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Phuket has lots of attractions, but many visitors see only Patong, the beaches and nightlife. But Patong is not Phuket – at least not only! You can do tours on Phuket to visit and experience beautiful views, temples, markets and much more.

When we first visited Phuket, we were not thrilled and left after 5 days. We ended up in Patong, but did not even explore the rest of the beautiful island. Almost two years later, we luckily gave Phuket another shot!

Phuket – sights and highlights of the island

Phuket is indeed touristy, but also has nice, quiet and less visited spots and you can really do a lot on this island. It is best to rent a scooter and explore the island on your own.

In this article, we’d like to give you 23 tips for Phuket that will make your stay on Thailand’s largest island a great holiday.

How to get to Phuket

Accommodation on Phuket – our hotel tip

Phuket: Tours and tickets

1. Big Buddha

The Big Buddha on Phuket

The 45 meters high Buddha statue (Phra Phuttha Mingmongkhon Akenakkhiri) is one of Phuket’s landmarks. You can see it from many parts of the island and many visitors stop by during their holidays.

The temple complex is free of charge and houses an exhibition with the story of Buddha and most of the time there is also a monk present who blesses the visitors before you reach the huge statue. Anyway, you are welcome to leave a donation to fund the ongoing construction of the base and immortalize yourself on a marble slab which is used for this construction.

Furthermore, the Big Buddha isn’t the only highlight but rather the terrific view! It offers you a beautiful view at the Chalong Bay, where you can dwell on the outlook.

How do I get there?

From the big roundabout in Chalong you need to head to the direction of the Wat Chalong/Tesco Lotus. After a few kilometers there will be a driveway on your left hand side with a big sign directing you.

Now you have to follow a curvy and steep road for about 5-6 kilometers up the hill. Past the elephant camp and several viewpoints you can’t miss the Big Buddha anymore.

If you’re coming from the direction of the airport, then you need to turn right about 2 kilometers after the Wat Chalong (there is also a sign). After that it’s the same way I described before.

2. Viewpoints on the way to Big Buddha

View at the Karon Beach from one of the viewpoints on the way to the Big Buddha
The view at Karon Beach

On the way to the Big Buddha you will pass many viewpoints. Sometimes with a restaurant or a coffee shop by the wayside. I recommend you to take a break or several to enjoy them.

On one hand (as seen on the picture) you have a great view at the Karon Beach in the southwestern part of Phuket. On the other hand you have an amazing view at the Chalong Bay. No matter which one you take a look at, they are both stunning!

You can also have a little break on a motorbike tour here, relax with a fresh fruit shake and enjoy the view and the weather.

How do I get there?

It’s the same way as I described in point 1.

3. Laem Ka Beach

Laem Ka Beach, Phuket
Laem Ka Beach – still an insiders’ tip!

Now I want to tell you a little secret! The Laem Ka Beach is one of those beaches that are not so heavily attended and neither signposted and of course not visible from the street. A perfect getaway and a bit of peace away from the touristy beaches of Phuket.

The beach is rather small and offers a great view on some islands off the coast and is a really good spot to take a swim. Here you can enjoy the atmosphere, the beach and the ocean without all the hustle and bustle. And what would be a trip to an Thai island if you don’t get to see a beautiful and peaceful beach.

How do I get there?

The Laem Ka Beach is located near Rawai in the south of Phuket. If you drive from Chalong to Rawai you will see the Phuket Sea Shell Museum at your right hand side. Now it’s only a little bit further until you will see a 7-Eleven at the left side. Right after that you have to turn left into a small street.

Just follow that street until you will reach an entrance with a security guide. It’s maybe deterring and you could think that this is private property. We asked him and he just wondered why we were thinking of that. So you can simply pass him.

You will now follow a less good road downwards. There is a parking space where you can leave your scooter. Just a few more steps down to the beach and you’ll be there. Welcome to Laem Ka Beach. Enjoy!

