Places to visit, Phi Phi island hopping, Places to stay

The Ultimate Phuket Travel Guide
Author
Shruthi C S Murthy
On Exploring Phuket

After spending our time exploring Bangkok, a few days of soaking in the mountainous scenery in Chiang Mai, we headed South to explore an island paradise, chilled-out retreat and the party capital – Phuket. It is Thailand’s largest island and just the place for a fun-filled getaway. One of the Thailand’s most popular destinations, Phuket is best known for its sun-drenched beaches and the dizzying array of nightlife. But there’s much more to discover than just well-known Patong. We will help you with this Phuket travel guide to ease your tour and travel in the island.

Travel duration – How many days in Phuket?

3 – 4 days is too short, and a week is too long, so we suggest a 5D/4N trip which would be perfect!

Our suggestion is to stay in Phuket and go on day trips to the islands in the Phang Nga Bay (though we didn’t travel to Phang Nga Bay, we highly recommend to include this in your plan). You can also see Phi Phi islands on a day trip from Phuket or stay overnight in Phi Phi island like we did. Krabi islands from Phuket are farther than Phi Phi.

Here is our plan break-up:

3 days in Phuket – Enjoy the beaches, nightlife and shopping. It’s a bigger island and there is more to do and explore here.

1 Day trip to Phang Nga Bay and exploring Sea cave lagoons and nearby small Islands.

2 days to explore Ko Phi Phi islands and stay overnight at Ko Phi Phi Don island.

Best time to visit Phuket

The general climate of Phuket is hot and humid for the most of the year. The hot weather extends from March until early May followed by monsoons till October. During the rainy season mornings and afternoons tend to be dry and sunny and it rains in the evenings.

The dry season lasts from November to February, it’s considered as the peak season and many tourists choose to visit at this time. However, it’s also the busiest time, especially around Christmas and the New Year. We visited Phuket in October month to avoid the crowd.

How to reach Phuket and Getting around

Like us, most people who arrive into Thailand will connect through Bangkok and explore different parts of Thailand by domestic flights or by road and start their island hopping from Phuket.

By Flight: Phuket has the huge advantage of having its own international airport, so there is no need for visitors to fly via Bangkok. Direct flights to Phuket are possible from many major airline hubs, while Air Asia offers low-cost regular flights to Phuket from destinations such as Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, and India.

By Bus: Phuket Town has a main bus terminal that sees buses arriving and departing from just about everywhere in Thailand throughout the day and night. Phuket can also be easily reached by boat from Krabi on the mainland, along with the surrounding islands of Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi.

Phuket is a large island and you need some form of transport to get around. Public transport is very limited, taxis and tuk-tuks are the only practical means. Hotels generally offer shuttle bus services into Phuket Town, and also have taxi and car hire facilities.

Getting around in Phuket Rented Motorbike / Moped

A popular and fun way of getting around in Phuket has been via motorbike. Undoubtedly, riding on the roads and feeling the cool breeze on your face is a great way to see more of the island. We strongly recommend you to be cautious. Hiring these motorbikes can be risky as they don’t tend to come with insurance and you will be liable for the cost of all damages. Make sure you have International Driving License if you don’t have Thailand Driving License.

Old Phuket Town

Phuket Hotels – Where to stay in Phuket

Searching for where to stay in Phuket can be a tricky part and time-consuming. Popular tourist towns are Patong, Karon, Kata, and Phuket Old Town. There are wide choices of international hotels in Phuket along with some well-located budget-friendly options and almost everything in between.

For a base within easy reach of all the main attractions, beach life, and nightlife, the Pacific Club Resort (Karon Beach) in Phuket provides a little oasis of calm in the middle of bustling Karon. It is just a moment away from the beach and located at a very nearer distance to all of the main action.

Our Hotel – Pacific Club resort, Phuket Karon beach resort and spa.

The Pacific Club resort is a perfect place to take the whole family. Located on the west coast of Phuket, this resort is a slice of modern luxury nestled within a tropical paradise.

Click here for complete resort review.

For the party-goers, the town of Patong is the hub for exciting nightlife and tourist shopping in Phuket. It’s also where the majority of hotels are located. However, as the taxis and tuk-tuks are overpriced for tourists here, it is recommended that you select a hotel that is nearest to the places you intend to visit.

Wat Chalong Temple Phuket

Phuket City Tour with Phuket Let’s Go

Our trip to Phuket was inclusive of a full-day tour around the city with Phuket Let’s Go tours. Although still tired from previous day flight, we strived to wake up early the next day to explore Phuket City. It’s never too early when you’re on vacation!

It’s worth noting that Miss.Julien and team from Phuket Let’s Go! and the driver made a good impression. They were punctual. Aside from we two, there was a family on the tour. All groups from different parts of the world.

Our tour guide cheerfully welcomed us to Phuket with an introduction to the city. Our full-day excursion included visits to Big Buddha, Wat Chalong, Old Phuket Town, Chalong Bay Rum Distillery factory and Karon Viewpoint.

 

Phuket City Tour with Phuket Let’s Go!

