BEST OF PHUKET

The Best Of Phuket

Phuket – Overview

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is the size of Singapore, 48 km long and 21 km at the widest part. Phuket lies in the Andaman Sea on Thailand’s Indian Ocean coast located 867 kilometers south of Bangkok. Phuket is blessed with magnificent coves and bays, palm-filled, white beaches, small surrounding islands, hospitable people and great seafood. Also delightful Chinese-Portuguese architecture, numerous sporting and leisure opportunities, a lush tropical landscape – which helps to create a nice atmosphere for a truly memorable Thailand trip. The most famous beaches are Patong, Kata, Karon, Kamala and Nai Harn Beach. Phuket islands are ideal for sailing, diving, snorkeling, golfing and all kinds of sports and entertainment you could wish for. You can also take a trip with a submarine to discover the colorful marine life below the surface. There are plenty of accommodations, ranging from standard bungalows to 5-star hotels.

Phuket’s former wealth derived from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colorful history. The island was one of the main trade routes between India and China, and is frequently mentioned in foreign ship company logos. It is a very attractive island for sightseeing, with beautiful beaches and wooded hillsides. Its population of 1.6 million people ranks on place 6 among all provinces. Approximately 2.8 million square feet of the area is forest. The main industry today is rice cultivation.

But in recent times, Phuket’s main income was tourism, which has transformed the island into Thailand’s wealthiest province. One might expect that the prices are a bit higher than on the mainland. Western Phuket was hit hard by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, but there is almost no evidence left on the damage.

Phuket is very popular as a tourist destination and most of the beaches on the west coast of Phuket town in the southeast and the airport in the north.

Bang Tao Beach (or Bangtao) is one of Phuket ‘s longest beaches, halfway between the airport and Patong Beach, on the west coast of the island. With a beautiful stretch of sand, Bangtao has long been home to the famous Phuket Lagoon. This huge complex is home to some of the island’s most luxurious and largest resorts, such as Banyan Tree Resort, Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket and Angsana Resort and Outrigger Resort.

This area was one of the tin mines that made Phuket a long time ago. Later it was abandoned and the land was considered worthless. Laguna Phuket has managed to turn it into a very profitable ecological project. In the early years, Laguna started out as a luxurious complex but it was known that it was a bit isolated. Resort guests had little choice outside resort facilities and restaurants so prices were always on the high side.

Big Buddha Phuket, a 45 meter tall white marble statue, is visible from anywhere in the southern part of Phuket. It might not be my favourite attraction on the island, but the views from up there are definitely breathtaking. When reaching the top of the hill you will find a large parking and a road leading to a temple where people can donate, buy amulets and where occasional ceremonies are held. This place also serves as a museum narrating the history of the Big Buddha. You’ll have to walk through this building to access the stairs climbing to the Big Buddha. Once there you’ll find out that a wide angle lens would have been a good idea, but since you are reading this, you’ll have yours.

Why does it feel like a tourist attraction? Too many massive signs all the way to the Sarasin bridge some 50 km away and too many signs pointing at the site when closing up… where is the humility and the feeling of inner peace? Forget any possible reflection on the beauty of the site, the background soundtracks is way to loud, so altogether: the attraction is too obvious. Koh Samui always had a very popular Giant Buddha and it feels like Phuket wanted to have it bigger.

Hua Beach – After spending 23 years in Phuket, I would probably smile if someone would tell me there is a beach I never heard of and never walked on. Phuket is not that big and 35 was already a pretty impressive amount of beaches on our list.

But there was! While I was scanning google earth as I often do when searching for tracks, hills and temples, I noticed a sandy cove on the ‘Millionaire’s Row’ a hilly stretch of grassy hill passed Kamala Beach nicknamed this way for the large amount of incredibly luxurious villas built all along.

As soon as I got a chance, I rode my bike around the area wondering how could I miss this beach after driving this road quite a number of times. After all this is the way to the Paresa Resort where we had a memorable wedding party.

Its beach, 300m of fine white sand, is enclosed in a beautiful bay bordered by granite rocks and surrounded by hills covered by dense and lush tropical vegetation that are reflected in the transparent water.

These characteristics, combined with its particular geographical location that makes access difficult, make it one of the most interesting places to enjoy the sea of ​​Phuket.

Freedom Beach is usually accessible by sea, the place is in fact surrounded by private land, bargaining the price of the ride with the longtail, the typical Thai wooden boats that are numerous at the pier of the southern end of Patong beach.

