3 Days on Thailand’s Biggest Island, Phuket
Welcome to our 3 day tour of Phuket, Thailand in Asia. We hope you enjoy traveling with us and are inspired to take your own trip. This trip was part of our seven month journey around the world which began in Flores, Guatemala. See a summary of the destinations we traveled to over our seven months here: link.
After a two hour flight from Singapore, we arrived in Phuket, Thailand.
Why Travel to Phuket, Thailand ?
It’s Thailand, this shouldn’t be a question. Thailand is practically the foundation of where backpacking started with bargain accommodations, delicious yet inexpensive food, amazingly friendly people, gorgeous islands, and endless views. My god, the views. It’s no wonder Thailand is one of the most traveled countries.There is also, of course, the darker side with the extreme partying, over-crowded dirty beaches, and sex laden areas…but we will stay away from that as it’s not our cup of tea.
Phuket itself has many of these features. Many people also travel here for easier access to Krabi and Ko Phi Phi island which is why we added Phuket to our itinerary. We felt this was a great island to kickback and relax if you pick the right town.
How Long to Stay in Phuket, Thailand ?
We stayed 3 days in Phuket. Much of our time was spent relaxing at the resort we stayed at recovering from our previous travels and just enjoying some quiet time. There wasn’t a lot of activities or destinations that we felt we had to do while we were in Phuket. Partying and visiting the nearby beaches weren’t at the top of our list. A big part of this was due to our next destinations being the islands Ko Phi Phi and Koh Tao which are known to have absolutely gorgeous beaches. We did really enjoy our time relaxing, and one full day we spent visiting temples, the Big Buddha statue, etc. Based on our limited experiences, on the island, we would not say it is must-do, however, if you are visiting or passing through you should spend 1 full day exploring the area, if you have time.
Top Things to Do in Phuket, Thailand
1) Visit Wat Chalong (Wat Chaiyathararam) Temple
* 20 minute drive from Karon Beach (We stayed at Pacific Club Resort)
Check out Phuket’s largest temple that was built in the early 19th century. Entrance is free. There is also a 198-foot Buddhist shrine that houses a sliver of bone from Buddha himself. You can easily spend an hour here walking the grounds from temple to temple and taking pictures; everything is really close in proximity.
2) Karon Viewpoint
* 15 minute drive from Karon Beach (We stayed at Pacific Club Resort)
It is 100% worth a quick stopover to view the sunset over the bay.
Karon’s viewpoint sums up the best of Phuket: the shimmering-blue sea, white-sand beaches, and deep-green hued hillsides. There are many shaded areas to keep out of the sun while at the viewpoint and you will also find snack and drink stands and souvenir vendors nearby.
3) Relax Poolside
Choose a hotel with a nice view and relax and kick back. We thoroughly enjoyed the pool and views at our hotel, Pacific Club Resort in Karon. It was nice not having to deal with any crowds as we were usually the only ones in the pool.
If you are looking for beautiful beaches, there are many dotting the coasts of the island of Phuket. Although some may be overcrowded and dirty, there are some real gems. Kurt had a solo trip back in 2013 here and stayed at the Nai Harn a beautiful upscale resort (highly recommended) right along Nai Harn Beach which is a beautiful beach to visit if you find yourself in the Southern Part of Phuket.
Take a look at a map and read reviews to find the best beach near where you decide to stay.There are many beaches to visit throughout this gorgeous tropical island. If you are brave and want to check out Patong Beach which is known to be heavily traveled and as a result generally dirty, be our guest. Let us know how it went (we didn’t go).
5) Climb To The Big Buddha of Phuket
* 30 minute drive from Karon Beach (We stayed at Pacific Club Resort)
On the southern part of the island lies this iconic 45-meter (148-foot) marble statue of Big Buddha which sits atop a mountainside peak with panoramic views of both Kata and Karon Beach. This landmark can be seen from anywhere on the southern part of Phuket.
The winding curvy road to Big Buddha was an interesting one. The route was beautiful and fun on our scooter. Along the way there were many shops, restaurants, bars, and several unfortunate elephant hell camps, a.k.a elephants tied up for human amusement. It was sickening. What kind of horrible people can stomach this let alone have the heart to pay for this animal torture?
If you really want an experience with elephants you can travel towards Bangkok. We went to Elephant Haven (just under 3 hours away from Bangkok) that we absolutely loved. Say hi to Pimjay for me (the loving elephant whom I had a very close connection with). This was one of the best encounters of our lives. There is no riding, no tricks, just love. You help prepare food and then directly feed the elephants, you walk the jungle alongside the elephants, and get to jump in the water and swim with these majestic creatures. 100% recommended. If you aren’t making your way up North, you can also visit Tree Tops Elephant reserve (20 minutes away from downtown Phuket).
