Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania. He prefers a slower pace to his travels to explore destinations more in-depth and to get a feel for what life is actually like there. When he’s not writing, he’s usually off exploring trails with his fiancée, Kaitlyn.
Wondering, “Is Phuket worth visiting?” Here are 14 reasons that make Phuket worth visiting — from the beach to delicious food to things to do in Phuket.
Ever thought of exploring the Thai version of paradise, only to question, “Is Phuket worth visiting?”
From the azure waters of Patong Beach to the streets of Old Town, Phuket is a destination that promises adventure, leisure, and unparalleled beauty. But is it for you?
Well, that’s only a question you can answer.
But I’ve been to Phuket several times, even living there for three years. So, I’ll dive into why a trip to Phuket should be in your future and why you won’t regret it.
Let’s dive into it!
14 best reasons why Phuket is worth visiting
- The beaches will make your jaw drop
- Delicious food that tickles the taste buds
- Adventure at every turn
- The culture of Phuket is something you have to see
- Explore the islands around Phuket
- It’s a tropical vacation on a budget
- Perfect for digital nomads
- Shop til you drop at Phuket’s malls
- So many viewpoints to check out
- Indulge in Phuket’s nightlife
- Hiking Phuket’s lush trails
- Phuket is a safe destination for tourists
- It’s easy to visit other areas of Thailand
- The Phuket aquarium is a great day trip for families
1. The beaches will make your jaw drop
Phuket is famous for its beaches.
Their beauty is one of the reasons the beaches in Phuket make the cover of magazines consistently. The gorgeous white sands and blue waters are an Instagram photo without the filter. Yeah, they’re that good.
Patong Beach is lively and one of the most popular on the island.
Pro tip: From April to around October-November is Thailand’s rainy season. So, if you’re looking for the best time to visit Phuket to hit the beaches? Visit between November-April.
You’ll find bustling nightlife, water activities like jet skiing and parasailing, and beach vendors peddling everything from ice cream to massages (Yes, beachside massages). If you go to Phuket, you can’t leave without visiting its most famous beach.
Karon Beach, on the other hand, is the quieter, more reserved sibling.
It’s perfect for those who need a break from the crowd and wish to soak up the sun with a good book and a coconut drink. The water is just as beautiful, but you’ll skip out on some of the crowds.
Kata Beach is smaller and more laid-back than the other two. It’s a haven for surfers and families.
And that’s not even mentioning:
- Nai Harn Beach (on the south of the island)
- Bang Tao Beach (the longest beach in Phuket)
- Surin Beach (a small and beautiful beach)
- Nai Thon Beach (on the northwest part of the island)
Long story short here, Phuket’s got beaches. And it’s got plenty of ’em.
And sitting on them is one of the top things to do in Phuket.
2. Delicious food that tickles the taste buds
Now, let’s talk about the main course (get it?) — food!
I mean, who doesn’t love some good grub? Well, Phuket is also the perfect place to dive into the food until your stomach’s bursting. It’s a mix of local Thai flavors and international cuisine, so your taste buds are in for a real treat.
But enough of my rambling, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:
- Thai Street Food: The authentic taste of Phuket. You’ll find everything from spicy Tom Yum soups to the sweet and tangy Pad Thai. And let’s not forget the ever-popular Mango Sticky Rice. But be careful, sometimes street food is something you don’t want to eat in Thailand.
- Seafood: Being an island, Phuket is a haven for seafood lovers. Freshly caught prawns, crabs, squids — you name it, they’ve got it. And the beachside restaurants serve up a feast, so get ready!
- International Cuisine: Feeling a bit homesick? Phuket has many international restaurants, serving everything from Italian to Indian. So, you can enjoy a slice of pizza or a butter chicken (or both!) while taking in the stunning ocean views.
And guess what?
Dining in Phuket doesn’t have to break the bank. You can have a satisfying meal for as low as $2.
A word of advice though, Thai people’s tolerance to spice is on a different level. So when you’re trying the local cuisine, don’t forget to ask for the ‘less spicy’ version if you can’t handle spicy foods!
Great food, an array of choices, and cheap? That can’t be beat.
