Phuket is Thailand’s most popular tourist hotspot which means there’s never a shortage of things to see and do. Depending on the type of vacation you’re after, you’ll be able to tailor your Phuket experience with affordable resort and spa options, cheap eats and street food, busy markets and interesting options for a boozy night out (if you know what I mean).
This time around, we wanted to see what mother nature had to offer in Phuket’s most famous lagoons and islands.
THINGS TO DO IN PHUKET:
We booked our first Island Day Trip with The Beach Sea Trips. Our “Sunrise Phi Phi Island Tour” included: Maya Bay, Viking Cave, Loh Samah Bay, Monkey Beach, Pileh Lagoon and Bamboo Island. Keep reading for more details on the highlights of each pit stop.
This postcard perfect bay located in Phi Phi Ley island is an absolute paradise of soft white sand and crystal clear waters nestled within 100 metre high limestone cliffs. Many tourists visit the bay in the afternoon via large ferry boats, so we booked the Sunrise Tour with The Beach Sea Trips to avoid the crowds as we were one of the first small boats to arrive at the bay. This gave us the perfect opportunity to soak in our surroundings and enjoy a much quieter experience of one of the most sought after Phi Phi pit stops.
The Viking Cave is a unique carving at the bottom of a tall limestone cliff where hunters collect and harvest precious birds’ nests. These nests are precious edible delicacies popular with the Chinese Culture, making it one of the most profitable local industries.
Unfortunately, the Viking Cave is no longer accessible by foot to visitors but it was an interesting pit stop by boat after a morning of exploring Maya Bay.
Loh Samah Bay
Loh Samah Bay is a small area located on the other side of Maya Bay. Our boat anchored here to allow us some snorkelling time which is best enjoyed during low tide. Although the tide was perfect, unfortunately the water current here was a little rough on the day so we were required to wear life vests but were still able to find plenty of fish, colourful clams, larger than life sized starfish and sea cucumbers without much hassle.
Monkey Beach was our next sight-seeing stop. We spotted monkeys swinging among the overgrown vines and branches across the cliffs of Monkey Beach where we hovered for a while to watch these gentle creatures in their natural habitat. It’s always a nice thing to see animals live freely with their surroundings rather than being confined for spectators. Just make sure you don’t feed them!
Pileh Lagoon along with Maya Bay were definitely the highlights of our Sunrise Tour. We were one of few boats to anchor in the 25m deep lagoon where we happily leapt off the boat for a relaxing swim in the calm waters under the warm sun. Not much more to say here than – true bliss!
Private Beach & Bamboo Island
Before our next snorkel stop at Bamboo Island, we stopped by a tiny private island located to the north of of Phi Phi was our lunch stop for the day. There was a buffet waiting for us right next to shady cabanas and hammocks by the water. It was a great way to unwind after a morning of activities and we were ready and refuelled for more fun at the beautiful flat beach of Bamboo Island.
James Bond Island
James Bond Island located in Phang Nga Bay was just as beautiful as we expected, but it was also incredibly full of tourists. It’s not hard to see why, the sheer lime cliffs hanging over the water is truly photo-worthy. But that’s about all you can do here since the water isn’t ideal for swimming or snorkelling and you’ll be spending most of your time on-land weaving through crowds. Overall, this was something you’ll probably want to see once to tick off your list but there aren’t too many things to do here.
Top Image by fkphotography
Panak Island surprisingly ended up being the highlight of our day trip. Under the supervision of local canoe guides, we explored the deep Bat Caves around the lagoons of Panak Island which involved strategically squeezing into tight cave crevices and just floating merrily with our feet in the water embracing the views of mangroves and limestone formations.
Once our canoe ride was over, be sure to tip your canoe guide at least 100THB. We weren’t sure how much to tip our guide and he didn’t seem very happy with the 50THB tip.
Image by Melissa Findley
Koh Panyi Village
This was the last stop of the day for afternoon lunch. Although we didn’t have much time to explore the quaint restaurants and shops around the village, this modest little town is known as the “Floating Muslim Village” and is marked by a beautiful golden domed mosque.
We stayed at Burasari Resort located a short walking distance away from the main tourist strip of Patong. Burasari were kind enough to offer a complimentary massage and three course dinner with our stay (and of course the standard WiFi and breakfast buffet was included).
What we didn’t realise before we arrived to Phuket was the onslaught of the intense Songkran street water fights to be unleashed on us during our first few days here… so we were lucky to be able to escape the chaos in our little Burasari sanctuary.
The Big Buddha is a spectacular 45 metre tall marble Buddha located on the highest peak of Khao Nakkerd Hill surrounded by a 360 degree view of the south of Phuket. It has become a highly respected and revered religious symbol and is the ninth tallest statue in the world.
Before you visit the Big Buddha, make sure to wear appropriate clothing to cover your shoulders and legs. If you didn’t pack appropriate clothing, you’ll be able to borrow shawls at the entrance of the Big Buddha but if you visit on a busy day you might have to wait a while.
Promthep Cape is often touted as “the best sunset spot in Phuket” and is one of the most photographed landscapes on the island. We stopped here after visiting the Big Buddha and were able to nestle ourselves into a good spot for sunset-spotting, the only problem was that it was a scorching 40 degree day! But after watching the sun set behind the panoramic view of the south of the island, it was definitely worth the sweat.
How could we end this post without mentioning the busy streets of Patong and of course, the infamous Bangla Road.
Strolling through the bustling streets of Patong is an experience, you’ll be hustled by plenty of hawkers and shop-front spruikers on everything from a massage, tailored suit, Ladyboy Cabarets and Ping Pong Shows. Which can be frustrating for some but to be honest, it wouldn’t be the true Phuket experience without it!
We thoroughly enjoyed trying all the ice cream scrolls and various flavours of crepes from the street hawkers. Every night we loaded up on the mango sticky rice and we highly recommend the mango sticky rice from Dang Restaurant.