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The 20 Best Things to Do in Phuket, Thailand, for First Timers


Phuket is the largest of Thailand’s islands, and its capital is Phuket City. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, as visitors flock to the island to enjoy the wonderful climate, the vibrant urban areas, the stunning beaches, and the breathtaking rural areas. People also visit to enjoy the Thai culture, eat mouthwatering cuisine, and learn about the island’s history. Regardless of your reason for visiting and the type of experience you want from your trip, you will find plenty of things to see and do during your stay. Here are the 20 best things to do in Phuket, Thailand, for first-timers.

Khao Phra Thaeo National Park and Bang Pae Waterfall

20. Explore Khao Phra Thaeo National Park and Bang Pae Waterfall

One of the most beautiful areas in Phuket to explore is the Khao Phra National Park, says Time Out. This is a dense, tropical jungle on the eastern side of the island. Within this park is the Bang Pae Waterfall, which is the largest waterfall in Phuket. Visitors are allowed to take a dip in the pools at the bottom of the falls.

Wat Chalong

19. Visit Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong is one of the most important religious landmarks on the island, as it is the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket. This landmark is architecturally interesting, steeped in history, and will give you an insight into the culture of those who live in this part of the world. You need to cover up as it is a sacred site, and it often gets very busy.

Floating Restaurants at Laem Hin Pier

18. Dine at the Floating Restaurants at Laem Hin Pier

There are many outstanding restaurants in Phuket where you can try Thai cuisine and delicacies. However, if you visit Laem Hin Pier, you can expect a unique dining experience as the restaurants here are floating. This means that you will enjoy a delicious meal in a stunning setting with excellent water views. You reach these restaurants by boat, and you can sample some of the finest freshly caught seafood you will ever taste.

Muay Thai Match at Patong Boxing Stadium

17. Watch a Muay Thai Match at Patong Boxing Stadium

The national sport of Thailand is Muay Thai, which is also known as Thai boxing. If you are a sports enthusiast or you simply want to absorb yourself into as many aspects of Thai culture as you can during your visit to Phuket, then you should try and see a Muay Thai match. The best venue to see a match is at Patong Boxing Stadium. If this is an activity that you would like to include in your itinerary, then you should book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

Phang Nga Bay

16. Go Island Hopping in Phang Nga Bay

Phuket is surrounded by tiny islands, many of which are uninhabited. A fantastic day trip out is to take a boat ride that takes you island hopping in Phang Nga Bay. This is a unique experience that allows you to fully appreciate the beauty surrounding Phuket. Different tours visit different islands, and each offers a unique experience. Some include swimming, and others have food in the package. You should take along your camera and plenty of sunblock.

Simon Cabaret

15. See a Show at Simon Cabaret

Phuket City is known for its vibrant nightlife, and there are some fantastic nightspots to visit and have some fun. A popular venue is Simon Cabaret. Every evening, this bar puts on three lively drag shows. These are full of talented artists, fantastic music, excellent choreography, and flamboyant costumes. Another venue that is worth considering is the Aphrodite Cabaret.

Aqua Spa

14. Relax at Aqua Spa

If you have taken a vacation to get away from the stresses and strains of daily life, then you will probably want to spend as much time as possible relaxing during your vacation. One way to do this is to visit a spa, and a great choice is Aqua Spa. This spa is in a beautiful and tranquil setting with views of the hills, and you can enjoy Thai massages or choose from a wide range of other therapies and treatments. The spa also has a restaurant with a wellness dining menu. This spa is just a five minutes’ drive from Patong.

Bay Rum Distillery

13. Take a Tour of Bay Rum Distillery

An interesting place to visit is Chalong Bay Rum Distillery, which offers tours to visitors. The tour includes a look around the facilities, along with information about the rum distillation and production process. You will also visit their bottling plant to see the finished product being transferred to bottles ready for sale. At the end of the tour, visitors can try a Chalong Bat Mojito, made with the rum produced at this distillery.

Promthep Cape

12. Enjoy the Views from Promthep Cape

There are spectacular views from many different points across the island, although one location that is highly recommended is Promthep Cape. Head towards Rawai Beach and you will see a section of landing jutting apart from the coastline. This is Promthep Cape, and the best time to visit is in the early evening. It is where people go to enjoy the best sunset views on the island. The sky becomes a multicolored array of reds, yellows, and oranges, which creates an impressive sight. If you visit in the day, you can enjoy the pleasant walk through greenery to get to the cape, and then admire the views of the bay. While you are visiting the cape, you should also visit the Buddhist shrine and the lighthouse that are nearby. These are all free to visit.

Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

11. Go to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

Phuket is one of the natural habitats of gibbons, although the gibbon population has gradually declined due to illegal hunters and urbanization. The Gibbon Project is dedicated to caring for gibbons and rehabilitating them before introducing them back to the wild. When you visit this center, you will not see gibbons in cages. Instead, they are in a setting that is as close to their natural habitat as possible. This is an important aspect of reintroducing them to the wild. If you are in Phuket for a while, there is the option to volunteer for the project, as they are always looking for people to help.

Bangla Road

10. Party Along Bangla Road

Although the beaches and rainforests of Phuket are known for being tranquil, the urban areas are a different matter altogether. If you want to party late into the night, then you will find plenty of places to do so. One of the best places to party in Phuket is on Bangla Road in Patong. This street is lined with bars and clubs, many of which host live music every night. Most are open until the early hours of the morning, and you will see a different side to life on the island. Along Bangla Road, you will also find several restaurants to visit if you want to enjoy a meal as part of your night out.


9. See a Show at Fantasea

An excellent option for evening entertainment is to see a performance at Fantasea, which is the biggest show on the island. The spellbinding shows educate visitors about Thai history and culture through a variety of mediums. In addition to the shows, there is plenty more to enjoy at this venue. There is a fun theme park with an assortment of rides, and there are several eateries where you can grab a bite to eat.

Night Market

8. Try Local Delicacies at the Weekend Night Market

Although there are many excellent restaurants to try, some of the best food is served at the street markets. There, you can sample many traditional Thai dishes and delicacies. If you are unfamiliar with the flavors of Thai cuisine, then this is the best way to introduce yourself to the delights of the food. One of the best places to enjoy food stalls is at the Weekend Night Market.

Karon Viewpoint

7. Hike to the Karon Viewpoint

Phuket is a mountainous island, so there are many great viewpoints across the island. One of the most popular and easily accessible options is Karon Viewpoint, and the hike to this place is reasonably easy. On one side, you will see views of three different bays. On the other side, you can enjoy views across the Andaman Sea. Other famous viewpoints in Phuket include Khao Rang Hill, Kata Noi Viewpoint, Ya Nui Viewpoint, and Radar Hill Viewpoint. No matter which of the viewpoints you visit, take along your camera or your cell phone and a selfie stick.

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

6. Visit Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Elephants are the national animal of Thailand, so many people in Phuket are passionate about their wellbeing. On the other hand, there are still elephants being abused or forced to perform. The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a place that is devoted to rehabilitating such animals. Visitors to the sanctuary are educated about the animals, and they have the opportunity to feed them and observe them in their natural habitat.

Big Buddha

5. See the Big Buddha

The Big Buddha is probably the most famous landmark on the island, so no trip to Phuket is complete without seeing this first-hand. This is just one of the many landmarks and statues that are dedicated to Buddhism, which is the main faith in Thailand. It is the most impressive of all as it is carved from white marble and it stands at a magnificent 45-feet tall. It is an excellent photo opportunity to commemorate your trip.


4. Have a Go at Surfing

Phuket is a popular destination for surfers, and there are many spots around the island that have the perfect waves for experienced surfers to enjoy. There is also the option to have surfing lessons from one of the instructors that you will find on various beaches around the island. However, if you are a novice you do not need to miss out on the opportunity to give surfing a go, You can head to the Surf House Phuket, which is an indoor surfing venue with a wave pool for you to practice and perfect your skills.

Old Town Phuket

3. Stroll Around Old Town Phuket

The Culture Trip recommends spending some time in Old Town Phuket during your visit. The streets are lined with colorful colonial-style townhouses and mansions. In this area, you will find multiple shops and eateries. It has a calmer vibe and a more relaxed pace of life than the touristy areas, such as Patong, so it offers an entirely different experience.

Scuba Diving

2. Go Scuba Diving

As this is an island that is surrounded by stunning, clear waters, a popular activity for locals and tourists alike is scuba diving. This is the best way to appreciate the underwater beauty and to see the diverse array of colorful fish and other marine life that live in the waters surrounding Phuket. There are many instructors who will take you out for a dive. Some of the best dive sites include those at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. If you take a boat trip to nearby Coral Island, you can dive to a wreck. Similarly, there are day trips available to interesting dive sites around the Similan Islands. An alternative is to go snorkeling in the shallow waters, where there is still plenty to see. This is the better option for children and those who have not tried scuba diving before.


1. Spend Time on the Beach

According to Adventure in You, one of the best things to do in Phuket, Thailand, for first-timers is to spend time on the beaches. There, you can make the most of the wonderful weather, relax, and enjoy spectacular views. The busiest tourist beaches are at Karon, Patong, and Kata. These are lively and busy spots where you can enjoy watersports and there are plenty of beach huts selling food, drinks, and souvenirs. If you prefer a quieter spot, then choose between Banana Beach or the beaches ar Surin, Nai Thon, or Kata Noi.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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