3. Adventure at every turn
Have you ever seen those action-packed Hollywood movies with an adrenaline-pumping chase scene through a jungle, followed by a close encounter with an elephant and a daring leap from a waterfall?
Well, in Phuket, you’re not just watching the movie — you’re in the movie.
Okay, maybe that’s taking it a bit far. But there are plenty of activities in Phuket to enjoy on your trip.
Imagine this: One day, you’re exploring the ocean’s depths, swimming alongside fish that are so brightly colored they’d make a rainbow blush. The next day, you’re in the jungle’s canopy, exchanging nods with monkeys as you zipline between trees.
Here are a few other activities to enjoy:
- Scuba diving: Phuket offers some of the best scuba diving spots in the world. You’ll rub fins with everything from harmless reef sharks to majestic manta rays.
- Jungle trekking: With national parks like Khao Phra Thaeo teeming with wildlife, you can get up close and personal with nature.
- Ziplining: Ziplining through Phuket’s lush rainforests is a must-try for thrill-seekers. Not only will you get a rush of adrenaline, but you’ll also witness some breathtaking views from a unique perspective.
Looking for slightly less excitement? Then check out Kathu Waterfall, one of Phuket’s best waterfalls. If you’re one to ignore TLC’s advice about chasing waterfalls, there are more than five waterfalls in Phuket for you to hunt down!
Overall, Phuket is the perfect destination for outdoor lovers.
4. The culture of Phuket is something you have to see
Beyond its glimmering beaches and lush forests, Phuket is a vibrant cultural melting pot.
And no, I’m not just talking about the delicious Thai food on every corner (we already discussed that in #2).
Though, that’s a significant part of it. But there’s more to it.
From the moment you step foot on this island, you’re welcomed by a blend of cultural influences. Thai, Chinese, Malay, and even European elements all have left their mark on this island in a beautiful mix that’s uniquely Phuket.
But let’s take a closer look:
- Thai tradition: This is the backbone of Phuket’s culture. From traditional festivals like Songkran and Loi Krathong to the daily routines of the locals, Thai tradition is alive and well here. Visiting the local temples, you’ll see this firsthand. Oh, and let’s not forget Thai boxing. A match is a must-see!
- Chinese influence: Ever noticed the beautiful Chinese shrines scattered around the island? They’re a testament to the strong Chinese influence in Phuket. Chinese immigrants who came to work in the tin mines have shaped Phuket’s culture in distinct ways. The annual Vegetarian Festival? That’s Chinese in origin!
- Malay legacy: Did you know that Phuket was once a part of the Malay Kingdom? That’s right. You’ll find traces of Malay culture in the local language, food, and traditional crafts. It’s subtle but there if you know where to look.
- European echoes: The European influence is a bit of a wildcard, but it left its mark. You can spot it in the Sino-Portuguese architecture of Phuket Old Town, a delightful mishmash of styles that’s awesome to take in.
And there are plenty of places on the island to see this side of Phuket.
Some top places to check out for the history of Phuket are:
- Phuket Thai Hua Museum
- Thalang National Museum
- Chin Pracha House
- Baan Ar Jor House Museum
And there are loads more, so take your time to explore the island. Phuket is a great place, no matter what area of the island you’re on.
5. Explore the islands around Phuket
So, you’ve had enough of Phuket’s sandy beaches, and now you’re thinking, “What’s next?”
Well, the adventure is just beginning. It’s time to visit the islands around Phuket! And many smaller but equally stunning islands are just waiting to be explored.
It’s like finding extra fries at the bottom of your take-out bag.
The Phi Phi Islands, for example, are a must if you want to experience the quintessential Thai island life.
Picture this: limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life. It’s like walking into a postcard.
You’ve gotta check out:
- Maya Bay, made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Beach,” is a part of Phi Phi islands.
- The main island, Ko Phi Phi Don, is where all the action is. It’s got beaches, bars, and bungalows. What more could you ask for?
Then there’s James Bond Island or Khao Phing Kan, another fan-favorite. This one is a little north of Phuket in Phang Nga Bay, which is a short drive from Phuket.
And, yes, it’s named after THAT James Bond. The man with the golden gun, himself.
