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Guide to Phuket, Thailand: Everything you need to know

If you had to choose just one area to visit in Thailand, which would you choose?

My answer to that question was *Phuket. And it just so happens that millions of other travelers make that same exact choice every year.

Why? Well, that’s not a tough question to answer.

Pristine beaches, exotic wildlife, delicious cuisine, lush jungles, and crazy nightlife are among the many reasons why *Phuket is one of Thailand’s top two destinations. *This post may contain affiliate links.

Your Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Phuket has it all. And as such, how will you spend your valuable time there? In this guide to Phuket, Thailand, you’ll find recommendations on what to do, what to skip, and where to stay, to make the best of your island vacation!

Your Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

What NOT to do in Phuket

Tiger Kingdom

If you visit the Tiger Kingdom in Phuket, you’ll spend about $50 USD to perpetuate and support the disgusting animal abuse that’s committed against Thailand’s tigers, all day, every day. If you support the (likely) sedation of tigers, having them locked up in tiny cages, and released only to be poked and prodded by bamboo sticks, forcing them to pose properly for photos with humans, then by all means, visit this place. Does that sound like the life a tiger deserves? I don’t think so.

I couldn’t convince my friend not to visit here, so I angrily waited in the car for her. Afterward, she told me that she wished she hadn’t done it, because it was an awful sight to see, and she felt like a fool for wasting her money on something so vile. And for what? For “cool” Instagram posts.

If you want to see tigers, go see them in the wild, on a safari, in India.

Elephant treks

The only thing as appalling as Tiger Kingdom would be the companies that exploit the health and lives of elephants to make money. I don’t care what these companies’ websites say about how they treat their elephants well and ethically; it’s simply a lie. If these animals were treated right, they’d be living in protected sanctuaries and national parks, not carrying a wooden bench and five people on their backs for twelve hours a day.

If you would like to interact with elephants in Thailand, visit the Elephant Nature Park, in Chiang Mai, where elephants roam free. There, elephants are protected from abuse and treated with the utmost love and care.

Phuket FantaSea

On top of being an incredibly tacky and overpriced show, elephants are trained to do tricks, stand on their back legs, and are subject to the loud explosions and bright flashes of fireworks. Need I say more?

But now, let’s talk about the good stuff…

Guide to Phuket, Thailand: Everything you need to know

What to do in Phuket

Island hop

Visiting the islands off of Phuket’s coast will allow you to experience the Thailand you’ve always imagined. Do yourself a favor and book a couple of tours with Simba Sea Trips during your time in Phuket. With Simba, we visited islands like Koh Yao Noi, James Bond Island, and the Phi Phi islands, we snorkeled, we kayaked, we spelunked, we interacted with monkeys, and we ate delicious Thai food. The days we spent with Simba were the highlight of our Thailand trip, and they were worth every penny. This company is the absolute best in Phuket; but if you need a second opinion, just read these reviews.

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Visit Big Buddha

Hire a driver and summit Mount Nagakerd to see Big Buddha – all 135 tons of him. At the top, you’ll find peace, a cultural experience, and 360 degree views of southern Phuket. As an added bonus, Big Buddha is free to visit.

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Visit Wat Chalong

About 20 minutes from Big Buddha, you’ll find Wat Chalong, one of the largest and most important Buddhist temples in Phuket. Visit Wat Chalong to pay your respects, watch Thai Buddhists pray, and learn a bit about Buddhism. Visiting Wat Chalong is an activity that will interest any traveler, and on top of that, it’s absolutely beautiful. Entry is also free.

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Explore Phuket Old Town

For colorful colonial buildings, great restaurants, old shophouses, temples, and museums, Phuket Old Town is the place to be! Make sure to visit Old Town on a weekend to experience the thrill and chaos of a Thai night market! You won’t find better street food anywhere else on the island!

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Practice Muay Thai

If you’re in need of a good work out, why not give Muay Thai a try? I’ve probably never worked out harder in my life, but learning the art of Thai boxing couldn’t have been more fun! I was just a little sore the next day… Okay, I was a lot sore!

Watch a ladyboy show

Elephants, beautiful beaches, and spicy foods are Thailand’s claim to fame. Oh yeah, and ladyboys.

If you want to experience the wonder of Thai ladyboys – beautiful, voluptuous, inconspicuous ladyboys – attend a ladyboy cabaret. You will never see more beautiful women in your life, but there’s just one catch: they’re not actually women!

You can buy tickets to a ladyboy show here.

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Relax at Kamala Beach and Surin Beach

Located on the west coast of Phuket, homes of the 5-star resorts listed below, Kamala and Surin are two beaches that you should not miss during your trip to Phuket! White, soft sand, turquoise water, and peaceful relaxation await you at these beaches. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Experience Patong nightlife

Trashy? Check. Chaotic? Check. Entertaining? Check. You should go to Patong at least once during your time in Phuket for a fun night out. Think of NOLA’s Bourbon Street, but a rowdier, more exciting, more Thai version, and that’s what you’ll find at Patong!

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Eat everything in sight

Thai food is one of the most flavorful cuisines on the planet. Don’t even try debate me on that. If you want to do Phuket right, lose the diet and eat, eat, eat anything and everything you can.

Where to stay in Phuket

The following 5-star hotels in Phuket are all equally luxurious and service-oriented, so you really can’t go wrong here!

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Hyatt Regency Phuket: Here, you’ll find incredible ocean views, plush rooms, delicious food, and great service.

Read about our stay at the Hyatt Regency Phuket here.

