Phuket: Highlights, insider tips & the most beautiful beaches

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Phuket. Or: mass tourism at its finest. There is no need to sugarcoat it: in many areas Phuket is not as paradisiacal as Thailand is imagined to be. Unfortunately, you have this painful experience pretty quickly – but at the latest when you walk through the streets of Patong (the most frequented holiday resort on Phuket).

As terrible as Phuket is in some places – the Fortunately, the island can also be different. We have already been to Phuket twice and have been looking for the most beautiful sights and beaches as well as the lesser-known corners. In this article we will show you the most important highlights on Phuket and our insider tips .

1. Phuket – that awaits you: Interesting facts & information Phuket is the largest island in Thailand – yes, that’s right, island. What many people don’t know: Phuket is an island, but it is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Phuket is located in the southwest of Thailand in the Andaman Sea.

Is Phuket the right destination for me? Phuket is not the same as Phuket. In other words: Phuket is so big that it caters for almost all needs there is the right corner. Therefore you will find every kind of vacationer on Phuket that you can only imagine. From party tourism to couples or families with children, everything is there.

Nevertheless, we would only conditionally recommend Phuket if you are looking for a quiet beach destination. There are probably better options like Khao Lak, Koh Lanta or Koh Phangan. Exceptions, however, confirm the rule. There are certainly regions or (exclusive) hotels on Phuket where you don’t notice the hustle and bustle.

If you go to Phuket, you must be aware that the island is almost entirely geared towards tourism. This has many disadvantages – no question. But there are also advantages. For example, the medical care on Phuket is excellent. This is often not the case in other corners of Thailand. Thanks to its international airport, Phuket is also probably (along with Khao Lak) the fastest accessible beach destination in Thailand.

So Phuket is understandably an attractive destination for those who want a good (tourist) infrastructure is important. (Although we like to throw in Khao Lak as an alternative, which is also close to Phuket Airport.)

Where should I stay in Phuket? Phuket is a lot bigger than you might think. As an example: If you want to go from the north to the south, then you can easily travel an hour by scooter – depending on the traffic situation, it can also be significantly longer. Because Phuket is so big and diverse, it’s not that easy to find the right place to stay.

Our well-intentioned advice: Avoid Patong at all costs! Patong is the most popular place in Phuket, but trust us, you wouldn’t want to stay there. Really not! Party tourism meets sex tourism here and all hell breaks loose at almost any time of the day. In fact, we dare say that Patong is even worse than you might expect. Also Kata is really not a beauty and reminds you a bit of Patong.

The South has the advantage that you are quite close to many Sights are (including Big Buddha, Phuket Town). There are also some great vantage points in the south. A quiet and recommendable corner in the southeast is Cape Panwa. (Our hotel tip for this is The Cove. We’ll tell you more about that below.)

The beaches in the north tend to be quite quiet. So if you are looking for it, you are in good hands in the north (e.g. at Bang Tao Beach). We will tell you our tips for the individual beaches later in this blog article.

In summary: This is what awaits you in Phuket Phuket’s landscape is beautifully green and hilly and there are some really worthwhile sights such as the Big Buddha. The sandy beaches on Phuket are beautiful and heavenly, but unfortunately in the High season partly overcrowded. That brings us too On the not so nice side: On some corners you will definitely be confronted with Overtourism. Phuket (particularly Patong and Kata) is an extremely popular destination for package travelers from Russia and China. Crazy but true: Signage in Cyrillic is often standard. But don’t worry: You can really have a great time on Phuket and there are also enough places away from the crowds. 2. Sights on Phuket In this chapter we show you the most important classic ones Sights away from the beaches (we’ll get to that later). The highlights, which we will introduce to you in a moment, are roughly in the south or south-east of the island.

Big Buddha One of our favorite places in Phuket is the Big Buddha. The 45 Meter high white marble statue is enthroned on a mountain in the south of Phuket. Not only that the Buddha figure itself is very worth seeing – the view from up here is really fantastic.

