Phuket Tourism and Travel Guide

Phuket (Thai: ภูเก็ต, [pʰūː.kèt]) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. It consists of the island of Phuket, the country's largest island, and another 32 smaller islands off its coast. It lies off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket Island is connected by bridge to Phang Nga Province to the north. The next nearest province is Krabi, to the east across Phang Nga Bay. Phuket Province has an area of 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi), somewhat less than that of Singapore, and is the second-smallest province of Thailand. It formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoys a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English traders. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.
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Best Time To Visit Phuket

Blessed with a tropical climate, it’s possible to explore Phuket tourism throughout the year. The weather varies between warm, cool and rainy and while it doesn’t get too cold, the months between February and May are quite warm.


Phuket tourism is also a delight to explore during the monsoon. The island is covered in lush greens and it’s the ideal time to relax and rejuvenate at beach and jungle resorts. Phuket experiences monsoon between May and July and this is considered to be the best time for budget travellers to plan their Phuket tourism trip. However, there is scattered rainfall till October so if you have too many water activities planned, you may want to reconsider.


November to February is comparatively cooler and it’s the most popular time to explore Phuket tourism. If you’d like to explore the island during this time, we highly recommend planning your trip much in advance including flight tickets, hotels and activities. 


Another thing you should keep in mind while preparing your Phuket itinerary is the beaches you’d like to include. Most beaches in Phuket offer a variety of activities that might be season-specific. If you’d like to enjoy snorkelling or diving, November to April is a great time since water visibility is good.


Visa Information For Phuket

Since Phuket tourism has gradually gained immense popularity, travelling to the island has become a fairly easy process for Indians. For travellers from India with Indian passports, Thailand offers Visa on Arrival. This is applicable if your stay is for less than 15 days. There are numerous services points at Phuket International Airport and it can take you anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to get your visa. 


To receive your Visa on Arrival, you will need your


  • Airline boarding pass
  • A passport that is valid for at least 6 months following your departure date with at least 2 remaining unused pages for any necessary entry and exit stamps that may be issued
  • A completed visa application form available at immigration checkpoints in Thailand
  • One recent photograph of 4 x 6 centimetres headshot, not older than 6 months
  • A confirmed airline ticket showing the departure from Thailand within 15 days of the date of entry. Land exit from Thailand will disqualify you for a Visa on Arrival. 
  • A completed Arrival-Departure card, which the airline staff will distribute before landing in Thailand. 
  • Travellers will need to carry 20,000 TBH or 500 USD in cash per person as proof of means of living in Thailand.
  • Visa on Arrival application fee of 2,000 Baht

In case, you are a long stay traveller and are staying in Thailand for more than 30 days, you can also preemptively apply for a visa to the Royal Thai Embassy.

Top Attractions In Phuket

Patong Beach

Patong Beach is arguably the most popular beach that is part of Phuket tourism. It is known for its lively vibe and is often referred to as the party capital of Asia. Patong Beach offers you a glimpse into Phuket tourism and you’d be surprised at the vast number of experiences that the beach offers. Whether you want to enjoy the nightlife, the sandy shores or indulge in a long shopping spree, Patong has everything. 


The busy nightlife is undoubtedly the most popular attraction of the beach and a huge crowd puller. However, don’t lose heart if partying is not part of your Phuket tourism itinerary. The beach offers water sports, high-end restaurants, local bars and a variety of shopping options. 


If you are exploring Phuket tourism for the first time, you could find yourself coming back to Patong over and over again. The beach just has so much to offer for all kinds of travellers. If you are planning a trip to Patong Beach, we highly recommend asking locals about the many events that take place here every day. 


Kata Noi Beach

While the liveliness of Patong Beach should be experienced if you are exploring Phuket tourism for the first time, it is Kata Noi Beach that is popular with nature lovers. Away from the hustle and bustle of Patong, Bangla Road and other mainstream markets, Kata Noi Beach is ideal for a rejuvenating day at the beach. 


Kata Noi is home to numerous lesser-known restaurants and shops where you can experience a different side of Phuket tourism. In fact, you can also visit Wat Khao Rang during your trip to Kata Noi. The original Big Buddha is highly revered by locals. The sitting Buddha idol situated here was the first of its kind on the island and was listed on all Phuket tourism itineraries for a long time. Owing to the construction of the new Big Buddha above Chalong Bay, this structure has lost its popularity. 


However, the Big Buddha here also offers mesmerising views of the city and what makes it better is that you have it to yourself. Not only can you spend some time here in peace but you can also try your hand at capturing the gorgeous sunset that Phuket offers. Kata Noi offers surfing opportunities so if you are a first-time surfer or an experienced one, you may want to schedule a session. 