4. Promthep Cape

Laem Promthep - the southern cape of Phuket
The most southern tip of Phuket, the Promthep Cape (Laem Promthep)

The Promthep Cape, Laem Promthep in Thai, is the most southern tip of Phuket. A very famous tourist spot and unfortunately the tourists come with entire busloads. Nevertheless, the viewpoint is still beautiful, especially at sunset and I don’t want to keep it from you.

From the free parking space you need to take the stairs up. On your left you will find a shrine with elephants and a lighthouse with a small museum inside. You can also go on the platform, but the view isn’t too different from the one below.

If you take the stairs down coming from the shrine, you can take some nice pictures of the cape and enjoy the view at the offshore island Koh Mun and the Nai Harn Beach.

Especially at sunset it can get really crowded over there, but also very beautiful. Don’t let the tourist masses scare you away because it’s all free of charge.

How do I get there?

If you come from Chalong/Rawai or from Kata/Karon you will find loads of signs that lead you the way. From Chalong/Rawai also keep left and from the other direction keep right past the Nai Harn Beach.

The way really doesn’t need a description and I’m sure you will find it since it is the most southern tip of Phuket and a tourist attraction. Just watch out for the signs to Promthep Cape or Laem Promthep and you will get to your destination.

If you come from the Nai Harn direction, there is a small viewpoint called Windmill Hill where you can make a stop on the way.

5. Naka Weekend Market

Food at the Naka Weekend Market between Chalong and Phuket Town

The Naka Weekend Market is one of the biggest weekend markets of Phuket and takes place every Saturday and Sunday a little bit outside of Phuket Town. The stalls open about 4 p.m. and most of them close about 10-11 p.m.

The market has so much to offer and if you love shopping, that’s the place to be. But you can also find a huge offer of food. Better plan some hours on-site for your visit.

How do I get there?

If you are coming from Chalong, you have to take the same exit from the roundabout like to the Big Buddha. Now you have to follow the big road Chao Fah Tawan Tok (4021) for a while – circa 15 minutes. On your drive you will pass the Tesco Lotus and the Wat Chalong.

After a while there will be the Thip Garden Phuket on your left hand side, a big garden center. Opposite that, you will have to turn right onto the street Wirat Hong Yok. Now the Naka Weekend Market will only be a couple meters away on your right hand side.

If you are coming with a car it is maybe a bit difficult to find a parking space, but with a scooter that shouldn’t be a problem at all.

6. Wat Chalong

The Ubosot at Wat Chalong, the biggest temple of Phuket

The Wat Chalong is the biggest and most famous temple on Phuket and is located – how surprising – in the town of Chalong. Many day trips that are not going to one of the plenty islands around Phuket are coming to this beautiful temple complex.

The temple is dedicated to two monks (Luang Pho Champ and Luang Pho Chuang), who lived during the times of King Rama V. This can also be seen at the statues of those very monks in the main temple. The large Chedi is in addition to the main temple the highlight of Wat Chalong. You can also go up to the roof and enjoy a beautiful view at the temple complex and its surroundings.

The large Chedi of Wat Chalong
The large Chedi of Wat Chalong

How do I get there?

From the roundabout in Chalong you also have to take the exit in direction to Wat Chalong/Tesco Lotus/airport. After 4-5 kilometers (past the Tesco Lotus) you will find the entrance to the temple on your right hand side.

7. Phuket Old Town

Phuket Old Town - the beautiful old town of Phuket
Beautiful alleys in the old town of Phuket

The old town of Phuket is definitely worth a visit! The colorful houses in the historical heart of Phuket Town are quite unique in Thailand and popular to visit with a city tour.

You can stroll around the streets, settle down in one of the coffee shops and enjoy the atmosphere. Besides that you can discover some sights like the Chinese Temple or the Sirikit Park (which was built in honor of the Queen).

The Sirikit Park in Phuket's old town
The Sirikit Park in Phuket’s old town in honor of the Queen

How do I get there?

