Skip the overcrowded beaches, overpriced water sports, and sleazy nightlife — our Phuket itinerary explores the lesser-known gems like hidden beaches, alcoholic sugarcane and… dog-sized fish?
Phuket has gained a bad reputation over time for its bustling beaches and notorious nightlife. Many people (myself included) might not even consider it as a travel destination because we assume there’s nothing else to see or do on the island. But that can’t be all, right?
With 72 hours in Phuket, I challenged myself to explore the offbeat path that most tourists miss. And I gotta admit: I was wrong about this place. Phuket is a gorgeous island getaway teeming with a wide variety of fun activities and unspoiled scenery that offer refuge from the beach-going crowds. All you have to do is open your eyes a little bigger, and know where to look.
Stay Connected: Pre-book a local SIM card and collect it at Phuket International Airport upon arrival. The one I got from Klook came with 3GB worth of data at up to 4G speeds, and had pretty good coverage all around the island.
Best Time to Visit: The high season in Phuket begins in November, but tourist hordes don’t arrive till December. Skip the crowds and travel during the “shoulder” season (April, May, November, and October). Tourist numbers are slightly lower then, but the weather is still ideal for a relaxing holiday.
Getting around Phuket
Public Transport: Songtaews (Open-aired buses) are really cheap (฿30 – ฿50, ~S$1.25 – S$2.10) and operate between the main town and most major beach areas. Just flag them down along the main roads at beaches, or catch them from the local bus station on Ranong road in Phuket Town. However, the service only runs from 7AM – 6PM.
Private Car Charter: Travelling in a group? Book a private car charter for more convenience! Cars can be hired on an 8- or 12-hour basis with your own itinerary or recommendations from the driver. You could also just hand him this itinerary you’re reading 😉
Day 1: Experience the Phuket Charm
If you’ve booked the private car charter, start your day right away, fresh from the airport!
9AM: Get Your Tan on at Bang Tao Beach (หาดบางเทา)
Start your island vacay right at one of Phuket’s biggest beaches. Bang Tao Beach stretches 6km, filled with pristine sands and turquoise-blue waters. Compared to Patong Beach where crowds usually flock to, Bang Tao Beach is relatively calmer and quieter. There’s also a variety of activities, restaurants and beach clubs to keep you thoroughly entertained.
Walk further along the beach and you’ll come across a rustic, man-made swing you can chill on while listening to the sound of crashing waves and sea breeze.
How to get there: To get to the swing, drive to See-Sea Restaurant and walk about 1km northwards. Alternatively, you can also access Bang Tao Beach by driving to the Beach Cuisine Restaurant and walking a short distance towards the beach.
12PM: Lunch at Tu Kab Khao Restaurant (ตู้กับข้าว ร้านอาหารพื้นเมืองภูเก็ต)
Have a hearty meal at Tu Kab Khao Restaurant in Old Phuket Town. The restaurant is housed in an old colonial building with an elegant Victorian-styled interior. Popular with tourists and locals alike, Tu Kab Khao serves authentic Southern Thai dishes that are slightly pricier, but we felt was worth every Baht.
Bestsellers here include the green crab curry with vermicelli, tom yum soup with prawns, and spicy fried pork with basil leaves. The green curry had a generous amount of tender crab meat, and (surprisingly!) a spicier kick than the soup. Order the signature Thai iced milk tea if you think you can’t handle the heat.
Cost: ~฿250/pax (~S$10.50)
Opening Hours: 11:30AM – 12AM (Kitchen closes at 9:45PM)
Address: 8 Phang Nga Road, Talat Yai, Phuket Town
1:30PM: Be Charmed by Phuket Old Town
Get to know a different side of Phuket by exploring its rich history and culture. Enjoy a scenic walk down Thalang Road in Phuket Old Town, where colourful 18th century Sino-Portuguese shophouses line the streets. The town has a mix of cafes and handicraft stores that sell locally-made coffee and souvenirs.
If you’re into the arts scene, check out Bo(ok)hemian Arthouse — this cafe houses both an art gallery, a bookstore, and serves great coffee and desserts.
Keep your eyes peeled for street art around the town! Done by international and local artists, these vibrant artworks add a contemporary touch to Phuket Old Town’s charm and reflects the interesting culture and lifestyles of its people. You can find these masterpieces scattered along Thalang Road, Krabi Road, Phang Nga Road and Dibuk Road.
3PM: Zip-line like a Monkey God with Flying Hanuman
Named after the Hindu monkey God, Flying Hanuman is Phuket’s ultimate jungle adventure. This activity is perfect for the nature lovers as you’ll get to experience Phuket’s lush, untouched rainforests in an unconventional way. Why hike when you can fly?
