20 Things To Do In Phuket

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Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and one of the country’s most popular destinations. Easy to reach via Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand, Phuket has spectacular beaches, beautiful religious sites, lively local markets and local history. The island is large and there are lots of things to do in Phuket, so picking where to stay will save you time, depending on whether you’re interested in beaches, culture or nightlife. If you stay in any of the major towns around the coast or in Phuket Town, you’ll be able to get around easily.

Nature lovers can explore untouched jungles, islands and waterfalls; sun-worshippers have endless beaches to discover and culture vultures can amble around the historic streets of the Old Town or venture into ancient Buddhist temples. There are so many things to do in Phuket to suit everyone, making it a perfect holiday spot for families. 

Phuket, Thailand

Top Tours

Long Boat And Tropical Beach, Andaman Sea,Phi Phi Islands
Going on a cruise to the Phi Phi Islands is one of the top things to do for couples in Phuket.

Need a car? Compare prices for rental cars in Phuket here

20 Things To Do In Phuket

1- Explore Phuket Old Town

Phuket Old Town Night Market In Thailand, South East Asia
Wandering around the Old Town is one of the interesting things to do in Phuket.

Phuket Old Town is one of the most popular places to visit in Phuket.

Located towards the island’s southern end, it borders Phuket Town proper and is a popular place to stay if you’ve never visited Phuket.

The Old Town is famous for its historic architecture; the streets are lined with traditional Chinese shophouses in various colours and adorn everything from postcards to canvases.

Spend the afternoon wandering around the many quirky cafes, local boutiques, souvenir shops and great bars and restaurants.

You will surely find a great souvenir or a coffee shop to refuel.

Although the Old Town is small, its cool street art and colourful buildings are the perfect backdrop for taking holiday snaps and enjoying a cold drink.

If you’re not sure where to stay in Phuket, this is one of the most popular and fascinating areas to base yourself in.

Recommended tours:

2- Go Island Hopping At Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay
Exploring Phang Nga Bay is one of the popular things to do in Phuket.

You’ve almost certainly seen the stunning limestone karsts of Phang Na Bay in photos, with James Bond Island being one of the most famous.

The area has many islands, karsts and beaches to explore and many boat trips to run you around for the day.

Phuket is the gateway to this unique landscape, and most tours include stops at spectacular beaches, swimming spots, hidden caves and lunch.

If you spend the whole day there, look into the various water sports on offer, as Phang Na Bay offers some of the best diving and snorkelling in Thailand, with a host of incredible marine life under the waves.

Recommended tours:

3- Kick back at Kata Noi Beach

Kata Beach attracts many visitors because of its abundant restaurants, bars, shops and lively nightlife.

However, just a stone’s throw away, the slightly quieter Kata Noi Beach remains largely untouched by the tourism at Kata.

The sand is golden, and the water is clear, although, during monsoon season, it’s advised not to swim in the area.

If you visit in high season, you’ll be able to enjoy fewer crowds than its neighbour while still having easy access to all the nearby attractions, including the pretty Karon Viewpoint.

4- Chill out at Bangtao Beach

Bangtao Beach With Palm Trees And Beach Chairs On A Sunny Day
Hanging out in Bangtao Beach is one of the fun things to do in Thailand Phuket.

This 8km stretch of sand is one of Phuket’s most underrated beaches, so this strip has several resorts.

However, there’s still plenty of soft white sand and sapphire water to go around if you get the chance to visit Phuket’s west coast.

Most of the activities here are based around Laguna Complex, where some of the island’s best restaurants, bars and beach clubs have made their home, but despite this, you’ll find it far less rowdy than other popular beaches, so it’s perfect for a chilled out day in the sun.

Recommended: Bang Tao Beach: Group Or Private Surf Lessons

5- Visit the Big Buddha Statue

Aerial View Of Big Buddha Viewpoint At Sunset In Phuket Province, Thailand
Climbing the steps to the Big Buddha is one of the best things to do in Phuket Thailand.

Phuket’s Big Buddha statue is one of the island’s most recognisable landmarks, located in Phuket’s south between Kata and Chalong.

At 45 meters tall, it’s one of the largest, and as a reward for making it to the top, it has panoramic 360-degree views of the surrounding landscapes.

Despite being a tourist attraction, it remains an important religious landmark for Thai people on the island, so avoid wearing beach clothes and cover your legs and shoulders before heading here.

Don’t worry too much about the climb, as you can take a taxi most of the way and there’s a small cafe for a cold drink after you’re done.

Recommended tours:

6- Hit the waves

With Phuket being Thailand’s largest island, it has the privilege of having a variety of beaches and plenty of access to the water, making water sports extremely popular.

Before diving in, check it’s safe as the off-season can be choppy and even high season can have tropical storms.

Most of the time, however, you can take your pick: diving, snorkelling, kayaking, parasailing, cruising – you name it, Phuket has it.

