Phuket is the largest and most popular island in Thailand measuring 48km long and 21km wide. Located in southern Thailand, Phuket lies 862km south of Bangkok on the western side in the Andaman sea. It is heavily developed for tourism with lots of top notch hotels, and the island is popular with people booking package holidays to Thailand. Patong has gained a reputation for its hedonistic nightlife thanks to its beer bars, flashy cabaret shows, go go bars and clubs, but away from the nightlife, the island has mile upon mile of white sandy beaches and plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and diving. Phuket holidays can be spent lazing on the beaches, exploring the nearby islands, taking in beautiful inland vistas and exploring glittering temples. Before going, make sure you figure out whether you need a Thailand evisa before you go.
1. Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is known for its towering limestone cliffs looming from the water. Tourists come here in droves to see Koh Ta-Pu, otherwise known as James Bond Island, since it featured in the James Bond movie ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’. Tours also take visitors Koh Panyee, a muslim fishing village built entirely on stilts. The Phang Nga Bay Marine National Park is home to many species of mangroves, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
2. Old Phuket Town
It’s worth wandering around Phuket Town to absorb the culture and see the interesting combination of colonial and Chinese architecture. Before Phuket became an established tourist destination, the island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and a place where Indian, Arab, Malay, Chinese and Portuguese traders would exchange goods for tin and rubber. This wealth led to the construction of many Sino-Portuguese mansions, which you can still see today. As the largest town in the province, Phuket Town also has a good selection of restaurants and cafes, in addition to some of the island’s best shopping.
3. Boat trips to Phi Phi
For some people, the main reason for visiting Phuket is to take a ferry or boat trip over to the beautiful Phi Phi Islands and experience their stunning natural beauty. With white sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters, sheer cliffs and interesting rock formations, the Phi Phi Islands are a laid-back, exotic paradise. Ever since Phi Phi starred in the movies, it has become one the most famous tourist spots in Thailand. There are six islands in the chain, but most tourists visiting the Phi Phi Islands come to see Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley, which is the iconic spot where ‘The Beach’ was filmed. You can spend the day island hopping and hire a longtail boat to go snorkeling over the coral reefs in the surrounding waters.
4. Waterfalls and Vistas
If you’re looking for something to do away from the beach, there are several waterfalls throughout the island of Phuket. Take a picnic and go for a swim in one of Phuket’s three major cascades- Kathu, Ton Sai and Bang Pae. Ton Sai and Bang Pae are located within Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, which is an area of lush tropical forest.
Phuket island is dotted with 29 colourful Buddhist temples, the most notable of which is Wat Chalong, which attracts thousands of tourists every year. Chalong temple is known as a place of healing and it houses gilt statues of two venerable monks who helped those who were wounded in a tin miners rebellion in 1876. The elaborate temple is decorated in reds and golds with ornate spires, and features a 60-metre high pagoda..