Tips on Visiting Phuket, Thailand
Phuket Thailand is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my whole life. I really feel that if Phuket is not on your bucket list, you need to add it now!
1) Phuket is warm all year around because of it’s proximity to the equator. However, the weather does fluctuate some. December thru March are the best months to visit. April and May are typically the hottest. September and October are usually the wettest because of the monsoon season.
2) The roads in Phuket are VERY windey. Like to the point where if you get carsick, you better bring precautions. I would definitely bring Dramamine or Sea Bands with you and make sure your eyes are always on the road. The drivers mostly drive vans and they drive crazy! Be prepared! Taxis are very inexpensive though and we used them a lot when we needed to get somewhere we couldn’t walk to. In most cases, drivers will even wait for you while you are shopping or at an activity until you are done and want a ride to your hotel.
3) Because it is a tropical Island, it is pretty laid back in Phuket unless you are going to a sacred place like a temple. Swimsuits and summer attire are perfectly welcome there. If you are going to a temple, make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. Check my packing guide for ideas on what to pack.
4) Bring bug spray! Beware the mosquitoes. We didn’t get one bite because we wore these repellant bands the whole time. I also kept one of these in our room the whole time just in case any mosquitoes slipped in when we had the door open.
5) Stay some where close to the beach. We stayed on the quieter section of Patong Beach and it was perfect! I would highly recommend our hotel, The Charm Resort Phuket. It was inexpensive and smaller but I felt like it was completely luxurious. The location is fantastic and the rooms were totally comparable to a 4 star hotel. Patong beach is great because it is on the west side of the island so the sunsets are unreal!
6) Drink fruit smoothies as often as possible. This was one of my favorite treats on the island. They are fresh, GIANT (like the size of your head) and so inexpensive. I miss them terribly!
7) Visit an Elephant Sanctuary. This was definitely a highlight for me. We found a small sanctuary in the hillside jungle that our taxi driver just drove us to. We were able to feed the elephants and care for them. They let us stay as long as we wanted and the cute people running it, offered to take as many pictures as we wanted them to with our camera. I don’t know the name of the one we were taken to but I know there are several and all you have to do is ask. Just beware of ones that include “elephant trekking”. This is where they put chairs on the elephant’s backs and you ride on them. This is extremely painful for the elephants and they are not treated well. A highly recommended place to go is The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. You can book ahead of time and they are known for saving elephants that have not been treated well.
8) Do not leave Phuket without taking a day trip Island tour. It is worth every penny! There are several companies and several different places you can go. After researching a ton, I decided that we either needed to go to the Phi Phi Islands or to James Bond Island. I wish we could have done both but I ultimately chose the James Bond Island trip because there were so many wonderful stops along the way. And let me tell you, this had to be one of the most incredible days of my life. We booked our tour with BB Sealion which I completely recommend. We were on the perfect sized speedboat and we had a smaller tour group which was really nice. Not only did we go to James Bond Island but we also visited a floating Muslim Island, canoed thru caves to a hidden beach and so much more. I detail it in (this post – link to it).
9) Take a day to relax on the beach. The beaches there are mostly public and there was a great part of Patong beach right outside our hotel. You could buy an umbrella, a table and two lounge chairs for $3. And there are so many food carts on the sidewalk by the beach that you can enjoy your lunch right there and never leave till after sunset. DON’T MISS THE SUNSET!
10) Eating in Thailand is one of the best things to do there. And in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with any place you pick to eat. If you are new to Thai food and don’t have favorites yet, order the Pad Thai or Pad See Ew (my personal fav) or the Tom Kha Gai which is the most delicious lemon grass coconut soup. And don’t be afraid to order off the food carts on the street. For dessert or a snack, make sure you try Mango sticky rice. I still crave it!
11) Avoid the main strip of Patong Beach at night. It turns into a seedy place. And if that is not what you are looking for, do yourself a favor and just stay away. It is full of sex shows and ping pong shows (which have little to do with ping pong) and solicitation every where you look.
12) If we would have had just a little more time, I would have visited the famed Tiger Kingdom. I wrestled with the humaneness of it so I didn’t make it a priority. And next time I return, I will be sure to stop in there. They have tigers of all sizes and you are able to go inside the enclosures so you are right next to the tigers. You can hold the baby tigers as well. The website claims that the tigers are not drugged but more conditioned to be around humans. Many disagree with that so you have to decide for yourself if this is a place you want to visit.
13) Get a massage! Massages are about $6 an hour and who can say no to that!! Beware the massage studios that may offer sex. If that is not what you are looking for, pay attention to the signs. Look for ones that specifically say “no sex”. A sign that you are in the wrong place is if you see many women sitting outside and they ask you which woman you would like.
You can pick either a Thai massage or an Oil massage. I picked a Thai massage which is like a mix between a Swedish massage and a visit to the chiropractor. I really liked it! They don’t use oil but they give you special traditional clothes to wear which look about 10 sizes too big. My husband picked the oil massage so they just had him undress as usual and used oil. He said it felt like deep tissue with a thai twist. We both loved the massages and wish we would have gotten one every single day but there just wasn’t time for that!
Phuket is definitely a place I hope to find myself visiting again. And please don’t hesitate to comment with questions I didn’t already answer for you!