Phuket: a complete guide

Sander & MariskaPhuket is Thailand’s largest island and its many strips of sandy beaches wouldn’t be out of place on a postcard. It is arguably Thailand’s most popular beach destination and is as famous as it is infamous all over the world.

That is to say, Phuket has been somewhat swallowed up by tourism, causing it to lose some of its charms throughout the years. But to us, Phuket is still the island of hills covered in green and secluded little bays where it’s possible to enjoy a deserted tropical beach while relaxing under a palm tree.

– Sander & Mariska

Sights in Phuket

Phuket is more than a succession of Go Go Bars with pole dancers. Thankfully, the island also offers a wealth of natural beauty and fun outings, where it’s possible to avoid large hordes of tourists. Plan your activities early in the morning and organize your own trips!

Laem Singh Beach in Phuket

Phuket is a true holiday destination. Besides the large popular beaches, there are enough hidden pieces of paradise where you can be by yourself! See next section for more information.

Karon Viewpoint in Phuket

Phuket’s hilly landscape allows for amazing viewpoints. You should definitely visit Windmill Viewpoint, Karon Viewpoint and the Promthep Cape.

Soi Bangla in Phuket

Flickering neon-lights, scantily clad pole dancers and loud music. This street is insane and attracts a different kind of crowd.

Entrance gate to Phuket Old Town

Pay a visit to the center of Old Town (Thalang Road) on a Sunday night and experience the nicest market in all of Phuket. It starts at 4:00 PM and ends at 10:00 PM.

White Buddha in Phuket

A huge 60 meter tall Buddha statue that looks out over the west side of the island.

Bang Pae Waterfall in Phuket

Enter the jungle and visit the waterfalls of Phuket. Three waterfalls worth your time: Bang Pae, Kathu and the Ton Sai Waterfall.

Mai Khao Beach in Phuket

Attention all plane spotters! From Mai Khao Beach you can see the planes brushing past, right above you. A fantastic experience for young and old.

8. Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong

In the morning, Phuket’s most beautiful temple complex is an oasis of calm, but in the afternoon it might get busier.

Phuket Trickeye Museum

A fun activity for the kids if it’s raining or if it’s boiling hot outside. Become part of the museum and take all kinds of wacky pictures!

Soi Dog Foundation Phuket

Marvel at the volunteers’ passion and dedication for neglected stray dogs and cats. Make a difference as well and pay them a visit.

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket

Want to have your picture taken with cute monkeys? You won’t after visiting the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, where you’ll learn what it actually involves…

Chaloem Phrakiat Park in Phuket

Like to get some exercise? Go to Chaloem Phrakiat and take a jog with locals around the park at sunset or sunrise.

Central Festival

Shop till you drop: it’s possible at the Central Festival Phuket. From the most expensive designer shops to the nicest bargains.

Longtail boat in Phang Nga Bay

Because of its favorable location, Phuket serves as a great base from which to travel to the natural parks located on islands nearby, like the Phang Nga Bay, the Similan Islands, and Coral Island.

Koh Yao Yai

An island full of palm trees and empty beaches. Organize your own little trip, take the ferry in the morning and you’ll be on this lovely island within an hour.

Beaches in Phuket

It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if you chose to visit Phuket for a few days (weeks?!) of rest on the beach. You should know then that Phuket has a lot more to offer than Patong Beach. For example, Phuket has several lovely, small beaches where even during the high season it’s nice and peaceful. Describing the beaches, we will go clockwise around the island, starting in the south.

Ya Nui Beach on Phuket

A tiny beach in the south of Phuket. Rent some snorkeling gear and spot the tropical fish around the large rock. While you’re at it, pay a visit to the nearby Windmill Viewpoint for a beautiful view over Ya Nui Beach.

Nai Harn Beach on Phuket

Very relaxing beach on Phuket with several really nice restaurants, where you can have dinner right on the beach. If you follow the road, you arrive at Ao Sane Beach; a tiny little beach that’s great for snorkeling.

Parasailing at Kata Beach - Phuket

One of the island’s most popular beaches. During the rainy season (June – October) it’s possible to rent a surfboard and catch some waves. During the cool season (November – February) the sea is calm and great for swimming.

