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THAILAND: PHUKET
The Best Things to Do in Phuket

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Phuket

There are plenty of really memorable things to do in Phuket. The island itself has a beautiful historical old town, great viewpoints, iconic cultural attractions and a vibrant nightlife. It's also a good base for exploring the nearby islands and their must-see attractions.

Phuket sits amid some of the world's most beautiful scenery. Limestone peaks jut from the emerald Andaman Sea and punctuate the dense jungles on land, providing superb options for day trips. The most popular Phuket tours are multi-island boat tours, where you can skim the clear waters through towering rock formations on a speedboat or traditional longtail boat and explore nearby archipelagos. These include world-famous places like Phang Nga Bay and the Phi Phi Islands.

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Phuket Viewpoints

There are many viewpoints on both the east and west coasts of Phuket, affording sunrise as well as sunset views. Everyone goes to Promthep Cape, but it doesn't make it any less spectacular. There, you'll get fabulous views over the ocean stretching as far as Phi Phi Island on a good day.

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Big Buddha

Phuket's Big Buddha is one of the island's most important and revered landmarks on the island. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata. At 45 metres tall, it's easily seen from far away. The lofty site offers panoramic views of the island, with sweeping vistas of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon beaches, and Chalong Bay. Easily reachable via a 6-km road leading from Phuket's main artery route, the temple is a must-visit for all first-timers on the island.

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Phuket Old Town

Sino-Portuguese splendours and funky shops in the most unlikely places will surprise and delight you in the heart of Phuket's sleepy provincial capital. Phuket Town offers much more than you think, with some excellent restaurants and local sights. The unique blend of colonial and Chinese architecture, along with a tangible quaintness, makes for a fascinating and unforgettable afternoon or evening spent sauntering around Phuket's Old Town.

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Island Hopping around Phuket

The Andaman Sea around Phuket is littered with absolutely stunning little tropical islands. Phi Phi and the Similans certainly stand out among them, but there are others closer to Phuket which are worth visiting. These tiny lumps of pristine sand in wide expanses of azure blue seas are real-life desert island escapes. 

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Khao Sok National Park

About 150 kilometers from Phuket, Khao Sok National Park is a visual symphony. Lush greens, deep blue lakes, waterfalls, and towering limestone peaks provide eye-popping scenery, all set in 738 square kilometers of one of the planet's oldest rainforests. Nature lovers will be in heaven here. Favorite things to do include canoeing and kayaking down the Sok River, elephant experiences, exploring bat-filled caves, and jungle trekking.

Deep in the national park, man-made Cheow Lan Lake is a top attraction, with floating raft houses and luxury camps with tents perched on pontoons above the water. The park is home to diverse flora and fauna. Wildlife includes spectacled langurs, wild elephants, tigers, deer, boar, bear, and marbled cats. If you're lucky, you might even spot wild gibbons swinging through the jungle canopy. The park is also home to more than 300 species of birds, including the impressive hornbill.

This is one of Thailand's rainiest areas, so the best time to visit is during the dry season, from December through April.

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The Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi Islands are the most renowned of Thailand's magnificent archipelagos. For some, it's the only reason to touchdown in Phuket. Phi Phi's beauty is a large chunk of the allure. The islands, when approached by boat, rise from the sea like a fortress. Sheer cliffs tower overhead, then give way to a beach-fringed jungle. 

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Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay is unique. A day out here is an unforgettable experience that will definitely get you thinking. A distinctive feature of the bay is the sheer limestone cliffs that jut vertically out of the emerald-green waters. These islands are home to sheltered fauna that are possible to observe on certain tours. James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are just 2 of the more famous spots in this bay. 

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Phuket Night Markets

Phuket has an impressive selection of night markets to choose from. Each has its own unique charms, but all offer interesting souvenirs at low prices. They're an excellent place to try local street food and snacks, and some also have street performances and music. Being open in the evenings means that you don't get too hot while shopping.

Food vendors do a roaring trade at Phuket night markets, making them excellent spots to experience genuine Thai street food, and shop in cool comfort, all at the same time. 

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Big Game Fishing

Alongside great beaches, diving and nightlife, Phuket also offers world-class sport fishing and angling. Blue and black marlin, sailfish, dog-tooth tuna, giant trevally, jacks and even swordfish have been caught around Phuket, and the fishing community's firm catch-and-release policy helps ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to test themselves against these magnificent animals. Phuket's charter companies know all the best spots and will get where you want to be in comfort and style. 

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Bangla Road

While most parts of the island have their own small party scene, the place to be after dark is Bangla Road in Patong, with its bright neon lights, loud music and crowds of young party-lovers. Phuket's Bangla Road really comes to life after sunset, when the road is closed to traffic and becomes a 400-metre festival of neon lights, loud music and plenty of booze. Beer bars occupy most of the street's length, with several go-go bars and a few pubs, restaurants, discos and shops rounding out the attractions, both on Soi Bangla and down its side streets. 

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Thai Boxing Matches

Muay Thai is one of the most popular spectator sports in Thailand. While exciting enough on TV, the relentless punches, crushing elbow strikes, powerful kicks, and artful feints are even more riveting when seen live. Travellers to Phuket can enjoy Thai boxing matches at specially built stadiums on Soi Sai Namyen, in Patong.

You can also train in Muay Thai in Phuket. There's an entire street in Chalong where almost every property is a gym, healthfood restaurant or low-cost accommodation specifically intended for those training in the art of Thai boxing. 

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Beach Clubs 

With great beaches come great beach clubs, and some of Phuket's are among the best in the world. These chilled-out venues offer great music, first-class food and delightful cocktails. Just steps from the sand, and often featuring splash pools, good times are all but guaranteed. With regular special events and parties, these are among the best places to be seen and the best things to do in Phuket. 

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Golf in Phuket

Phuket has a collection of fine golf courses, all of which have been designed to take full advantage of the island's tropical climate and unique topography. Many visitors come solely to play golf around the beautifully landscaped courses, which make use of the local abundance of water and trees to full effect. Many of the courses are near hotels to ensure that accompanying family members can enjoy being left to laze by the pool or on the beach.

Standards are high, ensuring that the greens are green and the holes are challenging enough to stretch new and experienced players alike. Some of the courses have even been used for international competitions and world championships. 

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Phuket Beaches

The largest of Thailand's islands, Phuket is one of its most highly visited. You can thank the luxurious sugar white sand, tree-fringed beaches, and unbeatably crystal-clear jade waters of the Andaman Sea for the island's popularity.

With over 30 beaches along Phuket's breathtaking coast, you won't have to worry about being stuck somewhere you don't like. Whether you're looking for a boisterous and entertaining spot, a high-end luxury experience, or a secluded seaside escape, Phuket's beaches offer a bit of everything.

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