Phuket is a top tourist destination so there is no doubtedly many activities and sightseeing available around the island. Most people who visit Phuket tend to focus on visiting beaches and islands, however there are also many other non-touristy activities available that are underrated. Read on to find out the different things to do around Phuket that will a deliver a comprehensive local holiday experience.
Markets and Local Shopping
While Phuket does not have the famously massive and quirky markets of Bangkok, like the Chatuchak Weekend Market or the Maeklong Railway Market, it does have some interesting offerings for bargain hunters. The following are some of the must-visit local markets and shopping centres.
1. Phuket Weekend Market
This is probably the most popular of the markets in Phuket, as well as being the biggest. A warren of covered aisles in Phuket Town, its size and bizarre layout makes it surprisingly easy to get lost. Noteworthy landmarks, however, include the food zone at the western end, the fashion zone at the eastern end and the mostly electrical bit along the northern edge. Being under a corrugated metal and with very little ventilation, it can get a bit stuffy, especially when it gets busy, so it’s best to visit just as it’s opening, around 4pm. As the name suggests, it only runs on Saturdays and Sundays.
2. Phuket town walking street
The charming Phuket Old Town becomes a great place to find unique trinkets and local food every Sunday from about 4pm. The colourful Thalang Road, with its historical Sino-Portuguese buildings, contemporary street art and quirky eateries, makes a great backdrop to this open-air market. The size of this one is a little limited, however, as it basically consists of a row of stalls down the middle of the road. You can easily walk from one end of the market to the other within an hour, even allowing time to stop to enjoy the various live entertainments.
3. Karon Temple Market
The Karon Temple Market is probably the most “local” market in Phuket, running from about 4pm every Tuesday and Friday in the grounds of the large, decorative temple in Karon. While you can still find the usual tourist trinkets here, as well as a good choice of snacks, you will often find more handicrafts and local wares, as well as a genuinely local atmosphere, which is noticeably lacking from most of the other options.
4. Malin Plaza
If you’re staying in a Phuket resort near Patong, Malin Plaza is an excellent place to enjoy budget meals. Located right at the southern end of the popular town, it has a fairly limited selection of clothes and souvenir stalls, but a massive choice of food vendors, serving up a huge array of dishes at extremely good prices. The market is open daily from 2pm and, not being as tightly packed as the Weekend Market, doesn’t get too hot or crowded.
5. Jungcelon Phuket
If you have nothing to do or it is a rainy day, consider visiting Jungceylon Shopping Mall at Patong Beach, an impressive International Shopping and leisure destination located at the top of Soi Bangla. Housing top international brands, a multiplex cinema and many international bars and restaurants, Jungceylon is the complete center for shopping, drinking, dining leisure and entertainment such as real shooting range bar, with real bullets! For the faint hearted there is the laser shooting range which somehow feels like a toy in comparison. There is also available the unique experience of fish foot spas, where the tiny fish eat the dead skin of your feet!
In the evening the beautiful water and light show which runs daily, may well grab your attention but is susceptible to wind interference so be careful where you stand if you do not want to get wet. There is also a very large and famous nightclub or if you prefer most nights there is entertainment on the central plaza which is set as a bier garden theme.
Visit Religious Temples & Shrines in Phuket
Temples are shrines are the most notable attractions in Phuket. Two of the most popular religious sites on the island are in Chalong – Wat Chalong and Phuket Big Buddha. You can enter these destinations with no cost and take pictures along the way.
Wat Chalong in Phuket is the most popular Thai Temple on the island and is one of the culture highlights on a Phuket Sightseeing Tour. In Thailand, beautiful and richly decorated temples are known as “Wats” and are a potent symbol of the Thai Culture throughout the kingdom. Wat Chalong is an 18th Century Temple and the centerpiece is a 60 Ft Grand Pagoda which houses many Buddhist statues and Buddha images. A stair case takes you to the top of the Pagoda where a viewing platform offers great views over the entire site. As a place of worship, you will experience many locals offering prayers and lighting candles, which is generally a very peaceful experience, but one that is often interrupted by the loud bang of Chinese Fire Crackers to ward off bad spirits.
Close to Wat Chalong stands the Big Buddha, another of Phuket’s top religious spot. To visit Big Buddha, you must by car drive up the mountainside to see the stunning 45m tall white marble Big Buddha at the summit. Not only is the sight of this huge Buddhist symbol up close a great cultural and spiritual experience, but it also one of the very best viewpoints in Phuket.
Visit Phuket Old Town
Phuket’s beaches and stunning natural environments have paved the way for the island to become a lucrative and famous tourist destination, but before the tourist hordes descended, it was other natural resources such as tin and rubber that attracted Chinese migrants to the islands in the 19th Century. Whilst much of the evidence of this booming industry around the island has been lost, it is within the densely packed streets and sois of Phuket Old Town that you can experience glimpses of the Chinese culture known as “Baba” and in the beautifully restored Sino-Portuguese buildings and Chinese shop-houses you can gain a sense of what that culture must have been like during this period.