Phuket Top Attractions

Phuket has long been known as the ultimate destination for party-goers, but it so much more than just that. Here are some of the best places to visit and get your adventure started.

Big Buddha Phuket – The most famous Big Buddha statue

Start your day in Phuket early and make your way up to the Big Buddha for some spectacular views of the sites you’ll be exploring over the next few days. To the east is Chalong Bay, Phuket Town and Cape Panwa, while to the west the views stretch along to Karon and Kata beaches. The Buddha statue itself is an impressive sight, sitting at a staggering 45 meters tall.

Opening Hours: 08:00 – 19:30

Entry fee: No entrance fee

Plan to stay: 30min-1hr

 

Big Buddha, Phuket

Wat Chalong Temple ( also known as Chaithararam Temple )

Wat Chalong is the largest temple in Phuket. This colourful building is elaborately decorated with numerous images of the Buddha, along with imagery from Thai and Buddhist mythology. Wat Chalong houses many Buddhist statues, with the most revered being Poh Than Jao Wat, located in the westerly old hall of the temple.

Opening Hours: 07:00 – 17:00

Entry fee: No entrance fee

Plan to stay: 1-2 hrs

 

Wat Chalong Temple

 

Wat Chalong Temple

Old Phuket Town – Discover the Historical District

For a historic look at Phuket, head to Phuket Old Town. Small enough to explore on foot. So much changed from the 18th century and the architecture is special and appealing. It is a unique mix of Portuguese and Chinese.

Thalang Road is the main street here. It’s lined with Sino-Portuguese shophouses and plenty of places to grab a coffee and a spot of lunch. After lunch, head to Soi Romanee (the road that connects Thalang to Dibuk Road, and the former red-light district). Here you’ll discover latticed windows and internal courtyards on the quaint old buildings lining the street.

Opening Hours:  Open Daily. It is an open street walk.

 

Old Phuket Town

Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

If you come to Phuket you must visit Chalong Bay rum distillery! We were carried away by their factory tour. While touring the distillery, we were offered to enjoy a free refreshing Chalong Bay Rum mojito with the knowledge of how it’s made. The staff were welcoming and friendly. They gave a really informative tour of how their exotic rum is made. The best part of the tour was the tasting of cocktail and mojito. The Chalong Bay Rum is one of the best quality white rums with its rarity, taste, and smoothness.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 11:00 – 22:00 (Closed on Sunday)

Tour starts every day from 2:00 pm and goes on until 6:00 pm. The visit includes a 30 minute guided tour, tasting session and a Chalong Bay Rum Mojito.

 

Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

 

Chalong Bay Rum Mojito

We ended the day tour at the dawn at the Karon viewpoint just before the night ends. We very much enjoyed our day at Phuket with Phuket Let’s Go!

Tour Inclusions:

  • Guided tour of Phuket in AC vehicle.
  • Round-trip transportation to and from our Phuket hotel.
  • Live tour commentary provided in English.

Conclusion:

We got in contact with Ann and Julien for Phuket city tour and were thrilled by the level of experience and advice provided. Also, we came across many tour companies charging higher rates. Phuket Let’s Go! not only gave us a reasonable price, they also helped us explore local, authentic places, not-so-touristy places that are really lovely. They responded to our queries quickly. They know how to tailor the tourist experience based on the type of their clients and their interest. We highly recommend Phuket Let’s Go! to anybody visiting Phuket.

Tour Booking:

If you want to go on a tour of Phuket then check out some of the awesome tours of your interest and book/contact directly on their website: Phuket Let’s Go and find them on Tripadvisor.

Best Viewpoints in Phuket

Karon View Point – ( as known as Kata viewpoint )

Probably the most famous Phuket view-point. From a high point south of Kata Noi beach you can see 3 beaches – Kata Noi, Kata and Karon. We climbed the steps to the top of the pavilion and were rewarded with sweeping views across Kata Noi Beach, Kata Beach, and Karon Beach in the north.

Opening Hours: Open Daily.

Entry fee: No fee

Phromthep Cape Viewpoint

Promthep Cape at the southernmost point of Phuket island seems to be an absolutely irresistible spot. You can watch one of the magnificent sunsets from this truly incredible viewpoint. Sure, it gets busy with everybody trying to catch a glimpse of the spectacle, but as the sun dips into the sea at Phuket’s southernmost point, you really won’t care.

Opening Hours: Open Daily.

Entry fee: No fee

Karon View Point

Nightlife in Phuket

Phuket has beaches, views, and other attractions. What more could you want other than the Nightlife!

Bangla Road in Patong Beach

Soi Bangla or Bangla Road is the heart of all Phuket Nightlife. Seeing as you’re already in Patong, Bangla Road is where all the fun begins after the sun goes down in Phuket. Bangla Road and Beach Road make the beating heart of nightlife in Phuket. This area is always alive with music, girly bars, and clubbers. While it’s busy, it’s also a non-threatening place to party the night away.

