Apart from lazing on the beach, diving and snorkeling, there are plenty of things to do in Phuket for those getting restless with beach life. All travel agents and hotels will be able to provide you with operators who offer tours and activities.
Promthep Cape and Big Buddha
There are great views from the southern tip of Phuket on Promthep Cape. It’s a much photographed place and is best just before sunset. Nearby, visible on the hill behind is the giant ‘Big Buddha’. It sits on the ridge of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong Bay and Kata Beach.
Known amongst Thais as the ‘Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha’, it is 45 meters high and 25 meters wide. The whole figure is covered with Burmese marble that glimmers in the sun.
Shimmering beyond this extraordinary edifice are the views of the island itself and the sea laid out below you on two sides.
Tour Phuket Town
Phuket Town reflects the culture and history of Chinese immigrant labour on Phuket, They first came to the island to work in the tin mines and the interior of the island is now almost exclusively peopled by Thais of Chinese descent. Phuket town is a wonderfully atmospheric place to visit (and indeed to stay), with its colonnaded, Sino-Portuguese architecture its traditional coffee shops and medicine stores and its pleasantly laid back feel. If you also want to get out of the package tour environment for a while, it is a great place to watch the normal life of southern Thailand go by. There are organised tours of Phuket that take in Phuket town if you want to maximise what you see in a day.
In October Phuket Town hosts the unique annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival when residents purify themselves both by diet but also with mass self-piercing with all kind of objects such as trees, umbrellas and model airplanes made of tin cans. The protagonists walk in procession in the early morning accompanied by the intense din of fire crackers creating huge clouds of acrid smoke.
There are plenty of things to do in Phuket, both on and off the beach, including stunning views, health treatments, and the annual Vegetarian Festival.
Jung Ceylon shopping mall in Patong and Central Festival Phuket mall just outside Phuket Town are the two main shopping malls in Phuket, both huge modern shopping complexes featuring both international and domestic brands. Thai Silk is available at both outlets, and for more traditional Thai items to take home as souvenirs, visit the OTOP market behind the Holiday Inn in Patong.
Phuket Spa and Massage
The Thais have pampering down to a fine art, so if you wish to be marinated in mud, bathed in rose petals, wrapped in chocolate or receive a healing massage Phuket is cone of the best ways to do it. All the major hotels will have a spa attached and there are many standalone spas specialising in a variety of different treatments. Sukko Spa, 10km from Phuket Town, stands out as it offers not only spa treatments, but also ashtanga yoga and a variety of Thai cultural activities such as Muay Thai Chaya (an ancient form of Thai martial art), Cooking courses and even ‘Sak Yan’ mystical tattooing.
Body and Mind Spa on Karon Beach is another good option. Its speciality is the 3 hour Jasmine Rice Package which includes a body scrub with jasmine rice for about an hour followed by an aromatherapy massage that refreshes the skin.
Learning to Cook Thai Food on Phuket
A medley of flavours, textures and aromas, a Thai meal is a feast for the senses. It is a unique combination of tastes; bitter, spicy, sour, salty and sweet. Either one of these flavours predominates or they are blended in combination. There are a number of places in Phuket where you can learn the delicate art of cooking Thai food. Classes will involve trips to local markets to buy ingredients plus preparation and finally the actual cooking itself.
Pum Thai Thai Restaurant and cooking school in Patong is well spoken of. Near Naithon Beach is the Ginja Cooking School at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa, which runs in depth courses in a lively atmosphere. Phuket Thai Cookery is one of the most established schools. It runs classes on the nearby island of Koh Siray as part of a tour as well as on Patong Beach.
Phuket Fine Dining
There are some excellent high-end restaurants in Phuket that gourmets should sample:
Rockfish Restaurant and Bar – Kamala Beach
Great food, an intimate atmosphere and warm hospitality make this place a winner. Add to that an unbeatable location with superb views of the Andaman Sea and you have the perfect formula for an evening out. Try the Herb Crumbed Goats Cheese Fritter and Red Onion Marmalade on toasted ciabatta with side salad and Scallops wrapped in proscuitto, warm asparagus and leaf salad with rose apple puree or the Massaman curry with Australian ribeye beef, cashews, potato and jasmine rice. The Steamed Whole White Snapper with lime, garlic, ginger and chili with rice is a another dish that comes highly recommended.
Da Vinci Restaurant – Naiharn Beach
Open aired-surroundings, wooden seating outside and chandeliers set the tone for this high class Italian eatery. Try the antipasti of Bruschetta, grilled sliced bread with chopped tomato, garlic and olives, the home made Lasagne Al Forno with beef and tomato sauce or the Spaghetti Gamberi Zucchine Vodka. They have a fine wine cellar as well.