The journey is short, it takes just 10-15 minutes by boat.

Another way to get there, also from Patong Beach, is to take the road to Karon Beach and park on the right about 80 meters from the Rasta Baby Bar which is on the other side.
From there you take a narrow path of ups and downs quite physically demanding leading to the beach.

Mai Khao is the longest beach in Phuket and still seems in some deserted parts as it was when we first visited it in 1990. Much has been built, but the beach has not been covered by umbrellas surrounded by food vendors . It may just be a matter of time, but you can still travel 11 kilometers or more and meet only three fishermen.

Mai Khao Beach starts at Sirinath National Park, right where the Nai Yang beach ends, and runs for eleven kilometers to the far north of the island on Haad Sai Keow beach, near the bridge. There are some notable highlights in Mai Khao, excluding those five-star resorts.



Nai Yang Beach is one of those out of the beaten track beaches little known from first time visitors, but very popular with returning travelers. Nice, shaded and full of tiny fun bars and restaurants, Nai Yang remains relatively unknown like most of the northern beaches of Phuket because they are not along the main road. The Slate and the new Phuket Marriott Nai Yang Resort are the only hotels really next to the beach. Dewa Hotel is not far but you would have to walk a bit to reach the beach.

The beach itself is a large and sandy but water might not always be as blue as on other beaches. The sea get really nice on the northern part of the bay. People here seem to love staying under the shade of the casuarina trees while enjoying the breeze with cold drinks and local food.Because Nai Yang Beach is just next to the Sirinath National Park, locals love to spend the week end picnicking and drinking under the trees while the kids play in the sea. Note that to enter the Sirinath National Park there might be a 40 baht park fee… some day you can just drive in.

 

Nai Harn is a beautiful white sand beach immaculate in the south of Phuket, hidden among green hills and tiny islands. This vast bay has always been popular with expats and locals. More relaxed than the tourist spots on the west coast, Nai Harn has enough restaurants, hotels and shops for a wonderful day and still retains its original appearance quite well. The protected bay offers an excellent anchor for sailing boats and luxury yachts. 

The beach is very large with fine, soft sand and perfect crystal blue water. I’m talking about the high season, of course, I forget to swim anywhere in Phuket during the off season, I’m serious. The southern end of Nai Harn beach is crossed by a small stream from the lake across the road and you will have to get your feet wet to get to the other side. The bay is busy, but not crowded. All along the beach, the chairs available never become full

Nai Thon is a beautiful stretch of sand that, for reasons unknown, has been overlooked by large resort developers. Thus,  it’s an ideal spot to get away from the crowds and enjoy a quiet swim. The journey to the beach is almost more enjoyable than the beach itself. On the southern approach to Nai Thon, the narrow road leads through some of the island’s last remaining virgin jungle, and winds along a coastline that rivals the Cote d’Azur in its brilliant beauty. If driving to Nai Thon from the north, the road takes you through a village then into a lush green valley before reaching the beach. Activities to be enjoyed whilst staying here include exploring rocky coves only accessible by long-tail boat and scuba diving,  which can be arranged by the dive shop on the Beach Road.

Patong is a resort town on the west coast of the island of Phuket, facing the Andaman Sea in Southwestern Thailand. Its crescent-shaped sandy beach is dotted with cafés, restaurants and bars. The famous night scene is characterized by breweries, go-go bars, nightclubs, massage centers and cabarets that fill with their noise and their neon lights Bangla Road and shopping paradise

the beach is 3 kilometers long and often crowded in the central part. The northern part of the beach, not far from Novotel Phuket, is much nicer and less populated. Fewer people, easier parking, many local food vendors to have fun and the water really gets blue in this part (at least during the high season).

The nightlife in Phuket and in particular in the city of Patong is certainly the biggest source of entertainment on the island.
Do not forget that also in Karon there are clubs that offer live music and discos are also located in Phuket Town, but the center of nightlife is certainly Patong with the famous Bangla Road.

Phuket town is often overlooked in favour of the beaches, but there’s a lot to see and do (and spend your money on!) in this old town full of heritage buildings. Phuket Town features an exciting mix of old and new, simple and sophisticated, peaceful and pulsating. The activity in Phuket Town is nearly around the clock. In the early morning, stoic monks take to the streets on their daily alms rounds and the fresh market buzzes with restaurant owners buying ingredients for the day’s meals. Non-stop bustle characterises the daytime, and lasts well into the evening. Nights are reserved for enjoying good company, whether at a restaurant, a disco, a quiet bar, or a combination of all three.

