Phuket is a beautiful place to holiday with friends, family or your partner. Sometimes its easier to arrange a tour, rather than risking your life on a scooter or in a tuk tuk (haha!). You can either go with a large tour group or look for a small private tour, we will provide a few suggestions below. This guide will provide you with an Itinerary Suggestion for a Phuket Island Tour if you want to take a private tour, however most organized tours/day trips do generally go to these places as well.
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Personally I recommendation is a company called Phuket Let’s go – “No petty shop stops to slow you down! Only must-see attractions that are culturally and historically significant to Phuket island. Lead by fun & informative English-speaking tour guide. Local rum tasting at the end of the tour is included.” We didn’t do the below tour with Phuket lets go however we took a different tour with them and would recommend their services.
We decided to get a local private driver to show us around, he took us on a full day tour using our below Phuket island tour itinerary.
Table of Contents
First stop was Rawai Beach/pier, It was high tide and there were lots of Long tail boats in the water along very long pier, waiting for someone to come along to hire them … maybe for a private island tour (bookmarked for another day). Down the road next to the pier, was a small set of markets. These markets mainly sold sea shells and other little bits and pieces such as souvenirs.
We wandered through the first shop and saw a HUGE pile of shells that the shop must have stock piled and then cleaned and sold to locals and tourists. It was a pity we couldn’t buy anything (due to custom regulations) as they had some really beautiful. They sold little things from necklaces and other bits of jewellery to lamp covers and large ornaments.
A short way down the road from Rawai beach and Promthep Cape is another view point called Windmill viewpoint. From here you are able to see similar views as Promthep cape, you can also see Nai Harn beach which is a really nice swimming beach. It’s also known as “Promthep Alternative Energy Station” because it has several very tall wind turbines that look like big windmills. Not only is the view from here really beautiful but locals come here to fly kites or remote controlled planes and occasionally you see hang gliders. This spot might be a better alternative to Promthep Cape at sunset, as it may be less crowded, however it’s also a smaller area so it might feel just as crowded.
Karon Viewpoint/Kata Viewpoint
Karon viewpoint also known as the Kata Viewpoint or “Three Beaches Hill” . Here you are able to see Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches. It is one of the busiest viewpoints in Phuket. As we were leaving we were approached by a Thai local with an eagle. We haven’t seen an eagle that close before and like most tourists, we were fascinated, It was interesting to see a bird like this up so close. However don’t be silly like we were, make sure you do your research about animal tourism in Thailand, I would not encourage (or recommend) that anyone takes photos with animals…I want to warn people while it’s fun when you’re on holiday, think of the animals and don’t be as silly.
Phuket’s famous Big Buddha is 45 metres high and has a base of 25 metres across, it can be seen from far. It’s one of the most important (and famous) landmarks in Phuket. At the time we visited it was still being built and you could buy a small tile and donate money towards its construction. The Big Buddha is built on donations, hence why it has taken so long to build. The whole body of the Big Buddha is made out of white Burmese marble. From the base of the Big Buddha you have an almost 360 degree views over Phuket, including Phuket town, beaches and coves.
When visiting the Big Buddha, please avoid wearing beachwear, short skirts and t-shirts with offensive texts, to be respectful, however sarongs are provided at the entry to cover up and they are free of charge, you just need to return it at the end of your trip to the Big Buddah. There were several types of Buddha statues within this complex, some gold/painted gold and some a dark clay statues. We learnt a little more about Buddism in our trip to Bangkok, more specifically our trip to Ayutthaya just outside of Bangkok.
On the way down the hill after leaving the Big Buddha we stopped at an elephant camp to feed banana’s to a baby Elephant. I love love love Elephants but especially baby ones ,they give little kisses with their trunks. I encourage people not to follow in our foot steps, we were a little uneducated on our first trip to Thailand. I’ve kept this in our post to warn people to stay away, rather than encourage you to partake in these types of activities.
Wat Chalong and Phuket Temples
The Chalong Wats (temples) aka Buddhist temples are open to locals and tourists, there are about 29 Buddhist temples around Phuket, some of the temples are not open to tourists, so don’t go wandering into a random temple. The temples are decorated beautifully, mostly covered with bits of glass or mirrors making them shine and shimmer in the sun. You are able to go in and have a look in the temples but make sure to wear appropriate clothing, no shorts or clothing that shows too much skin (especially for the girls, no short shorts, singlet tops, bikini tops etc). It’s suggested to wear long pants (cotton pants generally breathe better) and make sure to take your shoes off when entering – again you can borrow a sarong at the entry of temples.
There are small markets/stall around the temples where you can buy touristy souvenirs, food, drinks even whole coconuts. Inside one of the main temples are a heap of statues of Buddha and hundreds of lotus flowers. It’s beautiful how the Thai people take such pride in their culture and religion, the temples are a work of art! You can also see the Big Buddha from one of the larger temples (the top floor).
Another temple I’d recommend if you have time is Wat Khao Rang it’s significantly quieter than other temples in Phuket.
Monkey Hill in Phuket Town
Monkey Hill aka Toe Sae Hill is where wesaw quite a lot of monkeys along the side of the road – personally I was a little scared of being bitten by one. However we did get out the car and took a quick photos and then got the heck out of there! Apparently there are usually about 400 Macaques on any given day and just as many stray dogs!! Don’t feed the monkeys or the dogs as they can become aggressive.
Depending who you speak you, some people might say that the cashew factory is a scam like most “shopping” places on tours in Phuket however we choose to go there to check it out and bring back some goodies. It’s fairly small and a bit of a novelty but it was a delicious side trip.
You can learn about where cashew nuts come from and watch the staff extract the cashews and then wander around the shop and try the cashew testers. It’s not really a factory, more of a shop. Note: you don’t have to buy anything.
Old Phuket Town
Old Phuket town is really interesting, most of the houses are based on old colonial style houses. Our guide told us that the housing in this area was based on European influences. On Sunday evenings there’s street markets where it’s possible to taste local foods. Generally this part of Phuket is fairly quiet and not too busy with locals or tourists. However the shops are very expensive compared to other areas in Phuket. The colourful buildings are worth a trip – we just drove through.
If you need a quick dip to cool off from a long day of driving around Phuket then make a stop at Kathu Waterfall. There are a few hundred steps to get to the waterfall but it’s worth it trust me. Keep an eye out for the (hand size) “orb” spiders on the way up…. not something you want to walk into!
Promthep Cape (Best spot for Sunset)
The very popular Promthep Cape viewpoint, is the perfect spot in Phuket to watch the sun set. You have to walk up a few small flights of stairs to get to the actual viewpoint. The scenery from Promthep Cape is lovely! As it’s such a popular spot, it’s usually very crowded so maybe going when we did, during the day would have been a better choice, however it was worth sticking around for sunset! Just make sure to get there maybe an hour to 45 minutes before sunset to get a good spot.
The price for our Phuket Island Tour was 2,000 Baht, for 2 people (please keep in mind his pricing may change depending who you go through). This is a great value for a full day of driving around, taking into consideration it costs about 600 Baht to get from Rawai to Patong via tuk tuk, which if converted into AUD it’s only about $60. This is approx. the cost to get from Sydney CBD to the airport in peak hour traffic.
Here are a few easy and fun organized tours we would recommend:
- The Real Phuket Sightseeing Tour with Cocktail
- Small Group Phuket Sightseeing and City Tour
- Private Tour: 4-Hour Phuket City Tour
- Private Phuket Explorer Tour and Sightseeing Tour with Lunch
- Private Phuket City Sightseeing Tour (Custom Half Day and Full Day)
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