They call it ‘The Pearl of the Andaman’, and Phuket certainly is one of Asia’s loveliest holiday destinations. With its stunning west coast beaches, lovely tropical hinterland and excellent tourist infrastructure, Phuket takes prime place in the guide books of Thailand. There are plenty of great natural and man-made attractions to see, both on the island and in the adjacent coastal area.
As a guide, Phuket comprises of a series of beach resort areas, each enjoying its own sweeping bay, well developed tourist centre and great holiday environs. The island is just the right size; small enough to tour in a day, but big enough to give everyone a little space, even those preferring to escape the tourists. Renting scooters and exploring the island’s natural sights and various bays is suggested, but some of the best sights to see are offshore, and day trips to Phi Phi or Phang Nga Bay are recommended. In this section, we cover them all.
Phuket Sightseeing Highlights
Phuket is known best for its great beaches and hospitality, but you simply must get off your beach towel and witness some of this island’s unique character. Away from the resorts and water there are some great sights a local Phuket guide will show you. Pick up a freely distributed map (also available online) and explore.
An oft-overlooked highlight of the island is Phuket Town, with its old traditional Thai character that reveals a lifestyle untouched by tourism. You might be fascinated by the old mansions and their Sino-Portuguese architecture, or the quiet lanes with century-old Chinese herbalists shops. Then there are the great viewpoints above Kata Bay and at Promthep Cape, from which to see the sun setting. Or how about the soaring chedi at Wat Chalong, and the newly built, giant Buddha overlooking Kata?
Perhaps most rewarding of all are the beaches; each nicely viewed from the hilly capes that separate them. Patong might be the most central and busy, along with Karon, but head north to the sweeping Kamala or small and quiet Surin Beach, or marvel at the pretty lagoons behind Bang Tao Beach. Perhaps the nicest of the beaches are Kata and Kata Noi, while Rawai and Nai Harn are delightfully unspoilt by under-development. Then there are the remote and uncrowded north beaches of Nai Yang and Mai Khao. Use your Phuket map as a guide.
Beyond Phuket are many more great sightseeing opportunities to which tours run daily, and spending a day on one of these is recommended. You’ll not want to miss out on a trip to the famous Phi Phi Islands (southwest of Phuket), or the remarkable karst pillars of Phang Nga Bay. Then there’s the national parks; half a dozen of which are within a two hour drive.