After multiple visits to Phuket over the last decade, I believe this is the best Phuket itinerary you can follow. Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and has some of the best beaches in the world along with clearest blue waters, who could ask for more?
Pro Tip: While this Phuket itinerary follows 10 days in the region, you can easily adapt it to fit the number of days you plan to visit for and the things you’d like to do.
With that said there is still so much more to Phuket than beautiful white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, there is in fact hundreds of things you can do which we will explore in this Phuket itinerary.
Phuket has something for everyone whether you are looking for a luxury stay in a resort, adventures and island hopping or just to meet other travellers and have a good time. You can find a place to stay and an area of Phuket that is suited to you.
Otherwise, you will more than likely be arriving by plane at Phuket International Airport. Phuket international airport is located in the North of Phuket in Mai Khao. The airport is the main hub for both international and internal flights so you can pretty much guarantee you will be planning your route from there.
Thailand, in general, can be quite unclear on transport, the rules and how to get around. We found that simply just asking staff members, locals or fellow travellers worked really well.
We also found looking online for transport gives you a clear indication of what you can expect to find and where to get your transfers, also great for booking so you have a clear price and ticket already in hand.
You can take a number of transports from a taxi which will be located outside the airport, look for one using a meter or know how much you should be paying so you aren’t overcharged.
Alternatively, you can catch the local bus into town, we did this on our second visit and found it easy. The bus is located out the front by the taxi rank of Phuket International Airport. You can pay as you board or get a ticket from inside.
Pro Tip: Look at taking a suitcase that converts into a backpack, this is extremely helpful for moving your bag around on ferries, boats and buses. It also makes it easier for any time you are on rough terrain that wheels would get stuck on.
Your first day will specifically focus on your arrival at Phuket International Airport, and getting settled in a hotel in Phuket town.
Once you’ve checked into your hotel, I’m going to be realistic here and say you’re going to be tired. REALLY TIRED. Even if you’ve slept for the entire flight. So, use this time to relax.
Wat Chalong Temple
Wat Chalong is a Buddhist temple located in the northern part of Tambol Chalong. Popular with both locals to coming to pray and tourists coming to see the incredible landmark.
Head to Thalang road where you can find the bus to the temple. It takes around 30 minutes to Wat Chalong Temple, the journey costs 35 baht per person.
The Temple is open to visitors and is free to enter.
It is said that many locals feel the temple has experienced many miracles and has a statue of a man who won the lottery a number of times due to consulting the Poh Than Jao Wat statue.
Pro Tip: As temples are a place of worship they do have rules against dress code. For most temples in Thailand, covering shoulders and legs, chest and belly are required. T-shirts and long trousers/shirts are an easy combination.
Just outside of the temple grounds you’ll find a number of street food vendors. Alternatively, if you are looking for a restaurant you will need to walk further out into the main streets.
Phuket Botanical Gardens
Just 2 miles from Wat Chalong is the newly opened Botanical Gardens which stretches over 2.4 hectares.
Open daily from 9am until 5pm and with an entrance price of 500 baht per person, the gardens is the perfect place to relax in peace and admire some wonderful plants.
Phuket Botanical Gardens is split into zones, inside each zone you’ll find a different species of plant such as tropical palms, herbs, fragrant plants, fruit orchards etc.
Pro Tip: I’m totally not a gardener, but after stumbling across a botanical garden in Dallas, Texas a few years back I’ve enjoyed visiting multiple botanical gardens around the world.
We didn’t expect much from the Botanical Gardens in Phuket but were pleasantly surprised and would recommend adding this to your 10 days in Phuket itinerary.
All of this is set around a large pond, inside of which you’ll find Japanese koi carp, water lilies, lotuses and even an artificial waterfall that you can walkthrough.
As a side note, if you’ve only got 1 day in Phuket, then I suggest you follow today’s itinerary…
Wake up early to visit Monkey Hill. This hill just outside of Phuket town provides incredible views out over the providence and has some delightful free-roaming guests which you can feed and befriend.
When we first decided to visit Monkey Hill in 2017 there were no articles on the topic. Since then we’ve written a complete guide to visiting Monkey Hill which you should definitely read prior to your visit. These are the main takeaways from our experience;
- Walking up the hill in the humidity is PAINFUL. Instead, take a driver.
- Buy bananas at the bottom of the hill, we didn’t see anyone selling any further up the hill as we got closer to the monkeys.
- Take plenty of water, there’s no 7-11 halfway up (although at the time we decided to climb the hill, I really wished there was)
- Make sure you go to the very top, the car will only be able to take you so far, the rest you have to walk. If you want to get some incredible views of Phuket it is worth walking the rest.
