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
Photo of Kyle Hulme
2 September 2021

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.

Phuket Old Town

Architectural Landmark
Map View
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.

Big Buddha

Architectural Landmark
Map View
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.

Bangla Road

Architectural Landmark, Music Venue
Map View
Bangla Road, Patong Beach, Phuket / Thailand - January 15, 2020: Bangla Road is in Patong Beach, It's most popular destination in Phuket
© Ahmet Cigsar / Alamy

Located in party-central Patong, Bangla Road is a pedestrianised street filled with numerous bars, pubs and clubs on either side. Inside, girls will dance around poles, on stages and even on your table as you take advantage of the cheap beer and laid-back attitudes. You either love it or hate it, but one thing’s for sure; you’ll never have a dull night there.

Freedom Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Phuket Weekend Night Market

Market
Map View
PHUKET,THAILAND - MARCH. 2 2019 : Phuket weekend market facade in Phuket, Thailand.It's 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.

Surin Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Fantasea

Amusement Park, Theater
Map View
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.

Phuket Walking Street

Market
Map View
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.

Karon Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Zoo
Map View
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.

Jui Tui Shrine

Architectural Landmark
Map View
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.

Dive Sites

Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Central Festival

Shop, Shopping Mall
Map View
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.

Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

Natural Feature, Zoo
Map View
© 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.

Wat Chalong

Buddhist Temple
Map View
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.

Promthep Cape

Park, Natural Feature
Map View
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.

Thai Boxing

Sports Center
Map View
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.

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