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Located on Thailand’s Andaman coast, Phuket — the largest island in the country — is as much a tropical paradise as it is a shopping, eating and partying haven. From gorgeous, sweeping beaches to stunning temples, there are plenty of things to see and do in Phuket and here are the best of them.
When it comes to wonderful beaches, Phuket has them in spades. But perhaps what’s best about them is that there’s truly a beach for everyone. For those who enjoy a beach with plenty of activities, look no further than bustling Patong beach. A long and lively beach in Phuket’s party hub, there are water sports to enjoy, tonnes of travellers and drinks and activities are never far away.
For more of a relaxing beach experience, Freedom beach and Laem Singh beach are typically much less crowded, and feature the usual hallmarks of Thailand’s beaches; sweeping bays, rocky outcrops and thick, green jungle. Want something in between lively and relaxing? The stunning beaches of Kata, Kata Noi and Karon should fit the bill but if not, don’t worry — with so many to choose from, you’re bound to find the right one for you.
As well as enjoying this gorgeous island down on the ground, it’s only from up on high that the majestic beauty of Phuket can be truly appreciated — and where better than at the base of the famous 45m-tall marble Buddha statue? With 360-degree views of the island, taking in Phuket Town and the bays of Kata and Karon, it’s one of the best viewpoints in the area, as well as being one of the most revered spots on the island. While the view is spectacular, the statue itself is just as impressive. Stretching up high into the sky, it sits proudly atop the mountain, looking over the sprawling city below. As it’s a religious sight, you’ll need to dress conservatively, so make sure to don your elephant pants on the day you decide to tackle the hill and climb up to the statue — and don’t worry, it’s well worth the effort.
For those who love the bright lights and strange sights of Khaosan Road in Bangkok, there’s Bangla Road in the heart of Patong. Covered in neon lights, beer bars and go-go bars, Bangla Road isn’t for the feint-hearted, but is sure to provide a night you won’t forget. While there are the more adult-entertainment-orientated bars such as Tiger, there are also more straightforward nightclubs to enjoy too, such as Illuzion and Seduction. Not really your thing? Head to one of the many beer bars on the pedestrianised walking street to have a cold one and watch the world go by. Nearby, there are also a number of restaurants to check out, as well as Patong beach itself.
While the prices of ‘street food’ in the West are almost as expensive as the price of a sit-down meal, it still remains an incredibly cheap way to eat in Thailand. There’s no better place to sample street food in Phuket than at Phuket Town’s weekend night market. Known locally as Naka market, there’s a stunning range of food choices to enjoy, from Thai favourites such as pad Thai and mango sticky rice to ‘farang food’, too. Once you’re done gorging on the tasty grub (or even grubs…), there’s a large shopping area where you can buy clothes, trinkets and crafts that make for perfect keepsakes or presents.
Unlike most Thai island, Phuket is home to modern shopping centres and complexes that wouldn’t be out of place in a European city. For designer brands and high street stores, the likes of Central Festival, Jungceylon and the Premium Outlet are great places to visit, offering some of the best shopping experiences in the south of Thailand. If instead you’re looking for a bargain or something a little more quirky, then Phuket’s numerous markets are great places to shop, as are the picturesque streets in Phuket’s old town, where treasures can be found around every corner.
If you somehow get bored of the beauty of Phuket — or if you just fancy a change of scenery — you’re perfectly placed to explore a number of stunning islands nearby. Koh Khai and Coral island are typical of the islands that Thailand’s famous for, with their cerulean-coloured seas and white sand beaches, and both are only about 20 minutes away by speedboat. For day trips, the likes of Koh Phi Phi and Koh Yao Noi/Koh Yao Yai are some of the most beautiful islands in the country, and both are charming in different ways. Koh Phi Phi is lively, with the famous Maya Bay as its main attraction, whilst Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai offer a glimpse into what laid-back island life is like in the Land of Smiles.
For a cultural experience like no other, you’d be wise to head to Fantasea. Part-theme park, part-show, it’s a wondrous complex that highlights Thailand’s rich culture and heritage, all while providing an unforgettable feast of top-class performances, acrobatics, stunts, elephants and pyrotechnics that never fail to captivate and amaze the audience. As well as a show, there’s the opportunity to shop, dine and get involved in various activities around the park, with plenty for all the family to enjoy. A real must-see for anyone coming to Phuket.
Phuket’s a special place, and perhaps the best place to realise this is at Promthep Cape. Located at the southern tip of the island, it’s easy to see why this viewpoint has long been the go-to place to catch the sunset in Phuket. From the edge of the cliff, visitors are treated to an unspoiled view of the sun setting into the ocean, with a stunning cape in the foreground. Romantic, spellbinding and simply beautiful, it’s the perfect place to reflect on your trip and gain a sense of calm, before getting ready to tackle the night or move on to your next destination.