4. Karon Beach

Karon Beach in Phuket

Karon Beach is located exactly in between Patong and Kata Beach. Funnily enough, this beach has no food stands. So if you get hungry, you will have to cross the road. The beach is quiet, but also a little less pleasant.

Freedom Beach on Phuket

A small beach, around the corner from Freedom Beach, with white sand and crystal clear water. Visit Freedom Beach in the early morning (by motorbike or long tail boat) to have this small piece of paradise all to yourself!

Crowds at Patong Beach - Phuket

The most popular beach on Phuket and its surroundings. Shabby little streets, dozens of bars, scantily clad dancers and an endless expanse of sandy beaches where every evening you can view a beautiful sunset.

Kamala Beach on Phuket

The best beach for families. Despite being near Patong Beach, almost as popular and also stretching for miles, Kamala Beach is very different. It’s a lot friendlier and more relaxing. At Kamala Beach there are a lot of family hotels that will provide you with everything you need for a beach holiday.

Laem Singh Beach in Phuket

Slightly north of Kamala Beach is Laem Singh Beach, easily visible from the viewpoint along the road. A beautiful little beach for which you have to pay a small entrance fee (20 baht). Visit the beach in the morning. It gets busy in the afternoon.

9. Surin Beach

Surin Beach in Phuket

A half an hour’s ride north of Patong is Surin Beach, recognizable by its luxury resorts and very expensive houses that look out across the bay. Popular among tourists, but never overrun by them.

Bangtao Beach on Phuket

Six (!) kilometers of quiet and relaxing sandy beach. The northern part of Bangtao Beach in particular, is still pure and unspoiled. Bring a towel and enjoy the true beach life.

Banana Beach in Phuket

This might be our favorite beach on Phuket. You can reach it by taking a steep path next to the road. Around Banana Beach you’ll find many large boulders and the strip of sand is shaped like a… banana. Hence the name, Banana Beach!

Naitahon Beach in Phuket

In the north west of Phuket is Naithon Beach. If you like small-scale tourism then this is the place for you. It’s near Phuket’s airport and surrounded by a lot of hills. Beautiful!

Airplane spotting at Mai Khao Beach - Phuket

Right across from the airport is Mai Khao Beach. This is where you go plane spotting, because the planes – literally – brush right over your head. An amazing sight during sunset.

14. Rawai Beach

Rawai Beach in Phuket

Not a beach for extensive sunbathing or to go swimming; it’s a local beach where you’ll see fishermen working. At low tide you can walk very far. Visit this beach for the many restaurants where you can have the best seafood.

Hotels in Phuket

Phuket is the island of big, luxury resorts. It’s the perfect place to end your holidays and completely relax and unwind. Besides luxury resorts, we will also be recommending some excellent small-scale accommodations. But no matter where on Phuket it is that you’re staying, you’ll always be near a gorgeous beach!

Lupta Hostel Patong Hideaway

1. Lupta Hostel Patong Hideaway

Central location Directly on the beach Clean

$ – Would you like to meet some nice people while traveling alone? Spend a few nights at the Lupta Hostel near Patong Beach. The rooms are spotless and only 10 meters (!) from the beach. In our opinion, this is the best hostel on Phuket!

Kata Bai D Inn

2. Kata Bai D Inn

Clean rooms Near Kata Beach Cheap

$ – Only a five-minute walk from the beach is the Kata Bai D Hotel. It’s run by Sam, who is always to help you with whatever you need. The rooms are spotless, the internet is fast and it’s located in a cheerful spot, amid several restaurants.

Two Chefs Inn

3. Two Chefs Inn

Near the beach Pleasant surroundings Clean rooms

$$ – Two Chefs Inn is a great and cheap place to stay. The balconies look out over Kata Beach and the rooms are basic but spotless. It’s situated next to a lot of nice restaurants, but you can also have dinner at the hotel.

Jinda Resort

4. Jinda Resort

Near the airport Modern rooms Swimming pool

$$ – Located only two kilometers from Phuket’s international airport, the Jinda Resort is a perfect place to catch your breath, before or after your flight. Something else that’s close is the beach. The staff can arrange transport!

