibe is perfect for those looking to soak in the sun and atmosphere from the comfort of a bar stool .
The Bang Pae Waterfall is, by no means, one of the world’s largest waterfalls. In fact, it is simply a small, beautiful waterfall that is housed within the dense jungle within the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. But don’t let this dissuade you not to visit.
It is Phuket’s largest waterfall, and a fine excuse to escape the urban area. It is best making the journey to Bang Pae in the wet season when the water flow is at its most proximity. Visiting in the wet season allows you to bathe in the fuller rock pools and provides the added benefit of providing a lusher, fuller jungle.
Make sure to remember to bring a few essentials with you – the National Park fee (approx. 200 baht), some appropriate footwear, and most importantly, insect repellent!
One of the most underrated things to do in Phuket, a seafood dining experience at Laem Hin Pier is definitely an experience to savior. The restaurants are only reachable by long tail boat which provides the area with an exclusive feel (boats are free and leave from Laem Pier towards Koh Maphrow).
Once docked, visitors will have a wide choice on where they wish to fill their stomachs. The main advantage of dining in this location is that you are afforded some of the freshest seafood in the region. Expect to be wowed by the wide amount of delicious oysters, crabs, prawns and fish.
You simply can’t visit Phuket, Thailand without considering a trip down to the Promthep Cave. Located on the southern point of the island, the Cape offers a sunset view that photos simply cannot do justice to. It’s a location that has historically been one that is guaranteed to be full of visitors so be aware that you might be required to fight for position.
One suggestion to avoid the crowds is to reserve a seat at the Promthep Cape Restaurant and to view the sunset from the privacy and comfort of your own allocated table. This affords you a stunning view, some delicious food, all in the absence of the crowds vying for position at the peak of Promthep Cape.
One of the most popular things to do in phuket that we’d overlooked for the first few years living in Phuket, was a visit to Phuket Old Town. We’d consistently spent the majority of our time hanging by the beaches without venturing towards the old city.
We really should have visited earlier.
The old town is a place of tremendous heritage, and is comfortably able to be walked without exhausting ones self. The influence of the area is a combination of colonial Chinese and Portuguese making for a tremendously interesting walk through the streets.
For the adrenaline junkies amongst us, there are plenty of things to do in Phuket. For those looking to White Water Raft, the Phang Nga rafting camp is the perfect place to steer through some rapids in a safe, controlled setting.
For those looking to elevate their adventure game, Phuket provides the opportunity for tourists to take in the sights from above while strapped to a motor fan. The paramotor experience takes places above the Andaman Sea and is considered tremendously safe – although you wouldn’t know it if viewing participants from ground level!
Then, there is the traditional favourite. Parasailing. Taking place over Patong Beach, guests can elevate themselves far above the crowds and the crystal clear waters for an experience that is guaranteed to deliver massive value!
Finally, those looking to feast their eyes on something truly spectacular should consider a visit to Jui Tui Shrine as a must. The temple is renowned for its mass of colourful exteriors and stunning craftsmanship.
A trip to the Shrine is not complete without a visit to the firecracker house and observance of the four dragons that have been built around it.
Exploring the chinese influence, and gaining an understanding of the local cultural traditions of the people living here is guaranteed to be an eye opening experience
So there you have it. A list of 23 things to do in Phuket that is guaranteed to appeal to everyone in some way, shape or form. From beaches to visit, to adrenaline inducing activities, there are loads of things to consider. Add whichever of the above suggestions appeal to you when you stop by Phuket and don’t forget to ask us for any other suggestions after you’ve booked the Simba Sea Trips boat tour that most tickles your fancy.
We look forward to seeing you here and can’t wait to hear how much you are enjoying your stay in Phuket when you step aboard.