The Big Buddha is one of the most popular destinations on Phuket. There is a lot going on here, especially during the day. We have always been here in the late afternoon and can highly recommend this time of day for a visit. The sun sets behind the Buddha (and you don’t have a direct view of the setting sun), but the lighting atmosphere is still very nice. The later it got, the fewer people were there. Alternatively, it is also great for sunrise.

Exciting detail on the side: The construction of the Buddha has been 2004 ongoing and not yet completed. The construction is financed by donations. Therefore, small marble tiles are sold on site, on which you can write your wishes (or just your name). These tiles are then incorporated.

Arrival & information about visiting the Big Buddha The Big Buddha is enthroned on a small mountain in the south of Phuket. A winding road leads to the Big Buddha, which gets quite steep in places, but is well developed throughout. Therefore you can reach the Big Buddha with the scooter without any problems, as long as you are reasonably experienced in driving. The busy main roads before you reach the mountain road are much more uncomfortable than the mountain road. On-site parking is free.

Don’t you dare ride a scooter? we can understand well. Then we would recommend you to book a private driver. We will give you more information about the transport on Phuket later in this blog article.

Admission to the Big Buddha is free, donations are requested. Please make sure to dress appropriately. Shoulders and knees should be covered if possible.

Wat Chalong Wat Chalong is the most important and most visited temple on Phuket. Because it is very close to the Big Buddha, we recommend you to combine these two sights.

As is very often the case with Thai temples, there is also Wat Chalong consists of several buildings. There are also some green spaces and countless stalls where you can buy street food and drinks.

In the building with the big, golden chedi (seen on the photo on the left) leads up a stairway. From the top you have a really nice view over the entire temple complex. Unfortunately, we were at Wat Chalong at lunchtime, but we would recommend that you avoid this time. Not only is it unbearably hot, there are also a lot of people there. It is best to come early in the morning or later in the afternoon against 16 Watch. (The temple has until 17 Open 7pm.)

Arrival & information about visiting Wat Chalong Wat Chalong is located in the south of Phuket, at the foot of the mountain on which the Big Buddha is enthroned. You can easily reach Wat Chalong by scooter. Alternatively, you can also rent a private car with a driver on Phuket. We will tell you our tips for riding a scooter or booking a driver at the end of the blog article.

Entrance to Wat Chalong is free. As with every time you visit a temple in Thailand, you must also make sure that you dress appropriately in Wat Chalong. Knees and shoulders should be covered if possible. However, shorts for men are tolerated.

Phuket Town The old town of Phuket (usually called Phuket Town or Old Phuket Town locally) is a remarkable mix of the remains of Portuguese colonial architecture and Chinese influences.

Some streets in Phuket Town have been renovated really well. We really liked the Soi Romanee (also written in Romani). Here you will find some nice cafés, such as Dou Brew Coffee & Craft or the city’s most popular ice cream parlour, Torry’s Ice Cream. In general, it seems to us, Phuket Town has a particularly high density of great bars and cafes.

Phuket Town is also known for its multitude of Street Art known. Some murals or graffiti are conjured up on the house walls with an impressive wealth of detail. Our undisputed number one is the mural depicting the former king. It is located on Dibuk Road.

Good to know: Phuket Town is served by many bus groups during the day. When we against 11 arrived, there was still quite a lot going on. But with every hour it got quieter. So we can highly recommend a visit in the late afternoon!

3. The most beautiful beaches on Phuket The beaches on Phuket are one thing: many are beautiful in terms of landscape and really paradisiacal. However, the dream scenery has its price: Some beaches on Phuket are completely overcrowded. These include Patong Beach and Kata Beach. In the high season you lie here like sardines on the beach.

In this chapter we will introduce you to the beaches that we think are worth visiting on Phuket. We’ve arranged them from north to south, so hopefully you’ll find your way around easily. (Because as I said: Phuket is big. Very big! And most of the time you will probably move in the vicinity of your accommodation.) The vast majority of the beaches are on Phuket’s west coast.

Banana Beach The Banana Beach is still a bit like a insider tip (if you can even say that on Phuket). It lies between Nai Thon and Bang Tao Beach. You can park your scooter on the street and then reach Banana Beach via a small, quite steep path.

