Phuket is back in favor with Thais, hitting the top three destinations for Thai travelers in 2021, according to booking data from Agoda (http://www.agoda.com/?site_id=1811392). Phuket jumps from the fifth spot in 2018, 19, and 20 to number three behind Bangkok (#1), and Chiang Mai (#2) this year, going ahead of Hua Hin (#4) and Pattaya (#5). Agoda’s booking data also showed that couples are still the most popular type of traveler to Phuket. In Agoda’s Usage & Attitude (U&A) survey, beach holidays were the top destination type to visit (#1), followed by nature and scenery (#2), and exploring new food and dining experience (#3). Fortunately, Phuket caters to all of these preferences.
Located on Thailand’s southwest coast, Phuket is the largest and the most visited island in the country. Often referred to as the Pearl of the Andaman, it provides a wide range of beaches and environments, and in addition to well-known tourist attractions, there are still several less-explored spots left to discover for both frequent and first-time visitors. With most international travel restricted Thai travelers are taking the opportunity to revisit Thai destinations that have become more popular with foreign tourists. The Agoda Phuket team has shared their favorite destinations to help fellow Thais get the most of a Phuket getaway.
“Phuket is a very unique destination, that has so much to offer, combining a city vibe and private island getaway. Whether a traveler is seeking a 5-star hotel, private villa with a breathtaking view of the Andaman sea or a budget break on the beach, it’s the ideal spot to visit. What’s more, Thais looking for a great value deals, can should check out Agoda’s GoLocal and GoLocal Tonight for last minutes deals across the island.,” said Ms. Pajaree Sawasdee, Market Manager in Phuket, Agoda.
Learn more about Phuket culture and history
There’s so much to do in Phuket, from soaking up the sun on a white-sand beach to hanging out at a live Reggae music bar, but they’re also some unexpected cultural treats.
Head to Amphoe Khatu, to visit the Phuket Mining Museum, to learn about Phuket’s rich mining history. Phuket was once a major tin-producing center, and over the years has welcomed thousands of Chinese laborers who eventually settled on the island. Delve into the past with a visit to the Sino Portuguese-style building that is packed with historical artifacts, including the different tin-mining methods mining equipment.
Jui Tui Shrine or JuiTui Tao Bo Geng is a Chinese shrine located in Phuket Old Town. Originally, “Jui” and “Tui” are Chinese words, meaning water and a white mortar in English. This shrine usually holds the annual 9-day vegetarian festival in which Phuket locals, Chinese, Thai people participate together with the Chinese Opera Troupe.
Where to eat
Visitors to Phuket have a huge choice of delicious food to choose from, especially seafood lovers. Throughout the island, travelers can find various small food stalls and restaurants offering a wide variety of dishes.
With 57% of Thais motivated to travel for food, according to Agoda’s U&A study, it’s no surprise that the Agoda team in Phuket had a great number of must-try eateries on their places to visit in Phuket.
- Kin-Kub-Ei (Si Sunthon Road, Phuket)
- A Thai-Chinese woman who has cooked for her family for decades owns and runs the whole restaurant. It combines homestyle southern Thai cuisine and Hakka Chinese farewell. The braised sweet pork and anchovy and chili and sour mango relish dish are a must-try.
- Khrua Ohm (Wichit Songkhram Road, Phuket)
- This small, casual restaurant is owned by a man who enjoys shopping for fresh ingredients at the market and attentively prepared them for various southern Thai dishes. Its popular dishes include braised fish in salted soybean sauce and prawns with salted eggs and acacia.
- Mor Mu Dong (Chao Fa Road, Phuket)
- Mor Mu Dong is a rather quaint restaurant with beautiful views. It is located off the beaten track and housed in a set of rustic pavilions. Pla Tu Yat Sai (spicy stuffed fish) and the stir-fried squid with lime are its local specialty dishes.
- Ko Ang Seafood (Phuket Town)
- Ko Ang Seafood is a local restaurant serving delicious seafood on the east side of Phuket Town. It started as small shop with no decoration and has been well-known for a long time. Sour soup with fish and stir-fried shrimp in tamarind sauce are just a few of their popular items on the menu.
- Pak Nam Seafood Restaurant (Phuket Town)
- Pak Nam Seafood in Phuket Town is a great Thai restaurant located in a less touristy area. One signature dish you should try is ‘Pla Sai Tok Kamin’, small deep-fried fishes with turmeric.
- Laem Hin Seafood (Thepkasattri Road, Phuket)
- Laem Hin Seafood is one of the best-known local seafood restaurants in Phuket. It is built mostly on a large wooden terrace on the east coast of the island. A must-try dish here is blue crabs, which has delicious sweetmeat, unlike the hard-to-eat mud crab.
- Asterisk Espresso (Phuket Town)
- Situated at the ground floor of Twin Hotel on Poonpon Road in Phuket Town, Asterisk Espresso focuses on house blend coffee. The coffee house exudes a laid-back atmosphere and has a small garden and outdoor space. It specializes in making coffee with menu items that vary from espresso to caffe latte.