This island features a unique, nail-shaped limestone rock that seems to defy gravity. What’s more? Several other islands, like Koh Yao Yai and Similan Islands, are worth a trip.
Each has its own unique character and charm.
So, when in Phuket, do as the explorers do. Take a speed or long-tail boat and set off on an island-hopping adventure.
Trust me, it’s worth it!
6. It’s a tropical vacation on a budget
Now, let’s talk about cash!
Will vacationing in Phuket drain your bank account, or will you still have some left to buy that silly souvenir you’ve been eyeing?
Spoiler alert: It’s the latter. Phuket stands out as an affordable international vacation option.
Compared to popular tourist destinations like Paris or New York, Phuket feels like you’ve stumbled upon a treasure of affordable vacationing. Your dollar, euro, or yen goes much further than most tourist hotspots.
One thing to note is that it is more expensive than other parts of Thailand, though.
So, let’s break down the costs:
- Accommodation: A stay in Phuket isn’t a bank-breaker. And it has plenty of options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts. You can find a decent room starting at $20 per night. But if you’ve got some extra cash to splash, plush resorts are available for upwards of $150 per night.
- Food: Street food in Phuket is both delicious and cheap. You can have a filling meal for less than $5. If you’re a foodie who loves fancy restaurants, a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant will set you back by around $20-$30.
- Transportation: Local transport is also economical. Tuk-tuk rides start from around $3 for short distances, and renting a scooter (the most popular way to get around Phuket) for the day can cost as little as $10.
- Activities: A full-day tour to Phi Phi Islands can cost around $40. Snorkeling and other water activities are also reasonably priced at about $20.
So, if budget is a concern, Phuket is a destination to consider.
7. Perfect for digital nomads
Okay, digital nomads out there, I see you!
Looking for that perfect place to sip your morning coffee with a view, enjoy high-speed internet, and still feel like you’re living in a tropical paradise?
Pack your MacBooks and ergonomic mouse pads because Phuket might be your next remote workstation.
I know what you’re thinking: “I’m a digital nomad, not a millionaire!”
Yes, Phuket has a reputation for being a bit pricey, but not when you compare it to many countries in the West. And with some savvy planning, you can find affordable co-working spaces and cafes with reliable Wi-Fi throughout the island. Plus, there are tons of apps to use in Thailand to meet people, get food delivered, order products, and more.
In terms of connectivity, Phuket ticks all the right boxes.
High-speed internet is widely available, and don’t fret about those pesky time zones. Phuket’s strategic location in the GMT +7 zone allows for convenient overlap with numerous business hours worldwide.
So, if you’re a digital nomad looking for fun, cheap, and a bit of comfortability, Phuket may be worth a visit.
8. Shop til you drop at Phuket’s malls
From knock-off designer bags to authentic Thai silk, a cornucopia of shopping goodies is waiting for you.
First, let me say the malls in Phuket are as hot as the Tom Yum soup, and I mean that in the best way possible. Even if you don’t like shopping, you can’t visit Thailand and Phuket without seeing at least one of the malls.
And there’s no shortage of choices:
- Jungceylon Shopping Mall – Located in Patong Beach, this mall is like a mini city. It’s got over 200 stores, a giant cinema, and a bowling alley!
- Central Festival Phuket – This mall, located on the outskirts of Phuket Town, is the definition of retail therapy. There are many stores to fill every need — from electronics to clothing.
- Central Phuket Floresta – Looking for luxury brands? Floresta is your spot to shop til you drop.
- Limelight Avenue Mall – A smaller, more laid-back shopping experience in Phuket Town. This mall is perfect if you’re hunting for local products and handicrafts.
And that’s not even the half of it.
Street markets in Phuket are equally buzzing, offering a more local, authentic, and chaotic shopping experience. There’s something magical about haggling for a pair of elephant pants under the soft glow of fairy lights!
Your biggest concern is having enough luggage space on the way back!
9. So many viewpoints to check out
If you can’t resist a good view (I mean, who can?), Phuket has many stunning sights.
There are just so many Phuket viewpoints to check out! It’s like the island is showing off or something.
Take the Karon Viewpoint, for example.
From here, you can see the sparkling Andaman Sea and the lush greenery, and if you squint a little, you might even spot your plane ticket floating away because you’ll never want to leave this place.