There are three journeys (or packages) you can go on — the main difference is the number of platforms and the timing. We went on Discovery Journey C, a one-hour adventure with 16 platforms. Despite being the shortest, we had loads of fun flying on zip-lines and the other high element courses.
Cost: ~S$66 via Klook
Opening Hours: 8AM – 5PM
Address: 89/16 Moo 6, Soi Namtok Kathu, Wichitsongkram Rd., Kathu, Phuket 83120. Options without transport are also available via the website and Klook
5:30PM: Experience Phuket’s Nightlife
One of the quintessential experiences of the Phuket nightlife (that isn’t being squashed in a congested market) is to catch a live performance. From grand cultural shows like Siam Niramit to light-hearted performances like Simon Cabaret, or something in between like Phuket Fantasea, there’s something here for everyone.
After freshening up for the evening, we ended up at Siam Niramit which features a series of musical performances involving over 100 actors, animals, elaborate sets and costumes. The 80-minute show is divided into three parts, featuring Thailand’s historical periods, religious beliefs, and the celebration of Thai festivities. We were blown away by the incredible performance, and definitely recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about Thai culture.
Siam Niramit also has many pre-show activities you can take part in before the show. These include real-life replicas of traditional Thai villages, Muay Thai shows and mini-workshops, and live demonstrations of Thai cooking. Some of the activities are chargeable, such as feeding animals, but there are plenty of free things to do. Do come early to check them all out!
If you opt to have dinner at the venue, the pre-show buffet has a wide spread of local and international dishes to cater to different palates. There’s also a small dessert section with pudding, cakes, and tropical fruits.
Shows are on every day except Tuesdays at 8:30PM, but you can arrange for an earlier pick-up if you plan on having the buffet dinner which is open from 5:30PM – 8:15PM.
Cost: ~S$62.15 via Klook (incl. show, buffet and roundtrip transfer — save up to ~S$20!)
Address: 55/81 Moo 5, Chalermprakiet Road, Rassada, Phuket 83000
If shows aren’t your thing, check out our Phuket nightlife guide for other fun stuff to check out once the sun sets.
Day 2: Phuket’s Water Activities
9AM: Island-Hop on a Private Yacht
There are 32 islands all around Phuket, so you’ll be spoiled for choice with many different island-hopping tours. Many will leave with a boat filled to the brim with tourists. For something a little quieter, try out the Racha Noi and Maithon Island Sunset Day Tour. It offers a full-day island-hopping adventure on a luxurious motor yacht. Breakfast and lunch feasts are also included so you won’t go hungry. On top of island-hopping, the tour also provides fun water sport activities like snorkelling and wild dolphin-spotting.
Cost: ~S$140 (incl. roundtrip transfer)
Hotel pick-up: 9AM – 9:30AM (the driver will confirm the time with you)
If you’re prone to seasickness, here’s an alternate way to experience Phuket’s water-based activities:
9AM: Try Big-Game Fishing at Phuket Freshwater Fishing Park
Think fishing is boring? Here’s something that might change your mind. Phuket’s freshwater fishing park is a football field-sized lake that holds some monster-sized fish. You can catch species ranging from Redtail Catfish to Siamese Carp that can be as big as a Golden Retriever or even a small child!
Experienced staff are on hand to train beginners and provide help. Once you’ve caught a fish, the staff will show you how to hold your prized catch for that insta-worthy photo.
Cost: ~S$98 via Klook (incl. round-trip transfer and lunch)
Opening Hours: 8:30AM – 6PM
Address: 102/5 Moo 5 Chalermphrakieat Ror 9 Road, Tambon Rasada, Amphur Muang, Tambon Choeng Thale, Amphoe Thalang, Chang Wat, Phuket 83110
6:30PM: Chase after the Phuket Sunset at Windmill Viewpoint
There are numerous viewpoints around Phuket island, but some way more crowded than others. We drove up to Windmill Viewpoint, which derives its name from a defunct wind turbine. Compared to the popular Phromthep Cape further down the road, Windmill Viewpoint was relatively empty. When we arrived, there were only a few locals and couples around having picnics so we got plenty of breathing space.
Despite not having a clear sunset view that day, we still enjoyed the beautiful Southern views of Promthep Cape and Ya Nui beach.
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: The parking lot closes at 7PM, but you can still head up to the viewpoint afterwards
How to get there: From Kata Beach, drive towards Nai Harn Beach. Proceed in the direction of Promthep Cape, and drive up a small hill past the lake. Continue upward until you see the wind turbine on your right.
