Luxurious, world-class resorts, mouthwatering cuisine, a vibrant nightlife, hidden islets and beaches, and ancient rainforests teeming with wildlife make this Thai island a tropical paradise. As well as leisure, the tranquil temples and multicultural shrines excite a voyage of discovery With Eyewitness Top 10 Phuket, it is yours to explore.
There is truly something for everyone in Phuket. For relaxation, laze on lovely Kata Beach and snorkel with schools of multicolored fish; the adventurous should join the crowds in one of Patong’s bustling street markets and admire the 19th-century temple Wat Chalong or the entrancing Sino-Portuguese architecture of Phuket Town.
At 50 miles (80 km) long, Phuket (pronounced POO-get) is Thailand’s largest island. However, it is also worth traveling beyond its shores to some of the easily accessible sights nearby. The karst cliffs and sea caves of Phang Nga Bay are rivaled by the surging waterfalls in the rain forests of Khao Sok National Park, north of Phuket. The
nearby Similan Islands are rated among the world’s top ten diving sites, and Ko Phi Phi Don, a short boat ride south of Phuket, offers a heady mix of raucous parties and silent, secluded beaches.
While it is tempting to find your perfect beach and just luxuriate there, Phuket offers an amazingly wide variety of treasures to discover. Beyond the beaches are rain forests, and the town of Phuket is an architectural and cultural jewel. To take in everything will require some form of private transport, but a good network of ferries serves the islands that surround Phuket. Here are two itineraries to help you make the most of your stay.
Phang Nga Bay,
with its dramatic lime stone pillars and aquatic grottoes, can be explored by Chinese junk cruise,kayaking expedition,or long-tailed boat.
Two Days in Phuket
Explore the streets of old Phuket Town (see pp12–15), admiring the Sino-Portuguese architecture, and visit one of the atmospheric Chinese shrines (see pp46–7).
Head southwest from Phuket Town to Wat Chalong (see pp16–17), Phuket’s most famous Buddhist temple. Drive
to Phromthep Cape (see p48) and watch the sun set on the island’s southern tip. Stay overnight at nearby Kata (see pp28–9) or Patong (see pp18–19) on the west coast.
Drive to Sirinat National Park (see pp22–3) and stroll along the quiet and undeveloped Mai Khao Beach (see p23). There are simple beachside seafood vendors here, perfect for lunch.
Head to Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Forest and Wildlife Reserve (see pp20–21) via routes 402 and 4127.
Trek to Ton Sai Waterfall for a swim, then visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. Have dinner in Phuket Town.
Seven Days in Phuket
Follow the morning’s plan for Day 1 of the Phuket itinerary, taking in the sights of historic old Phuket Town.
After lunch, take a taxi to Rassada Port, then board a ferry to Ko Yao Noi in Phang Nga Bay (see pp36–7).
Spend your first night here.
Take a boat tour of the dramatic limestone stacks and mangrove forests of the bay, then visit the amazing sea caves on a kayaking expedition in the evening. Spend a second night at Ko Yao Noi.
Take a boat from Ko Yao Noi to Ko Phi Phi Don (see p101) to spend a night there. Enjoy the views from the Phi Phi Viewpoint (see p99), then leave the busy Tonsai area and follow the coast to one of the more secluded bays. Take a sunset cruise to spectacular Maya Bay (see p100) – the very image of a perfect beach – on Ko Phi Phi Leh (see p48). This islet is uninhabited, but has been the set for several Hollywood movies.
Make your way back to Phuket by speed boat or ferry, and then follow the after noon’s plan for Day 1 of the Phuket itinerary.
Follow the program for Day 2 of the Phuket itinerary, but spend the night at Mai Khao Beach.
Spend the day kayaking or trekking in Khao Sok National Park (see pp32–5). This pristine rainforest environment includes spectacular limestone cliffs and a wide variety of flora and fauna. Stay overnight
in the coastal town of Khao Lak (see p100). This is mainly a jumping off place for dive trips to the islands, but Nang Tong beach, just south of town, is lovely and quiet.
Take a boat tour to the Similan Islands National Park (see pp30–31), 50 miles (80 km) from Khao Lak.
Both the scuba diving and snorkeling here are superb. Note that the islands are closed from mid-May to mid-October due to poor weather.
Phi Phi Viewpoint on Phi Phi Don offers views over two magnificent bays, Loh Dalum and Tonsai.