Phuket wows with its stunning beaches, rich Thai culture and epic villas built over majestic clifftops looking over the Andaman Sea. This Thai island has evolved into one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in Asia, with stunning tropical landscape paired with jaw-dropping luxury and some of the most vibrant nightlife on the planet. Whether you’re after a sneaky getaway in the lap of luxury or a sun kissed holiday with the family, the Pearl of the Andaman is more than ready to oblige.
Arguably the most famous of the Thai islands, Phuket has gone through quite the transformation. What was once known as a hard-partying locale favoured by backpackers has in the past decade reinvented itself as the ultimate luxury destination in the tropics. Today, the island’s iconic lime cliffs are frosted with some of the most jaw-dropping luxury real estate in Asia and five-star resorts have lured in Michelin calibre chefs catering to travelling gourmands.
Thanks to its gorgeous white sand beaches and turquoise waters made famous by a little movie called The Beach, Phuket continues to attract beach lovers from all walks of life. The stunning scenery is paired together with rich Thai culture with plenty of cosmopolitan influences and seemingly endless entertainment, ranging from scenic island hopping to out-of-this-world nightlife lighting up infamous Bangla Road.
History & Culture
Phuket is quite the Cinderella story. What started as a quiet island dominated by tin and rubber industries is now visited by over five million tourists every year. The local tourism industry started developing in the 1960s, helped in part by the opening of Sarasin Bridge which connects Phuket to mainland Thailand. During the next decades, the island saw the building of quaint beach bungalows and the arrival of the first hordes of backpackers. The island’s fate was sealed with the release of The Beach in 2000, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. After the movie was released, literally thousands of tourists flooded the island looking for their own slice of unspoiled tropical paradise – and the rest, as they say, is history. During the past decade, Phuket has started shedding its backpacker skin, transforming into one of the premiere luxury destinations in Asia.
Planning Your Trip to Phuket
Phuket is the ultimate tropical destination offering equal measures of stunning lush landscape, easy living by the beach, vibrant entertainment and unrivalled luxury. Our Phuket travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Phuket, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers.
Phuket is affected by monsoon rains so to make the most of your beach holiday, it’s important to time your trip wisely. While the weather stays warm all year round, September and October are the wettest months of the year. Even during the rainy season, it’s rare to see several days of bad weather in a row. Weather wise, December through to March is the best time to visit – though the end of the year is also the busiest time on the island. For more information, check out our month by month guide to weather in Phuket.
Phuket Events Calendar
Phuket is a year-round destination attracting visitors throughout the year – though the numbers do take a dip around the rainy season in September – October. Phuket is at its busiest from late December through to early January.
Things To See & Do in Phuket
Whether you’re looking for a sightseeing tour around the tropics, an endless party to keep you entertained or simply dream of parking yourself by the pool with a cold drink in hand, Phuket is the place to be. From its stunning natural scenery to rich Thai culture and from luxurious clifftop living to laid-back days spent on the beach, Phuket has it all.
Phuket is famed for its stunning beaches and paradise islands which dot the coastline. The island is also home to beautiful Buddhist temples and the imposing Big Buddha statue. For a different take on Phuket away from the beaches, visit Phuket Old Town where streets are lined with colourful old shophouses, shrines and temples.
Buddhist faith is an integral part of Thai culture and Phuket island is home to some 30 beautiful Buddhist temples. Here are the most photogenic and most visited temples in Phuket:
- Wat Chalong: More than a century old Wat Chalong features a splinter of Lord Buddha’s bone housed in the Grand Pagoda.
- Wat Khao Rang: Located in Phuket Town, Wat Khao Rang is characterised by a large gilded statue of the Buddha.
- Wat Sri Sunthon: This temple is most famed for its 29-metre high statue of the reclining Buddha.
- Big Buddha: One of the most iconic landmarks in Phuket, the 45-metre Big Buddha sits on a hilltop and offers panoramic views.
Phuket is neighboured by stunning paradise islands offering a sweet escape right off the coastline. Here are the most popular islands around Phuket:
- Phi Phi Islands: These two islands were made famous by the movie adaptation of The Beach and attract huge crowds.
- James Bond Island: This minuscule island juts out from the sea and was made famous by the 007 movie The Man with the Golden Gun.
- Similan Islands: This cluster of islands offers some of the best snorkelling and diving in Thailand.
- Racha Islands: These two islands offers an off the beaten path experience with stunning beaches and secluded bays.
- Coral Island: Located right off Phuket’s coastline, Coral Island offers a variety of water sports and attracts divers and snorkellers.
Phuket is a great place to relax and unwind. Thailand is known for its healing massages and this stunning island ups the ante by offering stunning beaches ideal for beach lovers and sunset seekers alike.
Phuket is famed for its beaches, characterised by white sand, turquoise water and stunning lime stone cliff formations. Phuket’s most visited beaches include:
- Patong: The busiest beach in Phuket, framed by the main nightlife and entertainment district.
- Kata: Beautiful beach with white sand and clear waters, offering laid-back ambiance and dining options and doesn’t get too crowded.
- Surin: Upmarket Surin beach was transformed when beach bars were banned in 2016, but it’s still a beautiful stretch of white sand with clear waters.
- Kamala: Located up the coast from busy Patong, Kamala offers a more relaxed setting and is favoured by long time visitors to Phuket.
- Bang Tao: One of the longest beaches in Phuket, with an ample choice of resorts and restaurants.
- Karon: One of the longest and most popular beaches in Phuket with enough sand to not feel too crowded.
- Natai: Located short drive from Phuket on the mainland, Natai is a gorgeous 10km stretch of sand void of mass development.
Tours & Activities
Phuket is a tropical paradise simply waiting to be explored. Island hopping is a must, with famous locales like the Phi Phi Islands, James Bond Island and more waiting just beyond the horizon. Closer to home, you can enjoy easy living by the sea, whether that means lounging on a sun bed or getting your heart pumping with a variety of water sports. Travelling inland, you can visit majestic cultural landmarks and waterfalls and get a feel of the local way of life in Phuket Town. The island really is your oyster!
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, spanning in total 539 km², with east to west 21 km (13 mi) wide and spans 48 km (30 mi) north to south. We have written detailed travel guides for the most beautiful areas of the island, which are highlighted on the map and grouped by region below.
There are over 100 Ministry Approved villas in Phuket. Phuket villas range from around USD $300 per night for one-bedroom villa resorts to over USD $7,000 per night for a 10-bedroom luxury villa. Most of our villas have dedicated staff including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and many other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Phuket is a tropical playground simply waiting to be explored by the global travellati. From world-class restaurants to jaw-dropping villas and hidden paradise beaches, our team can’t seem to get enough of this Thai island. Check out our latest Phuket blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.