The old town of Phuket is located along the Thalang Road with its Soi Romanee, where you can see countless colorful houses. With a shared taxi you can get easily around town. Just stop at the Fountain Circle. Now you only got a few meters left walking and you are in the heart of the old town.

8. Sunday Walking Street in Phuket’s old town

Every Sunday there is a market (a so called Walking Street) in the heart of Phuket’s old town along the Thalang Road. There you can buy many souvenirs, Thai food or even some clothes. A great market in the center of the old town. If you are visiting Phuket Town on a Sunday, you should definitely stroll around a little bit!

How do I get there?

See the description at number 7 Phuket Old Town.

9. Wat Khao Rang

The Big Buddha at Wat Khao Rang

The Wat Khao Rang is one of the less-visited temples in Phuket and is located in Phuket Town. I really can’t understand that since it’s a truly beautiful temple!

Next to the big golden Buddha statue is another temple building. The staircase is protected by a temple guard in the form of a giant statue. There are also some interesting statues from 3 Hindu gods. The temple looks quite new and well maintained. It was founded by a monk with the name Luang Pu Supha who claims to be the oldest man in the world.

If that’s true? I don’t know. But the temple is definitely worth a visit, if you like temple complexes like I do. They just exude something special.

Guard at the entrance of the Wat Khao Rang

How do I get there?

In the old town you have to walk from the Fountain Circle (which I mentioned before) in the direction to the shared taxis. Just go straight past those until the next junction. There you have to turn right into the Patiphat Road. Now you can follow the street up the hill for a while. You will find the temple at the right hand side.

Keep in mind that walking the way up can be very exhausting and lasts about 45 minutes. You could also rent a Tuk Tuk in Phuket Town instead. Unfortunately, I don’t know the price because I did the walking.

10. Khao Rang viewpoint

View at Phuket Town from the Khao Rang Viewpoint
The view at Phuket Town

On the same hill, the Khao Rang hill, is also a beautiful viewpoint located at the top. The just described temple Wat Khao Rang is approximately located half way.

On the top you can relax a bit in the cafes or restaurants or just enjoy the view at Phuket Town and the ocean. There isn’t much more to say than it’s totally worth it!

How do I get there?

To get to the viewpoint just follow the same way like to the Wat Khao Rang. By walking it will be about 10 more minutes up the hill and you will reach the Khao Rang viewpoint.

11. Phuket Trick Eye Museum

If you need something else for a change, then how about a visit to a museum? Not just any museum, but the Phuket Trick Eye Museum in Phuket Town! I’m normally not a big fan of museums, but this one is very special and I can recommend it to everybody.

It is an interactive museum with 3D images. You can take some amazing pictures where it seems like you are actually inside those pictures. It’s a lot of fun! I did visit a museum like this also once in Chiang Mai and was really impressed.

The museum is opened daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and the entrance fee is 500 baht per person. If you book the ticket online, it’s only 400 Baht per person.

How do I get there?

The museum is located near the old bus station 1 of Phuket Town at the Phang Nga Road. The pink Songthaew (shared taxi) that goes around town will drive past that museum.

12. Karon Viewpoint

Karon Viewpoint with a view at Kata Noi, Kata and Karon
The view at the 3 bays of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon

This viewpoint is located at one of the many mountains of Phuket with a stunning view at the 3 bays of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon. Many tours do a stop here but despite that it’s never really overcrowded.

How do I get there?

If you are coming from Chalong, you don’t have to turn left to Kata beach, but rather continue straight to the direction of Kata Noi. You have to go up a steep mountain on the left side. Now you have to follow the road for a couple of kilometers to the top of the hill and will automatically get to the free viewpoint.

If you are coming from Patong, Karon or Kata, then you have to turn right to Kata Noi and follow the way just like I described it before.

13. Bangla Road

The Bangla Road in Patong, Phuket
The infamous party area of Patong

If you like to go party, then you are just right at the Bangla Road in Patong. It is probably the most famous red light district in Thailand, but also good to do a pub crawl.

