Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and one of the most popular beach destinations in Southeast Asia with over 8 million visitors last year. Being such a huge tourist destination, known for some crazy things, some people would probably think twice about going to the ‘pearl of the Andaman.’ But you can’t find what Phuket has to offer anywhere else in Thailand, and if you just do some research, you will see that Phuket is so much more than overdeveloped Patong. Below are my top 8 picks on why you should visit Phuket.
1. The many gorgeous beaches
Afternoon sun at Surin Beach.
Spending lazy days on Phuket’s world-famous beaches is a pretty obvious thing to do, but Phuket does boast not only busy beaches like Patong, Karon, and Kata but also quiet and even “secret” beaches few people know about. With around 40 beaches to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find your dream beach.
2. Delicious food everywhere
Delicious noodle soup with chicken.
Phuket used to be one of Thailand’s commercial ports trading with other countries which is why the local food is highly influenced by countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and China. If you’re a foodie, Phuket is a culinary dream destination with delicious food everywhere; open-air sidewalk restaurants, street food vendors, beachfront restaurants, and fine dining including a Michelin-starred restaurant will make you never want to leave.
3. The charming Old Phuket Town
The narrow Soi Romanee in Old Phuket Town.
Old Phuket Town is an area in Phuket Town full of history and colorful Sino-Portuguese houses and shopfronts which were built during the tin mining boom in the late 1800s. The Old Town is unique for its roads with no power poles and masses of cables hanging in the air like everywhere else in Thailand. Phuket Old Town is also home to Phuket Walking Street Market held every Sunday night on Thalang Road.
4. The impressive site of Big Buddha
The 45-meters tall Big Buddha.
I have seen quite a few Buddha statues in Thailand, but nothing beats Big Buddha in Phuket. While some Buddha statues seem to be built in somewhat cheap material, Big Buddha is made in beautiful Burmese marble. The 45-meter tall statue sits on the top of Nakkerd Hills at 400 meters offering the best 360-degree views of Phuket.
5. The Beautiful Buddhist temples
My wife lighting temple candles at Wat Chalong.
There are around 30 Buddhist temples in Phuket with Wat Chalong built at the beginning of the 19th century as the largest and most visited temple. The newest building on the site is the 60 meters tall ‘Chedi’ with walls and ceilings decorated with beautiful painting illustrating the life of Buddha with golden Buddha statues of all sizes filling the room.
6. Lots of beautiful views
Tropical view over Laem Singh Beach.
Lush mountains and hills are covering 70% of Phuket offering lots of amazing vistas; renting a motorbike and driving around the island is one hell of a joyride. Some viewpoints not to miss include Karon Viewpoint, Laem Singh Viewpoint, and Promthep Cape.
7. Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
Locals taking a refreshing dip at Bang Pae Waterfall.
The 22 km² large Khao Phra Thaeo National Park in Thalang is the only significant virgin rainforest left in Phuket. The park is home to the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project rescuing gibbons in captivity and later returning them into the wild. From here, there’s a short but nice jungle trail to the Bang Pae Waterfall, and If you want to keep trekking, you can continue 5 km to Tonsai Waterfall. Just don’t get lost!
8. The nearby attractions
My wife sitting on a swing at Samet Nangshe Viewpoint.
Staying in Phuket, you have plenty of popular day trips to choose from such as James Bond Island, the Phi Phi Islands, and the Similan Islands. I would also like to mention the lesser-known Samet Nangshe Viewpoint one hour north of Phuket where you can set up camp just for the sunrise over the stunningly beautiful Phang Nga Bay.
Phuket is famous for its nightlife, but partying is not high on my list of things to do when traveling in Thailand. Luckily, Phuket has lots of laid back places for those seeking more peace and quiet. Phuket is also a world-class spa destination with hundreds of spa and wellness treatments spread over the island. Now, I’m not a spa guy, but getting a massage is a must when in Phuket. And for all shopaholics out there: You’d love Phuket!
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