Most people will recognise Phuket as one of the most famous travel destinations in the world. Phuket is well known as Thailand’s ultimate beach life destination.
Although huge amounts of tourists visit Phuket and all the other famous islands that are nearby, does everyone really tour Phuket itself properly? What does Phuket really have to offer? Is it worth it to spend time on Phuket or is it best to just be based there while you visit all the paradise islands that are close by?
Phuket is a world famous island which is located in Thailand.
Phuket is a major tourist island destination which is located in Thailand. It has become world famous for many different reasons. From it’s gorgeous beaches and islands nearby, to cheap prices that much of the world can afford. Phuket also has excellent weather for most of the year. Phuket is served by a fairly small International Airport, although this is served very well by many international carriers and budget carriers from the region.
There are lots of paradise islands near Phuket, which is the reason why people don’t spend time touring Phuket itself.
Public transport is not the best in Phuket, although private transport is decently priced. Most people base themselves at Patong Beach, which is the majot tourist hub of the island.
While there are a huge amount of islands around Phuket to visit, the big mistake people make is they just use Phuket as a place to base themselves at for a few days while they take tours to the other islands. While that will still give you a great experience, there’s also a lot that you will miss if you don’t travel through Phuket itself.
What’s there to do in Phuket?
The Promthep Cape is a panoramic viewpoint that is found on the Southernmost point of Phuket and it’s a very famous place to view the sunset. There is no entry fee as it’s a public viewpoint. Although it gets quite crowded on days of good weather, it is spread over a huge area so that won’t be a problem.
The Promthep Cape is the Southernmost point on Phuket Island.
How do you get to the Promthep Cape?
Like much of Phuket Island, public transport is not the best. There are minibuses that do public transport, although I would recommend getting a private driver and doing a road trip for a few days through all the area’s you would like to visit.
The Promthep Cape is spread over a huge area.
This is the main area on Phuket Island. It is the main tourist hub on Phuket with chaotic streets, lots of markets, nightlife and the famous neon lit Bangla Road. Bangla Road also gets closed off to traffic every evening to accommodate the huge amounts of people on the street.
Patong Beach is walking distance away from where most of the hotels are based.
Patong is where most of the tourists stay, and as a result will have the highest amount of hotels, dining options and other services like massage parlours. Patong Beach is walking distance away from most of the area and has lots of activities like water-sports and cruises that are available.
Phuket has a small town area which is a bit further away from Patong. The town has a much better local feel to it compared to Patong, because Patong is much more catered for tourists than Phuket town. Phuket town is much more relaxed, and also has many hotel options for those who want to avoid Patong. The street markets are more targeted towards locals, so you can get a better view of the local life on the island. There are lots of shopping malls and historical buildings as well.
Very near Phuket Town, is the Monkey Hill, which has a very good view over a lot of the town. It’s a fairly short drive from Phuket town up a steep road. The viewing platform is quite small, although it’s definitely worth the stop if you are in the area. You won’t need more than 15 minutes at this viewpoint. There are no entry fees charged.
Beware: The monkeys can get aggressive at times. So keep a close watch on all your valuables like bags, cameras and sunglasses.
The Monkey Hill has a good view over Phuket Town.
One of the main reasons why people will come to a destination like this is for gorgeous beaches, and Freedom Beach should definitely be on that list. It is only accessible by boat directly at the shore, or by a steep pathway which can only be reached by a dirt road. Because of its isolation, there are not many services in the area, and the beach almost always has few people on it. There is a small shop at the bottom which sells refreshments if you do want to spend time on Freedom Beach.
How do you get to Freedom Beach?
It is located about a 20 minute drive away from Patong Beach. You have to drive on quite bad dirt roads for about 10 minutes to reach the start of the pathway. At the entrance there is a minimal entrance fee, followed by a 20 minute stepped pathway down to the bottom.
Important: The walk up the pathway can be long and strenuous. Although it may take you 15 to 20 minutes to descend, it may take as long as 40 minutes to go back up to the car park on a hot day if you move slowly.
The Freedom Beach is a bit difficult to access, but is one of the best beaches on Phuket Island.