There are not only Lady Bars and Ping Pong Shows, but rather plenty of bars with live music and some large discotheques like the Hollywood or Illuzion, which is a mix of club and show.

You can hate or love the Bangla Road. You have to decide for yourself.

How do I get there?

The Bangla Road is located at the Beach Road in Patong. The beginning is across the street from the police station. You can’t miss that street. During the day time it’s a normal street with cars, but for “party time” it’s closed for vehicles until 3 a.m.

14. Muay Thai boxing

The Muay Thai Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong

Perhaps you would like to watch a Muay Thai fight on Phuket? It is after all the most famous sport in Thailand. The country is cluttered with small and big fighting areas for the nightly fights and you will see that sooner or later.

There will be cars with loudspeaker announcements and sometimes even the fighters themselves who promote those fights. There will also be flyers and posters distributed throughout the area of Patong – you can’t miss that!

If you like to see a fight then I can recommend the Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong. It is located on the second floor and it has a great atmosphere during the fights. They start normally around 9 p.m. until midnight. There are always more fights throughout the evening. Tickets are starting at 1700 baht and you can buy them on site or in advance online including a transfer.

How do I get there?

The stadium is located at the Ratautit Road in Patong. It’s the same street which leads along the coast to Karon and Kata. Opposite you will find a market at the evening in front of the Banzaan Fresh Market.

15. Banzaan Fresh Market

The Banzaan Fresh Market in Patong

Opposite the Bangla Boxing Stadium there is the Banzaan Fresh Market during the day time. This is a market inside the building where you can buy fresh vegetables, fish, shrimps, crabs, frogs etc. If you don’t have a kitchen in your accommodation, you can head to the first floor and get your fresh food cooked there. You can find plenty restaurants which offer to cook the delicious food for a small fee. It is opened from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

There is also a market in front of the building in the evening with many food stalls or small shops with cocktails, clothes, shakes etc. Maybe you can combine your visit with a Muay Thai fight afterwards in the boxing stadium.

How do I get there?

For driving directions please take a look at number 14 Muay Thai boxing.

16. Kathu Waterfall

There are many waterfalls on Phuket like the Bang Pae Waterfall or Tonsai Waterfall in the north of the island. One of the most famous ones which I like to mention is the Kathu Waterfall.

It consists of three cascades. The first level is easy to reach and offers a great fresh water pool. Here you can relax or cool down in the cold water. A nice change in the heat of Phuket.

Of course the waterfall is most beautiful during the raining season, when it carries very much water.

How do I get there?

Kathu is located east of Patong in the direction of Phuket Town. If you are coming from Patong, you have to drive over the first hill with the signs to Kathu and at the gas station (Caltex) and then you just need to turn left to the Kathu market. Past the market you will get to the Soi Nam Tok Kathu (the waterfall street).

There will be many restaurants and shops, but the most remarkables should be the Cable Ski and the Palazzo. A restaurant with a show that looks like a circus tent. At the end of the street you will find the waterfall.

17. Watching airplanes at the Mai Khao Beach

In the northwest of Phuket there is the Mai Khao Beach, also known as Airport Beach, the longest beach of the island. It is about 11 kilometers of sandy beach and partially lonely since it’s not visited that much.

However, the special thing about this beach is that you can see the airplanes from the Phuket International Airport starting and landing. They approach the airport directly above the beach. A fascinating experience, if you want to see something like that.

How do I get there?

To reach the beach you have to drive along the Highway 402 north in the direction to the airport. It’s a long way and sometimes you can’t go to the beach through the resident resort when you are not a guest there.

You can head to Turtle Village, which is signposted. Inside the village, watch out for signs to the Mai Khao Dream Resort. Follow those and the street will not only lead you to the resort, but rather to the beach.

18. Nui Beach at Nui Bay Member Club

The secret Nui Bay on Phuket
Nui Bay – a small, but expensive secret

This bay is another secret off the beaten track, but unfortunately an expensive one. The Nui Bay is a private bay with a resident beach club. The entrance fee is 300 baht per person. Included is an umbrella, beach mats, towels, a drink and the on-site sauna.

