The largest island in Thailand, Phuket, attracts more than a million visitors a year from all over the world - and it’s easy to see why. The minute a flight to Phuket lands visitors are greeted by miles of sandy coastline set against a backdrop of lush rainforest not to mention the warm and smiling faces of the local Phuketians. Although the island is heavily developed, especially around touristy Hat Surin, there are still remote beachfronts to enjoy including Karon and Nai Han.
Most people who come off Phuket flights will bypass the provincial capital, Phuket Town, and head straight for the beach resorts. But to get a sense of the real Phuket, spend a few days exploring this buzzing, multicultural capital. Stop by the Phuket Philatelic Museum which was once the old post office building. Here you’ll find the best example of Sino-Portuguese architecture in the region. Foodies can’t miss a trip to Phuket’s colourful street markets where vendors sell everything from noodles to ice cream.
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- Animal lovers shouldn’t miss a trip to the Phuket Zoo which is home to monkeys, elephants, tigers and rare birds. Daily crocodile and elephant shows take place, and there’s also a butterfly farm and orchid garden to wander around in.
- Skip dinner at a restaurant and head to the food markets. Sample some simple street food including grilled bananas, eggs, garlic sausage and delicious coconut pudding.
- Want to experience the quintessential Phuket party life? Nowhere beats Patong’s entertainment – both during the day and at night. Lounge around sipping Singha on Patong Beach all day then hit the bars and clubs on Bangla Road. For something a little different, book a seat at the Simon Cabaret which offers entertaining transvestite shows.
- In need of some serious retail therapy? Spend the day browsing the shops at the Robinson Ocean Plaza shopping mall.