Opening Hours: 10:00 pm – late night

Tips:

  • Walk from Patong beach and move on with Thanon Bangla road the other end.
  • If Bangla Road isn’t your scene but you still want to party, you’ll find a diverse mix of interesting night spots along U-Thit Road and Thaweewong Road at Patong Beach.

Siam Niramit Phuket – Cultural theatre Show

Siam Niramit is a colourful and extravagant show that celebrates the best of Thailand’s culture and tradition. Not only that, but Siam Niramit is a complete evening out, with an on-site restaurant serving Thai and International cuisines, shopping and leisure amenities alongside the main show.

Note: Pre-Booking is required. Check on their website here.

Opening Hours: The show runs once a day, six days a week, and is closed on Tuesdays.

Show Time: 20:30. Theatre gates open at 20:00. Its attractions and facilities open at 17:30.

Tip: Arrive early to make the most of the other attractions, which includes a traditional Thai village with floating market.

PC:sightseeinggroup.com

 

Phuket Weekend Market / Phuket Walking Street Market

The most famous market in town, the Phuket Weekend Market (as known as Naka Night Market) sits on the fringes of Phuket Town along Chao Fa West Road. It’s a chaotic and atmospheric place, selling everything imaginable. It is a shopper’s paradise and it also has a thriving food section. Visiting the Phuket Weekend Market is an experience in itself, but there’s always something worth bartering for among its diverse and colourful stands.

Opening Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Karon Temple Market

Located in Karon town, Karon Temple Market is at temple grounds which opens to a marketplace full of souvenirs, clothing and food. It’s quite a large market which tourists will love.

Opening Hours: Every Tuesdays and Saturdays from 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

Karon Weekend Market

How to get to Phi Phi island and Phi Phi island hopping

After exploring the largest island in Thailand, we headed to explore small islands of Ko Phi Phi. It takes around two hours to reach the Phi Phi Islands from Phuket ‘Rassada Pier’ and although the ferries are usually packed with tourists, the spectacular scenery of these striking islands makes it all worthwhile. Ko Phi Phi Don is the main island where most visitors head to (mainly backpackers) for all the party nights, pleasing the senses of taste, and sinking in the warm sunny sands. You can visit the Ko Phi Phi Leh to the south which is a quieter island to the south. It has no overnight accommodation. You can also plan to visit the famous Maya Bay (the location of the film, The Beach) and spend your day snorkelling, sunbathing and generally marvelling at the surroundings. Enjoy the famous and spectacular Phi Phi Viewpoint.

We would recommend you to go to the Rassada Pier in Phuket Town and take a boat to Koh Phi Phi Don. You can stay there a couple of days like we did and enjoy the gorgeous island in the mid of the jewel-blue sea and all day tours from there.

Our Hotel – PP Princess Resort, Ko Phi Phi Don.

Check here to read the full review along with the day tour plan of our perfect romantic stay in the Phi Phi islands.

Phi Phi View Point

 

Maya Bay

 

Ferry Boat Transfer from Phuket to Phi Phi Island with Andaman Wave Master

There are a number of tour operators offering trips from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands. Andaman Wave Master Tours tend to be a good choice, with a big boat, pick up at the hotel on time, safe transportation to the islands, cheerful and knowledgeable staff, along with plenty of soft drinks, tea, coffee, fruits and snacks.

We were picked up from our hotel early morning, reached Rassada Pier by 8:00 am and boarded the Royal Jet Cruiser ferry at the jetty. We recommend you to book their “Premium Class” seats. “Premium Class” seats are in an air-conditioned area at the “top” of the boat, with comfortable leather lounges, its own cafe offering scenic views of the Andaman Sea while relishing complimentary snacks and soft drinks.

Ferry/Island tour Booking

If you want to go on a tour of Phi Phi island with professionals or check out some of the awesome island tours of your interest then book/contact directly through their website: Andaman Wave Master.

Royal Jet Cruiser, Andaman Wave Master

What do you think of this Phuket Travel Guide? What would you recommend as top attractions or things to do in Phuket or great tips? Let us know below in the comments section.

Tips:

  • Plan your travel dates such that it will fall on one of the weekends to enjoy the Phuket weekend markets.
  • If visiting a Buddhist Temple, be sure to cover your shoulders and legs till knees and remove your shoes before entering.
  • Phuket’s beaches can make for some dangerous swimming and surfing during monsoon season. Always take heed of warning signs at the beach.
  • The monsoon season runs from May to October. While you see plenty of rainfall at this time of the year, the accommodation and other activities may be less expensive.
  • The so-called ‘taxi mafia’ is rife in Phuket and extravagant overcharging is not uncommon. Insist that the meter is used for standard taxis and agree on a fixed fare for the tuk-tuks.
  • It’s not compulsory to tip in Thailand but it is appreciated.
  • Renting a motorbike (if you know how to ride one) is highly recommended. It will save you money on transportation costs, as taxis are more expensive.
Exploring Phi Phi Islands
A detailed review of our experience with PP Princess Resort
Pacific Club Resort, Phuket
A detailed review of the Pacific Club Resort, Phuket

Panviman ChiangMai Spa Resort

A heaven on earth in the Northern Capital of Thailand

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