Thailand Phuket Guide
As befits Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is highly developed and offers an array of quintessential beach life. Its equatorial island-city appeal and proximity to bucket-list destinations of the Andaman Sea, make Phuket an international magnet for sea lovers and thrill-seekers. Even James Bond loves this location so much; he couldn’t wait to go there before his holidays – doing so, twice, in The Man with the Golden Gun and Tomorrow Never Dies. If one of the coolest men in history thinks it’s a spectacular destination, you should think so too!
Phuket is the largest and most important island in Thailand located in the southern part of the Andaman Sea. The island is a global tourism hotspot since it has an international airport directly connecting Phuket with dozens of countries. Many people decide to visit Phuket as it’s a grand starting island for island hopping in the south neighboring with Koh Phi Phi, Krabi islands, and Koh Lanta. It’s not surprising that Phuket attracted over 10 million visitors in the last year alone.
From gorgeous beaches to historic temples – a trip to Phuket is nothing short of a wow experience! And it can be cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Phuket is a gateway for day trips to the Phi Phi islands, Similan islands, Racha islands, James Bond island, Phang Nga Bay and the islands around Krabi. Phuket is a definition of tropical paradise that also offers a memorable shopping, immersing in local cuisine and culture, white powder beaches, and the party that never stops. With endless eco-adventures, including jungle treks, hidden waterfalls, and elephant sanctuaries, there’s something for everyone in Phuket.
The best time to travel to Phuket is between October and early May. The weather is usually beautiful to enjoy the beach and outdoor activities, boat tours, and all the extra fun you must have planned on your itinerary. The rainy season starts from May and ends around October. During that period, Phuket experiences a high rainfall followed by treacherous waters, strong winds, and scarce activity and accommodation options. Probably the best time to visit this tropical island is during April when Songkran takes place. In April, many tourists start to move away from the island, which gives a unique and more relaxed vibe. The prices of accommodation are way lower, the beaches way emptier and generally, you can enjoy and relax in paradise.
It depends on a lot of factors. If it is your first time traveling, you want to stay in Phuket Town so that you get exposed to the culture of the people. It is also the best way to catch what a typical day in the life of locals looks like. Don’t forget to visit Phuket Town Night Market on Sundays to immerse in local cuisine and tradition as well as get some souvenirs for home. If you’re planning to visit neighboring islands such as Koh Phi Phi or Krabi islands, Rassada Pier is located just a few kilometers from Phuket Town. However, Phuket Town might get a bit overwhelming by its traffic and noise, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation. Karon beach area is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a quiet place with a long sandy beach, surrounding mountains, and the tallest Big Buddha statue in Phuket. Young people who’re looking for never-ending nightlife, electronic music, and beach equipped for water sports shouldn’t miss Patong area. Kamala, Bang Tao, and Laguna are the best upscale areas for a family vacation, featuring luxury beach resorts and villas, and a relaxed vibe on quieter beaches. But if you are looking for a place that blends a decent nightlife, relaxing atmosphere, hiking trails, and stunning beaches, then Kata is the place to be.
Being on Phuket doesn’t mean you should not explore all the other islands around. Since about 30 islands surround Phuket nearby, with dozens more within an easy reach, it’s tough to mention all. For a wholesome experience, we have curated the best islands close to Phuket which you should see including Phi Phi islands, Racha islands, Coral island, Maiton island, Khai islands, James Bond island, Hong island, Koh Panyee, Panak island, Krabi islands, and Similan islands.
You’ll inevitably find a broader range of activities in Phuket than in Krabi. While Phuket brings all the beach experiences, Krabi spices thing up with mountains and limestone cliffs. Krabi offers an abundance of outdoor destinations like Wat Tham Sua (Tiger Cave Temple), Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, Emerald Pool, or Phra Nang Shri. When it comes to landmass, Krabi features as much as 80 different islands, which is way more massive compared to the 30 Phuket islands. If you can’t decide why not visit both destinations? Islander’s speedboat will transfer you from Phuket to Krabi in around 3 hours, while you can also book a boat trip to experience the best of islands from either location within a day.
Both locations have great beaches, fantastic tourist attractions, impressive natural sights, and world-class diving spots. While the social and cultural life in Phuket is much more vibrant, Koh Samui claws back with a relaxed location for a serene holiday. Ultimately, the choice depends on your lifestyle, taste, and personal preference. For active sports and nightlife, the superior choice is Phuket. But for an intimate, romantic getaway – Koh Samui is the ideal choice.
Pattaya might be easier to get to and access, but it has nowhere near the quality of beaches and nightlife, which you get in Phuket. Likewise, closeness to Bangkok makes Pattaya a bit more crowdy than Phuket, and that can weigh so much on your experience. If you only have a week in Thailand but still want a taste of the beaches and nightlife in Thailand, Pattaya is a good bet. But if you’re ever caught between choosing the two – Phuket should be the clear winner!