Old town

Unlike many Thai provincial capitals, Phuket Town fairly shines with personality and nowhere more so than its Old Town. In this historically rich part of town you will find shrines, temples (Buddhist and Chinese), ornate and beautifully preserved ‘shophouses’, quaint cafés, tiny printing shops, impromptu private and public museums and even a mini ex-red light district. Phuket Old Town was built on riches reaped from Phuket’s tin boom of last century, when the metal was an extremely valuable commodity.

In this quarter of the town you will see grandiose Sino-colonial mansions, once occupied by Phuket’s tin barons of 100 years’ ago. Phuket Old Town is compact enough to stroll around in. The best time to do this is early in the morning or after the day has lost its heat. There are enough restaurants and cafés to provide you with refreshments so don’t bother taking a picnic along!

https://paradisebeachphuket.com/Create memories that last a lifetime at Paradise Beach (one of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Phuket). Located in an unspoiled location just 8 minutes from the famous Patong Beach, visitors can come to Paradise Beach every day from 9.00am. Take advantage of the free shuttle bus service with specific pick-up locations to and from Pa-tong. The white sands and crystal clear waters await you here at Paradise Beach, where your paradise is our pleasure!

Equipped beach Beach for snorkeling with Diving Center, hostel, Moon Party and many other activities I suggest you to look at the site of Paradise Beach to see the many activities that the beach club does.

Phuket Beach Paradise Beach is located on the south west coast of the island, right on the southern tip of Patong Bay, about 5 kilometers from Patong city. It is a beautiful beach of soft light sand, among the most beautiful in all of Phuket, also because it is one of the few where you can swim all year round for its extraordinarily quiet waters. The beach offers a great glimpse of the entire Patong bay and is surrounded by tropical palms and almond trees that offer a pleasant natural shade. The coastline does not exceed 150 meters and just after it opens another small beach reached via a path between the rocks. Paradise Beach is bordered on both ends by large granite rocks and is bathed by a beautiful turquoise and crystalline sea, which features a striking coral reef about 100 meters from the shore. The beach is equipped, offers a good restaurant, where there are also services, and the opportunity to practice many water sports.

Around Promthep cape

What is around to see Promthep cape? Not much. The Lighthouse, which is also a mini museum, doesn’t display much to look at and even from the rooftop doesn’t offer any particular view. The shrine surrounded by hundreds of elephants statues and carvings in all sizes and colors is a lot nicer. You can’t miss it.

Promthep Cape at the very south of Phuket island seems to be an irresistible spot for a good old sunset photo. This landmark has always been a daily meeting point for hundred tourists, mostly Thai, to line up with a camera, facing west. Colorful buses download hordes of tourists hungry for a sunset picture and the place starts buzzing with flashes. It’s actually funny to see how many people still take sunset photos with a flash!

With its elevated location and few small islands nearby, the Promthep Cape is certainly a nice place to see a sunset, but it is not really amazing. Watching the crowd is almost more entertaining: most people are texting of playing Facebook games while waiting for the six o’clock moment.

Promthep Cape cape is also known as Phuket’s symbol and if you pay attention, you will recognize its iconic tall sugar palm trees on car plates having a special numbers. (In case you didn’t know, you can buy a special ‘lucky’ number and your plate will be decorated with the symbol of the province.)

 

if you feel courageous, and clearly not many do, walk all the way down to the end of the cape. It is quite easy to go there, but without training, on the way back you might wonder why did you have to inflict this to yourself.

Is without a doubt Phuket and Thailand most fascinating landscape. This is an ‘out-of-this-world’ scenery you must absolutely see with your own eyes if you crossed half the globe to come to here. The best way to explore it is in a silent kayak slowly gliding among giant cliffs. We have been in Phang Nga a dozen times and still we are still amazed. John Gray Sea Canoe may not be the cheapest company going around Phang Nga but he is the one who discovered it decades ago and made it accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, good ideas are hard to find but easy to copy.

John Gray’s crew cares about you and about nature, they speak a decent to good English and will tell you a lot about what you are about to see and discover. Boats never get crowded and food on board is good. You’ll be asked to respect Nature around you as much as they do, which means no touching, no loud talking and of course no smoking while you are exploring the famous ‘Hongs’ (enclosed lagoons, usually only accessible through a narrow tunnel when tides permit). They also try to avoid crowded places: a Hong with a hundred canoes in it is not exactly a great vision of nature at its best.