It’s one of the most stunning spots in Asia to get out on (or under) the waves, with great weather, tropical marine life and many islands.

If you’re keen on doing a lot of water sports, stay near one of the beaches rather than in the island’s centre to save travelling to the coast each day.

Recommended tour:

7- Treat yourself to retail therapy

Far from being an undeveloped island, Phuket has great places to shop.

There’s everything from street markets to local boutiques, glitzy designer shopping malls and chain favourites, so you can find almost anything.

For souvenirs and local products, check out the Sunday Walking Street Market or the Weekend Night Market, which is worth a whole evening.

For more upscale retail, Jungceylon Shopping Centre is perfect for buying anything you might have forgotten to bring, while the cute local shops in the Old Town have locally designed clothes, gifts, art and more.

8- Explore Phi Phi Islands

These famous islands are further afield than many of those visited by standard boat trips, about halfway between Phuket and the Thai island of Ko Lanta, however, you’ll still find many tours running here.

The Phi Phi islands have a similar landscape to the islands in Phang Na Bay, with towering limestone karsts rising out of sparkling blue waters.

Most tours include visiting Maya Bay, featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio film the beach, which remained closed for a long time to help it recover from excess tourism.

It’s now regenerated and more beautiful than ever, so taking a day trip by speedboat to explore the area from Phuket is an incredible experience and one of the few places in Thailand from which you can visit the area.

Recommended tours:

9- Hike Up To Karon Viewpoint

There are only a few places to enjoy beautiful views in Phuket, and many have been snapped up by luxury hotels.

if you’re searching for somewhere open to all, that’s also a perfect place for watching a sunset, then head up to Karon Viewpoint.

It’s south of Kata Noi Beach, with stunning views over the coastline and the three nearby beaches.

Bear in mind that it is one of Phuket’s most loved attractions, so it can get very crowded with locals and tourists alike in the summertime.

The best time to go is early in the day when it’s far cooler, but sunset offers the best experience.

Recommended tour: Phuket: Half-Day City Highlights and Viewpoints Group Tour

10- Get spiritual at Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong Or Wat Chaitaram Temple
Visiting Wat Chalong is one of the iconic things to do in Phuket for culture.

Wat Chalong is the largest and most important Buddhist temple in Phuket and also one of the most beautiful.

Thanks to this, it often gets crowded with visitors, both locals going to worship and tourists taking photos of the beautiful exteriors, so make sure to arrive early if you can.

As it is a religious site, you must cover your knees and shoulder and remove shoes when going inside, which houses a fragment of bone from Lord Buddha himself.

At certain times, you might hear the monks chanting prayers, which is refreshingly relaxing – come here if you need a cultural and spiritual break from endless beaches.

Recommended tour: Phuket: Old Town, Chalong Temple, and Great Buddha Van Tour

11- Shop At Naka Weekend Market

Naka Market, also known as Phuket’s Weekend Night Market, is the go-to palace for mingling with locals, buying souvenirs, and trying some of the island’s best street food.

Thai classics like spring rolls and satay, curries, noodles, salads and weirder culinary delights are sold by hawkers at incredibly cheap prices.

The market generally becomes packed by nightfall, when you can buy a whole array of strange wares, from clothing and crafts to live animals and fresh produce.

The market is located just outside of Phuket Town, so it’s very easy to visit if you’re there on a weekend.

Recommended tour: Phuket: Old Town Food Tasting Tour with 14 Dishes

12- Party On Bangla Road

Bangla Road is Phuket’s nightlife mecca, bursting with bars, clubs and live entertainment each night.

Generally, the road is closed to traffic in the evening, meaning the tens of bars spill out into the street.

Walk down here to the sound of pumping music and you’ll have a dozen offers for affordable drinks, adult shows, live music and go-go bars.

Even if you’re not looking for a big night out, you can grab a drink, sit in a bar and watch the world go by (or the many increasingly tipsy people).

Alternatively, it’s perfect for a stag do, celebration or night out with friends, and you won’t be returning until the early hours.

13- Enjoy A Tipple at Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

You may be surprised to learn that a rum distillery in Phuket is becoming popular worldwide for its homemade spirit.

For rum lovers or just for a fun daytime activity if it’s raining, Chalong Bay’s Rum Distillery produces excellent rum, and you can visit for a tasting or an in-depth tour, where you’ll learn about the production process.

At the end of the tour, you get to sample the spirit at their onsite cocktail bar or purchase a bottle of rum to take home.

The distillery only runs tours between 2 to 6 pm while their cocktail workshops are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays – it’s a popular activity, so book tickets ahead of time.

Recommended tour: Phuket: Private Tour with Rum Cocktail and Sunset Views

14- Cool Off At Bang Pae Waterfall

Bang Pae Waterfall is a perfect island adventure in the stunning Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.

