Phuket. The pearl of the Andaman. The land of smiles. Call it what you want, as direct flights from Singapore are now plentiful and incredibly good value, this island just off the coast of Southern Thailand is definitely worth a visit. Did I mention it’s only 90 minutes away by air? You could be there in less time than it takes to queue at Tian Tian chicken.
With flights so cheap you’ll have more cents left over to up the ante on the accommodation front. We really were spoilt for choice as there is a host of luxury hotels, villas and resorts available to splurge on. In the end, we had the pleasure of staying at Trisara Luxury Resort, if you’re looking for peace and tranquility the high end villas at this resort are worth pushing the boat out for.
With flights and accommodation sorted, we were ready to get out and start exploring. Renowned for the infamous Bangla Road in Patong, we knew there must be more to discover than ladyboys, go-go bars and ping pong balls.
On our latest trip we wanted to unearth a different side to Phuket island and we found that if you take the time to scratch the surface there is definitely more to Phuket than meets the eye. Here’s our thoughts on some of the highlights this beautiful island has to offer.
1. Kopitiam hop around the Old Town
Often overlooked in favour of the more popular beach resorts, Phuket Old Town is brimming with sino-portuguese charm. Brightly coloured shophouses line the sleepy streets and provide an instagram friendly backdrop for those in the know.
What better way to explore than by hopping around the numerous kopitiams and indulging in some of Thailands finest java. Check out Kopitiam by Wilai on Thalang Road, the quirky and eclectic interior is fun and draws in locals as well as tourists. Their iced Yuanyang/kopi cham is delicious and refreshing.
2. Eat like a local at Rawaii fish market
Fishermans boats line the shore at Rawaii beach, bringing in the freshest catches to sell at the market less than 50m from the water. Selling everything from clams to giant groupers and everything in between, for foodies and lovers of seafood this is a must visit. Buy your fish at the market then take it across the road to one of the many restaurants where the chefs will cook it to your liking.
3. Do some Extreme sports
For those in need of an adrenaline rush and a break from the tranquility of your beach lounger, why not try your hand at white water rafting, zip lining or for the uber brave – a bungy jump. Go on, we dare you. There are several professionally run providers that can cater for all of your extreme needs.
Zip Lining: Website
White water rafting: Website
Bungy Jumping: Website
4. Take a cruise on Catamaran Cruise
Turn up the glamour with a catamaran cruise to some of the stunning islands surrounding Phuket. With nothing to do but sunbathe and snorkel, this is a a luxuriant way to spend the day.
The turquoise water is crystal clear and inviting, if you’re lucky you might even spot a local dolphin pod playing in the surf. We recommend Discover Catamaran, the boats are beautiful, the crew are friendly and our catamaran had a resident inflatable flamingo for us to float around on in the sea. Naturally.
5. Sip Some Rum in Chalong Bay Rum Distillery
Who knew that Thailand produced award winning rum? Find out more with an informative tour at Chalong Bay Rum Distillery, it’s the perfect way to fill a rainy afternoon. Whilst you’re there it would be rude to not sample a few of the house cocktails – make mine a mojito.
6. Take up a class at the Cookery school
If you weren’t already hooked on Thai food then you will be after spending any length of time there. Why not hone your skills at one of the numerous cookery schools on the island so you can take a little taste of Thailand home with you.
Our personal favourites are run by The Blue Elephant and The Phuket Thai Cookery school. Suitable for all irrespective of experience or ability, you’ll leave at the end of the day with a few more dishes in your repertoire and a full stomach.
7. Attend a festival
There are numerous festivals that take place year round on the island. Our favourite, the Songkran festival, marks the start of the Thai New Year and takes place annually each April. Don’t forget to pack your water pistol, you’ll need it to participate in the obligatory mass water fight.
8. Chill at a Beach Club
Let your hair down at one of the local beach clubs, our favourite is Catch Beach Club. Lounge on the beautiful Surin beach whilst sipping a wine by day, then treat yourself to a few cocktails and dinner by night. The house DJ’s will keep the music coming all day long. A great way to spend time with friends.
9. Compete in a Marathon race
It’s a little known fact that Phuket hosts numerous races every single year. What better way to complete a marathon or triathlon than surrounded by paradise. Just the thought of running into the crystal clear sea post race has me reaching for my running shoes.
Marathon/half marathon: Website
10. Visit Soi Dog Foundation
We know this one is a little unusual, but for the animal lovers amongst us this place is a must visit. Run by super friendly staff, this foundation works tirelessly to aid the plight of stray dogs on the island. Tours of the shelter take place every week day, for something a little different that will give you a unique insight into Phuket, this is a must do.