The small beach is only 120 meters long and has not too many visitors – perhaps because of the fee! The sand is a bit rocky, but the water is crystal clear and just awesome. Here you can spend a few secluded and quiet hours at the ocean. In addition, the bay offers a terrific sunset every evening.

Sunset at the Nui Bay, Phuket
You can see a beautiful sunset from here…

How do I get there?

The way is the same as number 12 to the Karon Viewpoint. However, you still have to go a little further until you will find a sandy way on the right hand side with a huge poster. You have to go down that mountain on a dirt road. Be careful! When it rains it can be very slippery and even on a normal day you have to drive carefully. You don’t want to have an accident, do you?

If you would like to do organized tours on Phuket and do not have the time to explore the island on your own, then we recommend that you check out Get Your Guide. There you can find many tickets and day tours on Phuket.

Now I want to show you 5 more destinations which are perfect for a day trip or onward traveling, however they are not all directly located in Phuket:

1. James Bond Island

The James Bond Island is situated in the bay of Phang Nga and is a famous spot for a day trip. Marcel and I did this in February of 2013. The island has its name from the 1974 James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”.

During the tour you will visit the island Koh Pan-Yee, a famous fishermen’s village on the water, the Suwankuha Temple and of course the James Bond Island itself. The price for such a day trip starts at 1500 baht.

2. Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi consists of 2 islands. Koh Phi Phi Don (the main island) and Koh Phi Phi Leh, where the legendary Maya Bay is located and the Hollywood movie The Beach was filmed.

Koh Phi Phi Leh is mainly visited by tourists doing day trips from Phuket. I would recommend you to go to the Rassada Pier in Phuket Town and take a boat to Koh Phi Phi Don for about 500 baht. You can stay there a couple of days and enjoy the famous and spectacular Phi Phi Viewpoint or go on a tour to the Maya Bay with a longtail boat on your own. Do it in the early morning and it will be less crowded.

3. Koh Yao Yai

Koh Yao Yai is the largest of the surrounding islands near Phuket. It is still less visited and kind of a secret. If you are looking for a place off the beaten track, then you should think about a trip to Koh Yao Yai. It’s possible to do it as a day trip or you can just stay overnight.

The price to go there by boat is about 100-200 baht per person and an additional fee if you like to take your motorbike. Another great option would be a bike tour around Koh Yao Yai, if you are looking for some activities.

4. Krabi and the Tiger Cave temple

The city of Krabi, which is just a three-hour bus ride from Phuket, has not so many highlights itself. But the Tiger Cave temple is definitely one of the must-sees. High above the city and the region of Krabi lies this magnificent temple. The way up with its 1237 steps can be really sweaty, but as soon as you reach the top you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view.

For a day trip certainly a bit too far, but for an ongoing destination I can recommend you a trip to Ao Nang. That’s a small beach town near Krabi Town and a perfect spot for island hopping. For example you could do a tour to Hong Island, Koh Poda or Chicken and Tub Island.

5. The Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are an archipelago consisting of 9 small paradise islands. If you love snorkeling or diving, then this will be your spot! Not only its white sandy beaches are beautiful, but rather the underwater world has a lot to offer.

There are many day trips from Khao Lak or Phuket to those amazing islands. The price for a tour starts at 3000 baht during the high season. In the low season they will start from about 1800 baht per person. Included in a tour like this is the pick up from the hotel, snorkeling masks, as well as soft drinks, fruits and a lunch buffet.

Plan your trip to Phuket now

More hotel recommendations for Phuket:

Have you ever been to Phuket? Do you have some more must-sees which we need to see next time? Leave us a comment below.


Hi, I'm Tobi, a passionate travel blogger and freelancer in translations and copy writing. Mostly I travel around Southeast Asia and work remotely from different locations. If you want to know where I am or what I'm doing, just follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.