Thailand 101: Don’t be a jerk and sit/ride on elephants. The mere sight of elephants tied to a chain to stand all day so you can enjoy a photo opportunity is not cool. Don’t be that person. Help end the enslavement of these magnificent creatures. Instead, visit an elephant sanctuary and see them in their natural habitat.
6) Rent a Scooter
Renting a scooter will allow you to navigate around the island of Phuket on your own time. We rented a motorbike from our hotel Pacific Club Resort for 250 Thai Baht ($8 USD) for a day (with gasoline to refill for 31 THB ($1 USD). FYI – you can easily find cheaper rates for the scooter at less than $5 USD/day if you rent elsewhere.
We were able to do all our sight seeing in one-day; includingf Wat Chalung, Big Buddha, and Karan Viewpoint.
As you can see in the map below, all the destinations are not too far apart.
Phuket 101: If you are not comfortable driving between heavy traffic, we would highly suggest you taking taxis.
7) Get a Massage (or several)
Thailand is the land of massages and you do not have to break the bank. We got our 1 hour massages here for about $10 USD/person.
Where to Stay in Phuket, Thailand
Pacific Club Resort
We had a fabulous stay at the 4-star Pacific Club Resort, and the rooftop pool is just to die for.
The pool at this boutique hotel is nestled within the dense jungle with sweeping views of the sea.
Choosing a Neighborhood
There are many neighborhoods/towns in Phuket. Here are some pro’s and con’s of each areas to help you decide where to stay. For reference you can make an entire roundtrip from Bangtao down to Rawai through Phuket town and back to Bangtao in 2.5 hours (no-stops).
North & South Patong (Couples and Families)
- Pro: Patong is a highly commercial area full of bars, restaurants and easy access to the beaches.
- Con: Very busy and crowded as it is one of the more touristy areas
Central Patong (Party-goers)
- Pro: You are in the centre of it all: the nightlife, the craziness, and cheap alcohol and food
- Con: You are in the heart of the sex district, notorious Patong Beach (dirty and over-crowded), and it is just wild
Karon & Kata (Couples & Families)
If you are looking for a serene and laid back atmosphere, this is it for you. This is where we chose, far away from all the craziness of the downtown and we were more looking for some relaxation and peace. And if you still at least want to be able to get to the main hub of the city, you are not far.
- Pro: Second biggest beach town to Patang, but with nicer, cleaner beaches, resorts and restaurants. Kata is a smaller beach town.
- Con: $$ You are paying a bit more for everything compared to the other cities.
Phuket Old Town (History Buffs)
- Pro: A town full of history with European architecture, quaint cafes and boutique shops.
- Con: There are no beaches, you will have a bit of a hike
Bang Tao (Luxury)
- Pro: You will be located very close to the isolated Band Tao Beach and plenty of high-end resorts to choose from. Everything is taken care of and you won’t need to travel for anything.
- Con: $$$ For such luxuries and isolation you will pay much more. You are also 30 minutes from downtown Phuket (which can be a good thing for those wanting to distance themselves from any of the nightlife and craziness).
Where to Eat in Phuket, Thailand
Karon Cafe Steak-Thai Restaurant (Pacific Club Resort)
We thoroughly enjoyed our traditional Thai food at our hotel restaurant, and we highly dining here, even if you don’t stay here.
Mountain Breeze Bar & Restaurant
This family-style Thai and European restaurant is a great place to stop for some food before or after your visit at Great Buddha in Chalong. They offer a variety of meals ranging from traditional Thai food to pizzas.
Other Recommendations of Things to Do
These are all adventures that we unfortunately didn’t have time to do on our own but would have considered if we had more time:
- Visit one of the many incredible nearby islands (approximately 2h 25m by bus and boat): Phang Nga Bay is one of the most amazing bays nearby, with soaring limestone cliffs and impressive cave systems. Located off of Phang Nga Bay is James Bond Island, the famous island where the movie was filmed.
- Tree Tops Elephant Reserve (20 minutes away from downtown Phuket): This reserve is a 20 minute drive in southern Phuket. Take a walk with elephants and observe them in their natural habitat. A majority of these elephants have been saved from a lifetime of hard labor. Visit their site here.
- Party on Bangla Road (Patong Walking Street) (30 minutes away from downtown Phuket): The lively street that stretches from Patong Beach all the way to the front of Jungceylong Shopping Mall. Along the street you can find endless restaurants, bars and (of course) countless sex propositions. We didn’t walk the street as it was out of the way for us.
- Explore the Night Market (downtown Phuket): Phuket has countless markets, but the most famous is the Sunday Walking Street Market in the old Thalang road of Phuket Town.
Questions For You
- Where is the best massage you have ever gotten and how much did you pay?
- Which neighborhood in Phuket would you be most interested in staying at?