The island of Phuket feels like everything, BUT an actual island. With a length of 49km, Phuket is one of the biggest and most heavily populated islands that Thailand has to offer. Also known as the ‘Pearl of the Andaman Sea’, it’s no wonder that tourists tend to flock there for their fun in the sun holidays. Phuket boasts crystal clear waters, luxury resorts, white sandy beaches and a ton of boat tours to neigbouring islands. If you can stand the huge amount of tourists, Phuket is a great place for first time visitors to Thailand, but try to get out to other parts of the island rather than sitting at the beach all day. Here is a short list of some things to do and see while staying on the island of Phuket.
Staying in and partying in Patong Beach
If it’s nightlife and partying you are into, than Patong Beach is for you. Named Phuket’s original ‘Sin City’, Patong is home to numerous bars, clubs and all night partying along the infamous Bangla Road. There’s something for everyone here. From live Muay Thai fights, to the infamous Ping Pong shows, to 24 hour karaoke bars, whatever your jam is, you can definitely find it in Patong Beach.
No trip to Thailand, let alone Phuket, is complete without some quality beach time. If you’re pale as a ghost like I am though, don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat, maybe a cover-up too (pale girl problems). The sun is obviously WAY stronger than us North Americans are used to. Grab some watermelon, or an iced cold coconut, a beach towel, some shade and you’ll have it made.
Take a traditional longtail boat ride to Freedom Beach
Patong Beach isn’t just known for partying, but it’s also a great starting point for adventuring to the other surrounding beaches and islands. For about 1500 Baht, you can get a 30 minute return trip on your very own private longtail boat to Phuket’s own hidden gem of a beach known as Freedom Beach. This 300 metre long strip of pure white sand can only be accessed by longtail boats, as no other boat transportation is allowed to go there. The ride to the beach is nothing short of stunning. The sun glimmers off of the water like diamonds as you glide around the bend and get your first glimpse of the secluded beach area. You will be surrounded by a sense of serenity and desertion as the only sounds you’ll hear are the crashing waves and humming of the longtail boats as they drift in and out of the beach area. Your hired longtail boat will usually drop you off for an hour before picking you back up at the drop off spot. Sometimes the drivers will anchor their boats and float around aimlessly as you enjoy the serene beach setting that is surrounded by lush forests and granite rocks.
Visit Big Buddha
Take a tuk tuk or hire a cab and head high atop the Nakkerd Hills on the South side of the island to witness the Big Buddha. The Big Buddha is approximately 45 metres high and can be seen from halfway around the island of Phuket. As you drive closer to the site, you’ll see the Big Buddha come into full view. It’s not until you make your way up the hill that you can actually get a sense of how large it actually is. If you visit during blue hour, just before sunset, you’ll see the white Burmese alabaster Buddha take on an incredible blue hue from the sky’s reflection. As you quietly make your way around the premises, you’ll hear soothing chimes blowing gently in the wind. If you’re feeling brave, you can walk through the bottom of the temple, but just be prepared for swooping bats in the darkness. You’ve been warned!
With so much to see and do in Phuket, I highly suggest visiting the island at least for a few days, especially if it’s your first time visiting Thailand. Don’t let the hype of it being a high flying tourist area scare you off. I’m going to cover a few more day trips to other islands and areas of Phuket in the next week, or so. If you’ve ever been to Thailand, have you been to Phuket? If so, what was your favourite thing to do there and would you visit again? Let me know in the comments below! xo