Clear House Resort

5. Clear House Resort

Small-scale hotel Spacious rooms Swimming pool

$$ – Light and pleasant rooms, a beautiful swimming pool out front and the beach (Kamala Beach) – the Clear House Resort is what it is: a really nice hotel for a great price. Spacious family rooms are also available.

The Memory at on on Hotel

6. The Memory at on on Hotel

Fancy hotel Authentic rooms Central location

$$ – Spend the night in Phuket’s oldest (!) hotel’s charming rooms and dormitories. Every nook and cranny of this atmospheric building breathes an air of convivial warmth, making the experience of sleeping here something to cherish. The staff is very professional, friendly and helpful.

Suay Bungalow Resort

7. Suay Bungalow Resort

Cute bungalows Swimming pool Small-scale resort

$$ – The Suay Bungalows Resort is a true gem of southern Phuket. It’s small-scale and there is only a handful of snug and comfortable bungalows. The owner is very kind and will go out of their way to help you. Highly recommended!

The Nap Patong

8. The Nap Patong

Luxurious rooms Central location Modern resort

$$$ – A gorgeous hotel with all of the modern facilities you could wish for. The staff is always ready to help whenever you need anything. Only a 5-minute walk from Patong Beach – nice and central!

Sunwing Resort & Spa

9. Sunwing Resort & Spa

Large swimming pools By the beach Family rooms

$$$ – A family hotel on Bangtao Beach, one of Phuket’s quieter areas, with a gorgeous beach right in front your door and various restaurants situated within walking distance. Ideal for spending a few days with the entire family!

Amari Coral Beach Resort

10. Amari Coral Beach Resort

Luxury swimming pools Gorgeous suites View

$$$ – If you feel like splashing out a bit, we recommend staying at the Amari Coral Beach Resort, away from the crowds of Patong Beach, but still quite central. The rooms are great, the swimming pool is awesome and the view from the rooms is amazing!2

Restaurants in Phuket

In Phuket there’s a top class international restaurant on practically every street corner. Thankfully there are also a lot of nice, small-scale restaurants where you can have great Thai food. These are our 12 favorite places to eat, in alphabetical order.

1. Cafeopera Live – Kata Beach

Soi Melisa Kata Road
Great food, excellent service, live music and a really nice atmosphere: eating at Cafeopera Live is a wonderful experience. Definitely go there if you happen to be nearby.

2. Grill Bill

86/16 Rim Haad Kamala Beach
The restaurant for real meat lovers: hamburgers, spare ribs, steaks, you name it. Excellent quality, worth the money.

3. Istanbul Restaurant

87 Kokttanod Road Kata Beach
The best Turkish dishes prepared with love. Besides the excellent meat dishes, it also serves vegetarian food. The owner is very friendly.

4. Kopitiam by Wilai

14&18 Talang Road Phuket Town
Great recommendation for Phuket Town. This small-scale restaurant serves the best Thai dishes for a great price. Their shakes and desserts are a real surprise.

5. Mr. Coffee

Patak Road 479/1 Karon Beach
The best place for an amazing breakfast, it serves fresh croissants, toasted bread with cheese, sandwiches and a really good cup of coffee. But also try the desserts and fruit shakes!

6. Pad Thai Shop

Th Patak East Soi 12 Karon
As you can tell from the name, this is where you get the best Pad Thai in Phuket. But the other Thai dishes are also very good.

7. Phen’s Restaurant Bar & Coffee

Nai Yang Beach Road
Dine on the beach with the sand between your toes. You can do this at Phen’s Restaurant, north of Phuket. Fresh ingredients and a wide selection of beers and wines.

8. Pum Thai Restaurant & Cooking School

Th Patak East Soi 12 Karon
Excellent restaurant that serves great food – try the chicken sate! It also offers cooking courses for small groups.

9. Rawai View Cafe & Bar

96/6 Moo 6 Soi Laem Promthep 1 Rawai
This is the place to be for seafood in Phuket. The view from the terrace is fantastic. Save some space for the Mango Sticky Rice!

10. Restaurant at Lillo Island Resort

Moo 3 Kamala Beach
Have breakfast, lunch and/or dinner on Kamala Beach, with a sunset every evening. High quality and fresh food. The staff is great as well!

11. Sabai Corner

Soi Laem Mum Nai 21 Kata Noi
Nice and affordable food with an amazing view? Look no further than Sabai Corner, south of the Karon Viewpoint. Particularly stunning during sunset.