The Blue Elephant – Phuket Town
The chef and owner of the Blue Elephant is none other than Nooror Somany Stepp?, founder of the Blue Elephant group, and he serves gourmet Thai cuisine. The newly opened Blue Elephant Governor Mansion Phuket Cooking School & Restaurant is the 13th restaurant in the Blue Elephant chain. It is set in an elegant Sino-Portuguese mansin built in 1903 that was once the home of the governor of Phuket, The Blue Elephant offers an array of starters, soups, main courses and desserts, which range in degrees of spiciness and represent an innovative approach to Thai cooking with a range of recipes from the past and the present.
Phuket Para-sailing and Jet Ski
On Patong, Karon and Kata there are many jet-ski and para-sailing operations.ions. Before hiring a jetski, it is as well to be aware that the jetski operators on Phuket are notorious for inventing phony damages on return of the jetski and extorting huge amounts of money in ‘repairs’. They seem to be in league with elements in the authorities including the police, since despite extensive publicity the scams have not stopped. These guys are basically mafia and they will not hesitate to resort to menaces and violence if you attempt to resist their claims. Considering this criminal unpleasantness, it really is worth avoiding jetskis altogether.
Phuket Transvestite Cabaret
Transvestite cabarets are a big pull in Phuket, the two major ones being Simon Cabaret on Patong Beach and Aphrodite near Phuket Town…. The lady-boy cabaret has become a feature of the mainstream tourist entertainment industry across Thailand and Phuket is the premier choice for the viewing of mildly burly feminine entertainment. The performers shimmy, mime and frolic to an array of musical classics presented in flurries of sequins and feathers.
White Water Rafting
For the full on wet and wild experience, a day spent white water rafting in Phuket is hard to beat. Head up to the unspoilt Tone sanctuary to trek on an elephant through the lush jungle vegetation and then embark downriver on the rapids.
Phuket Sunset Cruise
A late afternoon cruise on a Chinese Junk, two masted sloop or luxury motor cruiser is a great way to catch the spectacular sunset views to be had around phuket. Cocktails, swimming and snorkeling are often all part of the fun.
Billing itself as the ‘Ultimate Nighttime Theme park’, this extravaganza of a show on Kamala Beach includes dancing elephants, acrobats, trapeze artists, and much else all woven into extravagant story lines based on exotic myth and employing a caste of hundreds. It is the island’s biggest show by far. It is all set in a theme park offering all kind of games, shopping galore, a Similian Adventure Centre a palace of Elephants, plus a host of restaurants. It is one of Phuket’s biggest night time draws. You don’t really have to understand the story lines in truth…. They are just an excuse to see all the variations of ‘spectacular’ that Fantasea has dreamed up. All hotels will have transfer and pick up services for the show.
Phuket Golf Courses
Phuket is one of the golf capitals of the world and there are any number of courses to choose from, some of them with stunning views. Lochpalm Golf Club, Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa and Red Mountain Golf Club Phuket are all internationally renowned.
Phuket Muay Thai Boxing
This the national sport of Thailand and the fighters don’t play games, using elbows and knees as much as punches and kicks to defeat their opponent. You can view bouts of this swift and merciless sport at Bangla Stadium behind the Jung Ceylon shopping complex at the end of Bangla Road on patong Beach. There are also various gyms around the island where you can learn this martial art.
Royal Phuket Marina
Royal Phuket Marina is located on the east coast of Phuket away from the tourist crowds. It is a flagship location for the island since it represents all the aspirations of Phuket to cater to the luxury jet set. It is not really just a marina, it is actually a luxury village with spas, hotels, restaurants, villas, shops and bars. If you want a change of scene and can afford the very high prices, Royal Phuket Marina is a pleasant place to spend a day or an evening. The Watermark cafe is a good choice for lunch or dinner with a great view over the marina and an impressive wine cellar. See the Marina’s official website for more details.
Phuket Weddings And Honeymoons
If you enjoy your stay in Phuket, you might want to consider having your wedding or honeymoon in Thailand. Numerous hotels offer wedding and honeymoon packages that can be much more affordable than back at home.
Phuket Travel Guide
- Phuket: A Very Quick Travel Guide
- How To Get To Phuket
- Getting Around Phuket
- Phuket's Best Beaches
- Phuket's Beaches - A Brief Guide
- Things To Do In Phuket
- Phuket Town
- Phuket Hotels - Where To Stay
- Check Phuket Hotel Availability
- Phuket Map
- Phuket Vegetarian Festival
- Phuket Daytrips
- Phuket Nightlife