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Phuket is a favorite for exotic long weekends, and while there is plenty to do that you could easily fill a full week, even with only 3 days, you can take in a side of the island that is both varied and interesting.

Nicknamed ‘pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket is defined by its spectacular scenery, stunning tropical sunsets, and warm blue sea. There’s fresh seafood, amazing beaches, great weather, friendly locals, and so much adventure!

Traveling to Thailand is undoubtedly exotic, though Phuket is popular for short trips because it’s so easy to navigate. The whole island is well connected by roads, and renting your own vehicle (check out Phuket Wheels) makes it easy to pack the adventure in.

While there’s a huge range of choice for exploring Phuket; diving, nature hikes, massages, or even a day trip out to the surrounding islands; the following are 5 things you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

5 Things You Shouldn’t Miss on a Long Weekend in Phuket

 Bangla Road After Sunset

Phuket Bangala Road

Some people love it, and some people avoid it like the plague, but if you’re visiting Phuket for the first time, you have to spend at least one night on Bangla Road and make up your own mind!

This is a great place to grab a bite to eat during the day, but it really comes alive once the sun sets. Known as the party hub of Asia, Soi Bangla stretches from Jungceylon shopping complex to Patong beach, packed with restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Once the sun goes down they close off all traffic, and it becomes a pedestrian only party; “a 400 metre festival of neon lights, loud music and cheap beer.” Walking Soi Bangla after dark is very safe, and even if you’re not normally interested in nightlife, it’s a bucket-list experience.

Start on the southern side of the road, closest to the beach; there’s a chilled out, friendly vibe here, and you can jump between beer bars, catch street performances, and take a photo with a ladyboy before heading in for a cabaret show before dinner.

The middle of the street is a hive of more activity; beer bars make way for loud music bars, and you’ll have hawkers hustling their wares onto you as you walk up the street. The furthest end of the street is where you’ll find nightclubs and mixed beats.

Image: Strange Luke / CC BY 2.0 / via Flickr

Temple Hopping

Phuket Temples

Bangkok might have the title for most temples in Thailand, but Phuket has some pretty serious temple hopping you shouldn’t miss. The most famous is the Big Buddha, sitting atop the Nakkerd Hills.

At 45 meters tall, and 25 meters wide, the Big Buddha is a landmark you definitely won’t miss; it’s made from white Burmese marble, and marks Phuket’s most stunning viewpoint (think 360-degree views that stretch across Phuket Town, Karon Beaches, Kata, and Chalong Bay).

Wat Srisoonthorn is a large Sleeping Buddha in Thalang; a 29 meter statue that is also worth including on your list. Other temples to include are Wat Phra Thong, Wat Khao Rang, and Wat Chalong; the largest temple of all, with paintings that illustrate the life of Buddha.

Image: Strange Luke / CC BY 2.0 / via Flickr

Canoe Out to Deserted Islands

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay off the east coast of Phuket Island is definitely one of the most beautiful parts of Thailand.  That means there are plenty of tour operators ready to take you out for a day trip (we caught a ship in the village of Ao Por at the far north east of Phuket).

This area is defined by sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water. And while you can take leisurely boat rides, canoeing is a far more adventurous way to spend a day.

The trip out to the canoeing destination is about an hour by boat from Phuket Island. You’ll be able to get right up close to the limestone karsts, paddle over to secluded beaches, and float into sea caves.

Keep an eye out for the areas most famous landmark Koh Ta-pu, also known as James Bond Island. Having featured in the Bond movie ‘Man With the Golden Gun’, it is undoubtedly beautiful, though be aware that there are a lot of tourists.

Experience the Markets

Phuket Markets

When visiting Phuket, you’ll quickly discover that there’s a huge selection of markets. Each one has a unique charm, and while there are plenty of restaurants and modern shops throughout the island, it’s the markets that capture the soul of Phuket.

Chillva Market is a modern market open from 4-11pm Thursday to Saturday. Shops are set up in shipping containers and you’ll find great local brands as opposed to Western knock offs. Everything is of course at dirt cheap prices. There are open air food stalls and great music.

Phuket Weekend Market, also known as Naka Market is a buzzing night market that opens from 4pm and runs through until 11 pm every Friday – Sunday. It’s a huge bazaar where you’ll find absolutely anything; animals, electronics, clothing, and of course, great Thai street food.

The Old Phuket Town Walking street is another great night market set in a colorful historic neighborhood. This market is known for its souvenirs and you can pick up some great local arts and crafts. It’s a Sunday market and attracts just as many locals as it does tourists.

Image: Strange Luke / CC BY 2.0 / via Flickr


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. All sound like fun Meg. My favorite thing to do in Phuket – other than lazing on Nai Harn Beach – is motorbiking all over the island, especially the heavy interior jungle as you drive from east to west and west to east.


    • MOtorbiking sounds like such a blast Ryan! I’ll have to get my license before my next trip :D

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