12 Best Things to do in Phuket

Phuket proudly takes the crown for being Thailand’s largest island at an impressive 543 km² and also one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations.

Phuket is popular for a reason. The island is easy to reach, has over 40 beaches and offers tons of things to do.

One is the increasingly popular fitness holiday that can be found in Chalong district of Phuket. There you’ll find a wide choice of Muay Thai gyms and boot camps to become the best version of yourself.

The large island is packed full of sun-kissed beaches, stunning viewpoints and amazing adventure opportunities. Not to mention the crazy nightlife that Phuket is famous for bringing every party reveller’s dreams to life!

Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here are some of our favourite activities in Phuket:

To help you to fit it all in, we’ve collated our favourite activities in Phuket:

New to Phuket? Our compact Phuket guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Phuket!

#1 Bounce between Phuket’s beaches

Due to the high number of tourists, few of Phuket’s beaches have been able to maintain the secluded tropical island feel.

Unlike the other islands in the Andaman sea, beaches in Phuket became very busy, but luckily there are still a few gems left to soak up the sun on.

Nai Harn Beach (south coast)

Nai Harn beach Phuket Thailand
Tranquillity at Nai Harn Beach

Despite the popularity of Nai Harn, the beach has been able to maintain its quiet charm and originality.

The beach is surrounded by rolling lush green hills that hide a number of Thai restaurants, and at the same time help to maintain that untouched feel. Another advantage is that the trees offer a refreshing shade from lounging on the glistening white sand.

PRO TIP: To really take in the full beauty of Nai Harn beach, head up to Windmill Viewpoint next to Ya Nui Beach.

Freedom Beach (west coast)

Freedom beach Phuket Thailand
Freedom Beach in Pa Tong, Phuket

The soft sand of Freedom Beach makes you believe you’re walking on pillows as the sand caresses your feet with every step you take.

Just a few miles south of Patong, Freedom Beach is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the party epicentre.

The crowds have been kept at bay due to the extra effort to reach the 300-metre-long beach. Trust us it’s worth it though!

Your two options are either a small trek through the jungle or a ride on a longtail boat. Once you’re there, you can spend the day exploring the crystal blue underwater world.

#2 Party on Bangla Road or chill in Kata

Bangla road Phuket Thailand
Bangla Road, Phuket: Famous for its parties

No matter the day of the week in Phuket, you’ll be able to find somewhere to either party the night away, or sip a delicious cocktail whilst watching the sun retire for the day!

Bangla Road is like Khao San Road in Bangkok but even more intense (if that’s even possible!). The 400-metre road is lined with bars, pubs, nightclubs, Go-Go bars and restaurants. Each one most likely boasting a bright neon sign and banging music. It’s the perfect place to make new friends and lose your inhibitions.

If partying all night long and suffering from an evil hangover the next day isn’t your thing, there are plenty of places across Phuket offering a more laid-back vibe.

You’ll likely find these more relaxed bars and clubs around Kata, Karon or Phuket Town.

#3 Take a day trip to Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay Phuket Thailand
Longtail boats at James Bond Island

Phang Nga Bay has been featured as the backdrop for a number of movies now and the reason for this is obvious.

The towering limestone karsts dramatically erupt from the emerald-green water as if they were created by an artist.

There are around 40 small islands within Phang Nga Bay, but the most famous is James Bond island after featuring in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’.

That’s not all, Star Wars fans will recognize the planet Kashyyk, as Phang Nga was the location where it was filmed.

How to visit the islands

The best way to explore the hidden beaches and wooden stilt villages, like Koh Panyee, is via a boat trip. We recommend the James Bond Boat Tour booked for only 1,100 THB ($33), including hotel pick-up from Phuket.

You’ll also get to enjoy a delicious lunch and sea kayaking at the sea caves at Talu Island.

#4 Look out over the entire island from Phuket’s Big Buddha

Big Buddha Phuket Thailand
The Great Buddha (or Big Buddha) of Phuket

The accurately named Big Buddha stands 45 metres tall and is one of the most famous sights in Phuket.

However, it’s not just the Buddha that makes the site worth visiting. Upon reaching the top of the Nakkerd Hills, you will be rewarded with astounding panoramic views overlooking the entire island of Phuket, as well as the islands off the coast.

The site of the Big Buddha is free to visit from 06:00 to 19:00. Instead, you can make a small donation to receive a white tile to write a message on, leaving a little token for your visit to Thailand.

Be sure to dress conservatively when visiting religious sites in Thailand, or simply bring a sarong to cover your knees and shoulders.

#5 See how alcohol is made at Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Drinks in Phuket Thailand
Chalong Bay rum

If you’ve been travelling around Thailand for a while, you’re probably used to drinking rum out of a bucket. Thankfully on the 30-minute Chalong Bay Rum Distillery tour, there will be no buckets in sight.

Instead, you’re greeted with a refreshing Chalong Bay Mojito.

Mojito in hand, you’ll join a knowledgeable guide to explore the inner workings of the distillery. During the tour, you will learn how they create their award-winning rum from sustainably-grown Thai sugarcane.

It’s rather fascinating to get a glimpse at how the alcohol is made, something we don’t usually think about when knocking back cocktails.

Join a cocktail-making class

Speaking of cocktails, Chalong Bay Rum Distillery also offers a cocktail workshop for 1,700 THB ($51). If you just fancy the distillery tour though, tickets are 450 THB ($13.50) and run between 14:00 and 18:00.

The Chalong Bay Distillery is only about a 20-minute drive from Phuket Town and 40 minutes from Patong Beach.

#6 Support the first ethical Phuket elephant sanctuary

Elephant sanctuary Phuket Thailand
Elephants freely roaming around in Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Bordering the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is the first ethical elephant sanctuary in Phuket.

