Whether you’ve had the joy of visiting or have yet to experience the true wonder that is Phuket (or even if you call it home), admiring the sights and bites that it has to offer never gets old. From downright gorgeous beaches to an array of great eats that sometimes overlook those very views, Phuket might just be the closest thing to paradise on Earth. Here are 12 things to see and eat to introduce you to this Thai wonder.
Pro tip: the best months for travel are from November to April (the Thai New Year’s festival Songkran will be from April 12-14 in Phuket in 2017), so now’s the perfect time to start planning a Spring getaway!
Where to Eat
If you’re looking for a romantic evening or just want some quality international fare, Acqua delivers fine Italian dining courtesy of a reputable culinary team and attentive servers. Both locals and tourists flock to try chef Alessandro Frau’s fresh and delicious creations like the divine Scallops Carpaccio with Black Truffle and the Wagyu Beef Rib Eye. Expect only the freshest seafood and ingredients, and a polished interior to match.
Dishes We Love: Scallops Carpaccio with Black Truffle, Mediterranean Sea Bass, Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib Eye, Seared Foie Gras with Pickled Mushrooms
Mosaic is a visually stunning all-day dining restaurant located within the Phuket Panwa Beachfront Resort that focuses on Thai and pan-Asian cuisine. The sprawling space offers ample opportunities to gaze upon the gently rolling Andaman Sea, with stellar views that match the scrumptious cuisine. Enjoy a hearty dinner feast with some comforting favourites like the Massaman Curry with Beef Shank and refreshing Papaya Salad, or indulge in their popular Sunday brunch for a beachside breakfast of champions.
Dishes We Love: Tom Yam Goong, Tom Kha Gai, Phad Thai Goong, Gaeng Massaman Neau
This no-frills grill bar has a mission that speaks directly to our hearts: ‘serve delicious, affordable food that guests will want to return to week after week.’ It’s quite clear the culinary team took this credo to heart ‘cause EAT serves up some of the most wholesome, simple, and delicious grilled fare in Phuket (they’re famous for their steak and burgers). Add in their fantastic service, generous portions, and a simple but well-executed cocktail menu, and we’re ready to book our tables.
Dishes We Love: Mixed Grill Platter, Avocado with Crab Fish, Wagyu Beef Tartare
Click here for more info on EAT.
For one of the best al fresco experiences in Phuket look no further than Sizzle. It’s tucked away in a remote area of Patong Beach, so you’ll find yourself transported to a gorgeous getaway perfect for a romantic or intimate dinner. Regularly rated among the best restaurants in Phuket, Sizzle focuses on BBQ, fresh seafood, and grilled fare like their Giant Twin Tiger Prawns. The cherry on top is the impeccable ambience and service that comes with its location inside the MGallery Sofitel. They are open 18:00 – 22:30 daily, so be sure to reserve an earlier seat for to die for views of the sunset.
Dishes We Love: Tom Yum Lobster Bisque, Cast Iron Cajun Rib-Eye Steak, Grilled Giant Twin Tiger Prawns
Click here for more info on Sizzle Rooftop Restaurant.
For a chic night out Siam Supper Club is the trendy destination bar and grill you’ll want to hit up. Expect a modern atmosphere complete with an increasingly popular long bar and smooth lounge-style music playing in the background (dine on Friday nights and to catch their live Jazz performances!). They describe the cuisine as ‘west coast’ style, so expect pizzas, fish, pastas, and grilled meat that impresses both locals and tourists alike.
Dishes We Love: Baked French Onion Soup, Barbequed Tasmanian Salmon, Truffle Honey Roast Chicken, Angus Beef Burger
Click here for more info on Siam Supper Club.
