ALL-THINGS PHUKET: COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE & ITINERARY

If you have plans to explore Thailand's incredible west coast, chances are you will visit Phuket - whether it be for a few hours or a few days. If time permits, it's worth spending some time on the country's largest island. There are loads of luxury resort options to choose from, and plenty of things to do including beach days, palm swings, night markets, temples and even day trips to offshore islands. Below is my complete guide to Phuket to help you plan your trip. It includes the best villas, beaches, sights, restaurants, tour operators, a four-day itinerary and more. Big thanks to Thailand Insider for hosting my trip!


Up, up and away over beautiful Nui Beach.


HOW LONG IN PHUKET

Three to Four Days. Phuket might be the largest island in Thailand, but three to four days is all you need to see the best beaches, night markets and tourist sights. There are far more epic destinations in this part of Thailand, so I would save those itinerary days for Phuket's more epic neighbors including Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Khao Sok, Koh Lanta and the Similian islands.


Woke up at 4 AM to make it to Samet Nangshe at sunrise. Outfit details: Fortunate One Store dress, linked here.


The viewpoint is a 30-minute to 90-minute drive from Phuket, depending where you are staying on Phuket.


It's also possible to camp out here overnight, and watch the sun come up from your tent. Outfit details: Fortunate One Store dress, linked here.


WHEN TO VISIT PHUKET

Like most of Thailand, high season spans November through February when temperatures are comfortable and rainfall is minimal. Hotel prices and tourist crowds peak during these four months, but it's the closest guarantee you'll get for good weather. The country's monsoon season coincides with low season - June through October. It's statistically the rainiest time of the year, although rainfall could last anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 hours. The weather this time of the year is really unpredictable, but hotel prices will be at their lowest with far fewer crowds. And finally, the hottest months of the year are March through June when temperatures average an unbearable 95 degrees.


Couldn't think of a more perfect start to the morning than a floating breakfast in my private infinity pool at V Villas Phuket.


PLACES TO VISIT IN PHUKET

BIG BUDDHA

A massive Buddha sits perched on Nakkerd Hill, completely covered in blinding white marble. It's an easy climb up the the 90+ white steps to reach the base of the Buddha. Keep an eye out for monkeys here - they like to grab food from visitors.


CHILLVA MARKET

A bustling night market where you'll find little stalls selling all the street food favorites including fresh juice, roti, mango sticky rice, sushi, noodles, boba, stir fry and more. Hours are 5 PM to 11 PM, daily (closed Sundays).


FREEDOM BEACH

A tropical oasis protected by lush green jungle, swaying palms and granite rocks. Freedom Beach sits on the west coast of the island, home to blistering white sand and sparkling turquoise water. Tricky access makes this beach a bit more off-the-beaten-path - it's a 20-minute steep hike down, or pay for long tail boat hire from neighboring beach.


KHAO PHING KAN

Known to many as James Bond Island, Khao Phing Kan is a stop included on many boat tour itineraries. Alternatively, you can skip the tour groups and head to Hinrom Village, in Phang Nga. From here, hire a private long tail boat (runs approximately 3,000 baht) to take you to the stunning Khao Phing Kan, and the surrounding limestone karsts.


KOH HEY

Koh Hey is located just a few kilometers off of Phuket, and can easily be visited by long tail boat. Also known as Coral Island, this little oasis boasts a stunning stretch of white sand backed by lush tropical jungle.


NAI THON BEACH

Follow the pathway of narrow wooden steps down through the jungle, and you'll find yourself at the quiet oasis that is Nai Thon Beach.


NUI BEACH

Stunning boulder encrusted bay that is home to a Bali-style beach swing that hangs from two soaring palm trees. The road to Nui Beach is incredibly rough - trucks shuttle visitors down to the beach for a small fee. The staged photo opps might seem a bit touristy, but the beach itself is beautiful.


OLD TOWN PHUKET

Old Town is the historical center of the island, made up of colonial facades and colorful shopfronts. Soi Romanee is particularly charming, a narrow boulevard of picturesque boutiques and cafes - one of the most photographed streets on Phuket.


SAMET NANGSHE

For an iconic Thailand viewpoint, head to Samet Nangshe, located just north of Phuket in Phang Nga. It's a dreamy spot to soak in views of limestone islands rising up out of the water, especially at sunrise.


SOI DOG FOUNDATION

Animal rescue created in 2003 to help the street dogs and cats that roam the island. Soi Dog spays, neuters and vaccinates thousands of animals a year throughout Thailand, and fights the Asian dog meat trade across Southeast Asia.


SUNDAY WALKING STREET

Popular Sunday night market located along Thalang Road in Old Town. Frequented by both locals and tourists, Lard Yai Market offers street food, crafts, souvenirs, clothing and more. Hours are 4 PM to 10 PM, every Sunday.


WAT CHALONG

Beautiful temple complex surrounds a stunning red, white and gold Chedi that dates back to the 19th century. This is the largest (and most visited!) temple on Phuket.


What are your favorite foods in Thailand?


Pad thai.


Drink options at the Chillva Night Market.


DRINKING & EATING IN PHUKET

AKOYA STAR LOUNGE

Brand-new rooftop bar at V Villas Phuket that hosts a spectacular setting for drinks and bites at sunset. All the vibes overlooking Ao Yon Bay with roomy loungers, water features and delicious cocktails.

