Choose from 21 Fun Things to Do in Phuket
- The Chalong Big Buddha is a must-see for photographers and first-time visitors.
- Entry to the Big Buddha is free, but donations are accepted.
- Make sure your knees and shoulders are covered during your visit; avoid beachwear.
- Be prepared to remove your shoes before entering the temple at the Big Buddha.
- There’s a public restroom at the statue about halfway down the stairs.
From the emerald waters of the Andaman Sea, the jungle-shrouded limestone cliffs of Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands rise majestically, giving way to white-sand beaches and lush green jungles further inland. Longtail boats putter between the islands, surrounded by the turquoise waters and colorful marine life.
Where to Go Around the Phi Phi Islands
Uninhabited Phi Phi Leh, whose beauty was brought to attention when Maya Bay starred in the 2000 film The Beach, is the smaller of the two main islands and boasts coral reefs abundant with tropical fish, making it a popular diving and swimming spot. There are no hotels on Phi Phi Leh, and camping is prohibited, meaning it’s only accessible by day trip.
Phi Phi Don is a thriving hub of activity—by day, a coastal paradise typified by bobbing longtail boats and sparkling white sand; by night, a beating, hedonistic heart with beaches that pulsate with loud music and fire parties. Ao Ton Sai, the island’s principal dock, houses a promenade lined with shops, bars, and restaurants fragrant with the aromas of Thai food. Activities such as snorkeling, rock climbing, Thai boxing, and cooking classes keep travelers entertained throughout their stay on Thailand’s Shangri-La.
How to Visit with Viator
The unbridled popularity of the Phi Phi Islands means that travelers enjoy a wide range of visiting options. Day trips are available from Phuket, Ko Lanta, and Krabi via either a speedboat or express ferry, and typically cover Phi Phi highlights such as Maya Bay, Bamboo Island, Monkey Beach, Viking Cave, and James Bond Island in Phang Nga National Park. Island tours generally include a helpful tour guide, hotel pickup and dropoff, a buffet lunch, and free time to enjoy some of Asia’s best beaches.
Best Ways to Enjoy Marine Life Around the Phi Phi Islands
Take a Phi Phi island tour by speed boat charter or cruise boat to spend time swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear water. Island-hopping adventure tours also allow for exploring the underwater world around some of the area’s smaller islands.
- If you want to avoid Ko Phi Phi Don’s increasingly popular party scene, head to the island’s more secluded eastern coast, where white-sand beaches play host to rustic bungalows and five-star resorts away from the revelers.
- For a more immersive experience, choose to visit the Phi Phi Islands as part of a three-night sailing cruise, or on a deluxe six-island tour that also takes in Koh Khai, Koh Yao, Mosquito Island, and Bamboo Island.
Bangla Road is also a popular drinking destination. Beer bars serving ice-cold Thai brews ice cold entice passersby with aircon and open tables filled with favorite board games. But perhaps Bangla Road is best known for its evening entertainment. Stop by Rock Hard—one of the street’s oldest institutions—for live go-go dancers, center-stage pole dancing and strong drinks, or grab a ticket to the popular Simon Cabaret in Patong’s Paradise Complex. The famous ladyboys put on one of the largest transvestite shows in all of Asia.
- Boat trips and other tours visit the bay from several locations, including Phuket, Krabi, and the Phi Phi Islands.
- Boat, kayak, and snorkel tours are best suited for active travelers and families.
- Remember to wear suitable water-friendly footwear and bring plenty of sunscreen for boat or kayak excursions.
- Tours often provide a lunchtime meal and refreshments.
- Old Phuket Town is a must-see for travelers interested in colonial history and architecture.
- Don’t miss the Amulet Market for special Buddhist souvenirs.
- Wear comfortable shoes and a hat if you’re planning to explore old town on foot.
- By day and night, old town takes on a different identity, so it’s worth visiting twice.
- The Chalong Bay Rum Distillery is a must-see for rum and cocktail aficionados.
- The legal drinking age in Thailand is 20 years old.
- The distillery is wheelchair accessible.
- If you plan to enter the temple, wear clothing that covers your legs, chest, and shoulders.
- Make sure you remove your shoes before entering the temple.
- Photography is allowed inside the temple; however, mobile phones must be in silent mode.
- If you want to cool down, head to the air-conditioned exhibition hall that features life-size wax models of Buddhist figures.
- The temple is free to enter, but donations are encouraged.
Wat Phra Thong is perhaps not the most impressive of Phuket's temples, but it surely has the best story behind it. And once you know the story, the 'half image' that forms the center of the temple will have way greater resonance.
According to lore, a boy was out watering a buffalo and tied it to some metal protruding out of the ground. In quick order, both boy and buffalo died, but the boy appeared to his father in a dream and told him to investigate the object.
When the father dug around the place, he found the tip of a golden Buddha sitting buried in the ground. All attempts to excavate it over the ensuing centuries failed, and there are stories of attacks by hornets when locals tried to dig it out in the 18th century!
Eventually it was decided to leave the exposed top of the Eventually it was decided to leave the exposed top of the Buddha statue where it was - it so obviously resisted being dug up! - and build a protective layer and a temple over it. That is what you can see today.
Wat Phra Thong is in the center of Phuket - its position away from the beaches is what keeps it so quiet! It's located in Thalang, on the right side of the road as you head to the airport.
Sunbathers can stretch out on pristine beaches and relax in the sand surrounded by scenic tropical hills, while more active sorts can play beach soccer or snorkel in the crystal clear and always warm waters that wash Freedom’s shore.
The lush vegetation, turquoise water, and secluded caves of Phang Nga Bay, home to James Bond Island, make Ao Phang Nga National Park one of Thailand's top destinations. Visitors should spend a full day exploring the islands on a boat tour — opt to get around in a luxurious speed boat, a traditional junk ship, a longtail boat, or in less intrusive sea canoes and kayaks.
- Tours of the bay are generally 8 to 10 hours long, so be sure to bring sunscreen, plenty of water, and a sun hat.
- Given that Khao Phing Kan is one of south Thailand's most popular attractions, tour boats can sell out quickly. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Due to the protected nature of the national park, visiting the islands independently is nearly impossible, unless you have a permit and a personal boat. There are a number of tours to the area, however, most of which depart from the marinas in Phuket and Krabi Noi. If you're traveling down from northern Thailand, save time by taking a tour from Phang Nga town.
- Racha Island is ideal for snorkelers, divers, and those looking for a quiet island escape from Phuket.
- Most tours leave Phuket in the morning to spend the day around both Racha Yai and Racha Noi.
- Snorkelers and divers can expect to see colorful corals and many types of tropical fish.
- If snorkeling or diving is not your thing, catamaran trips are also available.
- Many tours include lunch, refreshments, and water sports gear.
- Boats and ferries visit Phang Nga Bay from Krabi, Phuket, and the Phi Phi islands.
- See multiple highlights in one day on an island-hopping boat tour.
- Many tours include lunch or other refreshments.
- Remember to wear suitable footwear if you’re planning to take part in watersports.
- Pack your sunscreen: the sun is strong here.