- Roof Pudding & Cafe Phuket (Phuket Old Town)
- This modern style café is located in Old Phuket Town on Yaowarat Road. It has minimalist decor and lighting, with comfy chairs and sofas and a tree in the center. Since it serves coffee, boba tea, cake, and more, it is an ideal place for those with a sweet tooth.
- Campus Coffee Roaster (Phuket Old Town)
- Located within the Old Town area of Phuket, Campus Coffee Roaster has several choices of coffees to choose from, from espresso to cold brew. It uses its own process and roasted coffee beans to make the coffee. There are also sandwiches, desserts, and locally made snacks to try.
As well as indulging in great food, there is something for everyone in Phuket. From the quirky to the mainstream, towns, mountains, and beaches will leave travelers wanting to come back from more.
- Acrylic Kayaking at Paradise Beach, (Paradise Beach)
- Paradise Beach is just four kilometers from Patong Beach and has a great view right across Patong Bay. It consists of two small sandy bays with blue water, soft sand, and coconut trees. Since jet skis are not allowed to get close to the beach, it’s ideal to kayak around the island in an acrylic bottom kayak, which transforms the viewing area into a glass clear window to the underwater world below, giving a closer look at the marine life below.
- Exploring Phuket Art Village (Nai Harn)
- Phuket Art Village is a live-work community down a small lane in Nai Harn at the southern end of Phuket, where there is a large banyan tree in the central courtyard and the artists’ studios around the premises. There are plenty of eye-catching traditional Thai, modern, and bohemian arts on display. Standouts include Love Art Studio by founder Pui Ngowsiri, the Red Gallery by artist Somrak Maneemai, and a studio by artist and puppeteer Apinan Sarochwong.
- Plane Spotting (Mai Khao Beach)
- The western end of the Phuket International Airport runway, at the southern end of Mai Khao Beach is a popular spot for people to come watch planes coming into land. From 10:00 to 14:00, it is a perfect time to take stunning photos with the white beach and clear sea as background.
For those who enjoy hiking up a mountain for the spectacular views
Phuket’s landscape is blessed with cascading waterfalls and amazing panoramic views of the azure blue sea and abundant rainforests. Nature lovers can find short trails to take scenic hikes in Phuket, such as:
- Pha Hin Dum (Black Rock Viewpoint)
- The 360-degree viewpoint is above Naiharn Beach, accessible by a small track. The 15-minute steep walk through the jungle will be sweaty but worth it. From the top enjoy views of Windmill and Promthep Cape viewpoints, more than 10 islands near Phuket, and as far as the famous Koh Phi Phi Lee and Koh Phi Phi Don.
- Windmill viewpoint, (Laem Promthep)
- Occasionally called wind turbine viewpoint, the viewpoint is a panoramic hill in the very south of Phuket. From up there, enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Ya Nui Beach on one side, and the bay of Nai Harn on the other. This spot is frequently used as a background by local photographers to take pre-wedding pictures. It is easy to access by bike or by motorbike as it is near the main road.
- Laem Krating (Ao Sane Beach)
- Unlike the nearby Laem Promthep and windmill viewpoint, this newly discovered viewpoint is one of the lesser-known attractions on the island. On a clear day, it boasts amazing panoramic sea views, while on a clear night it’s the perfect spot to see the bright stars. From the Ao Sane Beach, walk along the cliffs on a small trail that to the horn-shaped rock, the landmark of the viewpoint.
For those who delight in the sea and the sun to get an enviable tan
Phuket has amazing beaches but is also the ultimate destination for island hopping. While there are numerous large and small islands scattered around, these amazing islands are just cannot be skipped.
- Coral Island
- Coral Island is known for its shallow coral reefs and wonderful snorkeling. The island’s Thai name is Koh Hay (sometimes other variations), though this does not translate literally to Coral Island in English. It has two beaches: Long Beach where the hotel is, and the smaller Banana Beach, where the crowd has now moved to. Play on the beach or opt for water activities like banana boats and parasailing.
- Khai Islands
- Khai Islands comprise three small Islands: Khai Nai, Khai Nui, and Khai Nok, located 15 minutes by speed boat from Phuket’s east coast. Surrounded by corals with tropical fish, beautiful rock formations, and beautiful beaches, the island is suitable for all ages. A private speed-boat charter is available for those who want a more personalized touch. One thing to note is that feeding the fish is strictly forbidden as it could lead to an ecological catastrophe.
- Maithon Island
- Maithon Island is a private paradise. It is home to a rich variety of birds, dolphins, and tropical fish that can now be seen and experienced with a handful of guests at a time. Enjoy long walks and beautiful sunsets here. Getting to the island takes only 20 minutes by speedboat or 45 minutes by catamaran, operated daily from Phuket Deep Sea Port.