At the bottom, a small bay awaits you. ) with a beautiful sandy beach. If you get hungry: You will find a restaurant on site. (Under There are no accommodations here.) Interestingly enough, Banana Beach is not very well known yet – let’s hope it stays that way for a long time!

Bang Tao Beach Bang Tao Beach is located north of Patong Beach, but is the complete opposite of it. The beach is km long and surprisingly quiet. Here you will always find a cozy place without any problems. For about 100 Baht you can also borrow a lounger. You will also find some small restaurants along the beach.

There are some high-priced hotels on Bang Tao Beach. There are also cheaper accommodations in the hinterland. So if you want to stay in the north of Phuket then Bang Tao Beach is a good option.

Kata Noi Beach The Kata Noi Beach was once an insider tip. In the meantime, unfortunately, it is extremely full in the high season. The landscape is beautiful with the light-colored sand, but we couldn’t stand it long in January – too many people. We can imagine that it is quieter and more pleasant in the low season.

Nai Ham Beach & Ao Sane Beach South of Kata you will arrive after about 20 Minutes drive to Nai Harn Beach. There’s a lot less going on here than in Kata, although you shouldn’t expect a deserted beach – especially not in high season. Nevertheless, we liked the sandy beach . You can also watch the sunset from here.

There is some accommodation at Nai Harn Beach and you will find everything else you need for a day at the beach (loungers, restaurants and even showers).

Our tip: next to Nai Harn Beach is another beach worth visiting: Ao Sane. Ao Sane consists of two small bays. The beach is best known for snorkeling. Because of the stones, the beach is not quite as suitable for swimming as others.

Yanui Beach Yanui Beach is located in the very south of Phuket, just a stone’s throw away from Nai Harn Beach. It is probably one of the smallest beaches in Phuket. Although we were here in the high season (mid-January), we did not experience the beach being overcrowded.

There are no showers, loungers or accommodation here, but there is a small restaurant on the other side of the street and a few stands where you can buy something to drink. The beach is not the best for swimming due to the large stones/rocks, but it is definitely possible.

Kata Noi Beach

Nai Ham Beach

View from Yanui Beach

4. Best Viewpoints in Phuket Karon Viewpoint Once a little insider tip, but now quite well known: The Karon Viewpoint (curiously also called Kata Viewpoint) is one of the Most popular viewpoints along the west coast of Phuket. It is located on a hill south of Kata Noi Beach.

You can see three crescent bays from this vantage point: Kata Noi in the foreground, Kata and Karon in the distance. When we were here for the first time many years ago, the view was much less “overgrown” – but well, that’s nature. Nevertheless, the view is fantastic. In the distance you can even see the snow-white Big Buddha.

We can highly recommend a late afternoon visit. For the perfect sunset photo, however, we would recommend a different place, because depending on the season, the sun hides behind the trees.

Arrival & information about visiting the Karon Viewpoint The Karon Viewpoint is located directly on the coastal road in the West (4030). With the scooter you can easily reach the viewpoint. Free parking is available. The Karon Viewpoint is accessible 24/7 for free.

Windmill Viewpoint A very nice place for the sunset is the Windmill Viewpoint. By the way, its name could suggest otherwise. You shouldn’t expect a romantic windmill. Rather, the vantage point is named after the (very unspectacular) wind turbines that are located here.

Anyway, the view is really for it great – especially at sunset! The Windmill Viewpoint is located between Nai Harn Beach and Yanui Beach, just off the coast road and is very easily accessible. That probably also explains why quite a few people gather here in the evenings. You can easily buy something to drink at the kiosk, sit on the grass and enjoy the sunset.

Arrival & information about visiting the Windmill Viewpoint The Windmill Viewpoint is located in the south of Phuket directly on the Coastal Road (4030). You can park your scooter for free. Access to the viewpoint is free 24/7.

Promthep Cape One of the scenic places in the south of Phuket is this cape called Promthep Cape. Because the nature here is really enchanting and the cape is located almost directly on the coastal road, it is not surprising that it gets extremely crowded here at sunset .