Ao Sane Beach

One of the most interesting things about exploring Phuket tourism is the number of hidden spots you can find. While most travellers might be aware of Ao Sane Beach, Patong Beach is their preferred option owing to its popularity. However, if you like including lesser-known places in your itinerary, this beach is a must when exploring Phuket tourism.

Located on Phuket’s southwest coast, it is a rocky beach that is extremely popular among divers and water sports enthusiasts. The beach is lined with rows of trees and shelters you from the sun on very hot days as well as offers more than enough sunlight on cooler days.

The beach is home to numerous restaurants, some of which are on the list of best places to eat while exploring Phuket tourism. Since the beach is not very popular with travellers, it’s frequented by locals. You will find the beach extremely busy on weekends so it’s best to plan before heading here.


Big Buddha
An iconic masterpiece, the Big Buddha has become a landmark for those who are exploring Phuket tourism. A work of exceptional craftsmanship and intricate details, the Big Buddha is situated above Chalong Bay. The statue was under construction for many years and today it stands as a symbol of Thailand’s cultural and religious values.

The Buddha statue is made out of a reinforced concrete structure adorned with white Burmese jade marble and is a sight to behold. But the reason it’s so popular with travellers is owing to the panoramic views from the top. The best time to head here is in the evening so you can admire the setting sun. It might be slightly crowded since Big Buddha has gradually found its place on most Phuket tourism itineraries.


Phi Phi Islands
A cursory search will tell you that the Phi Phi Islands are one of the most popular places to visit when exploring Phuket tourism. A cluster of six islands, Phi Phi is on the itinerary for most travellers. Located only 40 km from Phuket, the Phi Phi Islands are blessed with pristine waters, a laid back vibe and surreal beauty. Bida Nok and Koi Mai Phai are among the largest islands that make up Phi Phi.

Since the islands are not connected by road, the easiest mode of transport is a speed boat that takes approximately 45 minutes. If you are exploring Phuket tourism on a budget, we recommend taking a ferry to the islands.

The Phi Phi Islands find a place in most Phuket tourism itineraries owing to the huge number of snorkelling sites. Whether it is the clear waters of Maya Bay or coral reefs of the uninhabited Bamboo Island, snorkellers will be more than satisfied exploring Phi Phi islands.

Divers, on the other hand, can explore Bida Nai, Mosquito Island and Hin Dot for memorable diving experiences. While you can take a day trip to the Phi Phi Islands, it’s certainly worth spending a few days here. Especially if you have a busy itinerary with loads of adventure activities.

Activities And Things To Do In Phuket

Bar hopping
For a lot of travellers, Phuket tourism is synonymous with having a good time and partying. Since Phuket tourism welcomes travellers from across the world, there are numerous world-class lounges, bars and clubs that one should try. Bangla Road is the heart of Phuket nightlife and you will notice that the area is completely transformed after sunset.

Bangla Road is cordoned off from traffic and is only a walking street. Street performances, dance shows and live musical performances enliven the street till the wee hours of the morning. Most of the restaurants and bars at Bangla Road are open-air so you get a wonderful view of the happenings.

A cursory search on the internet will tell you how popular shopping in Thailand is. So, if you are planning a trip to explore Phuket tourism, ensure you keep aside some time for shopping. From glitzy shopping malls, night markets to flea markets – Phuket tourism has something for all kinds of shopping buffs.

Two things you should keep in mind while shopping in Phuket are bargaining and browsing before making the final purchase. Some of the popular things you can pick up from your shopping sprees are t-shirts, gadgets, accessories such as bags and shoes, and small knick-knacks for home.

Some of the popular areas that you should tick off from your Phuket tourism itinerary are Phuket Weekend Market, Jungceylon Shopping Mall, Chillva Market and Banzaan Market.

Water sports
If you are an adventure enthusiast, you can expect a very busy Phuket tourism itinerary. There are a ton of activities to try and these are available at most beaches in Phuket. From sea kayaking, surfing, snorkelling to diving, banana boat rides, jet skiing and wakeboarding – there is a lot to explore in Phuket tourism.

The best way to plan for these activities is by contacting local adventure sports companies that are approved by Phuket tourism. This ensures that it is a memorable experience with all safety precautions in place.
If you are a newbie trying water sports that are a part of Phuket tourism, this becomes even more important.