Something about the isolation makes it more beautiful 😉
Rang Hill viewpoint
On the other side of Phuket town, is the Rang Hill viewpoint, which gives you an excellent view over the whole of Phuket town. It is not too far away from Monkey Hill, so it will be a good idea if you can check out both of them while you are in the Phuket town area. There are no entry fees.
The Rang Hill viewpoint gives you an excellent view of Phuket town with the ocean in the distance.
There is a big platform with quite a big area over the whole viewpoint.
Phuket Tiger Kingdom
The Phuket Tiger Kingdom is a tiger sanctuary that keeps tigers of many different sizes of which you can take pictures and interact with. While I personally didn’t visit this, if you are interested you can take a look at the package options and prices on their website if something like this would interest you.
Khao Khad Views Tower
This is a tower located at the top of a hill which has panoramic views over a very large area. There is a 10 minute stepped path to reach the top of the tower from the parking lot. Once you reach the tower, make sure you continue walking up the spiral of stairs to the highest point at the top where the view is the best. There are lots of seating areas available and no entry fee charged.
If you like spending time at viewpoints, this would be the one to bring some snacks to. I found this one to be the most impressive on the whole of Phuket island.
The Khao Khad Views tower has panoramic views over a very large area.
The tower has stairs that spiral up to the highest point, at which the view is the best.
Located towards the Southernmost point of Phuket close to the Promthep Cape viewpoint, the Windmill viewpoint is worth a stop if you are in the area. There is a large windmill at the top of the hill with a shaded area which you can enjoy the view. There are no entry fees charged.
The Windmill viewpoint is located towards the southernmost part of Phuket.
The Karon viewpoint is not too far away from the beautiful Karon Beach, which is also worth a stop. This viewpoint is located in a garden which you can walk through. There is no entry fee.
Important: The area is quite small and can get crowded easily so it would be a good idea if you can visit this on a weekday morning.
The Karon viewpoint is located in a garden which you can walk through and enjoy the view.
Laeem Singh Viewpoint
Overlooking the Laeem Singh beach, is the Laeem Singh viewpoint which is located just a few steps from the main road. It has a fairly small viewing platform and is definitely worth a 5 minute stop if you are passing. Although this is a bit out of the way, it’s an easy stop to or from Phuket airport, as the airport is located on the Northern side of the island.
The Laeem Singh viewpoint overlooks the Laeem Singh Beach.
The Great Buddha of Phuket
This is a huge statue of Buddha, which is located at a high point with views all around it. There are no entry fees charged.
How do you get around in Phuket?
Simple. Private transport. There are lots of options available online with drivers that offer tour services with vehicles of a size of your choice. These include airport transfers to and from your hotel and day trips to wherever you want to go which can range from 4 to as much as 10 hours.
What time of the year is best to visit?
Thailand has hot and humid weather for the whole year. The months with the least rain are from December to March, which are also the peak time for travel.
IMPORTANT: Thailand has a monsoon season in September. Please try and avoid September and early October.
Any other time of the year should be fine with excellent weather.
What else is there to do in the area?
And that is the big problem about why most people don’t even bother to tour Phuket properly apart from Patong. All the gorgeous paradise islands that make Thailand so famous can all be accessed through Phuket so easily, and this is the main reason why most people come here.
I will do a separate post covering the main islands of Thailand, as well as a separate post for the chaotic Thai capital of Bangkok. It’s a good idea to combine all of these in one trip to Thailand, although if you just want an island experience without the hassle of a large city like Bangkok you can head straight to Phuket and enjoy more time there.
All the paradise islands nearby are the main reason why most people come to Thailand, and also the reason why people don’t tour Phuket island as well.
How long do you need in Phuket?
You could go for a few weeks and there will still be many more places to explore 😉 It all depends on what your style of travel is. If you want to visit the whole of Thailand in one trip, you will have to do Bangkok and Phuket and possibly Krabi as well which could easily take up two full weeks. For Phuket and all the islands nearby, I would recommend as much time as you can with a minimum of 5 full days.
Although there’s so many lovely islands in the area around Phuket that overshaddow it’s beauty, if you are going all the way there, it’s so important to make sure you don’t forget about touring Phuket island itself. With free entry to almost all the attractions, it’s just a matter of arranging the time and transport for these experiences. Is that worth it? I certainly think so 😉