The most famous photo motif (to be seen in our picture) is at the top, right next to the road. From here a trail leads down to the sea. (We recommend sturdy shoes.) The further you go, the fewer people you will meet. So you have to weigh things up: view from above vs. idyll down by the water.

Although the place is absolutely no insider tip is more, we really recommend that you stop by here at sunset. The view makes up for everything!

Arrival & information about visiting Promthep Cape The Promthep Cape is located at the southernmost tip of Phuket, more or less directly on the coast road (4030) . You can park your scooter for free on the street. From here, a short walk (2 minutes) leads to the vantage point, which can be visited free of charge around the clock.

5. Excursion tip: Phang Nga & James Bond Island Our personal highlight on Phuket was our trip to the Phang Nga Bay at sunrise. We’ve been thinking back and forth for half an eternity about whether we want to afford this tour. After all, the price is around 100 euros per person. That’s a lot of money for Thailand.

Anyway, we’re very glad we chose it! The tour starts in the middle of the night (around 4 a.m.) so you can get there in time for sunrise (after a 15 -minute hike) arrive at the viewpoint. The view of Phang Nga Bay at dawn is breathtakingly beautiful!

After a quick breakfast we go on the boat towards James Bond Island. The small island with the striking 30 meter high rock needle became famous through the James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”. – therefore the name. There has been a real hype about the rock and it is one of the most popular excursion destinations off Phuket.

We have to admit that we only find the James Bond Rock moderately spectacular. We were much more impressed by the boat trip through the Phang Nga Bay itself. You drive here in the most beautiful way Morning light through the extensive karst landscape.

Later there are a few more short stops (including a kayak trip) and lunch. At about 14 you will be back in your accommodation. Our conclusion: Yes, the price is steep. But for such a great experience, we think it’s money well spent. We can highly recommend the tour!

You can book the tour here: Sunrise in Phang Nga & James Bond Island

6. Eating & drinking: Our tips for restaurants and cafés on Phuket Honestly: The Culinary offer in Phuket is so large and varied that you can really be overwhelmed. Many restaurants – especially those near the hotels – are very touristy (which isn’t always a bad thing). In this chapter we will tell you our restaurant recommendations. So if you’re in the area, drop by – and let us know how it tasted.

Another tip: We warmly recommend the HappyCow app to all vegetarians. In our opinion, the few euros are a really good investment.

Sai Than Boon Vegetarian Restaurant: Our favorite culinary discovery in Phuket! This locally run small restaurant serves only vegetarian Thai food. Authentic flair, incredibly friendly owners & extremely good cuisine – what more could you ask for? Our conclusion: more than recommendable!

Wilson’s Cafe: Very nice, cozy café in Rawai (in the south of Phuket). The menu features western dishes such as smoothie bowls, salads or sandwiches. The breakfast menu is also very extensive.

Dou Brew Coffee & Craft: Very good espresso in Old Phuket Town is served in this hip café.

Rawei Beach Restaurant: No specific local tip, but the beach bars in Rawai are still recommended. In some you sit very authentically directly on the ground. The Rawai Seafood Market is also worth a visit (daily from 11 until 21 Watch).

7. Our hotel tips for Phuket For those seeking tranquility: The Cove on Cape Panwa Looking for relaxation and tranquility on Phuket? Then you are right here! Our first choice for a holiday away from the crowds is this oasis in the southeast of Phuket. The Cove on Cape Panwa Peninsula is beautifully designed and the perfect place to unwind.

The hotel is directly on the beach . From some bungalows you even have a sea view. The rooms (or bungalows) are very spacious and tastefully designed – an absolute dream. The hotel’s beach is very quiet. You’ll find a few restaurants here, but (fortunately) you won’t find any hustle and bustle.

The only downside might be that High and low tide at Cape Panwa are a bit more pronounced than in other parts of Phuket. But that wouldn’t stop us from staying here. One more thing: Due to the rather remote location, the beaches on the west coast are approx. 17 minutes drive away – but as I said, that’s what the beach is for right on the doorstep.