Ao Sane Beach, Chalong Bay and Kata are some of the popular places where you will find dedicated dive points. Oceanic Dive Point, Local Dive Thailand and No Gravity Dive Centre are a few popular companies that ensure you have a glitch-free diving experience. If you are interested in snorkelling, some of the best beaches are Merlin Beach, Ya Nui Beach, Coral Island and the Phi Phi Islands are the chosen sites. You can try other water sports activities such as banana boat rides and kayaking, on most beaches that are part of Phuket tourism.

Enjoy slow travel
Phuket tourism is known for its wide variety of party places, adventure sports and bar hopping. However, that doesn’t imply that slow travellers can’t have a memorable time. If you want to explore lesser-known activities that are part of Phuket tourism, we recommend preparing a different kind of itinerary. Some of the things that you can try are, learning to cook local dishes, relaxing at Banana Beach, visiting the caves at Phang Nga Bay, exploring the street art in old lanes and relaxing with the monkeys at Monkey Mountain!

Where To Stay In Phuket

All kinds of travellers will find suitable accommodation while exploring Phuket tourism. Since there are so many options, you have to be slightly cautious before finalising your stay options. We recommend researching thoroughly before you decide on a hotel. Central Patong is extremely crowded with a plethora of hotels while North and South Patong cater to couples and families.

Depending on your budget and interests, here are accommodation suggestions for your trip to explore Phuket tourism.

Luxury hotels in Phuket
If you have the budget for luxury accommodation in Phuket, you are in for a memorable vacation. From spacious rooms, myriad services such as spas, tours to delicious food – the luxury resorts in Phuket tourism are truly world-class. Here are some of the popular luxury Phuket hotels that are part of Phuket tourism.

  • The Racha
  • Iniala Beach House, Natai Beach
  • Anantara Phuket Layan Resort, Western Coast
  • Keemala
  • Trisara

Mid-Budget hotels in Phuket
Thailand is extremely popular with budget travellers and for good reason. Phuket tourism sees long term, budget travellers throughout the year and that’s why most hotels price their rooms according to the season. Here are a few mid-range hotels that are part of Phuket tourism

  • Aspery Hotel
  • Phuket Island View hotel
  • Sugar Marina Resort
  • The Village Coconut Beach Resort
  • Manohra Crazy Resort

Budget hotels in Phuket
The most important tip for budget travellers exploring Phuket tourism is to make bookings in advance and research for local guesthouses and homestays. Not only does this make long stay much easier but it gives you a peek into the vibrant Thai culture. Here are a few budget properties that are part of Phuket tourism and also the best places to stay in Phuket:

  • The Senses Resort and Pool Villas
  • Forty Winks
  • Sabina Guesthouse
  • Patong Resort
  • The Blue Pearl Kata Hotel
  • The Tint at Phuket Town

Cuisine And Best Places To Eat

The popularity of Thai cuisine is known across the world so when you are exploring Phuket tourism, you can expect a memorable culinary experience. An important port town in Thailand, Phuket was used as a trading port and that’s why you will notice Phuket’s cuisine has elements of Chinese and Malay cuisines as well. The flavours are typically a combination of sweet, tangy and sour with fresh herbs.

While the local cuisine is an important part of Phuket tourism, you will notice that the island also serves a large variety of world cuisines. Whether it’s Chinese, Italian or Indian, talented local chefs have found a way to give it a delicious twist. Some of the popular Thai dishes that you will have the opportunity to try are pad hai, tom yum goong, som tam, ah pong (a very popular dessert), oh tao, tom kha gai and massaman curry.

If you are interested in including a culinary tour on your trip to explore Phuket tourism, you’ll be surprised at the number of options available. Some of the best restaurants that you should visit when exploring Phuket tourism are Mom Tri’s Kitchen, Bampot Kitchen and Bar, One Chun Cafe and Restaurant, Raya and Ko Ang Seafood.

How To Travel In Phuket

Getting around in Phuket is extremely easy. Depending on where you are staying and the places on your itinerary, you can choose among smart buses, tuk-tuks, private cabs, rented motorbikes and motorbike taxis.

Numerous efforts have been to make transport services extremely convenient for the large number of tourists that visit the island every year. Songtaew or open-air buses are unique to Thailand and are used by locals and tourists alike. The buses have signs in English making it quite easy for travellers to recognise the route. It’s important to note that there aren’t too many designated bus stops in Phuket and you will have to ask locals for make-shift bus stops or pick-up points. If you plan to hire a self-drive car, it’s a good idea to get car insurance and to approach only Thailand tourism approved agencies.

For short travel, tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis are the most convenient and cheapest means of transport. 

Typical Costs In Phuket

Largely, Thailand is said to be a budget destination making it ideal for long term travellers and backpackers. However, Thailand does offer luxury travellers an experience they won’t easily forget. If you are planning a trip to explore Phuket tourism, it will be slightly more convenient for you while planning your budget. These are the typical costs for different kinds of travellers exploring Phuket tourism.

