Phuket is a beautiful island in Thailand and, after living in Thailand for four years, we share tips for visiting Phuket, ideal for first-time visitors.
Best time to visit Phuket
Phuket is warm all year round but it does experience a harsh rainy season. The best time to visit Phuket is from November to February, when it is cool and dry, which is why it is high season.
The monsoon season runs from May through to October. Avoid this season if you can, especially in July and August, when water conditions can be dangerous.
Avoid visiting Phuket during the Chinese New Year if you can – the temples and sights are very busy and hotel prices are higher.
Where to stay in Phuket
Phuket has plenty of places to stay, with different neighborhoods and districts that fit all types of travelers.
Touristy and busy:
The main beach resorts can be found along Patong Beach, Kata Beach, Karon Beach and Bangtao. You can find plenty of Western chain hotels here as well as affordable budget options and hostels. These are ideal for those looking to enjoy the beaches but who are also looking for great nightlife options. Plus, these more touristy areas have plenty of tour operators nearby so you can book trips to see the sights of Phuket with ease. Also, if you are visiting Thailand on a budget, this is the area for you.
Quieter beach areas:
If you are looking for a more relaxing, calm experience, then head to Mai Khao, Nai Harn, Naithon or Nai Yang Beach. Mai Khao is our favorite; it isn’t too far from the airport but there are plenty of gorgeous 5-star hotels located here, ideal for couples looking for a romantic trip to Thailand.
Phuket Town is a popular place for those not too fussed about the beach. You can enjoy plenty of southern Thai food in Phuket Town, plus there are plenty of taxis, budget hotels, and cheap eats to be found here. There are also a great variety of bars here too and a night market that offers tasty street food.
A more local destination:
Amphoe Mueang is a local district in Phuket, perfect for those wanting something a little quieter and unique. This is the type of location that you would rent a villa or home in and there are even some great villas for sale in Amphoe Mueang too. The area has around 1000 residents and offers a peaceful vibe, rich in Thai culture.
Things to know before you go to Phuket
Best things to do in Phuket
Let’s that with the beaches, there are plenty to visit. For relatively untouched, quiet beaches, head to Nai Harn Beach whilst the Mai Khao beach is home to some fabulous luxury hotels. Patong Beach is where the lively nightlife can be found whilst Kata Beach offers the best of both worlds.
This intricate and vibrant temple is a popular attraction and a must for those visiting Phuket; especially if this is your first time in Thailand. The Wat includes a Grand Pagoda and decorated Buddha images.
Explore Phuket Old Town
Wander along the colorful shophouses and temples of Phuket Town. The Old Town is unlike anywhere else I have seen in Thailand so far and is perfect for a stroll and traditional Thai lunch.
Thai Cooking Class
You can take a Thai cooking class all over Thailand but there is something wonderful about cooking then relaxing in the sun and eating the food you have created. There are many cooking classes available, often including a market tour too.
Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand but it is incredibly popular too. We recommend booking a tour to see the island within a day from Phuket or researching options to stay near or on the gorgeous islands.
Visit the tallest Statue in the world which sits in the heart of Thailand’s Great Big Buddha. The big Buddha is 300 ft high and 210 ft wide. Since its completion in 2008, it has been the delight of tourists. The concrete figure is coated in gold as a Buddha praying in a sitting posture. You have to be ready to do much climbing because you may do a 48-meter-high climb to reach the Big Buddha.
Splash Jungle Water Park
Head to Mai Khao Beach for this popular water park in Phuket. With lots of water slides, rides, and a selection of different pools, there is plenty to do to make this a fun, busy day out. If you are staying at the Centara Grand West Sands Resort, you can experience the park for free. If not, the Splash Jungle Water Park ticket price is 630 baht for a child and 1305 baht per adult.
My husband loves all things fish related and we end up going to an aquarium in most cities and towns we visit. Phuket Aquarium is a great way to spend a day, especially when the heat is rising and you have young children.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Opt out of the Elephant rides around the country and visit this sanctuary instead; the first ethical Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket. Book a trip directly on their website and enjoy meeting the Elephants as they go about their daily life, relaxing and bathing.
Phang Gha By Canoe
Experience Thailand in the greenery and natural feel of the Phang Gha by Canoe, the area is largely natural, and its waters are preserved. Tourists frequent this area on a boat as they move from one part of the forest to another. The area is also largely safe from wild animals.
This upside-down house is a great way to get out of the heat and have a laugh with your family. Take some creative pictures and good luck trying to escape the ‘Chamber of Secrets’.
Chalong Bay Rum Distillery
For anyone who loves rum, head to this distillery in Chalong Bay, Phuket. You can take a tour but also try your hand at a cocktail workshop. For a 30-minute guided tour, tasting session, and Mojito, expect to pay 450 baht.