Stunning Sceneries, Must-try Restaurants & Getting Around Phuket
July 2, 2019
by Preethika Ruth
If you’re planning a trip to Phuket, I’m guessing you’re not coming for a bustling town or city lights. Phuket’s beaches are some of the most well-known in the world, with islands like James Bond and Phi Phi known for multiple movie shoots and boat tours. This guide will take a detour from the usual beaches and islands that tourists often visit, and instead offer an insider’s guide into the beautiful views of Phuket, some must-try restaurants for an insight into local culture as well as the best ways to get around!
Nai Yang Beach
Situated on the northwest coast of the island, you’ve got Nai Yang beach nestled in between Sirinat National Park. It houses spectacular sunsets as well as a number of affordable restaurants that offer local and international cuisine. For backpackers travelling on a budget, you can also buy drinks at the nearby Family Mart or 7Eleven and sit by the beach to enjoy your beverage. As for activities, you can rent kayaks or paddleboards, though it is best to avoid such activities during monsoon season. To catch the sunset, I’d recommend heading to either of these beaches at around 6.15pm.
Banana Beach, often referred to as the secret beach, is tucked away behind winding roads and clusters of trees. Getting down to the secluded beach requires taking a path (don’t worry, it’s pretty safe!). At the bottom, you will find a small cafe that sells fresh fruit smoothies as well as Thai dishes like pad thai and fried rice, though they’re slightly more pricey here than other restaurants. The beach itself has the perfect blend of rock formations, luscious forest and beautiful beach – a perfect escape to relax and recollect. Try to avoid going there on a weekend as it tends to be crowded – at other times it’s relatively empty!
Located in the south of the island nearer to Patong and other more touristy areas, Promthep Cape allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of party life to enjoy the beauty of nature. While you may find a number of tourists there trying to take pictures, the further you walk down the cape the less crowded it becomes. Entrance is free, and you’ll be treated to an absolutely remarkable view. Come a little earlier to enjoy the scenery and find a place to watch the sunset. After, you can grab some ice cream or local delicacies at the nearby shops.
Phen’s is located along Nai Yang beach and offers a stunning view of the sunset as you enjoy your meal. It’s recommended for dinner and offers a wide variety of Thai food, from appetisers to mains and desserts. You can either order individual dishes here or try your hand at more than one dish by ordering a few and sharing with friends. The food is also very affordable for the quality of the food and the views you get!
Location: Nai Yang Beach
Opening Times: 9am-11pm
Laem Sai Pier Seafood
Laem Sai Pier is in a remote part of the northeast coast of the island. The surroundings are serene, and the food is delightful. Savour the fresh seafood that you can literally see alive minutes before its cook (just to show you how fresh it is! But don’t worry, you don’t need to look at it if you don’t want to). Some of their best dishes include the seagrass salad, chicken fried rice and steamed fish. Prices are as expected for a seafood restaurant, so don’t expect the low prices of most local restaurants, but it’s definitely not considered expensive the food is unquestionably worth the price.
Location: 330 ถนนนํ้าตกโตนใทร Tambon Thep Krasatti, Amphoe Thalang
Opening Times: 10.30am-8.30pm
Tunk Ka Cafe
Tunk Ka Cafe, situated on the top of a hill, renders a spectacular view of Phuket, especially at sunset. While it is quite a drive up, the view is worth it and the ambience is very fitting of its surroundings. They have fantastic Thai food, prices higher than usual to compensate for the unique location, as well as fresh fruit smoothies and alcoholic beverages served here. This place is perfect for a celebratory dinner or just a nice night out with friends.
Location: Khosimbi Road Ratsada Rd, Mueang Phuket District
Opening Times: 11am-10pm
Chiang Mai restaurant, named after the northern Thai region, is run by a lady from there and serves food specific to that region. If you’re heading there for a meal, you should definitely try the Khao Soi (which has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options), as well as their fried bamboo and mushroom appetisers which are to die for! Seal your meal with a signature mango and sticky rice, served with riceberry instead of the normal white rice. This place has been hailed by many as the best northern Thai food in southern Thailand, and personally, I’ve found it even better than the “authentic” food I’ve had in Chiang Mai.
Location: 159/29 Srisoonthorn Rd, Srisoonthorn Thalang District
Opening Times: 11am-9pm (closed on Sundays)
Getting around the island
Grab, a ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia is commonly used on the island among tourists. A fantastic option for those looking for an easy way to get around the island without having to figure out driving on the other side of the road, or simply if you want someone else to take the wheel! All you need to do is download the app onto your mobile device, and have access to WiFi in order to order a Grab, with options ranging from a 4 seater car to a van for groups of 10!
Grab would definitely be recommended if your holiday is steered more towards relaxing in one or a few locations, rather than moving around the island. If you do plan on moving around the island a bit more, it may be an idea to check out the other options. It is also important to note that Grab prices are considerably higher in Phuket than other regions in Southeast Asia, with 15-minute rides costing about 12USD. But if you have this money to spend and what Grab has to offer ticks your boxes, this is a great option for you!
Renting a car
Right after renting a motorbike, this is probably one of the more affordable options for getting around the island. Renting a car allows you to travel around at your own pace without having to wait for taxis to show up. This option is also somewhat cheaper than Grab and other taxi services, though international drivers should proceed with caution as Phuket roads aren’t exactly the safest. Motorcyclists and drivers alike have a tendency to make abrupt manoeuvres on the road, so one should feel confident in driving in such conditions should you wish to opt for this. If you do choose to go with this option, there are a number of car rental services on the island, available both at and near the airport. Most car rental companies that are not situated at the airport also offer a shuttle service to the airport once you have dropped the car off.
Renting a motorbike
Arguably the most affordable option available, renting a motorbike allows you to get through Phuket traffic in the fastest way possible. This option is recommended for solo travellers and couples, as it lets you get around like most locals as well as enjoy the fresh air and beautiful sceneries Phuket has to offer. Don’t forget to wear a helmet though, as one of the only downsides to renting a motorbike is the safety factor. Thailand is ranked 2nd in the world for road accidents, with 73% of those involving motorcyclists. If you feel confident riding a motorbike and take the necessary precautions, this would be the most affordable and convenient option for you!