Best Things To Do in Phuket
From white sand beaches and breathtaking boat excursions to relaxing spa treatments and tours of Buddhist sites, such as Big Buddha and Wat Chalong Temple, there is a range of diverse things to do in Phuket. The only tricky thing is carefully planning your itinerary to ensure you're getting ample time at each attraction. Plus, if you're an animal lover, you'll also want to visit the rescued cats and dogs at the Soi Dog Foundation.
Updated September 22, 2017
- #1View all PhotosfreePromthep Cape#1 in PhuketSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Where Nai Harn Beach is Phuket's southernmost beach, Promthep Cape (or Laem Promthep) is the island's southernmost point, and likewise, it offers an amazing view of the Andaman Sea. Visitors can also take a short hike from the cape (less than a mile) to a scenic lighthouse.
Sunset is the best time to view the beauty of Promthep Cape, according to recent visitors, but they also say that this is no longer a secret spot: Travelers will usually have to share their vantage point with a host of others, but even so, a trip to Promthep Cape comes highly recommended.
- #2View all PhotosfreeBig Buddha#2 in PhuketMonuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMonuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Big Buddha is a giant statue of Buddha encased in Burmese alabaster that towers over Phuket from the peak of Mount Nagakerd. Construction on Big Buddha began in 2007, and Phuketians are proud of both the structure and the vantage point from which travelers can view the island. Visitors to Big Buddha will enjoy a bird's-eye view of the Kata Bay, the Karon strand and the islands that speckle the Chalong Bay.
Although some travelers say they had a spiritual experience at Big Buddha, most reviewers say the views from the peak are what captivated them. To that point, visitors suggest bringing your camera (and a wide-angle lens).
- #3View all PhotosfreeNai Harn Beach#3 in PhuketBeaches, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Nai Harn Beach is the southernmost strip of sand in Phuket, and locals love it just as much as visitors. Picture gleaming white sands bordered by grassy knolls and rolling cerulean waves, and you'll start to be able to imagine the beauty of this seemingly remote spot. The beach also gets high marks for its authentic collection of nearby restaurants.
While experiencing all of the Nai Harn beauty, visitors recommend keeping your ear out for the lifeguards' warnings. They also suggest only swimming within the flagged areas, since Nai Harn is no stranger to strong, dangerous riptides – especially during monsoon season (May to October).
- #4View all Photos#4 in PhuketTours, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDTours, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
When you travel to an exotic Thai island, you might not think that an animal shelter would be high on your list of to-dos. But think again. Travelers call this innovative cat and dog shelter a must-do. The Soi Dog Foundation was established in 2003 to try and care for the tens of thousands of street cats and dogs as well as to fight the dog meat trade. Today, the shelter contains hundreds of animals that visitors can meet and play with.
Reviewers said that although the Soi Dog Foundation is a bit out of the way, it's completely worth it, calling their visit both heartbreaking and inspirational. To get the fullest experience, most suggest taking one of the guided tours throughout the shelter, and some even recommend clearing a few days in your itinerary to volunteer at the shelter.
- #5View all PhotosfreeKata Noi Beach#5 in PhuketBeaches, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Kata Noi Beach is known for its brilliant white sands and transparent aquamarine waters, as well as its relatively calm atmosphere, especially compared to other popular beaches like party-centric Patong (located just north). Backed by the fancy (and sprawling) Kata Thani Phuket Beach Resort, the beach is described by recent visitors as "family friendly."
This spot along the southwest coast of Phuket is popular among travelers for its kid-friendly atmosphere and nearby facilities, including a handful of restaurants and shops and a 7-Eleven, which is useful for picking up drinks and snacks.
- #6View all Photos#6 in PhuketSpasTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSpasTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Relaxing at a spa is a must-do in Phuket. The island's spas, like many in Thailand, feature aromatherapy, herbal treatments and traditional Thai oil massages, among other services, which makes for a unique experience not found stateside. Plus, for a relatively small island, Phuket boasts an extraordinary number of spas – hundreds – and compared to U.S. prices, spa treatments are relatively affordable in Phuket.
Travelers say their experience at Phuket's spas were amazing – even perfect – but as with most things, you get what you pay for. Visitors who spent a bit more for their treatments and went with traveler-approved spas tended to be rewarded with clean, relaxing treatment rooms and out-of-this world massages while those that went with cheaper, less-reviewed places had disappointing experiences.
- #7View all Photos#7 in PhuketRecreation, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, ToursTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, ToursTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
You'd be remiss if you didn't spend some time sailing the waters around Phuket, stopping for a snorkel break along the way. Whether you want to stay dry and view all the beauty of the sea and surrounding islands from the boat deck or you want to swim, stand-up paddleboard, canoe, or even scuba dive, there is a boat trip for you.
Travelers gush about their experiences on the various boat tours, calling them "a dream come true," wonderful, peaceful, entertaining and fun, among other descriptors. Still, it's important for travelers to do their research and book with a quality, well-reviewed tour operator even if the tours are a bit pricier. For every glowing review of the great tour operators, there are poor reviews of the not-so-great operators.
- #8View all Photos
Wat Chalong is a colorful Buddhist temple and it's also the biggest and most famous temple on Phuket. Of particular note are the gilt statues of two monks, who are credited with helping halt the Chinese Rebellion of 1876. At 5 p.m. daily, visitors can see present-day monks praying.
Visitors highly recommend a visit to Wat Chalong, as well as a stroll through its impressive, clean and well-maintained grounds, saying that the temple complex exuded peace and serenity. Reviewers also suggest planning a midweek visit, as the temple can get very crowded on the weekends.
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