Kata Rocks Oceanfront Restaurant
For seasonal Mediterranean-centric cuisine with unforgettable views of the Andaman Sea – seriously, it’s right on the edge of the ocean – we suggest Kata Rocks for the perfect ending to a Phuket getaway. Serving up sophisticated all-day dining fare conjured up by executive chef Laia Pons of Spain (who has worked at some of the finest establishments from Barcelona to Beijing), you can expect some of the best food on the island. Whether it’s an uber-romantic dinner for two or a relaxing Sunday brunch complete with their famous Tom Yum Eggs Benedict, this is quality dining.
Dishes We Love: Tom Yum Eggs Benedict, Butter Poached Lobster, Pan Seared Scallops and Calamari, Wagyu Beef Tenderloin Rosinni
Attractions – From Beaches to Buddhas and James Bond
The Big Buddha
Sitting boldly on the peak of Mount Nagakerd, The Big Buddha was only recently completed in 2015, but quickly became a must-visit attraction for locals and tourists alike. This 45 meter tall statue is nestled atop one of the highest points on the island, and is considered a religious site that boasts magnificent views of Chalong Bay, Phuket Town, and Kata Beach. The Big Buddha was constructed with reinforced concrete, then covered in 135 tons of Burmese white marble for a shimmering finish.
Opening hours are 08:00 – 19:30 (get there before 18:30 for the sunset), and it’s free to visit, though they encourage donations. Women must also wear pants or long skirts that go below the knee, and in general it’s best to be on the cautious side when it comes to dressing for a religious site like this.
If you’re looking for a more debauched and wild experience, Bangla road offers up everything you can and probably can’t imagine. A typical unassuming street by day, Bangla shuts down to traffic at night and shows its true colors with 400 metres of bars, street entertainment, pulsing music, and ping pong shows (Google that at your own risk). Although it can be a bit overwhelming for some, the atmosphere is largely positive and vibrant, and you’ll be tempted to spend more than just one night taking in the sounds and sights of this sinfully fun stretch of culture.
Nai Harn Beach
One of the most pristine beaches you can find in Phuket, Nai Harm is an appealing alternative to a mainstream option like Patong Beach – which is more suitable for water sports and known for easy access to party areas. Nai Harn is comparatively quaint and a bit more difficult to get to, but like most worthy attractions, its relative inaccessibility remains the key to its beauty. Think warm clear water, airbrushed blue skies, and sand so soft you’ll never want to leave. I’s truly a contender for the best beach in Phuket; in addition to the lush and relatively untouched environment, it boasts easy access to restaurants, vendors, and souvenir shops housed nearby under large shady trees. Ah, paradise!
Wat Chalong (Chalong Temple) is one of the largest, most visited, and oldest temples in Phuket. Along with the exquisite architecture (the highlight being the gorgeous Grand Pagoda housing a small piece of bone from the ‘Lord Buddha’) the temple grounds themselves are downright stunning. It’s certainly not the quietest temple in Phuket, but undoubtedly one of the most significant: locals still come to pay their respects to its two founding monks who took care of villagers and helped make peace during a rebellion in the 1870s. This is a Buddhist temple, so be sure to dress appropriately!
Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island)
You might have seen pictures of friends on holiday boating around the beautiful limestone formations at Phang Nga Bay, or perhaps just glimpsed the singular needle-like rock in the famous James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. This is a day trip (best utilized by booking a tour – you’ll probably have to travel by speedboat about an hour out from Phuket) that all visitors should add to the top of their lists. The bay is filled with dozens of breathtaking islands, lagoons, coral reefs, mangroves, wetlands, and caves to explore, which alone makes us want to buy our plane tickets to Phuket right now.
Trekking around tropical jungles – boasting stunning views of both mountains and seascapes – atop these awesome animals is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ll find that there are many options for elephant trekking in Phuket, but our Thai colleagues recommended Kok Chang Elephant Camp for the best value, views, and overall experience for visitors. Choose from different routes varying from 20 minutes to 1 hour, and rest assured the guides are expertly trained to handle the elephants (this particular camp has been running since 1993). The hours are 08:30 – 17:30 – be sure to book a tour in advance!