7:30PM: Dinner at Green Tamarind Kitchen (กรีน แทมมารีนด์ คิทเช่น)
After a long day, treat yourself to some of the juiciest burgers in Phuket. Green Tamarind Kitchen is a small, no-frills eatery that is tucked away in a corner away from the main road. The place serves delicious, affordable burgers with huge portions (the patties were bigger than our palms!). Worth it!
We recommend the restaurant’s bestsellers: Chicken Burger (฿150, ~S$6.20) and Swiss Cheeseburger (฿235, ~S$9.70). Both were prepared using fresh ingredients, and were delightfully tender and tasty.
Avg Dish Cost: ฿240 (~S$10)
Opening Hours: 5PM – 10:30PM. Closed on Wednesdays
How to get there: From the main road, turn left into a smaller road (Soi Khokmakham) when you see a signboard saying “Arlecchino Restaurant”.
9PM: Unwind at Rawai View Café & Bar (ร้านอาหาร ราไวย์วิว)
If you’re not ready to sink into bed, head down to Rawai View Café & Bar to enjoy a drink or two — a local beer costs about ฿100, ~S$4.20. The venue is decorated with vintage furniture made from secondhand materials like songtaew spare parts and driftwood. Talented musicians also perform live at the bar in the evenings, adding a nice touch to the place.
Opening Hours: 11AM – 11PM. Closed on Mondays
Address: 96/6 Moo 6 Soi Laem Promthep 1 Viset Road, Tambon Rawai, Mueng, Chang Wat, Phuket 83130
How to get there: From the road opposite Rawai Palm Beach Resort, drive 500m up a hill until you see the venue’s signage on your left.
Day 3: Hunt Down Hidden Gems via Private Car
9AM: Chase After Bang Pae Waterfall
Tucked inside Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, Bang Pae Waterfall is helmed as the biggest waterfall in Phuket. Though it isn’t as majestic compared to other waterfalls in the world, we could still appreciate the natural surroundings. The waters were extremely clean and cooling, and fish may nibble at your feet if you dip in the pool. Do come early as it tends to get crowded later in the day.
Entrance Fee: ฿200 (~S$8.30)
Opening Hours: 9AM – 5PM
How to get there: From Phuket Town, turn right at the ‘Heroines Monument’ Circle and continue driving for 10km until you see the venue’s signage on the left. Bang Pae Waterfall is about a 10 – 15 minute hike in.
*Pro-tip: Beware of potential scams when paying for the entrance fee. Show the prices quoted on TripAdvisor if your driver insists on more than ฿200 when buying tickets on your behalf.
11AM: ‘Defy Gravity’ at the UpsideDown House (Baan Teelanka)
Confused? We were too. The UpsideDown House (Baan Teelanka in Thai) is Phuket’s novel and quirky attraction. Walk around the three-storey house via the ceiling and take wacky photos with your friends. Don’t hesitate to ask the guides for tips on where to pose or to help snap pictures!
Baan Teelanka also offers other attractions such as A-Maze-in-Phuket, a large hedge maze that takes about 10 – 15 minutes (or less) to find your way out (฿170, ~S$7). On a whole, we felt the UpsideDown House seemed more suited for kids, but is worth checking out if you want a good laugh and unique photos.
Cost: ฿350 (~S$14.50, ~S$6.45 via Klook)
Opening Hours: 9:30AM – 6PM
Address: 51/11 Moo 5, Chalermprakiet Ratchakan Thi 9 Road, Ratsada, Phuket Town, Phuket 83000
12:30PM: Lunch at One Chun Cafe n’ Restaurant (ร้านวันจันทร์)
Fill your bellies with Thai cuisine at the One Chun Restaurant. Set in an old shophouse, One Chun has a lovely, nostalgic ambience with vintage decor like old clocks and radios. The restaurant is a hit with locals and tourists, and tends to be crowded during lunch and dinner times. Do call in advance to reserve a spot so you don’t have to wait.
We recommend ordering the restaurant’s crab-meat curry — some say it is the best and creamiest in Phuket Town. The grilled pork with chili, garlic and pepper is also worth trying.
Avg Dish Cost: ฿250 (~S$10.50)
Opening Hours: 10AM – 10PM
Address: 48/1 Thepkrasattri Rd., Talat Yai, Phuket Town
2:30PM: ATV Off the Beaten Track to Big Buddha
If you’re planning to pay Big Buddha a visit, why not do so in style? Hop onto an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and go on a thrilling safari adventure through the jungle. You don’t need a driving license to operate these easy-to-use quad bikes, and helpful guides are with you all the way if you need help.
