Just off the south west coast of Thailand lies Phuket, Asia’s most popular beach destination.
Phuket has beaches in abundance, allowing visitors to spend one day amongst the hustle and bustle of Patong before discovering a seductively secluded bay the next.Despite having built up somewhat of a negative reputation over the past couple of decades, it is unfair to merely associate the island with its lively tourist traps, as outside of the big resorts there’s a whole haven of unforgettable landscape just waiting to be explored.
Just outside of the resort sits one of the island’s best kept secrets – Paradise Beach. As the name suggests, this small, sheltered bay is an area of natural beauty, book-ended by rocky headland. The main beach can get quite busy, but a short trip across a path from the west side of the beach leads to a smaller bay.
Away from the popular resorts of the west, the eastern coast remains relatively untouched by tourism, and the two sides of the island provide a stark contrast to one another. In the east mangrove forests line the shore and rubber plantations cover much of the hills.
Phuket Town is situated in the east, and within the city is the historically rich Old Town. Once an important tin mining area, the Old Town is brimming with ornate and well-maintained shophouses and mansions. These stunning buildings were designed in grandiose Sino Portuguese style, displaying a strong European influence. A walk through the area’s mansions, once owned by rich tin barons, is fascinatingly eerie, as some of the mansions have been left deserted.
The array of temples across Phuket are definitely worth a visit, and a good starting point is Wat Chalong, the largest shrine on the island. Consisting of many buildings, the complex houses statues of monks and even what is believed to be a fragment of bone from Buddha himself.
14 hours 45 minutes
Best Time To Go
December to March
Phuket has a tropical monsoonal climate, with the rainy season beginning earlier than in northern Thailand, starting in May but generally ending late October. Apart from the period between mid-September and mid-October when the rain falls steadily, most monsoon days are rain-free save for showers in the afternoon. The best months to visit Phuket are from November to February, when temperatures are comfortable, skies are clear and blue and humidity is low. This is the high season, with the majority of visitors coming over for the Christmas and New Year period.