Boasting pristine scenery, a fascinating past, and a variety of unique attractions, Thailand’s largest island could easily be your sole destination on a trip to Southeast Asia. With so many things to do in Phuket, it can be hard to nail down an itinerary that gives you that perfect blend of exploration and relaxation. That’s where we come in. Read on for our list of favorite sights and activities to make sure you check off during your visit—in between lounge sessions on the beach, of course.
Turn your day upside down
Step into a topsy-turvy world at Baan Teelanka, a 3-story residence that looks just like any other, except for one tiny thing—everything has been turned upside down! Flip your perceptions on their head as you enter a home literally sitting on its roof, and then embark on a logic-bending journey that starts in the attic and ends in the garage at the top. Each wonky room has been designed with incredible attention to detail, from the glasses of water sitting on the kitchen counter to the fish swimming belly-up in the aquarium. For an extra dose of befuddling fun, find your way out of the labyrinthine garden maze, or work together with your group to break out of the Chamber of Secrets, whose doors can only be opened by solving a series of confounding puzzles.
Indulge in a fantastical evening
Phuket FantaSea calls itself “the ultimate Thai cultural theme park,” and that’s the perfect way to sum up this Las Vegas-style spectacle. Prepare for an evening extravaganza that centers around the island’s biggest and most dazzling show, complete with elaborate sets, flashy special effects, swinging trapeze artists, trick-performing elephants, and a massive cast of hundreds. You’ll be spellbound as Thai legends come to life, weaving together traditional dances, shadow puppets, and beautiful costumes to give you an enchanting glimpse into Thai culture. While the show is the main event, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the park before it starts. Check out the games in the sea-themed arcade, shop for souvenirs in the village, or head to the photo booth to pose with the whole family in authentic Thai costumes.
Take a stroll through history
Phuket developed a booming tin economy during the 16th century, and because of its ideal location on the Silk Road between India and China, both European merchants and Chinese laborers flocked to the island centuries ago. This East-meets-West heritage is still very much on display in Phuket Old Town, where you can find stunning examples of Sino-Portuguese architecture. Start your day early and head out with the guides at BT Tours for a tour of the area’s distinct shop-houses and grandiose mansions in the quiet of the morning, when the town is still waking up. Along the way, visit a bustling wet market, and step inside the Thai Hua Museum to delve deeper into the city’s rich history.
Paddle your way through Phang Nga Bay
Sheer limestone cliffs, lush mangrove forests, gorgeous islands—no doubt about it, Phang Nga Bay is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery to be found anywhere in Thailand. For an active way to explore these spectacular waters, which have been protected as a national park since the eighties, hop on a kayak tour offered by Tour East Thailand to spend the day discovering caves, islands, and wetlands. Visit archaeological sites that have revealed millennia-old paintings, spy a variety of native wildlife, and get an unforgettable look at the famous Khao Phing Kan, the tower-like rock that became known as James Bond Island after it was featured in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Discover the coastline and countryside
Venture outside of Phuket City and the island’s resort towns and you enter a peaceful landscape in which beautiful temples, quaint farmhouses, and stunning ocean vistas seem to wait around every corner. Leave the logistics up to the expert guides at Diethelm Travel and let them take you on a full-day excursion discover the island’s scenic spots and cultural treasures that lie off the beaten path. As you climb Nakkerd Hill to marvel at its colossal Buddha statue, pay a visit to the area’s oldest Chinese temple, and stop at a farm to learn from locals about the process of rubber tapping, you get a look at daily island life beyond the typical tourist haunts.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Phuket, so how will you be spending your tropical vacation?