One of the more recognisable cities in Thailand and the country’s biggest island, Phuket is famous for its beaches and resorts. Only a short (almost two hours) flight away, Phuket is the perfect weekend escapade for fun in the sun, island hopping, eating, sightseeing, shopping and more!
We spotlight five fun things to do in Phuket.
1. Hang out at beaches and go island-hopping
As the biggest island in Thailand, it’s not surprising that Phuket is home to some of the country’s best beaches – Mai Khao, Karon, Kamala, Kata and Rawai.
Families with kids who appreciate beaches that are easily accessible from their hotels can check out popular beaches such as Patong, Kata and Kamala. At these beaches, there is an array of F&B establishments and water activities for every member of the family to enjoy.
Each beach is lined with ample restaurants, shops and nightlife at its doorstep. Rent an umbrella or a deck chair, set up camp for a day out at the beach and chill out with some refreshing coconut water.
Don’t spend your entire Phuket holiday on a beach though. There are many smaller islands such as James Bond Island, Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Similan Islands that are accessible by boat. Book a day trip out to hop around these islands and enjoy some water activities such as kayaking or snorkelling.
2. Enjoy thrills and spills at Splash Jungle Water Park
65/179 Moo 4, Mai Khao Soi 4, Tambon Mai Khao
Open daily from 10am to 5.45pm
A day of splashing fun in the sun awaits at Splash Jungle Water Park, located just 10 minutes away from Phuket International Airport. Dubbed the best water park in Thailand, this water theme park features six themed attractions with a selection of slides and rides for an adrenaline-packed or a relaxing experience.
Choose from thrilling rides such as the Superbowl and Boomerango or the six-level Wave Pool. For something more relaxing, drift gently on a tube along the 335m-long Lazy River that circulates around the park.
Younger kids can enjoy water play fun within a safe kids’ water playground. All attractions are manned by lifeguards and the park has shower and dining facilities too.
If you plan to make the water park the last stop of your Phuket trip before flying off, consider renting a room or a pool villa for the night so that everyone can enjoy a full day of fun across Splash Jungle’s attractions.
3. Explore Old Phuket Town
The provincial capital of Phuket, Old Phuket Town is steeped in history and architecture. The old town flourished in the 19th century due to the boom in the tin mining industry which saw the Portuguese and Chinese migrating to Phuket. The town’s architecture remains well-preserved, with an abundance of Chinese-Buddhist temples and beautiful shophouses. Many of its historical buildings have been converted into shops, hotels, restaurants and museums.
The old town isn’t very large, so it’s easy to navigate. The Phuket Baba Museum is a good place to get an understanding of the history and culture of the Peranakan community in Phuket.
Within the old town, you’ll find beautiful mural paintings and street art that are the perfect backdrop for your Instagram photos. For a mid-afternoon respite from the heat, swing by one of the many cafes and artisanal ice cream shops to cool down the fun way.
If you visit on a Sunday afternoon, head for Thalang Road, the town’s most famous street, and witness its transformation into a lively night market with stalls selling souvenirs, street cuisine and more.
4. Shopping at Jungceylon
181Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road, Patong
Open daily from 11am to 10pm
No Phuket trip would be complete without some retail therapy. Phuket is home to a few shopping malls, but nothing beats Jungceylon, the largest mall in southern Thailand.
Situated conveniently in the heart of Phuket’s busiest areas of Patong and Bangla Road, this is arguably the most famous and best shopping mall in Phuket that is closest to the beach. The name of the high-end mall was inspired by the historical title used for the island of Phuket over a century ago.
Covering an area of 200,000sqm, the mall houses four zones and over 200 tenants which offer a wide range of shopping, dining and entertainment options. Entertainment facilities include a cinema, a 16-lane bowling alley, a gaming arcade, escape rooms and virtual reality experiences.
5. Eat and shop at Banzaan Fresh Market
74/51Nanai Road, Patong Subdistrict, Kathu District
Morning fresh market is open daily from 6am to 1pm; Patong night market is open daily from 6pm to midnight
If you’re looking for fresh food, Banzaan Fresh Market is a modern take on Thailand’s wet and dry markets. The two-level complex is well-ventilated with high ceilings. The market and its stalls are on the ground floor while a set of escalators lead you to a food court on the second level.
The word “banzaan” literally means “fresh market” in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect popular among the Chinese-Thai community in Phuket. Conveniently located at Patong Beach, you’ll be able to buy a wide range of vegetables, seafood, colourful Thai fruits and sweets in organised sections, reminiscent of the fresh markets in Europe. The market stalls are well-stocked and have high hygiene standards.
Pro Tip: Buy your fresh produce from the selection downstairs and take them up to the food court stall vendors. They’ll be able to cook the dishes in your preferred style for a small fee!
TRAVELLING AROUND PHUKET
Best Time to Visit
The dry and hot seasons in Phuket last from November to February. As a tropical island close to the equator, the weather in Phuket is warm and humid all year round. Rain showers are common, but they do not appear as frequently or last as long as the wet season which is typically from July to October.
Visit Phuket from July to October if you prefer fewer tourists and cooler, rainy weather.
Grab private hire cars, taxis and auto-rickshaws (known locally as tuk-tuk) are the most commonly used modes of transport around Phuket. All are readily available to and from the airport.
If you’re hailing a taxi, be sure to request for your ride to be metered, instead of negotiating a fee with the driver. If you want to experience the thrill of a tuk-tuk, be prepared to negotiate a fee for the ride.
If you prefer to explore Phuket at your own convenience, there are plenty of options to rent a car or scooter from the airport.
This article has been edited and adapted from Now Boarding by Changi Airport’s “5 places to visit in Phuket for a beach getaway”