Phuket Old Town Tour
After venturing back down from Monkey Hill walk to the old town – it’s around 4.5km and spend the afternoon walking the streets of Phuket old town.
The old town is full of brightly painted, century-old Sino-Portuguese townhouses which make for wonderful viewing. Many of them are cafes, coffee shops, artist shops, hostels and independent businesses.
You can easily go on a pre-arranged guided walking tour of Phuket Old Town, or do what we did and pick up a free map from the tourist information point and walk around at your own pace.
Phuket Old Town continues to grow in popularity with tourists so try and head out before lunch to avoid the crowds.
Just a little street on the outskirts of the main area of Phuket Old Town there is a cat cafe – we simply had to make a stop here before heading back to grab a shower and getting changed ready for the Phuket night market.
Phuket Night Market
No Phuket itinerary is complete without the mention of a night market. Phuket plays host to a number of night markets, the majority of which take place on a weekend.
Here you can find a whole host of vendors selling food, desserts, drinks, homemade items, and trinkets.
The Banzaan weekend market is a little out of Phuket Old Town but you can catch the local bus from Thalang Road and it will take you to the street. The street gets closed off to any traffic so it is safe to walk up and down.
Here you can find plenty of cheap, delicious food. We tried a whole host of different dishes that evening including these luminous green noodles!
There’s no seating at this particular market which does make eating at the market rather difficult. We found a sheltered abandoned doorstep to sit and eat alongside some other tourists experiencing the delights of the market.
Today we’re leaving Phuket Old Town and heading to the beach. Depending on your plans you may want to change hotels now and move to a hotel in the Kata Beach / Karon Beach region to complete the next couple of days of your Phuket itinerary.
Alternatively, travelling between Phuket Old Town and Kata Beach / Karon Beach and the rest of Phuket is totally fine. Local buses run regularly and taxis between the two locations are frequent and affordable.
Kata Beach is often referred to as the most beautiful beach in Phuket (although I don’t believe that to be true, see Sirinat National Park below for my personal favourite).
This 1.5km strip of beach is home to a whole range of water-sports and activities. However, if you prefer something a little more low-key there’s plenty of sun beds for sunbathing.
Due to the number of visitors you’ll find a range of accommodation and places to eat along the beach strip here and just set back on the adjoining roads.
Just 4km along the coastline from Kata Beach is Karon Beach. This is one of the longest beaches in Phuket stretching 5km which makes it much easier to find a slightly quieter spot when compared to Kata Beach.
Much like Kata Beach once you get close to the major tourist section of Karon Beach you’ll find a host of hotels, restaurants and activity facilities where you can book to go out kite-surfing, wind-surfing or paragliding.
Head to the southern end of Karon Beach for snorkelling where among the rocks you’ll find a range of active marine life.
Karon Temple Market
If you’re visiting Karon on either a Tuesday or a Saturday then be sure to stop by Karon Temple Market.
Open from late afternoon until around midnight this night market has a similar set up to the one in old town providing you with a great opportunity to dine on budget traditional food and purchase local handmade trinkets.
Day four will see you take a taxi from the hotel to the Big Buddha. This can be pre-arranged at the hotel reception, or you can simply flag down a taxi and barter your price at the time.
If you’re not feeling confident then the Thai equivalent to Uber, Grab is available. This way you can use your smartphone and find out the cost of the journey in advance, there’s no haggling and you can pay through your bank card direct.
This is one of the best ways to travel around Phuket, other options include the local bus or private hire.
The Big Buddha is regarded as one of the most important landmarks on the island. Sitting on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata, at 45 metres tall it can be seen from as far away as Phuket Old Town.
The Big Buddha can be reached via a 6km winding road leading from Phuket’s main road. While the road to Nakkerd Hill is in good condition with some curves and steep climbs, some less-powerful scooters can struggle (especially with two people on board).
Which is why we’d advise you to get a taxi instead. Of course, if you’re feeling fit then you can always take the one hour hike to the top.
Regardless of how you get to The Big Buddha, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best 360-degree views of the island.
Pro Tip: If you plan to do plenty of walking around Phuket to save money on taxi’s and tuk-tuks, remember to pack plenty of water and snacks. This is especially important in hotter months. Also, don’t forget your suncream and hats!
If you’re after somewhere to chill out and grab a coffee or some lunch then consider stopping in at the Nakkerd Sea View Restaurant. Despite it being located in a ‘tourist’ spot you’ll still find the prices to be very reasonable.