Unfortunately the hotel was fully booked during our travel period, otherwise we would not have hesitated for a second and booked there. Next time we stay in Phuket, we definitely want to stay at this hotel!

You can book the hotel here: The Cove

For low Budget: Sugar Ohana Poshtel in Kata The bad news first: Kata itself is really terrible . Years ago, the place was not particularly beautiful, but now you really just want to escape. Kata is firmly in Russian hands. The vast majority of holidaymakers come from Russia.

Kata is strategically well located, if you want to discover as much of Phuket as possible on your own. Some beaches or bays are in fact located in the south. The main attractions (Big Buddha, Wat Chalong) are not far either.

If you want to stay in Kata and you are looking for cheap accommodation then we can recommend the Sugar Ohana Poshtel. The rooms are pretty and you feel very comfortable. However, the accommodation is located directly on the main street (in the middle of the hustle and bustle), you have to be prepared for that. We wouldn’t stay in Kata again ourselves, but if you’re looking for something cheap, this is the place for you.

You can book accommodation here: Sugar Ohana Poshtel

8th. Transportation on Phuket: Rent a Scooter Phuket has three in terms of transportation . (serious) problems:

1. The island is very large and the distances should not be underestimated.

2. In addition, there is the Traffic, which is massive on some routes and leads to endless traffic jams.

3. The most problematic: The taxi prices are horrendous. We have been told that there is a taxi mafia on Phuket. So the prices are agreed and exorbitantly high!

Unfortunately there is no well-developed public transport network on Phuket. You can cover some routes (primarily towards Phuket Town) by bus, but unfortunately this is the exception rather than the rule.

So if you want to see more of Phuket than the area surrounding your hotel, then stay you have no choice but to take care of your own means of transport. The following options are available:

Option 1: Scooter riding on Phuket A rented scooter is the cheapest and easiest way to get from A to B on Phuket. For about 250 Baht per day you can rent a moped anywhere on the island. Gasoline is sold in glass bottles at the roadside. (1 liter usually costs around 21 Baht.)

Is scooter riding dangerous in Phuket? Yes! Anyone who claims otherwise here does not know the statistics. Thailand is one of the countries with the highest number of traffic deaths in the world. In most cases, moped drivers are affected. Riding a scooter in Thailand always involves risk and Phuket is no exception.

We have also been in Phuket past an accident and seen people lying on the road. That sounds harsh, but it’s the reality. Nevertheless, we regularly rent a scooter in Thailand. We recommend the following things to be as safe as possible on the road:

We ride with helmets – always! The temptation to ride without a helmet is great, we understand that. Please don’t do it! Because the quality of the helmets in Thailand almost always leaves a lot to be desired, we always buy our own helmet at the beginning of a trip to Thailand. Sand on the road can easily lead to skidding – especially when cornering. So always pay attention to the route and reduce your speed if necessary. We try to avoid driving in darkness (although it is not always possible to do so). Visibility is of course worse at night, but above all there is a risk that others will drive under the influence of alcohol. Be careful not to burn yourself on the exhaust. Usually there is a protective cover made of plastic that is supposed to prevent this, but it is sometimes brittle or not available. What about the traffic on Phuket? First important info: Don’t forget left-hand traffic! But you get used to it faster than you think, don’t worry. Phuket’s roads are generally quite busy. However, there are strong differences between the main roads and less busy roads. In any case, be prepared for the fact that there are also a lot of cars and minivans on Phuket.

Need do I have an international driving licence? No – at least not for renting the scooter. The normal driver’s license is sufficient for the landlord. BUT: If you get caught in a traffic stop, the police can certainly ask for an international driver’s license (more on that in a moment).

Do I need an A driver’s license? Yes. You can rent a moped with an ordinary B license. The landlord doesn’t really care. But it doesn’t matter to the police (more on that in a moment). And even more serious: In the event of an accident, there can definitely be problems. If it turns out that you drove the scooter without authorization, it may well be that the insurance company gets in the way.