CHILLVA MARKET

A bustling night market where you'll find little stalls selling all the street food favorites including fresh juice, roti, mango sticky rice, sushi, noodles, boba, stir fry and more. Hours are 5 PM to 11 PM, daily (closed Sundays).


DAY & NIGHT

Newish restaurant located next to Raya - very inviting space with lots of windows, high ceilings, brick walls, eclectic floor tiles and pops of turquoise around every turn. Day & Night serves brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks.


MAA DO BUA

Serene open air restaurant that serves both traditional and contemporary Thai cuisine including curries, noodles, pineapple fried rice, grilled seafood and more. Maa Do Bua is built over a pond filled with hundreds of floating lotus - guests can pay extra to take a drone photo in the middle of the water surrounded by the giant lily pads.


PUNTE FOOD COURT

Adorable food court tucked away on a quiet street in Old Town. More than a dozen stalls occupy an open-air space, serving up dim sum, noodles, Thai iced tea and more.


RAYA

Raya is a must-visit in Phuket for homestyle southern Thai cooking. Tables are always full at this charming restaurant that sits in a 130-year old house. Popular dishes include crab meat in coconut milk, crispy shrimp in chili sauce, fish with yellow curry and spicy seafood soup.


SRI PANWA'S BABA'S NEST

Baba's Nest is one of the coolest rooftop bars on the Island. Sunset reservations recommended.


SUNDAY WALKING STREET

Popular Sunday night market located along Thalang Road in Old Town. Frequented by both locals and tourists, Lard Yai Market offers street food, crafts, souvenirs, clothing and more. Hours are 4 PM to 10 PM, every Sunday.


THREE MONKEYS

Touristy restaurant built into the treetops with Tulum-inspired Boho seating including bird's nests and jungle pods, as well as a zipline that cuts right through the restaurant.


TORRY'S ICE CREAM

Popular dessert cafe located in the heart of Old Town, on colorful Soi Rommani. The menu is filled with sweet tooth cravings including Phuket style crepes, banana butterscotch croissant, s'mores, ice cream sundaes, sticky rice & coconut milk ice cream, skillet cookies and more.


No hotels, no restaurants and no facilities at Freedom Beach - only sand and sea. It's the perfect beach escape. Outfit details: Loves & Friends one-piece, linked here.


Freedom Beach is my favorite beach on Phuket. It's a bit tricker to access, so it feels a bit more off-the-beaten-path. You can get here via a semi-steep 20-minute hike, or a long tail boat ride from a neighboring beach.


STAYING IN PHUKET

V VILLAS PHUKET

V Villas Phuket is a brand-new boutique property that offers guests a five-star villa experience in southern Phuket. Each individual villa is surrounded by high walls for privacy with living rooms and bedrooms that open up to a private infinity pool. The villas themselves are stunning - high ceilings, ultra modern, massive walk-in closets, bidets, living spaces, bedrooms, sundecks and ridiculously comfortable beds. (I've stayed here)


Wheeee!


GETTING AROUND PHUKET

The easiest modes of transport within Phuket are scooter rental, tuk tuk and private taxi. If you're interested in hiring a private guide, or having a tour company plan out your trip, I highly recommend Trikaya Tours.


We hired a long tail boat from Hinrom Village to visit Khao Phing Kan. It was 3,000 baht for the boat, and another 300 baht for the entrance fee on the island.


Khao Phing Kan, made famous in the James Bond flick The Man with the Golden Gun.


30-baht fried chicken on the long tail boat ride through the islands, breakfast of champions.


GETTING TO PHUKET

Phuket is home to an international airport that connects the region to a handful of international destinations including Doha, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Singapore. Most tourists visit Phuket via Bangkok, a quick (and cheap!) 80-minute flight. Phuket is also accessible by ferry with routes connecting it to Krabi, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Jum.


Wat Chalong dates back to the 19th century.


This grand Buddha sits perched on Nakkerd Hill, watching over Phuket Outfit details: Free People dress, linked here.


SANDBOX PROGRAM, TEST & GO

For the most up to date information on both the Sandbox and Test & Go programs, visit Thailand Insider. I entered the country via Phuket's Sandbox Program, which required three COVID tests (pre departure, on arrival, and on Day 5), a COVID vaccine, health insurance and a pre-paid seven-night hotel stay on Phuket. If it's available, Test & Go is a much more flexible travel option.


The colorful shopfront of Soi Rommani, in Old Town Phuket. Outfit details: Free People two-piece set, linked here.


At Ma Doo Bua Cafe, you can pay to have your photo taken by drone in this lotus lake. Outfit details: Free People jumpsuit, linked here.


PHUKET 4-DAY ITINERARY


DAY 1

Freedom Beach

Punte Food Court Lunch

Dessert at Torry's Ice Cream

Explore Old Town Phuket

Old Town Sunday Walking Street / Night Market

(Sundays only)

Akoya Star Lounge Sunset


DAY 2

Samet Nangshe at Sunrise

Boat Ride to Khao Pinh Khan

(boat hire in Hinrom Village)

Soi Dog Foundation

Ma Doo Bua Cafe Lunch

Nai Thon Beach

Chillva Night Market Dinner


DAY 3

Nui Beach Swing

Big Buddha

Wat Chalong

Raya Dinner


DAY 4

Koh Key Daytrip

Day & Night Dinner


Farewell, Phuket!