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

The Surin Phuket: This resort’s stylish cottages, beautiful beach, and giant pool will be all you need during your trip to Phuket!

Read about our stay at The Surin Phuket here!

Guide to Phuket, Thailand

Twinpalms Phuket: Incredibly chic and luxurious, this hotel will satisfy all of your 5-star cravings!

Read about our stay at the Twinpalms Phuket here!

Getting around Phuket

Taxis and tuk-tuks will be the easiest ways to get around Phuket. You can easily hire a driver for an entire day of sightseeing, and it will run you about $10 USD per hour. Not bad!


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Pristine beaches, exotic wildlife, delicious cuisine, lush jungles, and crazy nightlife are among the many reasons why Phuket is one of Thailand's top two destinations. Here is the ultimate guide to Phuket, Thailand, complete with where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and what not to do! Pristine beaches, exotic wildlife, delicious cuisine, lush jungles, and crazy nightlife are among the many reasons why Phuket is one of Thailand's top two destinations. Here is the ultimate guide to Phuket, Thailand, complete with where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and what not to do! Pristine beaches, exotic wildlife, delicious cuisine, lush jungles, and crazy nightlife are among the many reasons why Phuket is one of Thailand's top two destinations. Here is the ultimate guide to Phuket, Thailand, complete with where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and what not to do!

Over to you! Have you ever thought about visiting Phuket? Did you find this guide to Phuket, Thailand helpful? If you’ve been to Phuket, what was the best experience you had while there?

That’s our guide to Phuket, Thailand! The Travel Alphas were welcomed as guests of Hyatt Regency Phuket, The Surin Phuket, and Twinpalms Phuket, but as always, all opinions are entirely our own. We just happened to love every single one of those 5-star hotels! How could we not?! Also, this post contains affiliate links.

Maddy Cornelius

Maddy is the co-founder and editor of Travel Alphas. Mint tea, handmade pasta, gelato, and red wine are among her favorite treats. New York City, Budapest, Bali, and Florence are a few of her most-loved destinations.

  • Kerstin

    Oh that looks/sounds absolutely fantastic! I’ve been wanting to go to Phuket ever since I realized it exists!

    Love, Kerstin

    October 8, 2015 at 1:49 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      It really is a wonderful place! I cannot wait to return someday! Thanks for stopping by!

      October 8, 2015 at 8:50 am Reply
  • Naomi in Wonderland

    This is such a great article especially because you mentioned the things you shouldn’t do, aka support the terrible animal industry there! Also, yes I’d eat everything in sight for sure.

    October 8, 2015 at 3:17 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      It really hurts my heart to see it going on, so I had to say something! I know that millions of tourists will keep contributing to the abuse because they don’t know any better, but maybe some people will read my words and choose to do other activities instead. Thanks, Naomi! :)

      October 8, 2015 at 8:53 am Reply
  • Michèle

    So tolle Tipps. Muss ich mir dringend merken, wenn ich mal nach Thailand reise. Und soooo schöne Bilder

    October 8, 2015 at 8:33 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      I just had to use Google translate to understand your comment, because sadly, I don’t speak German!! But anyway, I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks for stopping by!

      October 8, 2015 at 8:39 am Reply
  • eden

    It’s a shame that they choose to mistreat their animals for profit. Thanks for shedding light on this bad practice in Thailand. I haven’t been to Thailand before, but your photos are so inviting — the beach looks amazing!

    October 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      It really is! But luckily, there are some places we can go that treat animals humanely! Hopefully I’ve helped convince you to visit soon! ;)

      October 9, 2015 at 4:09 pm Reply
  • ~ carmen ~

    Thank you for highlighting reasons NOT to go to Tiger Kingdom & any of those animal places. Animals are meant to be wild. If you get to hold a tiger, that’s unnatural & something is gravely wrong. Other than that, Phuket sounds perfect. So gorgeous. :]

    // ▲ ▲

    October 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      I feel like it’s my duty to help get the word out there! Other than the animal exploitation, Phuket is AMAZING.

      October 12, 2015 at 9:29 am Reply
  • Claire Waggoner

    I loved riding around in tuk-tuks in Cambodia! They were crazy, but so fun. And daaaang, you’ve got some serious muscles in that boxing photo haha. On a serious note, I’m glad you mentioned the treatment of the animals in the various tourist activities. It’s so important to get that type of information out, and I appreciate your honest input.

    October 11, 2015 at 6:22 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      I know… My muscles aren’t really like that! I have no idea how that happened hahahaha
      But anyways, yeah, I just felt like I should say something!

      October 12, 2015 at 9:30 am Reply
  • Joella

    Thank you for saying NOT to do the Tiger Kingdom and riding elephants! It really disgusts me that I still see so many travel bloggers doing both these things and posting in all over instagram! They are both so cruel. A lot of people have riding elephants as one of their dream things to do- but it is so cruel what happens to them in order to be “broken in”. They are wild animals- they don’t let people ride them for fun. Agh! Anyway, I have not been to that side of Thailand- I would LOVE to go sometime!

    October 12, 2015 at 11:09 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      I completely agree with you. I just cannot understand how some people actually have “Ride an elephant in Thailand” on their bucket lists, yet thousands and thousands do. It makes no sense to me. I’m sure you’d love Phuket, though, other than the animal tourism industry! Thanks for stopping by!

      October 12, 2015 at 11:25 pm Reply
  • Becky Padmore

    Well done for saying don’t go to Tiger Temple or on an elephant trek, these poor animals really suffer!

    October 13, 2015 at 11:49 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      They really do. It’s so sad! I felt the need to say something about it.

      October 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm Reply

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