Luxury travellers can expect to spend between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000 per day. This cost includes staying at a luxury hotel, travel, food, partying, spa, sightseeing as well as water sports in Phuket. The cost can vary depending on the things you include in your Phuket tourism itinerary.

If you are a mid-budget traveller exploring Phuket tourism, the typical costs are Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per day. The costs are on the higher side since the cost of activities and travel will depend on the mode of transport as well as the number of activities you plan to try.

Budget travellers, on the other hand, can save a lot of extra expenses only if they book their stay and activities in advance. Per day costs for a budget traveller exploring Phuket tourism can be between Rs 1000 and Rs 5000. There are numerous ways of bringing this cost down such as pre-booking, group tours and discounted packages.


  1. How many days do I need to explore Phuket?

Phuket is one of those destinations where you can spend anywhere between 2 to 20 days depending on the kind of traveller you are. However, typically one needs five to ten days to do justice to this beautiful island. An itinerary for seven days also gives you ample time to explore places around Phuket as well as spend time within the island. 


  1. What are the things I should pack for a trip to Phuket?

Phuket enjoys a typical tropical climate and for anyone exploring Phuket tourism, the most important thing to pack is a good sunscreen. Since the sun is quite bright, it’s easy to get sunburnt when you are beach hopping. Mosquito repellant, prescription medicines, extra cash, an international credit card, an international sim card with internet connectivity are among other essentials that you must pack for your Phuket trip. Of course, swimwear, beachwear, flip flops, sunglasses and appropriate apparel for religious places are a few other things you can include in your packing list.


  1. Suggest three tips for planning a trip to Phuket.

We all look for suitable tips and tricks when planning a trip! Travel tips not only help in ensuring you have a hassle-free trip but also help to save money and plan better. Here are three tips that you should keep in mind when planning a trip to explore Phuket tourism. 

  1. Learn a few Thai phrases that will help you get around in the city.
  2. Pick the right hotel. Information that your hotel gives you is valuable and ensures you don’t face any issues when exploring the island.
  3. Get car insurance, if you are planning to hire a car during your trip. 


  1. Which are the lesser-known places to visit in Phuket?
    One would assume that owing to Phuket’s popularity among travellers across the world, the island has no hidden gems. But, you’ll be surprised to know that there are numerous hidden spots in Phuket that are a must-visit if you have the time. In fact, we’d recommend forgoing a few mainstream tourist attractions for the hidden gems. Some of the most notable hidden attractions that are part of Phuket tourism are Ao Yon Beach, Banana Beach, Sai Kaew Beach, Bon Island, Shrine of The Serene Light, Kathu Waterfalls, Old Phuket town, Panwa View Point and Koh Bon.


  1. How do I reach Phuket from India?

Phuket is well connected to the rest of the world and all you need to do is book your tickets! There are direct flights operating from most major cities in India. Some flights are direct while others are connecting. Depending on your budget, you can choose from Thai Airways, Thai Airlines, Emirates and Malaysia Airlines. Phuket International Airport is the hub of international travel and is connected by the island through a solid network of roads. You can take a smart bus, a tuk-tuk or hire a cab to your hotel.


While the facility of Visa On Arrival is available for Indian Nationals, it's highly recommended that you get your documents in place before you plan your trip to explore Phuket tourism. 


  1. Which are the best places to shop in Phuket?

Phuket tourism is a delight for shopping enthusiasts. From branded clothes, second copies of high-end brands, accessories, home decor to vintage items and cosmetics – shoppers can spend hours browsing through Phuket’s shopping malls. The island offers different kinds of experiences for all shoppers and if you are interested in malls, the popular ones are Jungceylon, Central Festival Phuket, Central Patong and Boat Avenue. If you are interested in street shopping, some of the popular flea markets are Chillva Market, Phuket Weekend Market, Limelight Avenue, Phuket Walking Market.


  1. Which are the most popular homestays in Phuket?

In recent years, the landscape of travel has changed drastically. This change can also be seen in Phuket tourism where the interaction between travellers and locals has become seamless. If you’d like to experience the same, we recommend booking a homestay to explore Phuket tourism from the eyes of a local. The homestays are reasonable, welcoming and offer you a wealth of information about Phuket tourism. Here are some of the best homestays that are part of Phuket tourism:

  • 2home Resort
  • Baanersuen Jungle Lodge
  • Casa Brazil Homestay & Gallery
  • Phuket Garden Home
  • Sea Front Home Hotel
  • Boondaree Home Resort

Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.