They offer several programs by day, but the ‘Hong by Starlight’ offers more than other daytrips: you get to visit several lagoons plus an extra one at night. Being inside an enclosed hong in an almost total darkness creates a very special atmosphere, drifting in candlelight, starlight and bio-luminescent plankton phenomenon.

The last tunnel, called diamond cave, was the toughest. It was night time, tide was getting high and our canoe started to get really close to the ceiling to the point that we had to partially deflate it to be able to squeeze in. This is not unusual, but the noise of the rubber scratching hard against the sharp rocks in a very dark flooded narrow funnel tends to stimulate imagination. The passage is not very long on the way in, but definitely feels longer on the way out. Inside this last cave you will be able to release your ‘Krathong‘ (see photo), a floating offering made of banana leaves, orchids, incense and candles that are supposed to bring you luck. At the end of the day, going back to the pier around eight o’clock, you’ll know that it was definitely worth the price.

Visiting Koh Panyee – The sky is clear and the breeze is warm. It is a perfect day to go on a boat trip. We are on Phang Nga Bay and heading for the famous Koh Panyee. Koh Panyee is about 20 minutes by long-tail boat from Surakul pier in Phang Nga province. Many people flying into Phuket will have looked down on this village seemingly floating in the magical bay and wondered what it is like to live in the place. Phuket.com went out to Panyee to take a look and discovered the true meaning of the phrase, ‘a simple life’.

 

Your only challenge will be to select your own fish from one of the many stalls on one side of the street and pick one of the many restaurants eager to cook it for you on the other side! Expect to pay 100 baht per kilo. It is busy, noisy, crowded, most of the restaurants have no views and not much of a local feel but people usually seem to enjoy the experience.

While eating at the Rawai Seafood Market appears to be fun and cheaper than a seafood restaurant in Patong, it has become a big tourist attraction with busloads of people noisily disembarking each day.

So alternatively you can go to one of the many local restaurants where locals really go, just further along Rawai beach where Thai people enjoy sitting on the side walk by the beach to enjoy dinner the old fashion way: sitting on a carpet right on the floor. Its a lot more fun (photo below) or read about Aek Rawai Seafood.

 

While eating at the Rawai Seafood Market appears to be fun and cheaper than a seafood restaurant in Patong, it has become a big tourist attraction with busloads of people noisily disembarking each day.

So alternatively you can go to one of the many local restaurants where locals really go, just further along Rawai beach where Thai people enjoy sitting on the side walk by the beach to enjoy dinner the old fashion way: sitting on a carpet right on the floor. Its a lot more fun (photo below) or read about Aek Rawai Seafood.

Surin Beach now has beach chairs. Of course all the beach clubs  and the restaurants are still gone but it looks a lot more lively now. Surin Beach used to be very popular for its wide choice of dining venues and trendy beach clubs. It still is blessed with a large beach of beautiful sand and an amazing clear blue sea. The quality of the water and sand still makes it one of the nicest beaches on the island. Swimming is great but sea can be rough in low season.

Surin beach used to be a great place to relax on beach chairs, walk to one of the many bars or restaurants all along the beach and choose from a myriad of vendors. You could relax on really the comfortable sofas of the many beach clubs until sunset when it was time to start party around trendy bars and talented DJ’s.

Tri Trang Beach is located just few kilometer of Patong and it’s a surprisingly beautiful heaven of peace. There used to be a lot of confusion about the names of the beaches in the southern part of Patong. There are 4 beaches in this peninsula: Tri Trang Beach, Merlin Beach, Paradise Beach and Freedom Beach.

Once you pass the southern bridge of Patong and drive past the Amari Phuket you will reach first the Phuket Marriott Resort Merlin Beach which has its own beach called ‘Merlin Beach‘ and is not visible from the main road.

Right opposite of it, is the long ‘Tri Trang Beach’, home of the new Rosewood Hotels. This is probably where part of the confusion came from, it was sometimes called ‘Emerald Beach’, and sometimes ‘Crystal Beach’

is just a tiny strip of sand on the west coast, just between Bangtao Bay and Naithon beaches and only accessible from the exclusive In the tropical hills of north-western Phuket, a secluded private cove on the Andaman Sea inspired a vision. On a stretch of private beach filled breezy coconut palms, we envisioned a magical paradise where the heavens come down to earth. Thailand’s deep-rooted Buddhist traditions celebrate a mythical tropical garden paradise called Trisara, the garden in the third heaven. We draw inspiration from this celestial garden and from the poise and humility of Thai cultural traditions. Enshrined in nature, Trisara is a sanctuary for the senses, a private retreat with harmonious experiences intended to revive the spirit and to anchor life’s journey.

