Phuket Guide – All You Need for the Perfect Beach Holiday
Best Time to Travel to Phuket
The rainy season in Thailand starts in June and lasts until the end of September/beginning of October. Therefore, I recommend going between November until March. However, bear in mind that there are two peak travel times during that period – one is around Christmas and New Year and the second one is around Chinese New Year (which is usually at the end of January or beginning of/mid-February. I would avoid those two peak times because it can be quite crowded.
I have been to Phuket several times, twice during the rainy season. It is OK, usually there is one storm or period of heavier rain a day and then the weather is nice again. However, it can also last for days and the streets might get flooded as well. Therefore, be very careful if you book during the monsoon season.
What to Do in Phuket?
Unfortunately, Phuket has a reputation of cheap mass tourism. However, it is a beautiful part of Thailand and the majority of the island is not crowded at all. The area that is really crowded and which I do not like at all is Patong Beach. Therefore, try to avoid the area.
Exploring the Island by Car or Bike
I would recommend renting a car and driving around the island to explore all the beaches. I like the ones in the North – such as Surin Beach and further up North. On one of my trips, we rented bicycles and explored the beaches that way. It was a lot of fun. Make sure to carry enough water with you as it is very hot.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
The Andaman Sea is one of the most beautiful spots in the world for snorkelling and scuba diving. As I mentioned on my last post about my snorkelling trip, try to avoid booking a mass tour. I had the best scuba diving experience in Phuket on a day trip to Koh Phi Phi in 2012. Unfortunately, I somehow lost the contact details and name of the school but I am looking for it and will update this post.
Probably the most convenient choice to eat is at your hotel. However, it can get a bit monotonous. I recommend venturing outside of your resort and explore the small local restaurants. Please be careful with the local restaurants and street food stands. If it is the first time for you in Asia and you tend to get an upset stomach easily, I would not recommend eating there. Your body is not adjusted to the climate and the local cuisine. Maybe take a couple of days to adjust to the environment. I usually go for a vegetarian option (if possible without the eggs).
I also had a great time at the restaurant of the Trisara Resort in the Northern part of the island. It was on the pricier side, but the food was delicious and the view was breathtaking.
What are the dishes that are famous in Thailand? Most of you will probably know Phad Thai, but there is much more than that. I also love the minced chicken with basil (I always have to ask them not to make it too spicy). Stay tuned for my post about my favourite Thai dishes.
I had a great time at Catch Beach Club – very nice drinks and really cool music. So far, I have only been in the evening but I heard that it is a really cool place during the day as well. It is on my list for my next trip 😀
Where to Stay
My absolute favourite is the Amatara Wellness Resort. It is located in the South East of the island. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to go there but it is absolutely worth it – the view is gorgeous, it is a very quiet and relaxing atmosphere, it has its own private beach and the food is delicious.
Stay tuned for my hotel review of the Amatara Wellness Resort.
If you plan to book a group trip, I can highly recommend The Bell Pool Villa Resort. It is in the Northern part of Phuket near Surin Beach. It does not have direct access to the beach but the villas come with private pools and they have a shuttle service to the beach. The breakfast is a la carte (we had an all-you-can-eat option) and is brought to your villa. It was delicious. In general, the food is really nice there too.
Getting to Phuket
Phuket is an island in Thailand and the easiest way to reach it if you are coming from abroad is via Bangkok. I would suggest to fly to Bangkok and spend two days there and then travel on to Phuket. You can go from both airports in Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang airport. Flights go frequently, with e.g. Air Asia having 17 (!) daily flights between Phuket and Bangkok.
There are also international flights if you would like to go to Phuket directly.
Getting to Your Hotel and Getting Around
I highly recommend pre-arranging your transport to the hotel. We booked a taxi at the airport once and the driver took us nowhere near our hotel and wanted to make us book expensive day trips. Since then, we either arrange a pick-up with the hotel or we book it online (this time we booked via Expedia).
Taxis are the most convenient way of getting around. The safest way is to book it at your hotel. A lot of travellers also rent motorbikes. I would only recommend that if you are really comfortable on it and a good driver. Thai traffic is quite chaotic and can be dangerous if you are not used to it.
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht. The exchange rate (as of 22 September 2017) is BHT 1 equals USD 0.03 / EUR 0.025.
The official language is Thai but it is no problem to get around with English. Even if some people might only speak a bit of English, Thai’s are very helpful and you will get by without any problem 🙂
We’re heading to Thailand next month and I’ve been debating about whether to visit Phuket or not, I’m worried about it being over-touristy. It sounds like it’s possible to still find a bit of quiet though, maybecwe will make it there!
Oh that’s so cool! You can definitely do a lot and not seeing the crowds at all. I also heard that Krabi is beautiful. I’ve been to Koh Samui before but I think Phuket is the better choice. You may also think about flying to Phuket and then go to Phi Phi by boat and stay there.
Thailand was never really on my bucket list. But after my sister went last year and now also seeing your photos … it may just need to go on there. Thanks for such a detailed post about your trip! Certainly influential!
Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Maybe you manage to go to Thailand, I am sure you would have a good time!
Thailand has been #1 on my bucket list since I was a teenager! I’d love to visit Phuket, and appreciate your helpful tips (especially about when to visit, as I was never sure what time of year was best). Snorkeling in the Andaman Sea sounds amazing, and that view from the Amatara Wellness Resort is dynamite. Great post!
Thank you so much for your feedback on this guide. I’m so glad you find it helpful and I do hope that you make it to Phuket soon!
I need to go back to Thailand! I was only in Bangkok years ago, however I regretted not getting to the south. Looks beautiful and so romantic!
It’s definitely worth a trip. Also, I think coming back to Bangkok would be interesting. The city has really changed a lot recently.