12. Thai Smile

8 Chalermprakiat Road Soi Eden Patong Beach
Go to Thai Smile for traditional Thai meals. It can get pretty busy as the day wears on. So try and arrive early!

Transport in Phuket

From Bangkok

Domestic flight

  • Travel time: 1 hour
  • Cost: ฿ 900-1,800 pp

From Bangkok (Don Muang Airport or Suvarnabhumi Airport) you can take a cheap flight to Phuket’s airport. If you book your flight well in advance, it won’t cost you more than 900 baht. It’s the most comfortable mode of transport.

Overnight bus

  • Travel time: 14 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 650-1,000 pp

If you prefer to travel by land, then the night bus is your best option. Night buses leave from the southern bus station in Bangkok to Phuket at different times. The buses are equipped with comfortable reclining chairs and free wifi.

From other destinations

Koh Samui

  • Travel time: 7 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 800 pp

To get from Koh Samui to Phuket you’ll need to take the ferry and the bus. The entire journey will take around 7 hours. The ferry-bus arrangements leave between 7:30 AM to 12:45 PM. Guide price ± 800 baht pp per ticket.

Koh Phangan

  • Travel time: 7 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 1,000 pp

You can leave for Phuket from the Thong Sala Pier on Koh Phangan. Ferries and buses to Phuket leave at 7:20 AM and noon. It will take about 7 hours to get there and tickets cost around 1,000 baht.

Koh Phi Phi

  • Travel time: 2 hours
  • Cost: ฿ 650-800 pp

Phuket is a 2 hour boat ride away from Koh Phi Phi. Between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM many boats will take you from Ton Sai Pier to Rassada Pier in Phuket. Prices are between 650 and 800 baht per person.


  • Travel time: 5+ hours
  • Cost: ฿ 155 pp

Traveling from Krabi to Phuket is easy. Buses leave for Phuket during the entire day and they’ll take about three hours to arrive. Cost: 155 baht. In the morning (10:30 AM) there’s also a ferry that goes to Phuket, but it will take more than 5 hours to get there.

Getting around

Airport Minivan

Most travelers arrive at Phuket’s airport. Near the exit you’ll find different desks where you can order a shared minivan for a fixed and fair price. They’ll take you to popular beaches and will drop you off in front of your hotel. Ideal! Transport to the popular beaches costs 150-220 baht.

Blue Songthaew

The blue local buses (songthaews) run along fixed routes over the island – from beach to beach. There are no fixed stops, you can just flag these buses along the road and tell them where you would like to go. Travel like a local! A ride between beaches costs 15-50 baht.


Taking a taxi on Phuket is expensive. A ride across the island can easily cost you a couple of hundred baht. We used the Grab-taxi app, which picks you up right in front your door and shows the price beforehand. Pricing starts at 400 baht, this service will cost you an extra 50 baht per ride. Download on iTunes or Google Play.

Motorbike Rental

The northern and southern parts of Phuket are perfect to explore on a motorbike. But be careful: the roads around the most popular beaches are busy and dangerous 24/7. Only rent a motorbike if you’re an experienced rider! Rent is 300-500 baht for 24 hrs.

Tuk Tuk

The red, open minivans on Phuket are called tuk tuks and they’re ideal for covering short distances. Be prepared to do some serious haggling – otherwise you’ll end paying more than you bargained for. They only ride past Phuket’s most popular beaches. A ride within the center costs 100+ baht.

Weather in Phuket

The best time to visit Phuket is during the cool season from November – February.

November – February

Weather wise Phuket is ideal during the cool season. Expect a lot of sunshine, pleasant temperatures and every now and again a refreshing shower. Nature is also at its most beautiful; vibrant green and lively!

March – May

In Phuket the hot season means sun, sun and more sun. Don’t expect any rain during these months. It is incredibly hot, but thankfully the wind and the sea offer the opportunity to cool off.

June – October

The rainy season in Phuket is synonymous with turbulent seas, which makes the south west coast an excellent surfing location. During this period you might see showers that go on for days on end, but thankfully sunshine always follows the rain.

Map of Phuket

Continue your journey to...

Koh Phi Phi
Koh Samui