Must-See Attractions in Phuket, Thailand

As the largest Thai island, Phuket has so many attractions with which it can wow you
As the largest Thai island, Phuket has so many attractions with which it can wow you | © Ahmet Cigsar / Alamy
Kyle Hulme

Located in the south of Thailand, Phuket is the largest and arguably the most fun of all the Thai islands. It has it all: a large number of entertainment options, top-class shopping venues and some of the most gorgeous beaches in the whole country. With so much to see and do, it can be a little overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of the top attractions on the island to make sure the only thing you’re worrying about is what to do first.

To make life even easier, you can let Culture Trip handle the details and join our special 10-day tour of Southern Thailand – including all of Phuket’s best bits and some of the most idyllic islands found nearby.

1. Phuket Old Town

Architectural Landmark

Renovated heritage architecture of Soi Rommanee in Phuket Old Town, Phuket Island, Thailand
© Jason Knott / Alamy

Whilst most may head to the sunny streets of Patong, for a more authentic experience of Phuket, it’s worth going to the Old Town. You’ll find street after street of old, colourful, colonial-style mansions and townhouses hosting cute, cosy stores and eateries. It’s perfect for Instagram and a welcome change of pace compared to some of the more lively districts in the city.

2. Big Buddha

Architectural Landmark

Big Buddha Phuket Aerial View HDR
© Martin Deja / Alamy
In Thailand, the majority of the population are practising Buddhists. Although there are countless temples and statues demonstrating their faith, few are as impressive as Big Buddha. A 45m-tall (148ft) white marble statue, it’s worth the walk under the hot sun to see it up close; you’ll be rewarded with glorious panoramic views of Phuket from the summit.

4. Freedom Beach

Natural Feature

View from above, aerial view of a beautiful tropical beach with white sand, turquoise water and long-tail boats, Freedom beach, Phuket, Thailand.
© Travel Wild / Alamy

One of many gorgeous beaches in Phuket, Freedom Beach is secluded and pristine. As a result, it’s an empty stretch free from water sports and loud music. Tree-lined – with soft sand and clear, blue seas – it’s a postcard-worthy beach that you can experience for yourself.

5. Phuket Weekend Night Market

Market

PHUKET,THAILAND - MARCH. 2 2019 : Phuket weekend market facade in Phuket, Thailand.Its a fascinating jumble of secondhand goods, curios, pirated
© Евгений Вершинин / Alamy

Phuket Weekend Night Market is the perfect place for those who love a bargain. Not only is authentic Thai food prepared and sold here; visitors can also get their shopping fix since there are plenty of stalls selling everything from perfumes and t-shirts to handmade crafts. With low-priced dishes and plenty of gift options, it’s ideal for trying new foods and putting your haggling skills to the test.

6. Surin Beach

Natural Feature

Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand
© Ian Trower / Alamy

All it takes is a quick look at Surin Beach to see why it’s so popular with the wealthy and famous denizens of Thailand. Crystal-clear water and soft, white sand both feature here, as do numerous high-end resorts, restaurants and bars. Picturesque and peaceful, it’s the perfect alternative to the crowded, noisy and dirty beach of Patong.

7. Fantasea

Amusement Park, Theater

Live performance Festival Village Phuket Fantasea Nighttime Cultural Theme Park Kamala Beach Phuket Thailand
Courtesy of Fantasea / Expedia

The biggest show on the island, Fantasea, is done at such a scale that it wouldn’t look out of place in Vegas. It’s a huge, enchanting complex that’s home to a theme park, places to eat and several shows. Visitors are in for a spellbinding time as they learn about Thai culture and history through various performances.

8. Phuket Walking Street

Market

Market stalls and visitors the Sunday Walking Street Market in Thalang Road / Soi Rommani in the Old Town area of Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand
© Rainer Krack / Alamy

Set in the scenic Old Town of Phuket, the walking street market is the place to be to sample traditional, southern Thai cuisine. Aside from the delicious food, those lucky enough to visit can shop for authentic Thai handicrafts and gifts under the scenic Chinese lanterns and between the pretty, colourful buildings.

9. Karon Beach

Natural Feature

Holidaymakers on Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Image shot 2014. Exact date unknown.
© Jason Knott / Alamy

In the western resort town of Karon is Karon Beach: a long, gorgeous bay of powdery-soft sand and incredibly inviting blue sea. Though the thought of relaxing in this paradise is good enough, there’s also a lot more to do here than sunbathe and swim. The town of Karon has a number of quality restaurants and bars to enjoy, with sweeping views of the bay and the sea. There’s also Wat Suwan Khirikhet temple to check out.

10. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Zoo

Elephant enjoying retirement in a rescue sanctuary - M5PKKF
© Chris Miller / Alamy

Thailand’s national animal is the elephant, but sadly many are still abused, forced to perform and cruelly ridden by many in the country. Fortunately, places like the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary exist to both educate visitors about the animals’ plight and rehabilitate those who’ve been mistreated in the past. You can not only learn about elephants but also have fun feeding them and observing them in their newly found freedom.

11. Jui Tui Shrine

Architectural Landmark

Praying at Jui Tui shrine in Phuket Old Town, Phuket - T8092Y
© robertharding / Alamy

A shrine that houses statues of Chinese gods, the architecture here is different to the typical Thai temples and makes for an impressive sight. Not only is it one of the most beautiful shrines in Phuket; it’s also an important cultural site. It plays a pivotal role in the yearly Vegetarian Festival, in which devoted followers pierce themselves with various things.

12. Kata Noi

Natural Feature

Kata Noi Beach, Phuket, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Asia
© robertharding / Alamy

A small but perfectly formed beach on the western coast of Phuket, the perfect sand and clear, turquoise water of Kata Noi are perfectly complemented by the surrounding green tree line. The current isn’t strong here, making it perfect for swimming, not to mention ideal for couples or families.

13. Karon Viewpoint

Natural Feature

Beautiful aerial view point 3 beach of Kata, Kata Noi, Karon Beach at Phuket, Thailand.
© Pakpoom Phummee / Alamy

Sitting on the beach all day not really your thing? Then the Karon Viewpoint might be for you. It’s an elevated location that features unbelievably beautiful views of the three bays of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon that’ll make you feel as though you truly are in paradise.

14. Dive Sites

Natural Feature

Similan Islands. Scuba diving. K7C2C7
© Horizon International Images Limited / Alamy

For diving aficionados, Phuket is heaven on Earth. Phuket is home to a number of great dive sites, from the engrossing corals off of nearby Coral Island to exploring a real-life wreck. It’s also possible to go on day trips from Phuket to the Similan Islands, thought to be among the best dive sites in Thailand – if not the best in the world.

15. Central Festival

Shop, Shopping Mall

Central Festival shopping mall, Phuket Thailand
© Jim O Donnell / Alamy

Phuket feels more like a city at times than an island, and that’s partly down to the Western charms. One such charm is the shopping facilities, with Central Festival being king among them. With several floors of popular Western high-street stores such as Zara and H&M, not to mention the tonnes of eateries and a cinema, it’s ideal for those days when it’s raining or you’re just feeling a shopping spree coming on.

16. Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

Natural Feature, Zoo

© The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
Elephants aren’t the only abused animals being cared for in Phuket; gibbons are taken care of too. Similar to the elephant sanctuary, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project rescues and rehabilitates these creatures, before releasing them back to the wild. It’s free to visit and the perfect choice for an ethical, educational attraction in Phuket.

17. Wat Chalong

Buddhist Temple

Wat Chalong phuket - T8092H
© robertharding / Alamy

Established in the early 19th century, Wat Chalong houses a 60m-tall (197ft) chedi that houses a splinter from the bones of the Buddha himself, making it a particularly revered attraction. The exterior of the temple is immaculate and beautiful, whilst, inside the pagoda, you can find paintings on the walls that depict the life of the Buddha, along with many golden statues all over the grounds.

18. Simon Cabaret Show

Theater

Ladyboy cabaret, Simon nightclub, Phuket, Thailand. Image shot 2005. Exact date unknown.
© Peter Treanor / Alamy

Patong is home to the Simon Cabaret Show. Each performance sees wonderfully talented “ladyboys” donning glitzy outfits before singing, dancing and acting their hearts out to the crowd in a wonderfully over-the-top manner.

19. Promthep Cape

Natural Feature, Park

RKJJB6

The most famous and arguably most beautiful viewpoint in the whole of Phuket, Promthep Cape, is the best place to sit back with a loved one and watch the sunset into the sea. A gorgeous cape with bay and sea views and a lot of greenery, it’s romantic, beautiful and every bit the sort of scenes you imagined you’d be seeing when you boarded the plane for Thailand in the first place.

20. Thai Boxing

Sports Center

A Muay Thai, kick boxing stadium, Patong, Phuket , Thailand
© Jim O Donnell / Alamy

The national sport of Thailand, Thai boxing, seen in the stadium in Patong, allows competitors to strike one another using legs, fists, knees and elbows in a bout that’s not for the faint of heart. Aside from the violence, it features traditional Thai music and pre-match rituals that are worth the admission price alone.

For more options, discover our guide on the best towns and villages to visit in Phuket.

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