The Big Buddha in Phuket is another must-see.
It’s not just an enormous statue. It also offers a 360-degree view of Phuket. It’s like the island’s version of a penthouse view.
And let’s not forget about the Windmill Viewpoint.
It’s a slightly offbeat spot, but the breathtaking view of Ya Nui Beach from here is worth it. It’s a perfect spot for those Instagram-worthy travel shots. So make your friends back home double-tap your photo as they sit there envious.
But wait, there’s more!
Here are a few other viewpoints that are worth your time:
- Promthep Cape: Known for its dramatic sunset views. Bring your date here, and you’re guaranteed to score some major points.
- Patong Beach: A bustling beach with a lively nightlife scene. The view from the beach at night is like a postcard come to life.
- Radar Hill: The highest point in Phuket. The view from here will make you feel like the king (or queen) of the world!
10. Indulge in Phuket’s nightlife
If you’re the kind of traveler who enjoys a good party once the sun goes down, the nightlife in Phuket is something to keep on your radar.
Whether you’re into live music, beach parties, or classy cocktail bars, Phuket’s got you.
Patong Beach is the epicenter of Phuket’s nightlife, and let’s say it doesn’t do things by halves.
We’re talking so many neon lights it should come with a warning label. Thumping music that forces your heartbeat to sync up with it. And more bars and clubs than you can visit in a week.
It’s the kind of place where the party doesn’t stop until the sun comes up…and that’s only because you can’t see the neon lights anymore.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll feel right at home.
Here are some tips to get you started with a night out:
- For a night to remember (or forget), check out Bangla Road. It’s the heart and soul of Phuket’s nightlife scene, with bars and clubs to suit every taste. Dance the night away, enjoy a game of pool, or sit back with a cold drink and watch the world go by.
- If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, head over to White Room Nightclub. Its chic white decor, top-notch DJs, and classy vibe make it a favorite among the more sophisticated party-goers.
- For those who prefer a quieter evening with a spectacular view, consider visiting one of Phuket’s many beach clubs or rooftop bars. Catch Beach Club and Baba Nest Rooftop Lounge are highly recommended.
- Phuket Town has tons of great bars to check out if you want to avoid the clubs and crazy nightlife of Patong.
Remember, while it’s all fun and games, don’t forget to stay safe and respect the local culture.
As they say, party hard, but party responsibly!
11. Hiking Phuket’s lush trails
Hiking in Phuket? Say whaaaa…?
But it’s true. Phuket has some fantastic hiking trails and places to explore on foot.
Now, I’m not saying you must be some mountain goat or anything, but a moderate fitness level helps. Phuket is known for its lush, tropical terrains, and believe me, there’s no better way to experience it than to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails.
The island is teeming with amazing hiking spots, some more challenging than others, but all worth the sweat.
Whether you’re a seasoned trailblazer or a newbie looking for a bit of adventure, there’s a trail waiting for you.
Some of the popular hiking trails include:
- Khao Phra Thaeo National Park: A wildlife sanctuary home to some of the last remaining rainforests on the island. How’s that for being one with nature?
- Big Buddha: This isn’t just a hike. It’s; it’s an experience. And that gigantic Buddha statue at the top? Totally Instagram-worthy.
- Monkey Hill: It’s not named Monkey Hill for nothing. You’ll share the trail with these cheeky little creatures, and it’s a hoot. Watch out for your snacks; they’re not shy about helping themselves!
- Black Rock: Sitting just above Nai Harn Beach, this hike takes you up to a gorgeous overlook where you can sit, enjoy the view, and even have a picnic!
Remember, the heat and humidity make hiking in Phuket challenging, so stay hydrated and take plenty of breaks.
And don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. Otherwise, you’ll come back with more than just memories of a great hike!
Pro Tip: Early mornings or late afternoons are the best times to hike to avoid the harsh midday sun.
So, is Phuket worth visiting for hiking alone?
Well, if being in the great outdoors, surrounded by breathtaking vistas and spotting exotic wildlife is your thing, then I’d say, hell yeah!
But it’s still worth it even if you’re not an avid hiker.
After all, the best views come after the most challenging climb, right?
