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Fabulous beaches and hotels, iconic day trips and vibrant nightlife
Sat just off the mainland in the emerald waters of the Andaman, the large island of Phuket is one of Thailand’s premier holiday destinations. Famous for its bright lights and busy bars, lively Patong is home to the island’s busiest beach, but there are plenty of quieter beaches dotted with world-class resorts that are ideal for families and romantic adventures.
- Phuket is Thailand’s preeminent beach holiday destination; a beautifully rugged, emerald island jutting out into the green waters of the Andaman Sea
- Although only 30 miles long by 13 miles wide, Phuket is one of Thailand's largest islands featuring a rolling backdrop of vegetated hills and picture-perfect bays
- Choose from Thailand’s great range of accommodation: from secluded hideaways and grandly manicured luxury resorts, to laidback, sociable holiday spots at the heart of the island’s bright lights
- A popular landmark is Khao Phing Kan and Koh Tapu, locally known as ‘James Bond Island’ and famed as the location of Scaramanga’s lair in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’
- The Andaman Sea and Phang Nga Bay off Phuket also offer numerous superb dive and snorkelling sights
Best time to visit Phuket
Thailand’s peak season is between November and February when the climate is drier and slightly cooler, while the hottest period is April to May. May to October tends to have higher rainfall but there should still be plenty of sunshine and this is the time to benefit from the greatest value and less crowded beaches.
Phuket holiday highlights
Nicknamed the ‘pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket has long been a favourite beach holiday destination among those looking to experience all that Thailand has to offer. 30 miles long and 13 miles wide, Phuket is the country’s largest island, connected to the mainland by road bridge. Much of Phuket is heavily developed, with a vast majority of the luxury hotels and resorts found on the island’s pretty west coast to make the most of the warm weather and stunning beaches.
Phuket’s liveliest beach destination, this once sleepy fishing village now plays host to some of the island’s best nightlife. Although famed for its nightlife, the day sees the streets filled with beach-goers wandering the many shops and market stalls. The city’s popularity means that there are a multitude of dining options to be found here, serving up everything from delicious high-end Thai dishes to western fastfood. Over time, Patong’s fascinating multicultural society continues to evolve and is now home to a trendy art scene.
South of Patong, Karon (pronounced “Garon”) is Phuket’s second largest beach resort and has a slightly quieter feel to its more popular northern neighbour. Found between Patong to the north and Kata to the south on the western coast, it has a long white sand public beach and a spectacular coral reef starts at the southern point, stretching towards Kata.
A pretty palm-lined beach and superb restaurants await in Kata. Slightly further south of Karon Beach, Kata has a friendly vibe, with an almost village-style feel. From May to October, some of the island’s best surf can be found here – attracting travellers from across the globe. Popular with families, you’ll find the Kata Thani in the centre of the beachfront, with the boutique and beautiful Mom Tri’s Villa Royale just past the northern end of the beach and the luxurious The Shore at Kata Thani to the south.
Mai Khao, Naithon & Pansea
On the island’s west coast, these three small idyllic beaches are further north than Kata and Karon, with Pansea close to the midpoint of the island, passing Nai Thon and Phuket airport to Mai Khao near the northern tip. One of Phuket’s more tranquil spots, Mai Khao is undeveloped and has the island’s longest, straightest sweep of white sands; all but deserted by comparison to many of the livelier southern beaches.
Found on a peaceful headland, Naithon overlooks a relaxing beach, while Pansea is a secluded beach retreat found within easy walking distance of the neighbouring Surin area. Here, you’ll find plenty of trendy boutiques and art galleries as well as the chic beachfront hotel of The Surin Phuket.
If you’re looking for a quiet hideaway away from it all, the Cape Panwa Hotel sits to the very south of the island on a secluded beach.
Bang Tao & Laguna Phuket
Bang Tao Bay is a four-mile stretch of beach that plays host to some of Phuket’s most distinguished and luxurious resorts, notably around the Laguna Phuket complex. Here, you’ll find a collection of indulgent resorts including the fabulous all-villa Banyan Tree Phuket. Divided into the main hotel, the Banyan Tree Phuket, the spectacular DoublePool Villas by Banyan Tree and the relaxing Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary, there’s plenty to choose from here.
Arranged around a series of inland lagoons, the hotels of the Laguna resort complex are great for those that like to indulge on holiday with plenty of golf and exquisite dining options available. It’s also a great spot if you’re considering getting married in Thailand.
Theses resorts are great for families, with complimentary shuttle transfers between the resorts, golf course, shops, and plenty of child-friendly activities, especially during school holidays.
Phuket Seashell Museum
Discover private collections of over 2,000 seashells, as well as the world’s biggest golden pearl, shell fossils and a huge clam shell weighing over 250kg.
Thalang National Museum
Learn about old Phuket as you peruse artefacts and war materials used in the conflict with Burma.