Phuket is a paradise for people who love spending time on the beach, watching the waves curl up against the pristine white sands. With so many beaches nearby, each one offering a number of different delights, it’s no wonder that Phuket ranks high among vacationers. However, it’s not just that. Phuket with its old town and old world vibe has other charms to offer as well. And for those looking for an adrenaline rush, there are several water sport activities that will leave your heart pounding in anticipation. Here’s a list of some of the top Phuket tourist places to visit.
Not too far from Phuket is the Coral Island – white sands, azure blue waters and curious darting aquatic life right under the surface – what’s not to like? Coral Island is one of the most popular places to visit in Phuket. Nearby, there’s also the very pretty Racha Island where snorkelling is a favourite activity alongside para sailing and banana boat riding. Replenish yourself with a sumptuous Thai buffet lunch at one of the restaurants and come evening, it’s time to return to your hotel.
While Phang Nga Bay is popular for James Bond Island and Koh Panyee, which are indeed some of the must visit places in Phuket, you can step off the beaten track by exploring the limestone caves around the bay in an inflatable canoe, along with an experienced guide of course. While the guide paddles you around the limestone formations, sit back and enjoy the views and let the splendour sink in. There are several hidden caves here, giving this place a sense of eerie calm and beauty.
A popular diving site because of the interesting coral reefs and for stunning and clear visibility, Similan Islands are actually an archipelago of several smaller islands. Even if you don’t dive, you will surely want to photograph the famed Sailing Boat Rock which is on island number 8 (the islands are all numbered). This rock is indeed a landmark here and it’s one of the reasons why it’s a popular place to visit in Phuket.
The old town is one of the most interesting places to visit in Phuket. There are some excellent restaurants here along with really cool shops as well. The architecture of the buildings follows the Sino-colonial as well as Sino-Portuguese styles which are stunning and have an old world charm about them. As you saunter around the streets and stop by some quirky old shop, you’ll realise that it’s time well spent looking at a world gone by, although one which has been preserved rather well.
The Big Buddha statue is one of the most splendid places to visit in Phuket. It’s serene and quiet and you will feel a sense of reverence once you are near it. Built in 2004, this statue is around 40 metres tall and is magnificent. While there are always people visiting the site, there is none of the throng that is associated with tourists. While visiting the Buddha, do remember that it’s advisable to wear modest clothing and remove your slippers before entering any of the temple areas.
When you’re in one of the most gorgeous cities of the world, one of the places to visit in Phuket would definitely be the viewpoints such as Black Rock, Khao Rang and Karon viewpoints. Glorious and panoramic views of the ocean and the neighbouring islands make for some splendid photographic opportunities. In Phuket, the highest point is Radar Hill viewpoint which looks out over Patong. There are several bars and restaurants at most of these viewpoints, allowing you to enjoy a drink or two or maybe even a meal as you watch the sun go down.
Among the topmost Phuket tourist attractions would be James Bond Island. Even though the James Bond movie was shot more than four decades ago here, the island still bears the name and the fame associated with it. The limestone cliffs and the deep turquoise waters still draw thousands of visitors who come here not just for the scenic views but also for a spot of water sports, diving or kayaking.
How does spending the day floating on translucent green waters of the ocean with a brilliant blue sky above and fish darting about nimbly under the water, sound to you? Heaven on earth? Indeed. A visit to Khai island will confirm that indeed, it’s possible to have this transcendent experience.
Wildlife lovers will find that a visit to Tiger Kingdom is one of the Phuket tourist attractions that they simply cannot miss. You can spend time with the adorable small cubs or even sit down with the full grown tigers. Since these tigers have been bred in human company, they are more or less harmless.
Everyone knows that this is one of the best places to see in Phuket and that’s why you will most likely find a crowd of people here, vying with each other to find the best spot to take a photo. Ignore the crowds and watch the sun sink in the distance, firing up the ocean in brilliant hues. It’s a fantastic opportunity to take some amazing photographs.
One of the places to see in Phuket if you have children with you would be the Phuket Aquarium. It’s entertaining as well as educational as children and you get to learn all about the magnificent aquatic animals. Walking through the tunnel while sharks and great big stingrays swim around you lazily can be hard to forget. It’s a great option if you have children who are too young for snorkelling.
This is said to be one of the largest temples in Phuket. A predominant use of red and gold in the temple creates a dramatic impression while there are several traditional gods inside the shrine. One thing to remember when visiting any such temple is to wear appropriate clothing. Ensure that your clothing is not just modest but also not of the colour black, as it is considered an inauspicious colour.
A great opportunity for Phuket sightseeing would be a visit to Wat Srisoonthorn, where the image of the sleeping Buddha is one of the biggest attractions and is visible from the road itself. The sleeping position of the Buddha here depicts the dreaming state. Apart from the Buddha, there are other statues here as well, especially of lions which are supposed to guard the temple.
Siam Niramit is known for a stupendous cultural extravaganza that lasts for 70 minutes. Elaborate costumes, lavish sets and a song and dance routine that will leave you waiting for more are the highlights of this performance. A depiction of heaven and hell is something that no one should miss in this show.
Nature lovers will find that among the places to visit in Phuket, the elephant sanctuaries offer a respite from the partying and wild beach fun. These sanctuaries protect the animals and make a safe haven for them, away from the cruelties that they have been used to. At the elephant sanctuaries which are very popular with families and children, you can even interact with the elephants in a more ethical way.
The renowned Blue Elephant restaurant offers popular cooking classes to those who want to learn the art of Thai cuisine. The five hour cooking class begins in the morning and includes a trip to the market to help you understand local ingredients. Participants are shown the different ways to make starters such as crispy crab souffle and main courses such as stir fried chicken or beef. They are also shown how to end the meal with traditional desserts such as banana pudding or sticky rice pudding.
Phuket’s famed Simon Cabaret is spectacular, colourful and will leave you speechless. One of the most fascinating Phuket tourist places, the cast comprises entirely of transvestites, but no one will notice that. The show itself is so gorgeous – be it the extravagant sets and lavish costumes - and the performances will leave you spellbound.
This lively road is where the nightlife of Phuket converges into a loud, glitzy and showy affair. Live music, delicious food and exciting street performances are the highlight of Bangla Road. While the traffic is shut down in the evenings, music begins and so do the drinks. This is one of the well-known spots for several bars and pubs.
Even if you’re not in the mood to shop, a visit to the famed night market in Patong will change your mind. A wide selection of eclectic souvenirs and random items and paraphernalia, all at unbelievable prices make it apparent why this is one of the popular places to go in Phuket. Local food and snacks are also available here and with street performances and music, it becomes quite the festive affair.
While a visit to Karon Temple Market doesn’t exactly come under Phuket sightseeing, you wouldn’t want to miss it for anything. There are a whole lot of things that you can find here – souvenirs, budget-friendly trinkets, jewellery, bags, watches and other knick-knacks. And if you know how to bargain, you will realise what a steal it is!