Thailand is home to endless jungles, waterfalls and wildlife; particularly if you’re only visiting Phuket, you should visit this untouched paradise.

Bang Pae is the largest waterfall in Phuket, reached via an 8km trek through lush jungle, for which you’ll need to grab a map at the entrance.

After working up a sweat, you can take a refreshing dip in the pool at its base, best done during the rainy season when the falls are in full flow.

Entrance to the area costs 200 baht, and there are a couple of local restaurants to make a day trip out of it.

15- Learn A New Dish At A Cooking Class

Thai is arguably one of the most delicious cuisines in the world, and there’s no better palace to pick up a new skill than in one of Phuket’s cooking classes.

A whole variety of classes are available, which offer everything from large group classes to one-on-one tuition.

You can learn the techniques and ingredients behind classic Thai dishes like pad Thai, green Thai curry, papaya salad and chicken satay that you’ve been tasting in markets and restaurants. 

Learning to cook an authentic meal is one of the best souvenirs you can take home, meaning you can cook all your favourite foods at home for years to come.

Recommended tour: Phuket: Half Day Easy Thai Cooking Class & Local Market Tour

16- Catch A Match At Patong Stadium

Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and is much loved by its citizens.

Although it can seem like a violent and nail-biting sport, watching a match is a fantastic experience, which you can get at Phuket’s Patong Boxing Stadium.

Other fights are available around the island, but they’re usually put on for tourists.

Patong Stadium is the real deal, with locals cheering their favourites on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

If watching gets you interested, you can also take Muay Thai classes to try it for yourself – in fact, this is one of the most popular activities tourists do while visiting Thailand and Phuket has tonnes of local schools to get you started.

Skip the line and book your Muay Thai tickets here or book a city tour with a Muay Thai class.

17- Experience Phuket’s Nightlife At Simon Cabaret

Far from being a seedy experience, Simon Cabaret hosts the most famous ladyboy show in all of Phuket (if not all of Thailand).

An hour-long performance filled with fantastic music, costumes and dancing, and high-tech sets and lighting is perfect for a fun-filled evening of entertainment.

There are shows three times every evening, which only cost $25.

Avoid getting roped into more expensive, tourist-trap shows elsewhere as Simon Cabaret is the real deal and is perfect for a celebration or pre-night out party.

Surprisingly the show is suitable for families, so feel free to bring older kids.

After the show, you can also take photos of the performers dressed in elaborate outfits.

Recommended shows:

18- Visit Rawai Village

Long Tail Boats At The Gipsy Fisherman Village
Long tail boats at the gypsy fisherman village in Rawai.

Much of Phuket caters to tourists, with plenty of beaches, restaurants, resorts and attractions.

If you’re searching for a more authentic side to the island, consider visiting Rawai Village, a pretty area on the east coast home to local fishermen and the Moken sea gypsies.

This nomadic tribe work in fishing boats and keeps largely to themselves, which naturally fascinates visitors to Phuket.

Head here to see the small local beach fringed with palm trees and watch the tribe at work, rent out a boat or enjoy super-fresh seafood.

19- Explore Sirinat National Park

Located on the western coast of Phuket, Sirinat National Park is primed for exploration, filled with incredible landscapes, dense forests and beautiful bird species.

It also has beaches like Nai Yang or Mai Khao, where you can swim in sparkling waters or witness the rare sight of turtles nesting in the right season.

These are also the ideal place to go snorkelling and diving to see rare underwater creatures before heading into the forests to go bird spotting.

If you’re up for an adventure, you can also get permits to camp here for a remote, overnight jungle adventure.

20- Watch The Sunset At Promthep Cape

Sailing Boat During Sunset At Promthep Cape In Phuket Peninsula, Thailand
Enjoying the sunset at Promthep Cape, whether on a cruise or on a hike, is one of the top things to do in Phuket.

There’s only one place in Phuket to watch the sunset, Promthep Cape.

The cape is the most southerly point on the island, complete with a hilltop shrine from which you can take in incredible ocean views and a lighthouse museum with fascinating maritime exhibits.

At sunset, you’ll find it packed with tourists and locals alike, but this doesn’t detract from the experience; find your own spot to enjoy the evening.

Afterwards, there are one or two restaurants to round off the evening or you could bring snacks for the ultimate scenic picnic. 

Recommended tours:

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India Jayne trainor
India-Jayne Trainor is a British/Australian freelance writer, photographer and contributor to various online blogs and travel websites. She has travelled to almost 30 countries, most recently Cuba and Sri Lanka. Her work focuses on solo female travel, having spent two months backpacking alone through South East Asia as well as living in Germany for a year. Her favourite country to date has been Hong Kong, but she is happy in any country by the ocean. Her next destinations are Uzbekistan and a road trip through the American Mid-West. India is currently based in London, UK.