 

Laem Singh Beach is one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches and hides on the west coast between Kamala and Surin beaches. Being nestled in a steep-sided bay, lined with nodding palm trees and dotted with giant boulders, it has the feel of a secret beach. It’s not a very well-kept secret, though, as it’s overlooked by a popular viewpoint along the coastal road. The northern part of the beach is good for body-boarding. The swimming and snorkelling is excellent in the southern part, with loads of fish to see around the rocky headland which separates the beach from Kamala Bay. Being a little challenging to get to, you can find a peaceful, remote vibe without having to travel too far from the popular resort towns of Phuket.

Kamala Beach is a popular destination for families and Scandinavian travelers. It is used to be a very discreet beach with Phuket Fantasea alone as a highlight. It is a beautiful beach with clear waters in high season with a good amount of beach restaurants and shops, several large hotels, some directly with access to the beach. A wide road that descends from Patong beach runs through Kamala and you could continue driving (quickly ) without noticing the road right at the bottom of the hill. Kamala in fact consists of two villages, the original Muslim village in the back, where there is not much to do, and the tourist part of Kamala built along the beach

Karon Beach is one of the longest beaches in Phuket and the third in popularity Karon beach enjoys a huge stretch of white sand with a good choice of restaurants and night clubs. Yet it never seems to attract crowds of tourists (which could actually be a good thing). The beach is also known to create a soft and fun sound when walking on the sand. Karon is divided into three areas: Karon Center, Lake and Beach front Road.

Kata Beach is Phuket’s most popular beach after Patong and just before Karon Beach. Kata enjoys a superb sandy beach with an incredible blue sea and a beautiful island standing in the middle of the bay which makes fantastic sunset photos. With less crowds than Patong, a good choice of restaurants, shops, night clubs and hotels, the Kata Beach is an ideal destination for families. Kata Beach is divided into 3 areas: Kata Center, Kata South with Club Med in the center and Kata Back Road.

Kata Noi Beach is a beautiful little sandy bay if you want to be close to the lively Kata beach while you are away from the usual tourist flocks. This beautiful and wide strip of white sand has incredibly clear blue waters during the high season and fortunately, its ‘out-of-the-way’ position kept it relatively quiet. Unless you know it, you’ll probably miss it. Except the beach itself and two resorts, there is not much to do around Kata Noi Beach, the usual tailor, convenience store, massage and a few bars seem to wait for hotel guests. The northern end of the beach is also a popular spot among surfers who occasionally receive decent waves for learning and practice. When the low season arrives, the bay becomes harder and the surf is more challenging.

No need to tell you to remove your shoes, you already know that and the sea of shoes in front of the temple will remind you anyway. In theory you should wear long pants and no sleeveless shirts… but this requirement seems to belong to a past era.

Once in a while, you will hear loud explosions of firecrackers coming from a brick oven-like construction. That’s another way to make merit, supposedly to show your gratitude when one of your wishes came true. One person stands by to lit the firecrackers for you, the big ones are pretty scary but make fun photos (see video). On the side of the temple a dozen of small shops are selling all kinds of souvenirs and tourist stuff… Strangely, the shops selling religious items are outside the temple ground, next to the gate, go figure…

Wat Chalong, the largest, most revered and most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket was built at the beginning of the 19th century. Chalong Temple (officially Wat Chaitararam) is one of the Must-See places in Phuket, together with the nearby Big Buddha of Phuket as they are relatively close to each other.

The tallest building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall stupa (chedi) sheltering a bone splinter of lord Buddha. Walls and ceilings of the temple are decorated with beautiful painting retracing the most significant steps of Buddha’s life. Each floor is also full of large donated golden statues.

Wat Chalong Chedi is built on three floors so feel free to climb all the way to the top floor terrace to get a nice bird view on the entire temple grounds. Few more steps will lead you to a glass display where the fragment of bone can be contemplated. You can see the nearby Phuket Big Buddha from there, but actually you can see it from almost anywhere in the southern part of Phuket island. The central temple is where most Thai people will make merit by offering lotus flowers and adding a small piece of gold paper to the monks statues inside.

 

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