12. Phuket is a safe destination for tourists
Now, one question that’s likely floating around in your mind — how safe is Phuket for tourists?
I’m here to put your mind at ease. Phuket is considered one of the safest destinations for tourists in Thailand.
Of course, like any other tourist hotspot, it’s always important to stay aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings secure. But overall? You’re unlikely to encounter any grand issues. The locals are friendly, and the authorities are consistently working to ensure safety standards for visitors.
What’s more, the health facilities in Phuket are top-notch.
The island has international standard hospitals with English-speaking staff. So, you’ll be taken care of if you ever need medical attention.
So go ahead and plan that snorkeling trip or that visit to the night market without any safety concerns hovering in your mind.
Phuket is safe, and you’re in good hands.
13. It’s easy to visit other areas of Thailand
If you spend more than a few days in Phuket, it may be worth checking out other parts of Thailand!
Phuket’s strategic location makes it an excellent base for exploring the rest of this vibrant country.
From here, you can easily hop on a speed boat to the crystal-clear waters of the Phi Phi Islands or catch a short flight to the bustling city life of Bangkok. You could even board a bus or train to the rugged landscapes of Northern Thailand.
The options are plentiful, and all are within reach from Phuket:
- Phi Phi Islands: Just a short boat ride away, these islands are a must-visit for their stunning beaches and vibrant underwater life. Ideal for snorkeling and diving.
- Khao Sok National Park: Just a few hour’s drive from Phuket, you can visit Khao Sok National Park, which has some of the best wildlife and scenery you can find in the area.
- Phang Nga: Slightly north of Phuket, Phang Nga gives you some of the most breathtaking views with limestone karsts shooting out of the water. Great for photography or just a bit of island hopping.
- Bangkok: This bustling metropolis is just a quick flight away. Experience the vibrant street life, rich heritage, and mouthwatering street food.
- Northern Thailand: A longer journey, but well worth it for the breathtaking mountainous landscapes, historic temples, and unique hill tribe cultures near Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
And the best part? Transportation in Thailand is incredibly affordable.
Whether taking a boat, bus, or plane, you will find options that won’t break the bank. These journeys offer unique experiences, allowing you to soak up more of the local culture and scenery.
So, visiting Phuket doesn’t mean you’re confined to one place.
It’s a gateway to the myriad of experiences that Thailand has to offer.
14. The Phuket aquarium is a great day trip for families
Ever imagined what lies beneath the azure sea waters of Phuket?
Well, you don’t have to leave it to your imagination anymore. The Phuket Aquarium offers an up-close and personal experience with the rich and diverse marine life that calls these waters home. It’s one of the best places to visit, especially if you’re visiting with kids.
The aquarium takes you on a journey that starts with the rivers and then takes you deep into the ocean. It’s like being inside a National Geographic documentary, only you’re not in your living room this time.
Do you want to see colorful tropical fish, sleek sharks, or even an enormous sea turtle? Well, you’re in for a treat!
Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect:
- Tropical Fish: From the vibrant clownfish to the exotic lionfish, you’ll discover a new world teeming with color and life.
- Sharks: Yes, you heard me right. You’ll get to see them up close. Don’t worry, there’s a thick glass separating you!
- Sea Turtles: If lucky, you might even glimpse an endangered sea turtle gracefully gliding through the water.
You might wonder, “What sets this place apart from other aquariums?”
It’s simple. The Phuket Aquarium is not just about observing marine life. It’s about understanding, conserving, and respecting it. The aquarium is a part of the Phuket Marine Biological Center and plays a vital role in breeding and saving endangered species.
So, add the Phuket Aquarium to your Phuket itinerary.
So, do you think Phuket is worth visiting?
Alright, so the million-dollar question — Is Phuket worth visiting?
Well, let’s put it this way: if you’re a beach bum, a foodie, a party animal, or an adventure junkie, then Phuket is like a candy store for grown-ups. And I didn’t touch on it in the post, but Phuket is a safe destination for tourists.
But, in the end, whether or not Phuket is worth visiting boils down to what you’re looking for in a holiday; I think it’s a pretty safe bet.
But I’m interested to hear from you! Do you think Phuket is still worth visiting? Let me know in the comments!