Picture your idea of paradise, and you’ll probably dream up something close to Phuket. With its paper white sands, azure waters and emerald flora, this Thai province goes unmatched on account of its utopian beauty. The region consists of Phuket Island, Thailand’s largest isle, as well as a further 32 smaller islets off the main coast. Spanning just 222 square miles, Phuket is smaller than the city-state of Singapore, but is all the more beautiful for it — providing a tangible nirvana for those lucky enough to walk its exquisite shores.
Given seventy per cent of Phuket’s inland territory is mountainous and rugged, visitors tend to congregate on the coast — and for good reason. Though only moderate in size, Phuket is home to some thirty beaches, each as beautiful as the next. Endless hours can be wasted lounging on Phuket’s warm sands, or else paddling in the crystal bays which skirt its seashore.
And yet there’s much more to Phuket than just sand and surf. With its colourful heritage and culture, Phuket is one of the best places to visit outside of Bangkok for those with sightseeing on their holiday agenda.
For those sailing to Phuket as part of a longer Southeast Asia cruise, here we present a stopover guide to the region — including what to see, where to eat and where to shop in this majestic Thai province.
See and Do
Top up your tan, dip beneath the seas, or discover local cultural highlights — the choice is yours during a stopover in Phuket. Here are a handful of the best things to see and do during your visit.
Visit Phuket Heroines Monument
Thai history doesn’t get more inspiring than the Phuket Heroines Monument, which can be found on Thepkasattri Rod in the town of Thalang. The statue pays homage to two local sisters, Lady Chan and Lady Mook, who in the 18th century led local people to victory in a battle against Burmese intruders. The sisters, who were born into a wealthy family, were only the ones to stand up to the invading Burmese forces, an act of bravery which has since become legend across Thailand.
Go Diving at Kamala Beach
Removed from the tourist sands of Hat Patong and Hat Karon, Kamala is one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches, and yet remains relatively untouched by the masses. The beach itself is long and peaceful, boasting a ribbon of soft sand flanked by tropical undergrowth. It’s also the perfect spot for scuba diving, with several coral reefs lying just off shore.
Sample Thai History at Thalong National Museum
If you’ve a penchant for history and culture, flee the blissful comfort of your beach towel and make for the Thalong National Museum, one of Thailand’s best-loved cultural attractions. Featuring a smorgasbord of ancient artefacts from across Thailand and Southeast Asia, this impressive museum offers an intriguing timeline into the pages of Phuket’s colourful past.
Discover the Creepy Crawlies of the Phuket Butterfly Garden
One of the sole remaining butterfly gardens remaining in Thailand, the Phuket Butterfly Garden is the perfect day out for those travelling with youngsters in tow. Home to an enormous selection of butterflies, bugs and creepy crawlies; this unique visitor attraction can help you and your offspring get to grips with the natural ecology of Phuket amid a beautiful, sub-tropical environment.
Take a Walk in Old Phuket Town
While it can be impossible to drag yourself away from Phuket’s beaches, it’s worth visiting Phuket Town, the capital of the province. Brimming with beautiful heritage buildings, Phuket delivers all of the attributes of Bangkok in a more humble and less intense package — think bustling street markets, living bars and cafes, and some of the friendliest locals on the Asian continent.
No matter what your tastes, Phuket province has a range of eats to suit every palate. Here are three restaurants we’d recommend during your visit to the region.
Dedos Restaurant, Bangtao
Helmed by Swiss-Bolivian chef Pablo Blattman, Dedos Restaurant is a small, intimate establishment serving some of the finest cuisine in Phuket province. The food served here delivers an interesting fusion of Mediterranean, Japanese, and Thai influences, and is the perfect venue for an evening of shameless degustation dining. Choose from a select menu of delectable eats, including foie gras ravioli, tartar duo, and lobster bisque soup flambéed with pastis.
Acqua, Kalim Beach
Bringing beloved Italian flavours to Phuket’s breath-taking Andaman coast, Acqua is a contemporary Italian restaurant whose Sardinian-born chef, Alessandro Frau, crafts mouth-watering European dishes from locally-sourced produce. While the menu of this modern Italian restaurant is second-to-none in terms of its gastronomic offering, the fare is slightly overshadowed by the restaurant’s panoramic vistas, which encompass the entire dining area.
Boathouse Wine & Grill, Kata Beach
For five-star dining at its finest, make for the Boathouse Wine & Grill. Located mere steps from the sands of Kata Beach, this sumptuous eatery houses one of Phuket’s best-stocked wine cellars — perfect for those looking to enjoy a beachside nightcap. The Boathouse’s French-Asian fare is equally as impressive, and we’d recommend the home-smoked Tasmanian salmon for a little taste of home during your visit. The best thing about The Boathouse Wine & Grill however, is the price. Thanks to excellent currency rates, you can enjoy a luxury meal in this 5-star restaurant for a lot less than you think.
From fresh street food stalls to the finest designer boutiques; here we look at the best places to shop in Phuket.
Banzaan Market, Patong Beach
Thailand takes its fresh produce markets seriously, and Banzaan Market is one of the best in the country. With hundreds of vendors housed under one ornate roof, this is the perfect place to pick up something delicious or simply peruse the outlandishly colourful kiosks. And it’s not just fruit and veg on offer either; Banzaan also sells clothes, shoes, accessories and toys — so you could easily find a souvenir for loved ones back home.
Jungceylon Shopping Mall, Patong Beach
If you feel like splurging on a new outfit during your stopover in Phuket, make for the Jungceylon Shopping Mall at Patong Beach. As the biggest shopping mall this side of Bangkok, Jungceylon has everything the ardent shopper could need — think designer boutiques, high street stores and no end of perfumeries.
Phuket Walking Street, Phuket Town
During your visit to Phuket Town, be sure to spend a couple of hours exploring the town’s old quarter. Here you’ll find the Phuket Walking Street market, a charming kerbside market where local traders come to sell their handcrafted wares. Paired with the beauty of the surrounding heritage buildings; you’ll feel just like a Phuket local as you stroll this authentic marketplace.
If Phuket has piqued your interest in a Thailand cruise break, why not browse our full collection of cruises to Southeast Asia? With amazing prices on a wide range of cruises, you can afford to start planning your dream trip to Thailand. For more information, call our team on 1300 857 345.