Phuket, Thailand, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights

Phuket, Thailand, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights

a beach

Anyone who can’t find their dream beach in Phuket may have a sand allergy. The west coast of the island has a 50km coastline that stretches north to Mai Khao (White Wood) Beach with a seemingly endless supply of shade trees, bare feet and premium resorts. It is also a national park and turtle area. see

an old town

PHUKET, THAILAND - FEBRUARY 8, 2014: People walk along Thalang Road during the Old Phuket Town Festival on February 8, 2014 in Phuket, Thailand Text cr:  iStock ( Reuse allowed, union not allowed)‚Â

Photo: iStock

Old Phuket reminds us that history happens here and that Phuket wasn’t always a tourist sandbox. Its 19th-century Sino-Portuguese shophouses exist today as boutiques, restaurants and tea shops. Stroll along Thalang Road Walking Street and visit a temple or two, bars, spas, and more. Check out

have another coffee

On the corner of Thalang Road and Yaowarat Road in Old Town, you will find Old Phuket Coffee Shop. It’s been a Great Hand Tailors store for 50 years, but the next generation of the family has made it both retro and classic, quaint Chinese decor, but also modern, with excellent coffee, beverages and food. Check out

the only museum

In northern Phuket, visit Baan Ah-Jor Home (Great Grandparents’ Home), a beautifully restored 1936 Chinese Art Deco mansion. Now a private non-profit museum, the three-storey house was built by a tin miner and lovingly restored by his descendants, showing the lifestyle of a wealthy Chinese-Chinese family in Thailand in the 1930s. Don’t miss the Red Table, its superb restaurant. See

the only temple

Wat Chalong, Phuket, Thailand satapr2phuket phuket thailand One & Only ; Text cr by John Borthwick:  iStock (reuse allowed, union not allowed)‚Â

Photo: iStock

The 19th-century Chalong Temple is Phuket’s largest and most visited temple, with a 60-meter-tall “pagoda” tower containing bone fragments said to have come from the Buddha. Large murals show his life story, while Thai devotees attach small gold leaf offerings to numerous statues. Tip: Visit earlier in the day and dress conservatively. See

party town

love it or leave it. Patong is the epicentre of Phuket’s party scene, with shops, restaurants and hotels. Just inland from its long, beautiful beaches is Bangla Road, a strip of neon bars known for its lively nightlife. After that is a serious shopping area with big malls like Central Patong and Jungceylon. see

the only attraction

A serious re-evaluation of elephant therapy in Thailand has led to the shelving of rides, “trunk painting” and similar tourist stunts. “Look, don’t touch” is the ethical deal at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, where you can watch 12 rescued elephants roam, forage and bathe on the 500-meter-high sidewalk. See

a hike

Phuket Marine National Park, at the extreme north, is the island’s sometimes overly successful haven. Also home to its best and least known thrills. Kayaking along the mangrove-dappled waterways of Thachatchhai is an episode of turnaround time. Supported mangrove roots line the channel, and water crows watch as you paddle past. See

the only hotel

Nestled on a unique peninsula overlooking the majestic Phang Nga Bay, Como Point Yamu is one of the best resorts on the island. The balcony views from sunrise to sunset, as well as the cuisine and decorations reflecting Phuket’s early Peranakan culture, make this a very stately play dome. See

there’s one more thing

Phuket is your springboard to Phang Nga Bay, where limestone islands rise like sleeping sea monsters – creation myths describe them as a herd of elephants caught by the tide. Explore this fantastic Jurassic car park and visit its twin islands, Yao Island, to extend your stay in Phuket. see

The author is a guest of Como ( and Melia ( hotels and Thai Airways (

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