Want to visit Phuket, Thailand? Here’s what I learned, researched, and experienced from my trip. Get ready for beaches, a little bit of culture, and a whole lot of fun.
WHY VISIT PHUKET?
THE BEACH! Phuket is a good jumping off point if you want to visit the beautiful islands of Thailand. If you want to stay on Phuket Island, there are many beaches with varying types of visitors. Phuket is also the place to party in Thailand.
- Research your beaches to find a place that fits with your desires and activities. Each beach has different atmospheres.
- After you land at the airport, immediately go to the taxi line if you don’t have a pre-arranged ride. The line grows quickly. It is a set rate at the taxi stand to where you want to go, usually around 500 baht.
The best time to visit Phuket is October to March when it’s not so hot and drier, though high temperatures are close to the 90s year-round. We went in November and we saw at least one rain shower in the afternoon.
The main airport is Phuket International Airport (HKT). It is in the north part of the island, so you’ll likely need to take a taxi for at least 45 minutes (and about 500 baht) if you’re heading to beaches in South Phuket.
Red open-air tuk tuks are available. Flag these down as you see them. Negotiate a price.
- Patong – This place was CRAAAAAZZZY. Crazy. Since Phuket was only going to be a quick stop for our scuba diving liveaboard, I didn’t research much. So we found out just how crazy Patong is IN THE FLESH. If you want to drink and party, this is the place. Go to the beach in the morning and then get ready for a night of partying on Bangla street.
- Kata – This place was much chiller than Patong. The beach and city are smaller and filled with families. There are plenty of restaurants.
- Surin – This area is less touristy but filled with luxury. You’ll see lots of mansions and high-end resorts.
- Kamala – This area is also less touristy and welcomes many older visitors.
- Karon – Less busy and developed like Patong but still popular with tourists.
- Khao Lak – If you want to skip Phuket, Khao Lak is 37 miles north of Phuket Island. Our scuba diving shop was located here and we got a quick feel for the place. This seemed like a walkable area to stay.
But if you really want the best beach experience in Thailand, you’ll need to visit some islands. Krabi and Koh Samui are two. Check out this list of the best beaches to visit.
WHERE TO STAY
You won’t have trouble finding a place to stay in Phuket, hotels are plentiful and at a good price. Before you book, check the hotel’s proximity to the beach and busy areas to make sure you are comfortable and able to get a good night’s rest. We stayed in two different hotels while in Phuket.
Palmyra Patong Resort (Patong) – I liked that this hotel was close enough to walk to the main street (Bangla) but far enough away from the nightlife. The rooms are nice and the staff is friendly. Our room was spacious and had a balcony. They also have a fantastic restaurant.
Chanalai Garden Resort (Kata) – This place is a maze! A front desk agent led us to our room and we took multiple flights of stairs and at least two elevators to get there. It was such a long journey that when she shut the door behind her, we looked at each other and laughed about how we might never find the hotel entrance again. So, you’ll get exercise for your legs and your brain if you stay here. Despite that, they have a great pool deck, a plentiful breakfast buffet, and exceptional rooms.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK
Our time in Phuket was surrounded by hectic travel days, so we ate at our hotels’ restaurants and quick eats as we were walking around. Still great Thai food though!
Here are some recommended places I had on deck in Patong and Kata:
- Kaab Gluay
58/3 Phrabaramee Road, Patong, Phuket
- No. 6 Restaurant
186 Rat-u-thi- road, Patong, Phuket
- Patong Seafood Restaurant
98/2 Thaweewong Rd, Patong, Phuket
- Home’s Food Thai Food
87/2 Tayna Road Kata Beach, near Easy Rider Pub
- Mom Tri’s Kitchen
12 Kata Noi Road, Kata No, Kata, Phuket Tel: +66 76 333 569
- Re Ka Ta
3rd Street Cafe & Guest House 92/15 92/15 Khoktanod Road, Kata Beach
- Mac-chiato House & Cake Box
48 Thalang Road, Muang Phuket
If you’re a craft beer fan, be on the lookout for Phuket’s Full Moon Brewworks on drink menus around town.
WHAT TO DO
You came for the beach, right?! Sit out and enjoy the sea, sand, and sun! You’ll also be able to find day trip opportunities to nearby islands with more pristine beaches. Walk around to different tourist shops or ask your hotel concierge for options.
Bangla Road – Patong Beach
I hear Bangla and I laugh because wow, that is one interesting place. I would say its energy, action, and alcohol consumption are similar to 6th Street in Austin or Bourbon Street in New Orleans with a Vegas flair. You’ll find cheap drinks, ladyboys, and promoters trying to convince you to come to their ping pong show. If you want to know what Bangla is like, check internet videos. If you find yourself on Bangla, I recommend popping in the lower-key bar at the beginning of the street by the Patong Beach sign where you’ll hear some cover bands.
We stopped in Phuket because it was the jumping off point for our liveaboard. Scuba diving was one of the best things we did in Thailand, and you’ll be able to find more opportunities in Phuket. Read more about our scuba diving liveaboard experience here.
If you want to see some cultural sights, go check out Wat Chalong and the Big Buddha statue, which are in two different places. The statue gives you a 360-view of Phuket because it sits on a peak.
Phuket wasn’t my favorite place on our Thailand trip, but I’m glad we experienced it. We had some good memories there and it was the gateway to our incredible scuba adventure.
What’s your favorite beach you’ve ever been to?
P.S. The Thailand fun doesn’t stop here! Check out all my Thailand posts here.