Thailand has plenty to offer when it comes to tourism. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Ayutthaya—the list goes on and on when it comes to locations that constantly top people’s list of “places to see before I die.”
Another popular destination in Thailand among tourists from all over the world is Phuket. Honeymooners, nature lovers, thrill-seekers, and beach bums all flock to Phuket by the millions each year. Why? Here are just some of the reasons.
1. Gorgeous Beaches and Islands
Bang Tao, Freedom, Karon, Kata and Kata Noi, Paradise, Patong. These are just a few of the myriad beaches you can choose to explore in Phuket, and choosing one over the other all depends on what kind of experience you’re hoping to have. For example, Bang Tao Beach is where you can find some of Phuket’s top resorts. It’s always active, but because it stretches for 6 kilometers, it’s easy to find quieter, less crowded spots. Meanwhile, Karon Beach has extra-fine, extra-smooth sand that you can walk barefoot without worry. The sand also makes squeaky sounds when you step on it because of how smooth it is, so it’s probably worth visiting Karon Beach if only for this funny quirk!
For those who love to island-hop, Phuket also has plenty of options. Coral Island is perfect for swimming and sunbathing, while Racha Island is best for snorkeling and diving. You can also visit the more touristy Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay. Ko Phi Phi Leh of the Phi Phi Islands was a shooting location for the film “The Beach,” while Koh Ta-Pu in Phang Nga Bay was featured in “James Bond: The Man With the Golden Gun.”
When you book a Phuket tour package with Traveloka or another trusted online travel booking service, make sure to include these beach destinations in your itinerary.
2. Ecological Wonders
Speaking of Phang Nga Bay, it’s not only great for swimming and lazing around on the beach. It’s also an ideal destination for ecotourism. Phang Nga Bay National Park has mangrove forests, along with a host of animal species that consider the bay and the mangroves home. Phuket also has plenty of waterfalls you can marvel at, like Bang Pae, Kathu, and Ton Sai. Two of these (Bang Pae and Ton Sai) can be found within the lush tropical forests of Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.
There’s also Sirinat National Marine Park. It’s a protected area where you can see and encounter different species of trees, birds, and animals. The trees here also form a natural protection for the beach when storms and strong winds hit the northwestern part of Phuket. Finally, Sirinat National Marine Park is home to Mai Khao Beach. It’s another protected area in this place, where sea turtles nest.
There are more places you can visit in Phuket that will make you love and appreciate nature even more, like the Elephant Sanctuary. If you want to see Thailand’s national animal up close without causing them stress or harm, this is the best thing to do.
3. Cultural Gems
For those who want to know more about Thailand’s culture, Phuket doesn’t disappoint. It’s home to more than 20 Buddhist temples, the most popular of which are Wat Chalong and the Big Buddha. The latter is particularly iconic. It is 45 meters high, made from concrete and Burmese white jade that sparkles under the sun. The statue stands on top of the Nakkerd Hills, where you can also see the surrounding landscapes of Rawai, Kata, and Chalong. Apart from the location of the Big Buddha, another unique thing about it is that the nearby trees have bells in them. When they ring with the wind, these bells are said to inspire hope to all those who hear them.
There are also quite a few museums dotting Phuket. Drop by the Thalang National Museum, the Peranakan Museum, and the Seashell Museum, all of which will help you learn interesting tidbits about the island’s history and culture. You should also definitely check out Phuket Mining Museum and discover how the island developed through tin mining.
4. Colorful History
Phuket’s location made it an ideal trading route, especially with India and China. When the island’s tin deposits were discovered, it became a coveted territory for the British, French, and Portuguese. With the tin mining trade on a boom, along with the rise of rubber manufacturing, Phuket quickly became one of the wealthiest parts of Thailand. This history can be seen through the streets of a modern city, especially in Old Town, where there are well-preserved Sino-Portuguese buildings and mansions.
The foreigners that came into the island also brought a unique heritage to Phuket. Today, the descendants of the first Peranakan in Phuket—the progeny of the Chinese settlers who originally settled in the Malay Archipelago—keep their traditions and history alive and well. This is most evident in their marriage ceremonies and celebrations, which last up to 12 days.
Phuket is a gorgeous beach destination, no doubt, but it’s also so much more. Visit it and see for yourself why tourists keep coming back to this charming Thai island over and over again.