Chalong Bay Rum Distillery
Just a couple of miles from The Big Buddha is the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery.
When you think of Phuket you don’t think of distilleries, yet this successful Rum distillery which was set up in 2012 by a young french couple continues to thrive.
Using only locally grown sugar cane, the Chalong Bay Rum distillery produces some incredible rum while supporting local businesses, sustainability and eco-friendly business practices.
The distillery tour is held every hour on the hour between 2pm and 6pm except on Sunday. The tour takes approximately 30-45 minutes and includes a Mojito cocktail and a rum sampling session.
To avoid disappointment I recommend booking a tour of the distillery online in advance. Alternatively, you can try your luck and hope there’s enough space to join a tour on the day.
The tour is only suitable for adults above the age of 18 and costs 450THB per person.
Day five includes a day trip to Patong.
Much like Karon / Kata Beach, you can move to position yourself here for a couple of nights if you’re looking for a great nightlife scene. Alternatively, you can easily and affordably travel here from Phuket Town – it takes around 15 minutes by taxi or an hour on the local bus.
Patong is a beach resort town on the west coast and is somewhere you’ve likely heard a lot about when planning your Thailand itinerary.
Backpackers first discovered this sleepy village with a stunning beach in the 60s and 70s, but it wasn’t really until a decade later that the government decided to transform Patong into a tourist destination.
The beach here is 2.8km long and is filled with tourists and vendors looking to sell you anything from massages to ice-creams.
Water sports are a big thing at Patong Beach, with the two most popular being Parasailing and jet skiing. The parasailing and jet skis operators are all over the beach so you will easily spot them. A parasailing trip or thirty minutes on a jet ski typically costs 1500 baht per person.
When night falls you’ll find the majority of tourists on Bangala Road.
Bangala road leads off from the beach up to the Jungceylon Shopping Mall and is filled with bars and clubs of every kind. The majority of partying here starts at sunset and goes on until around 4am / sunrise.
James Bond Island
Khao Phing Kan also known as James Bond Island is situated in Phang Nga Bay northeast of Phuket. Made famous from its feature in the James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun released in 1974.
This James Bond island tour includes pick up from your hotel in Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala, Nakalay and Kalim (pick up from Phuket Town, Surin, Laguna, Nai Yang, JW Marriot, Cherngtalay, Bangtao and the airport is available for an additional 200 baht per person) in the morning.
From there you’ll visit the famous Monkey Cave of Wat Suwan Kuha and discover the many interconnected caves in the mountain and admire the gold reclining Buddha image at the temple.
Before going onto explore the magical mangrove forest of Ao Phang Nga National Park by long-tail boat.
Pro Tip: If you plan to spend most of your day out at sea don’t forget to pack plenty of essentials such as water, light snacks, suncream and a t-shirt to cover your shoulders.
We made the mistake on our first trip and unfortunately, got serious sunburn after 30 minutes in the pool (whilst wearing suncream).
Stop at a fishing village on Pan Yee Island to enjoy a tasty lunch before seeing James Bond Island.
Continue to Khao Phing Kan to see the stunning limestone karst formations. Experience the area’s beauty by sea canoe, paddling around Talu Island before returning to the pier.
Spend the evening relaxing with a Thai massage. Whether you’re staying in Patong, Karon, Kata or Phuket Town there are a number of fantastic traditional massage parlours to choose from.
Pro Tip: This article gives you an idea of what to expect from a traditional Thai massage as well as some of the other massages you can experience for an affordable price while in Thailand.
A Thai massage runs between 300 baht and 2,000 baht depending on the length and type of massage. A lot of recommendations are based on word of mouth so be sure to ask those in your hostel or hotel or staff working at reception if there is somewhere they recommend.
Phi Phi Island
Today we’ll head out island-hopping across the beautiful islands of Phi Phi. Again, I recommend booking a tour for the most streamlined and reliable experience.
This particular tour will pick you up early in the morning from your hotel with the aim of getting you to the first couple of islands before any of the other tourists.
It includes stops at Phi Phi Leh which was made famous by the Hollywood movie, The Beach. Alongside a short stay at Maya Bay you’ll head over to Phi Phi Leh Lagoon for a swim.
After a refreshing break it’s a short stop at Phi Phi Don where you’ll climb to the view point which provides a panormaic view of the island and town below.
Then it’s onto view the incredible wall paintings of the limestone Viking cave, before visiting Monkey Beach on Tonsai Bay.