In some ways, the lifestyle of the inhabitants of Phuket Old Town has remained unchained and in amongst the trendy cafes and modern bars which cater to the islands expanding local and expat population, you will find many examples of traditional businesses such as printing, textiles, hardware and wholesalers as well as traditional local style restaurants and noodle shops.
Other highlights of a Phuket Town Tour include numerous beautiful Chinese and Buddhist shrines, colonial style museums and mansions and Thavorn’s very own Phuket History Museum located in the beautifully restored lobby of the Thavorn Hotel.
Try Elephant Trekking
One of the most exciting Family Activites in Phuket is the experience of Elephant Trekking through the Thai jungle. Elephant Trekking Tours are an adventure packed day out and usually involve a range of other jungle activities including white water rafting, zip line, ATV as well as Elephant Shows, buffalo cart rides and rubber plantation tours. You can choose the tour and itinerary that best suits you and while some tours are based in Phuket, others offer excursions further afield in places such as Phang Nga province and Khao Sok National Park.
Another popular elephant activity is to visit the Elephant Sanctuary. We recommend this option as it is ethical tourism, with the Elephant Sanctuary representing true final home for overtired elephants who have suffered from working long hours in the logging and tourism industry. As the first ethical elephant tourism experience in Phuket, the Elephant Sanctuary rescues sick, injured and old elephants, welcoming them back into their indigenous habit. Your visit will include venturing into the sanctuary and explore the canopy walks, learn about the elephants, and interact with these majestic animals.
Visit Phuket’s Viewpoints
Viewpoints are the best spots to take pictures with no cost. There are many viewpoints to choose from so you will never be bored. Standing at the top of the hill you can enjoy panoramic views out over the Andaman Sea, which from this elevated viewpoint stretches endlessly towards the distant horizon. It is one of the top sightseeing places in Phuket and an iconic photo opportunity which every tourist should take advantage of. For this reason, Phromthep Cape is always crowded with tour buses and motorbikes, but it is nevertheless a must see destination in Phuket.
Try Phuket’s Local Breakfast and Street Food Tasting around Phuket
Street food is one of the highlights of Thai cuisine as it is cheap and tasty. It can be found almost everywhere at any time of the day. Foods range from ice coffee, meat balls, crepes, roti, fried rice, etc. There are so many to choose from that you will never get bored! You can find local restaurants anywhere in Phuket.
If you get the chance, be sure to try local breakfast in Phuket. The three most popular local breakfast in Phuket are:
1. Phuket Dim Sum
We can say that this is the most popular Phuketian’s breakfast! There are many places and easy to find in Phuket Town, such as Boon Rat Restaurant, Juan Heng Restaurant etc. Serve for the ready made Dim Sum comes in a small dish, just choose the one you like from the pot, then the waiter will take its to your table, eat with sweet & spicy sauces or black vinegar sauce.
2. Kanom Jeen
Khanom Jeen are fresh, thin rice noodles in Thai cuisine which made from rice. Kanom Jeen can eat with many kind of curry, the popupar in Phuket could be “Kanon Jeen – Nam Ya” served with a hot and spicy fish-based sauce, “Kanon Jeen – Tai Pla” a southern Thai spicy soup or “Kanon Jeen with Green Curry”.
3. Roti Namkaeng (Roti with curry)
Choose from the favorite curry such as chicken or beef or fish curry, beans curry or mussaman curry.
Visit Tropical Gardens in Phuket to Learn More about Thai Plants
The Tropical gardens boast of exotic plants with flamboyantly blooms, from the botanic garden to the wonderful tropical garden landscape. Thailand has many popular plants, find some for the idea of a tropical garden corner. If you stay in a resort with big garden landscape such as Thavorn Palm Beach Resort, you are guaranteed to find all the below mentioned Thai plants and flowers!
1. Bird of Paradise
The Bird of Paradise enjoys with the full sun and good drainage. They are excellent for decorating in large areas at the base of large trees or the walls.
2. Bougainvillea or Paper Flower
The Bougainvillea can plant in all weather conditions, she needs very little water to bloom and grow rapidly in the bright sunshine. Bougainvillea is the colorful flower, it is usually either pink, purple, red, orange, white or yellow
3. Orange Jasmine
Orange Jasmine is the brilliant white which stand out against it’s glossy green foliage. It is planted along the fence, as the plant can tolerate a wide range of conditions but prefer the sun.
The Jasmine is the popular flowers in Thailand. The Royal Jasmine is a native of Thailand, it is an evergreen vine with the aromatic white flower.
The orchid is one of the two largest families of flowering plants, it can grow in the air and the soil. But most of the tropical orchids grow in the air. The orchids have around 2000 species in the world.