November 19, 2020.
We’ve compiled a Phuket travel guide that features some off the beaten path places to visit, as well as the must-see sights on the island. Phuket is a large island, so we're focusing on sights in the south to give you time to enjoy them at leisure.
The best way to see the sights we’ve highlighted is to rent a private car and take a day-long trip. Pre-booking your rental car is always recommended, and you’ll find a wealth of international, well-known car rental agencies with offices at Phuket International Airport.
Besides a credit card, you’ll need a valid driving licence from your home country and an International Driving Permit to rent a car in Thailand.
Most of the car rental agencies can provide you with a paper, fold-out map of the island. A lot of them also can supply you with a GPS unit, which you can often reserve in advance when you make your reservation. But this is the digital age of smartphones! So why not simply enable your location to be displayed in Google Maps and you’ll be able to know exactly where you are at all times. All of the attractions on the island that we list here will appear on Google Maps as well.
Car Travel in Phuket is relatively stress-free, and all the attractions highlighted are within a 30-minute drive of each other. In Thailand, we drive on the left side of the road, and you’ll be pleased to hear that the roads in Phuket are modern and well-maintained. The major roads connecting the towns on the island are clearly marked with numbers. There is plenty of directional signage in both Thai and English, so getting lost shouldn’t be a problem. Most of the major attractions on the island are also clearly marked with roadside signs.
For your day trip touring the island, we recommend packing a bag with a change of clothes, swimsuit, towel, sunglasses, sunscreen and water. It’s highly advisable to pack insect repellent as mosquitoes tend to come out at dusk.
Don’t bother packing any food for your trip. Part of the joy of touring Phuket is the wealth of restaurants and food stalls you'll find along the way selling the world-famous Thai cuisine. If the local food is a bit too spicy for you, most of the larger towns on the island have plenty of restaurants offering a wide selection of international food. There are also well-known fast food outlets on Phuket in all the shopping malls as well as in the larger towns.
Some of the best restaurants you’ll find along our suggested route include The Blue Elephant, Ka Jok See Restaurant and Raya Restaurant in Phuket Town. These restaurants serve delicious versions of traditional Thai dishes. They are extremely popular, so a reservation is recommended.
Kan Eng@Pier on Chalong Beach near the jetty is one of the best places to go for fresh grilled seafood served ‘Thai-style’. Besides mouth-watering seafood, the restaurant offers one of the best atmospheres and a panoramic, ocean view from its veranda.
For hungry road travellers looking for quality international fare at reasonable prices, Phuket Town is your best bet. Flavour Restaurant on Yaowarat Road in Phuket Town offers superbly-prepared European cuisine in a cosy atmosphere. Their Cordon Bleu-trained, Belgian manager/chef, creates masterful dishes that focus on using the freshest local ingredients.
Brasserie Phuket on Rassada Road in Phuket Town also offers French and Belgian cuisine in a stylishly-lit, elegant setting. For the hearty flavours of Italy, try nearby Salvatore’s on Rassada Road. This restaurant has long been one of Phuket Town’s favourites. It serves excellent trattoria-style food in a warm and beautifully-furnished dining room.
Phuket Town is the largest and oldest town on the island. There are signs all over the island offering directions to the centrally-located town, so it’s extremely easy to find.
One of the attractions of Phuket Town is the magnificent Sino-Portuguese architecture in the section of the town referred to as Phuket ‘Old Town’. You’ll find that some of the restaurants listed above actually inhabit these architectural treasures.
To find the Old Town, locate Satun Road to the west, Thepkrasattri Road to the east, Dibuk Road to the north and Krabi and Thalang Road to the south on a map. These are the borders of the old section of town. Simply find a parking space on the street within these four borders and stroll around the area on foot. There are lots of quaint cafés, restaurants, curio shops and art galleries along the streets and alleys of Old Town.