The sanctuary offers a new home for retired elephants that have suffered from the logging and tourism industry. It provides an experience that leaves visitors feeling educated and inspired to help the majestic creatures.

Unlike other elephant sanctuaries, it focuses on the elephant’s experience, rather than the visitors. They offer brief interactions with the elephants during feeding time but preserve intimate moments, such as bathing for the elephants to enjoy alone. Visitors can watch on blissfully from the bank.

Make sure to visit ethical sanctuaries

It’s really important for us to do as much as we can to support ethical sanctuaries like this one as opposed to the tourist attractions offering elephant rides. Organisations offering elephant rides often mistreat their animals or overwork them to make more money. It’s important to do your research to ensure you’re visiting an ethical organisation wherever you go!

#7 Volunteer at Soi Dog Foundation

Are you an animal lover who likes to take care of dogs or cats? If so, consider joining over 800 volunteers every year at Soi Dog Foundation.

Contrary to the name, the centre also cares for a number of cats too. So whether you’re a cat or a dog person, there’s something for everyone.

The foundation emphasises the importance of socialisation for their animals, especially those that are shy or have been abused. It’s vital for the animals to feel comfortable around people before they can be adopted.

This is where you can help, even if you can only offer a day of your time whilst in Phuket. Your first full morning at Soi Dog Foundation will consist of a volunteer induction, orientation and socialisation, followed by the main dog walking duties in the afternoon.

The centre is based in Mai Khao, a 15-minute taxi ride from Phuket International Airport and is open Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 16:00.

#8 Meet the Lady Boys at Simons Cabaret

Cabaret in Phuket Thailand
Famous Lady Boys show at Simons Cabaret

Something that has become somewhat a rite of passage when visiting Phuket is attending one of the glitzy, glamorous and saucy Simons Cabaret show.

Quoted as ‘Thailand’s most famous ladyboy show’, it’s a guaranteed hilarious night out.

With venues in Patong and Phuket Town, you can catch a show every night at 18:00, 19:30, and 21:00. Prices vary slightly between the two locations. A ticket at Patong will cost you around 600 THB ($18), while the show in Phuket Town is slightly higher at 720 THB ($21.50).

#9 Enjoy Phuket’s spectacular scenery from one of its many viewpoints

Khao Rung viewpoint of Phuket Thailand
Khao Rang Viewpoint in Phuket

Something Phuket certainly isn’t short of is viewpoints.

Thanks to Phuket’s hilly landscapes, there are look-out points galore across the island, all boasting spectacular panoramic views.

One of the busiest spots is Karon Viewpoint, a 10-minute drive from Kata Beach. From here, you can look out and enjoy the gorgeous views over the vast Andaman Sea and neighbouring white-blanket beaches.

Another great choice is Khao Rang Viewpoint or Rang Hill Viewpoint. It offers unrivalled views to the south, Phuket Town, islands off the east coast and even the Big Buddha in the distance.

More viewpoints of Phuket

Some other awesome spots in Phuket to check out include Monkey Hill Viewpoint, Panwa Viewpoint and Windmill Viewpoint.

PRO TIP: If you have an extra day left in Phuket, you can rent a motorbike and spend a full day exploring these stunning viewpoints, along with the beaches in Phuket.

Most of these viewpoints have several stalls, vendors and even restaurants at the top. This means you can enjoy the unparalleled beauty with a drink or snack in hand, but it does also mean you won’t have the stunning views all to yourself.

#10 Heal your body and mind at a Yoga wellness retreat

Yoga in Phuket Thailand
Woman practising yoga on one of Phuket’s beaches

Whether you’re already a pro at relaxing the mind and body or can’t even touch your toes, Phuket offers a range of yoga classes and retreats for all abilities.

For many, embarking on a week-long wellness retreat can be life-changing. It gives you the time to focus on your mind and replenish your body with healthy and delicious food. Take for example CC’s Anytime Yoga Retreats and Holidays, which offers two programmes depending on what you want to get out of the retreat.

For a slightly more exclusive experience, Island Yoga is located on the nearby, but rarely visited island of Koh Yao Noi. In between your highly relaxing meditation sessions, you’ll be able to explore this untouched oasis.

#11 Take part in the traditional art of Muay Thai

Muay Thai Thailand
Traditional art of Muay Thai

Muay Thai is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Thailand, but the fun isn’t just reserved for professional boxers. The sport is a great way to get fit, improve your flexibility and work out in a whole new way.

Rattachai Muay Thai Gym in Chalong offers both group and private classes hosted by experienced trainers. Don’t worry if you’ve never done something like this before; the classes are available for all levels and it’s good to try new things!

If you don’t feel ready to put yourself into the gym, you can head over to Patong Boxing Stadium to witness a real Muay Thai fight every Monday, Thursday and Saturday night.

#12 Join a training boot camp in Chalong District

As the years go by, Chalong is increasingly becoming known as a fitness utopia. Here, you’ll find a cluster of Muay Thai gyms just like Rattachai, but also a number of training boot camps.

Some of us might run the other way when we hear the word ‘boot camp’, but they’re not as terrifying and evil as they look. Instead, they are a place to transform your body and mind.

Rather than just sticking to the same old boring gym routine, boot camps give you the opportunity to switch it up and keep you motivated with a variety of exercises.

One of the popular fitness camps in Phuket is Titan Fitness Camp for example. Their facilities include an outdoor fitness camp, pool, indoor gym and Health Kitchen. The experienced trainers will make sure to keep you challenged.

Also check out how to get to Phuket from other destinations around Thailand!

About the author(s)

Professional Traveller

Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.

Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.