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A Phuket regional guide – idyllic beaches, iconic islands and picture perfect scenery

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As the largest island in the whole of Thailand and known as the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket is a popular holiday destination. Situated in southern Thailand, the island is just 48 km long and 21 km wide and its beaches are home to balmy waters and idyllic white sand. Road bridges connect the large island to Phang Nga Province on the mainland of Thailand where you can reach Khao Lak, Krabi and the many islands of Phang Nga Bay.

Gren Fordham

My Destination local expert on


West Coast


When people generally think of Phuket, this is the area that comes to mind. Beautifully serene long welcoming beaches with white sand and bright blue sea adorn the west coast. These beaches are also mixed with the party reputation of Thailand where hordes of tourists flock each year, with Patong being well-known for its often wild nightlife. This area also has a lot of the bigger resorts. The west coast of Phuket was hit and severely damaged by the 2004 tsunami however, there is no evidence of its effects now.


Phuket City


In the southeast of the island, is Phuket City where the administrative centre of Phuket lies. It holds the majority of the island’s local population. There is the opportunity to shop here with its large malls and local markets. There are also lots of popular restaurants and hotels here. Journey through Old Phuket Town to visit museums and buildings of Sino-Portuguese architecture and here you’ll find remnants of the Phuket’s old culture of when it was a small tin mining town in the 19th century.


South Eastern Phuket


With smaller and quieter beaches, south eastern Phuket is home to the Phuket Aquarium in Cape Panwa. The best beaches for swimming are at Cape Panwa Hotel. Ao Chalong or Chalong Bay is a jump-off point for sailing, diving, fishing trips, live-a-boards and day trips to visit nearby islands. It is a popular place to dine and has a good shopping area. There are also great places to eat and drink in Rawai. There are several wellness and detox centers in Rawai and also many Muay Thai gyms in the southeast to learn the traditional sport of Thai boxing.


North West Coast


In Sirinat National Park are the areas of Nai Thon, Nai Yang, Mai Khao and Sai Kaeo. This is the area to relax and chill out away from the busy beaches and other places on the island. This area is far less built up than other areas of Phuket; there are less hotels and guesthouses here. This area is known for its laid back vibe much like that of northern Thailand. Nai Thon is set in the foot hills and boasts a long strip of sand while Nai Yang has shady pine trees and is perfect for swimming and diving.


Interior Phuket


The main part of Phuket away from the coastlines is the area described as Interior Phuket. Here is the Phra Taew National Park full of flora fauna and tropical waterfalls and is the last virginal rainforest on the island. The park contains several waterfalls and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center, which adopts captive and abandoned gibbons and tries to return them to the wild. Other towns in the area are Thalang, which is the largest district in Phuket and is the original center of the province.


Phang Nga Bay


Phang Nga Bay connects the island of Phuket to the peninsula of mainland Thailand. Koh Tapu, or otherwise known as James Bond Island was made famous as the setting of ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ in 1974. Spread over 400 square kilometers the bays iconic towering limestone cliffs and monoliths seamlessly stand in the middle of the sea. Depending on the tide, sea canoeists can enter the naturally beautiful caves. Ao Phang Nga National Park here has 42 islands with at least 28 species of mangroves that create the eco water system.