When you’re planning a trip to Phuket the first thing you’ll read about is Patong Beach, Bangla Road, Big Buddha or a day trip to Koh Phi Phi. After my 2 months stay in Phuket I quickly realised there is a lot more to this island then what you read in your average travel blog. So there are my ‘must see’s’ in Phuket!
Nai Yang Beach
Nai Yang Beach is found not far from the airport in Northern Phuket. It is a beautiful quiet beach away from the tourist-filled beaches like Patong and Kata. You will still find plenty of shops, restaurants and even somewhere to get an open-air massage. On a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday you will find a local market set up on the grassy area of the beach full of delicious and cheap food! This is one of the most laid-back places I visited in Phuket, great for relaxing, taking a swim in the sea and enjoy the quietness.
Old Town Night Market
Phuket Old Town is an amazing place filled with rows of old-style buildings in a rainbow of colours and fantastic street art. On a Sunday night, the locals set up the night market and this really is one I would not miss! This is the perfect place to buy some souvenirs for your friends and family back home while eating some delicious street food. If you’re an animal lover you can even stop by the cat cafe just 2 minutes away from where the market is held. This is a really easy place to get to any taxi or tuk-tuk driver will drop you off right where the market begins and there are always taxis waiting to take you back home once you have finished shopping.
Bang Pae Waterfall
Bang Pae National Park is located on the North East side of the island. There is a 200 Baht entrance fee but worth it for a relaxing day in the forest. It’s a short hike up to the waterfall where you can take a dip in the river. On the way up you will pass the locals having picnics by the riverside while the children play in the water. Whilst there you can also visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, which is a charity organisation that works to recuse gibbons from the illegal pet trade and tourist traps. They release as many of these as they can back into the wild after their rehabilitation, however, some of those that cannot be released can be viewed from their education centre. If you arrive between 9 am – 4 pm there will be volunteers there to explain more about the project and the gibbons you can see. This is the only forest in Phuket where wild gibbons still live so make sure you keep your open for any swinging in the trees above you.
Nai Thon Beach
Nai Thon Beach is located in North Phuket, this is a beach filled with locals! During the day you will see the Thai men fishing from the rocks and in the evening it is the perfect setting to watch the sunset. If you want the best view, join the locals and climb up the rocks on the side of the beach to see it from the top of the hill. The locals are very friendly people and you still find great Thai restaurants on the stretch on road opposite. This is another beach where you can get away from the crowds and enjoy the paradise you are in.
Koh Yao Yai
Koh Yao Yai is an untouched paradise! This island is just a short 40-minute boat ride away from Phuket, you can catch the boat from Bang Rong Pier for 300 Baht. This island is still filled with its natural beauty with only a few local villages dotted around and even fewer resorts. The resorts for tourists on the island are cheap but great quality so I really recommend staying the night to really get the full benefit of your journey. The easiest way to get around the island is to hire a scooter or tuk-tuk for the day, this way you can see all the beauty this island has to offer from pristine white sands to buffalos taking baths in the rice paddies. This is the place to visit if you want to see what Thailand was like before tourist.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is the first ethical elephant sanctuary on the island. You have to book online with them on either a morning or afternoon session for 3000 Baht. When you first arrive you are booked in at their office and then transported to the reserve nearby. Breakfast or snacks are provided while you wait for the other members of the group to arrive, you can also take a look at their gift shop during this time. Once everyone has arrived the staff will give a presentation about the charity, what they do and why they are here. After this you will be taken over to a couple of the elephants that are waiting for their food, you will be given a few pieces of fruit or veg to hand feed to them while photos can be taken. A member of staff will then walk around the reserve with small groups to each of the elephants, they will tell you where they came from, how old they are and answer any questions you may have. One of the great things to see here is if an elephant didn’t want to be where the tourists could see them that was not a problem they would just move onto the next. There are many sanctuaries in Thailand that allow visitors to bathe with the elephants however this is not one of them, this is because when people are in the water with the elephants it actually stops them from being able to display their natural behaviours such as rolling and splashing in the water. So here they allow you to watch and take pictures as the elephants bathe naturally. You will be fed an amazing vegan meal with stunning views of the reserve before you head back to the office.