If all that wasn’t enough you’ll then head out to sea for two snorkelling sessions before finally heading to Bamboo Island where you’ll have lunch and relax on the beach.
With such an action-packed morning and early start, I’ve left the evening free for you to relax and prepare for your final few days in Phuket.
Day eight see’s you take an incredible trip to the elephant sanctuary. There are three separate elephant sanctuaries in Phuket which are currently open to visitors.
Find the right sanctuary with the best reviews on TripAdvisor and then organise a visit with a local agency, online tour booking company or transport with your resort / hotel.
Some of the elephant sanctuaries in Phuket include mud baths and feeding and other contact with the elephants whereas others are strictly open to viewing the elephants and as a more natural habitat for them.
Pro Tip: Depending on your choice of Elephant sanctuary may mean you are going to get dirty and wet. Take a spare set of clothes to change into along with a carrier bag to put in your dirty clothes.
Remember to wear your swimwear and something you don’t mind getting soaked by the elephants.
After spending some time with the elephants head back to your resort and relax. Go for a spa treatment, lay by the pool or go for a swim in the sea.
Your second to last day in Phuket see’s you spend the majority of the day at Bangtao Beach which is situated an hours drive from Patong.
This beach is one of the longest in Phuket at 6km and one of the most family-friendly on the island as it’s generally relatively quiet with just a small handful of beach bars along the shoreline.
The sea is flat, calm and clear from November to April. The waves can get a little rough between May and October, so take note of red flags on the coastline.
Muay Thai at Patong Boxing Stadium
If you’re local to Patong on Monday, Thursday or Saturday night then be sure to book a seat for the Muay Thai boxing at the Patong Boxing Stadium.
Muay Thai is one of the national sports of Thailand, an ancient martial art that has developed over the course of 500 years. This particular ticket is part of a tour that includes pick up from your hotel.
The matches start at around 9pm and begin with enthusiastic youth fighters from the age of 10 years old and continue with professional male and female fighters from Thailand and abroad.
Sirinat National Park
You’ll be spending your last day in Phuket in NaiYang, one of my favourite places. Sirinat National Park, situated just half a mile from the entrance to Phuket Airport this park and beach is like no other on the island.
Pro Tip: If you are eager to see a beautiful sunrise or sunset this is the place to do it. With very little in the way of light pollution, other people, you can get an uninterrupted view.
Here you can experience a laid back and relaxing part of Phuket with very little in terms of people, tourists and vendors. Further up towards the main road and if you are heading to the airport you can find street food vendors, places to go for a drink and shops.
Otherwise, down by the beach, there is hardly anything that makes it a heaven for relaxing and enjoying the clear blue sea.
A great benefit to spending your final night here is the close proximity to the airport ensuring you’ll be at the airport for your flight in plenty of time. To learn more about Sirinat National Park be sure to check out our complete article.
Alternatively, if like us you wanted something else to fill your day you can go 20 minutes away in a car to Soi Dog Foundation.
Soi Dog Foundation are a non-profit charity that helps the mostly stray dogs and cats around Thailand. They fight to put them back to health, get them the care they deserve and need along with often finding them new homes.
Pro Tip: When visiting the Soi Dog Foundation wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little smelly or covered in fur from the dogs and cats. Also, don’t forget to take some spare cash to buy a drink or make a donation to the foundation.
Many go on to find homes over in the UK and USA mostly from people who came to Soi Dog to help out and fell in love or simply wanted to find a dog and chose one of those. We helped out for the day – all we did was play with the dogs and cats but honestly, it was so worth it.
The volunteers are more than happy to give you a tour around the facility and tell you all about what they do there and what they aim to achieve. There is a place to buy drinks but not food. There is plenty of English speaking volunteers that can help you out or tell you more if you require it.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is there to do in Phuket on a budget?
There are many different things to do such as exploring Phuket Old Town, Walk Monkey Hill and visit the temples and the Big Buddha.
Is Phuket Expensive For Tourists?
Phuket is known to be one of the more expensive places within Thailand but there are ways to save money. Look at staying in hotels and hostels instead of resorts and eat street food instead of restaurants.
What Is The Best Month To Visit Phuket?
Phuket like the rest of Thailand is generally always warm. The highest season is from November to February when it is cool and drier. The weather then remains hot up until May, Monsoon season starts mid-May until October.
Can you swim in Phuket beaches?
You can swim within the sea at Phuket beaches but always air with a side of caution. Monsoon season is mid-May to October which often means the sea is very rough. Do not swim if there are red warning flags out. Karon and Kata beach are the only beaches to have lifeguards.