You think of Phuket, and you think of beautiful beaches and vibrant culture.
But you’d be mistaken if you thought that’s everything Phuket offers.
Whether you’re someone who chases thrills or just needs a good book on a stunning beach bungalow, there’s something for you here.
So, why wait any longer? Why not plan a trip with these top things to do in Phuket, Thailand?
1. Check out the best viewpoints in Phuket
Phuket is a stunning island, and its overlooking viewpoints prove that immediately.
The most famous viewpoint is Big Buddha, which gives you almost an entire 360° view of the island. Other popular spots include Black Rock, Karon Viewpoint, Manik Viewpoint, Monkey Hill, and…well, I think you get it.
Each of these spots gives you a unique panoramic view of the area and allows you to get all the Instagram shots you need. Depending on the season you visit, the viewpoints can get crowded.
So aim to get there early to avoid the crowds or head to the lesser-known Phuket viewpoints for fewer people, including around Phuket (not just on the tropical island itself).
No visit to Phuket is complete without a viewpoint (or two).
2. Admire Big Buddha
The Big Buddha of Phuket is a must-see when you are in the area.
Situated above Chalong on the southern part of the island, it stands at 45 meters and can be seen from around the island (including as far north as Manik Dam!).
Big Buddha is made from white marble and symbolizes faith, protection, and peace for Phuket’s citizens. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views of Chalong Bay and the surrounding islands while visiting. And there are numerous souvenir shops around the statue’s base where you can buy all sorts of trinkets to take home.
Not only does this majestic monument offer an unforgettable experience for visitors, but it is also a great way to learn about Buddhism and its teachings.
Just be sure you wear proper clothing — shoulders covered and pants that extend below your knees.
Visiting the Big Buddha is one of the top things to do when exploring Phuket!
3. Go on a hike in Phuket
A hike in Phuket is a great way to explore the beauty and culture of this tropical destination.
While everyone thinks of its beaches, Phuket’s jungle trails are equally fun. Plus, your hiking level doesn’t matter — beginners and experts will find something for them.
A hike will allow you to experience first-hand the unique flora and fauna of the island (and it’ll get you away from the crowds!). During your hike, you can also take in breathtaking views of the mountains, valleys, and islands from higher vantage points.
And you’ll occasionally run into a rubber tree farmer who’s ready to greet you with a hearty “Sawasdee krap!”
A Phuket hike will leave you with lasting memories, whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation.
4. Visit Wat Chalong in Phuket
Near Big Buddha, Wat Chalong is Phuket’s most popular and beautiful temple.
The temple has been an essential building in Phuket for historical and touristic reasons. It served as a base during the Chinese Rebellion in 1876, and now people travel from all over to see it.
The main building of this temple complex is a two-story wooden structure that houses seven statues of Buddhist monks. Visitors can explore this remarkable temple and learn about its history and culture. And the temple is said to house a bone of Buddha, which you can view on the top floor.
Since Wat Chalong is so close to Big Buddha, it’s a great idea to visit these two on the same day to save yourself time.
5. Visit the many islands around Phuket
Visiting the many beautiful islands around Phuket is an excellent way to experience the natural beauty of Thailand.
Island hopping from the stunning limestone cliffs and clear waters of Koh Phi Phi to the laid-back atmosphere and secluded beaches of Koh Lanta, there is something for everyone.
Travelers can enjoy various activities on these islands, from snorkeling and diving in some of the best spots in South East Asia to exploring nature trails or simply taking in the breathtaking views from one of the many viewpoints.
There are also a range of restaurants and bars on each island that offer outstanding local cuisine.
Or, if you’re just looking for a quick day trip, try visiting one of the closer islands like Koh Yao Yai, Koh Yao Noi, or the famous James Bond Island!
Whether you want a relaxing break or an adventure-filled holiday, there’s plenty to see and do when you visit these islands around Phuket.
6. Walk around the many markets of Phuket Town
Exploring the many markets of Phuket Town is a great way to get a glimpse into Thai culture.
Whether you’re looking for fresh food, local handicrafts, or souvenirs for your friends back home, there’s something for everyone here.
The streets are lined with colorful stalls selling everything from clothing and jewelry to spices and sauces.
You can find traditional Thai dishes like Pad Thai, Som Tam salads, and Khao Soi noodles, as well as international favorites like pizza and burgers. Shopping in the markets is an excellent way to practice bargaining skills while discovering unique items you won’t find anywhere else.
Plus, you never know what random item you’ll take home as your next great souvenir.
If you want an unusual thing to do in Phuket, try eating a maggot or cockroach from the market. I had the opportunity to try this myself with a maggot!
While I won’t be adding them to my regular diet, I was surprised by what a little BBQ seasoning can do!
7. Walk around Phuket’s Old Town
Phuket’s Old Town is one of my favorite places in Phuket, and it’ll be yours, too.
With its beautiful, colorful buildings, street art, and culture, it’s sure to take your breath away. The streets are full of life, and you can find some of the best local restaurants and bars, plus plenty of souvenir shops and the night market is a particular favorite for those on holiday in Thailand.
The vibrant and friendly atmosphere, with locals welcoming visitors with a smile, fills you with energy. A great way to experience the area is to just wander around the streets and soak up the atmosphere.
There are plenty of hidden gems to discover within walking distance, such as temples and shrines tucked away in alleyways or old-fashioned Chinese shop-houses set amongst the narrow lanes, as well as museums to learn more about the island of Phuket.
For the best experience, take your time walking around Phuket’s Old Town — you might find something no other tourist has yet!
8. Visit Samet Nangshe near Phuket
Samet Nangshe is my favorite viewpoint in Thailand.
A bit north of Phuket, this small area gives you an incredible view of Phang Nga Bay and its limestone islets that dot the waters.
You can visit the viewpoint for a quick day trip or stay at the Samet Nangshe boutique hotel if you want a truly fantastic view. Stay the night, then wake up early to watch the sunrise over the bay on your balcony while oranges, yellows, and reds spread across the sky like a painting.
You won’t regret getting up early for this scene.
Phuket is a stunning island that has something for every type of traveler.
From catching sun rays to getting your dose of nightlife culture, you won’t get bored on this small island.
So, why not start planning your trip to Thailand and experience it yourself?