Is it true that there are regular police checks on Phuket? Yes, we have to unfortunately yes. We didn’t have our scooter 10 minutes and have already been checked. However, you will usually only be asked to pay for an actual offense (not without reason). The police pay particular attention to the following things:

Helmet: It is mandatory! A driver’s license: Because almost all scooters that are available for rent can only be driven with a motorcycle driver’s license, the police (justifiably) also require one. International driver’s license: This is also often asked for. You pay per offense. usually 500 Baht. The curious thing about it: Once you have paid the fine, you can continue driving. And what’s more: With the bill, you save yourself another fine in the days that follow. So it’s a bit of a free pass.

Is there anything else I should be aware of ? As a deposit a passport is very often required. We always try to avoid this by offering a driver’s license as an alternative. (Kathi’s, of course, because she doesn’t drive.) We just have a better feeling about it.

You should check the lights before you leave ) – not that they don’t work and you don’t figure them out until it’s dark. (We already had everything, so we mention it.) It is also worth taking a short video or photo of the existing damage (scratches, dents). That way nobody can blame you afterwards.

And otherwise: Don’t worry too much! Fear is not good. Of course you have to be aware of the dangers, but we don’t want to overdramatize scooter riding in Thailand either. (We drive it ourselves every time.)

Option 2: Rent a car on Phuket Much safer than riding a scooter is, of course, driving a car. You can easily borrow a car in Phuket. Unfortunately it is comparatively expensive: per day you have to pay about 1.500 Calculate baht.

We have a car ourselves before borrowed in Thailand and can confirm: It works without any problems and is especially great if you are traveling in a larger group or with children. Since the distances on Phuket are quite large, you are also much more comfortable with a car.

We always book our rental car via Sunny Cars and have only had good experiences with this platform so far.

Option 3: Private Driver in Phuket If you only want to go on excursions for one or a few days, then a car with a private driver could be worthwhile. Of course, this is a bit more expensive than a rental car, but you don’t have to worry about that. The price is approximately 85 Euro for 4 hours or 130 Euro for 8 hours.

You can book your driver here: Car with private driver

9. More Phuket Travel Tips: Arrival, Travel Guide & a NoGo Getting to Phuket: Airport to Hotel Thanks to International Airport Phuket is very easy to reach. There are even direct flights from Germany to Phuket. The airport is located in the north of Phuket (and by the way is extremely popular with plane spotters, because the planes fly directly over the beach here).

You will be expected immediately after leaving the airport building there are also plenty of taxi stands. Probably the cheapest option is to take the shared taxi. You will be taken directly to your hotel in a minibus. The price varies depending on the destination: to kata, for example, it is around 200 Baht.

Significantly more expensive, but also faster and more convenient is it possible to take a private taxi. For example, a trip to Kata costs 1.000 Baht. Some hotels also offer an airport pick-up service. It’s best to just ask what it costs.

Travel guide for Thailand: Our tip Probably (or hopefully) your trip will take you not only to Phuket but also to other regions of Thailand. In this case we can highly recommend the Thailand travel guide by Stefan Loose. Loose travel guides are always our first choice for Southeast Asia. They are aimed at individual travelers and are characterized by the fact that they are quite detailed and very well researched.

Stefan Loose’s Thailand travel guide has been around for decades. The new edition was released in December 2019 and is therefore quite up-to-date. With this travel guide you can see once again how experienced the authors are. Our conclusion: Highly recommended!

You can buy the travel guide here: Stefan Loose Thailand

NoGo: You shouldn’t do that in Phuket! One last important thing : Phuket is full of elephant camps where tourists can ride elephants in specially constructed seats. Elephant rides and other animal attractions are very popular with Russian and Chinese tourists. Please don’t do it! The whole thing is nothing but animal cruelty and pretty much the most unnecessary thing of all.

Unfortunately there are many providers who have made a business out of the growing ecological awareness. So many self-proclaimed “eco-camps” where you can bathe and feed elephants are not as recommended as you might think. Because it’s really hard for the layperson to see what’s behind an organization, our best advice is to avoid all animal attractions.

Transparency: Affiliate Links23808 This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!23808

Have you ever been to Phuket? Do you have any other recommendations? We look forward to your comments with your additional tips!