One of the best times to visit is on Sunday evening. That’s when the Sunday Walking Street Market is in full swing. The cooler temperatures of the evening bring out shoppers browsing the colourful stalls of second-hand goods, handicrafts and, of course, the best of Phuket’s street food.
To reach Wat Chalong from Phuket Old Town, take Krabi Road and head west, continuing west on Vichitsongkram Road (Route 4020) when it intersects with Krabi Road. You’ll soon come to a major intersection with Route 4024. Turn left and head south on 4024. After around 4 kilometres, look for Luang Pho Chaem Road on your left, and follow the road about 150 metres until you see the car park and signs for the Wat on your right.
Wat Chalong is both the largest Buddhist Temple in Phuket and the most visited. The beautifully ornate temple buildings are spread out among a meticulously-tended tropical garden. The most recent addition to the temple is a 60-metre tall Chedi that contains a fragment of Buddha’s bone.
As it is a Buddhist temple, visitors must observe the dress code. Shoes are not allowed within the buildings. Women must cover their shoulders, and everyone must wear pants or skirts that extend below the knees. Talk quietly and don’t touch the artworks or statues. Wat Chalong is open from very early in the morning until the evening. There is no charge for visiting the temple, but donations are gratefully received.
Next up is Big Buddha. From Wat Chalong, continue south on 4024 about 1 kilometre until you see Soi Yot Sane 1, and turn right. Follow the signs to the Big Buddha along the road. The Big Buddha is about 3 kilometres east of 4024.
Driving up the hill to the foot of the Big Buddha, you'll notice car parks near the base of the statue. After you've parked, you'll still need to walk up the gradual, but long staircase to reach the statue. The Big Buddha is immense, 25.45 metres in width and 45 metres high, and it dwarfs everything around it.
The expansive plaza at the base of the statue offers a spectacular, 360-degree panoramic view of the island and the surrounding ocean. There is no cost to visit the statue, but as it is a Buddhist shrine, donations are always welcome. The statue is open daily from 6 AM to 7 PM.
Backtrack to Route 4024 from the Big Buddha and turn right heading south. In slightly less than a kilometre, the road will begin to run through the town of Chalong. This is a popular town with locals on the island as it offers a busy jetty where fishing and pleasure boats can load and unload their cargo. Proceed south through Chalong, and you'll run into Rawai Beach where 4024 ends and Route 4030 continues off to the right.
Rawai Beach is well-known among the locals for the quality of its seafood restaurants offering their pick of the fresh, daily catch from the nearby fishing boats. It’s an excellent place to make a pit-stop, savour a seafood lunch and a cold drink and take in the beautiful, expansive view of Phang Nga Bay.
Taking 4030 south-east out of Rawai Beach, it’s just a short drive to both Promthep Cape and Ya Nui Beach. If it’s still early enough in the day for a swim, drive past Promthep Cape and head toward the Windmill Viewpoint. At the bottom of the cliff near the viewpoint is the secluded Ya Nui Beach.
This is a great place to go for a swim or a snorkelling session. The beach is sheltered in a small cove with a reef close to the shore. It's a small beach offering calm, turquoise waters that are perfect for families with young, but active children to explore the undersea world.
If you’ve never heard of this picturesque landmark on Phuket before, you’ve probably seen it in picture postcards and images of the island. This cape on the southwest corner of the island offers a spectacular place to watch the sunset. The cape has a lighthouse with a wide plaza nearby that offers food, snacks, souvenirs and handicrafts to the busloads of tourists who come to the cape for sunset. On clear days, you can even see the Phi Phi Islands on the horizon from the plaza. It’s the ideal day place to end the day’s road trip.
You rarely hear anyone asking what there is to do in Phuket, and now you know why! Rental for the Holidays offers plenty of modern and spacious condos for rent in all areas of the island. Simply choose the area close to the attractions and activities that you want to pursue while you’re on holiday. From condos close to national parks to roomy apartments with a beach view, Rental for the Holidays has the accommodation to suit your needs.