First Time in Phuket – What to Do

Phuket Island Survival Guide

If you area planning your first time in Phuket and don't know what to do on the island in the days immediately after you arrive, this is the page for you! As the most popular holiday destination in Thailand, Phuket offers a great choice of things to see, things to do, excellent restaurants, exciting nightspots, and good shopping opportunities.

Long-established in Phuket, we know most of its nooks and crannies, and we use our knowledge about the island to guide our friends and families to the best places when they come to visit. This Phuket survival guide is here to indicate what you should not miss on the island, so you won’t have to do the research by yourself. Check out our insider’s view on the best places to discover in Phuket below.

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Phuket at a Glance

Phuket Island is divided into three main areas: the west and south coasts have beautiful beaches and lively resort towns at which you can find all you need for a comfortable holiday. The north and east parts of the island have genuine traditional touches, including rural areas and fishing villages. Phuket Town (officially Phuket City) is the capital city of the island and boasts a quaint historical district alongside modern shopping malls.

  • Over 30 beaches of all shapes and sizes
  • Easy access to stunning sights like the Phang Nga Bay, the Phi Phi Islands, and the Similan Islands
  • Plenty of leisure and sporting activities available
  • Great choice of dining and nightlife entertainment options all around the island
  • Wide range of hotel prices
  • Heavy traffic at rush hours
  • The most popular places can be crowded during high seasons
  • Transfer rates by taxi or tuk-tuk can be high

Things You Can Do in Phuket

There’s definitely a long list of things to see and do in Phuket. Whether you love nature or culture, whether you want to be active or lazy, whether you're on a tight budget or have a bit of money to splurge, there's certainly something for you. Of course, Phuket is best known for its beaches - and rightly so - but we've picked out the places to go when you need a break from the soft white sands. If this is your first time in Phuket, the following things to do should be on your bucket-list.

  • Big Buddha of Phuket

    Phuket Big Buddha

    Phuket's Big Buddha has become one of the island's most important and revered landmarks. The image sits on top of the Read More»

  • Old Phuket Town Houses

    Old Phuket Town A-Z

    The streets of Old Phuket Town are lined with 100-year-old shop-houses, restaurants, guesthouses, gold shops, art Read More»

  • Kata Viewpoint

    Kata Viewpoint

    Kata-Karon Viewpoint is one of the most frequented viewpoints in Phuket. From here, it is possible to take in views of Read More»

Things You Can See around Phuket

Natural wonders abound in and around Phuket. No holiday on the island would be complete without a few day trips to some stunning places just a short boat ride away. The striking Phang Nga Bay, just northeast of Phuket, has a unique mystical atmosphere. Then there's the tropical feeling of the Phi Phi Islands, reachable in one hour by speedboat. Meanwhile, the breathtaking beauty of the pristine Similan Islands just has to be seen to be believed. If this is your first time in Phuket, the following things to see are unmissable.

  • Phang Nga Bay

    Phang Nga Bay

    A distinctive feature of Phang Nga Bay is the sheer limestone cliffs that jut vertically out of the emerald green Read More»

  • Phi Phi Islands

    Phi Phi Islands

    The Phi Phi islands are some of the loveliest in Southeast Asia. Just a 45-minute speedboat trip or a 90-minute Read More»

  • Similan Islands

    Similan Islands

    The Similan Islands National Park consists of nine densely-wooded islands fringed with rocky outcrops and gorgeous Read More»

Best Places to Go at Night in Phuket

Even though Patong is the place to see and to be seen at night, most destinations on the island have a few cool joints at which you can enjoy a drink in good company after dusk, including some world-renowned beach clubs. Discotheques, lounge clubs, beer bars, live music venues, and more can be found in Bangla Road, the epicentre of after-dark sensations in Phuket. It can seem a little overwhelming, if you're not ready for it, so we suggest reading up on what to expect before you arrive. If you're coming for your first time to Phuket, the following venues are not to be missed.

  • Bangla Road

    Bangla Road (updated)

    Soi Bangla awakens when the sun sets. That's when Patong's liveliest party zone becomes closed to traffic and ready for Read More»

  • Phuket FantaSea

    Phuket FantaSea

    Paris has a tower, London has an eye, and Thailand has Phuket FantaSea. It’s packed with tourists, cameras are a
  • Catch Beach Club

    Catch Beach Club

    Catch was the first beach club to open in Surin Beach on Phuket west coast in 2006. Directly opposite Twinpalms Phuket, Read More»

Best Places to Shop in Phuket

Phuket is the number one shopping destination in the south of Thailand. The choice available may not compare with the likes of Bangkok, but you will still find a great range of malls, markets and boutique stores. The night markets are especially noteworthy and, while some are open every night, it's the weekend markets which really stand out, so be sure to leave Saturday and Sunday free for souvenir shopping. If you come for the first time to Phuket, the following shopping opportunities are not to be missed.

  • Phuket Weekend Market

    Phuket Weekend Market

    Phuket’s weekend market, located just outside Phuket Town, is a fascinating jumble of secondhand goods, pirated items, a Read More»

  • Jungceylon Shopping Mall Phuket

    Jungceylon Shopping Mall

    Located downtown, diagonally opposite Bangla Road, the Jungceylon Shopping Complex has radically changed the face of Read More»

  • Central Festival Phuket

    Central Festival Phuket

    Central Festival Phuket is an air-conditioned, fully-equipped three-storey shopping mall lying just outside of Phuket Read More»

Great Restaurants We Like in Phuket

Phuket Island gives its visitors the choice of restaurants that serve food from all around the world. Local Thai seafood is naturally the favourite, but your taste buds can roam from Japan to Mexico and from France to Lebanon, often within just a few hundred metres of each other. We’ve picked out three absolute must-try restaurants for your first time in Phuket. One is a stylish seaside establishment especially renowned for its wine cellar and fine cuisine. Another is a great place to try local seafood dishes. Finally, there's an unpretentious Fusion-Thai diner.

  • Mom Tri's Kitchen

    Mom Tri's Kitchen

    Mom Tri's Kitchen Royale at Villa Royale in Kata Noi is such a clever act: it balances the three factors perfectly and Read More»

  • Kan Eang@Pier

    Kan Eang@Pier

    Chalong boasts two Kan Eangs, both serve fresh seafood, and both are large affairs. Kan Eang@Pier, however, has recently Read More»

  • Suay Restaurant

    Suay Restaurant

    Suay (meaning ‘beautiful’ in Thai) keeps things uncomplicated and cheap but that doesn’t mean it’s not without a lot of Read More»

Hotels in Phuket We Recommend to Our Friends

The range of accommodation options in Phuket is massive. With hundreds of hotels to choose from, you can find something for virtually any budget or preference. There are quaint guesthouses and hostels at one end of the scale, opulent five-star resorts at the other, and plenty of family-friendly mid-priced hotels in between. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront hotel or for a city inn, you’ll find it here. We’ve selected three hotels that we would recommend to our friends and family, each of them in a different budget range.

The Shore at Katathani

The Shore at Katathani is a collection of beachside villas at the southernmost end of beautiful Kata Noi Beach.It is an idyllic Read More...

Amari Phuket

Amari Phuket, a 4.5 star hotel located just to the south of Patong, is a 345-room and suite hotel where each accommodation choice Read More...

Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa Phuket

Thavorn Beach Village and Spa has stunning panoramic views overlooking the Andaman Sea, beautifully positioned along the tropical Read More...


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