We went for the one-hour course, and had a wild time driving through muddy trails and up the main road to Big Buddha. There, we had about 15 – 20 minutes to tour the area and capture panoramic views around the island.
Cost: ~S$41.50 via Klook
Opening Hours: 8AM – 5PM
Address: 54/2 Moo 7 Chalong Muang, Phuket 83130. Options without transport are available via the website and Klook.
For the extra adventurous, check out our 4D3N Action-Packed Phuket Itinerary.
4PM: Bottoms Up at Chalong Bay Distillery
Alcohol enthusiasts, rejoice! Started in 2012 by a French couple, the Chalong Bay Distillery produces rum from 100% natural Thai sugarcane using a centuries-old distillation process. The result? An award-winning rum that is smooth and heavenly down the throat.
You can learn more about the intricate art of rum-making by joining the Chalong Bay Distillery Tour. The 30-minute informative tour (฿450, ~S$18.80) takes you through the distillation process, complete with a tasting session and a refreshing Chalong Bay Mojito at the end.
If you want to try your hand at mixology, there’re also cocktail-making workshops (฿1,700, ~S$71) available on Mondays and Thursdays — don’t forget to book in advance, and cheers!
Cost: Entrance is free but tours and workshops will cost extra
Opening Hours: 11AM – 10PM. Tours run hourly from 2 – 6PM
Address: 14/2 Moo 2, Palai Soi 2, Tambol Chalong, Amphoe Muang Phuket, Phuket 83130
6PM: Monkey Around at Monkey Hill
Work off the liquid calories with monkeys during the golden hour. Monkey Hill is a famous Phuket landmark home to about 400 macaque monkeys. The monkeys are used to being fed by humans, so they aren’t shy if you try to take photos up close. Do keep your personal belongings close, though. The monkeys will not hesitate to steal your stuff if you aren’t vigilant.
If you plan to hike up to the top of Monkey Hill, the distance from the entrance to the viewpoint is a steep 1.9km. If you’re a fitness buff, the hike will take roughly 30 minutes one-way. But, you can always drive up to the viewpoint if the roads aren’t closed. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views at the top.
Do note that vehicles are not allowed to drive to the top between 7AM – 8AM, and 4PM – 7PM to allow people to hike up to the viewpoint.
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 7AM – 10PM
Address: 34133 Soi Muensri, Tambon Ratsada, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83000
7:30PM: Dinner at Nam Yoi Restaurant (ร้านอาหารน้ำย้อย)
Not too far from Monkey Hill is Nam Yoi Restaurant, a relatively lesser-known restaurant that serves excellent and delicious Southern Thai fare. Although the setting is extremely basic with plastic chairs and steel tables, the highlight is the food. The restaurant’s signatures include papaya salad, tom yum soup with seabass, and stir-fried mushrooms with lemongrass.
Opening Hours: 11AM – 9PM
Address: 63/250 Rumpattana Rd, Tambon Ratsada, อำเภอ เมืองภูเก็ต Chang Wat Phuket 83000
9PM: Massage Your Troubles Away
After three days of non-stop adventures, have a therapeutic massage to de-knot those sore muscles. Let’s Relax Spa offers a variety of massages at reasonable prices — the most interesting one being the “4 Hands Thai Massage” where two therapists simultaneously work on you. There’re five branches along the major beach areas, making this an accessible option.
Cost: ~S$24.05 for one-hour traditional Thai massage
Opening Hours: 10:30AM – 12AM
Our trip to Phuket was short, but there was no shortage of fun activities and breathtaking views that will soothe the burnt-out souls. I think it’s too easy to be blinded by stereotypes and follow the crowd, but then you might miss out on gems hiding in plain sight. So take a chance and look more closely — you might just see Phuket in a whole new light.
Discounted Travel Essentials for Phuket
Phuket private car charter (two separate days): ~S$116/day (12 hours)
Flying Hanuman: ~S$67/pax
Siam Niramit: ~S$49/pax
Phuket Freshwater Fishing Park: ~S$99/pax
UpsideDown House: ~S$6/pax
Phuket Paradise ATV Adventure: ~S$42/pax
*Some activities also come with extra convenient add-ons like pick-up and meals so you won’t need to fuss over finding your way there!
We hope this three-day itinerary has inspired you to take on that break to nearby Phuket!
What are some other hidden gems of Phuket you’d recommend? Share them with us in the comments!
This post was sponsored by Klook.