Phuket may be beautiful and full of diverse attractions but, sometimes, an escape from the Pearl of the Andaman is in order. Whether you want to explore spectacular dive sites or simply lounge on a secluded island nearby, here are the best day trips from the largest island in Thailand.
Want to sit back and let someone else do all the planning for you? Join our 10-day island-hopping trip in Southern Thailand, curated by travel experts and led by a Local Insider.
Sunny skies and sublime sunsets are just a few things you can expect to find on Koh Phi Phi. Loads of ferries take eager visitors to one of the six islands. Long, white and dreamy beaches initially attract, but the epic nightlife will lure you to stay for more than just a day trip. Another reason to check out Koh Phi Phi is to see the infamous Maya Bay; that’s where The Beach (2001), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed.
A two-hour drive from the island of Phuket is Khao Lak. People often overlook it, but it has plenty to offer those who make the journey there. Quaint waterfalls pepper the area in addition to a number of parks, all of which are worth visiting. You can easily explore via a scooter, picking which natural wonders you wish to see. The area also sports some beautiful sandy stretches, including Hat Bang Niang and Hat Nang Thong.
Though a bit of a trek from Phuket, the Similan Islands are worth the journey. They’re made up of 11 isolated islands, all of which are within the Mu Koh Similan National Park, established in 1982. That national park status has kept the islands in pristine shape, perfect for those who want to dive. Some would even argue that the best dive sites in the entire world are found here, with marine life and crystal clear water galore.
Limestone cliffs do not get more beautiful than those found in Phang Nga Bay. You can take a boat from Phuket to visit this bay and spend an afternoon kayaking, sunning yourself on an otherwise secluded beach, or snorkelling through crystal clear water. Visit James Bond Island; it got the name by being a filming location for The Man With the Golden Gun (1974). Koh Panyee is another famous spot found at Phang Nga Bay.
The Surin Islands have some of the top destinations for divers in the entire world. These five islands have abundant marine and incredible coral reefs, along with welcoming water for you to jump right into upon arrival. The dive and snorkelling sites are so pristine because they find themselves in the Mo Ko Surin National Park, which covers more than 140sqkm (54sqmi).
This secluded island is a perfect spot for those of you trying to escape the millions of tourists who flock to Phuket each year. Koh Yao Noi for taking on jungle terrain on foot, as there are a number of trails to meander. The island is only 13km (8mi) in length, and only about 3,000 people reside here.
Phuket is almost as gorgeous below the sea as it is above, which is why – if you have some time on you hands should – you should take a day to explore underwater. Located 32km (20mi) from Phuket is the King Cruiser Wreck, arguably the best dive site on the island. Dive shops will have all the equipment you need to take to the water at a fairly affordable price.