Phuket is just a one-hour flight from Bangkok, though Phuket International Airport is serviced by frequent direct flights from many countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Australia. The airport also accepts charter flights from Europe, Russia, China, Korea and the Middle East.
The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach is positioned directly on the tree-lined, white-sand beach of Mai Khao, located on the northwest coastline of Phuket. The resort is less than 10 kilometres from Phuket International Airport, and only 30 to 45 minutes from the main attractions of Phuket, such as Patong Beach, Phuket Town, Bang Tao, Kamala, Patong and Karon Beach. It’s also less than 40 minutes to the pier for trips around the spectacular Phang Nga Bay.
This long, gently-curving shoreline is popular with locals, and it’s a popular spot for picnicking in the shade of the casuarina trees. There are sports such as kite-surfing and lots of stalls selling food, drinks and massages. The northern end of the beach is largely undeveloped as it is part of Sirinath National Park, but provides a great vantage point for plane spotters to watch take-offs and landings from the nearby airport.
Phuket’s longest beach, stretching 10 kilometres along the island’s northern tip, Mai Khao offers seclusion with minimal commercial activity. The beach is protected as part of Sirinath National Park and visitors can stroll along it for miles undisturbed. From November to February, sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach. Come April, visitors can watch baby turtles being released into the sea – part of conservation efforts to help endangered species. Attractions include the Turtle Village shopping arcade, Splash Jungle Waterpark and nearby world-class golf courses.
Phuket’s main shopping streets are in Phuket City and Patong. Our Guest Services officer will be happy to assist you with recommendations on markets and any specific shopping needs you may have.
Visit Phuket Town’s Chao Fah Variety Market and Phuket Square for souvenirs, handicrafts, accessories, inexpensive clothing, DVDs, and trinkets. Patong Beach Road and Bangla Road are also good for bargain-hunting, especially in the evenings. Fresh markets throughout the island sell produce, meats, seafood, exotic fruits, chili pastes and spices. Big ones, like Banzaan behind Jungceylon Patong, are neatly ordered; others vary in terms of cleanliness and upkeep.
Central Festival Phuket
Central Festival is one of Phuket’s leading malls. The sprawling complex houses Central department store, one of Thailand’s retail giants. You’ll also find over 150 shops and counting, dozens of restaurants, a multiplex cinema, a convention hall, banks, a high-end supermarket and a food court. The circular Lan Lom Bar is a laid-back al fresco spot for lunch, coffee, drinks and dinner.
Jungceylon rivals Central Festival as a one-stop shopping, dining and lifestyle complex. It has more of a resort feel, thanks to a large courtyard fountain featuring a life-sized Chinese junk boat. Throughout the day, a free water-light-and-sound show at the fountain adds to the ambience. Jungceylon houses all kinds of shops, a Robinson department store, restaurants, a food court, bars, multiplex cinema, and a Carrefour supermarket.
The main event is a spectacular show featuring a cast of hundreds, including trapeze artists and elephants. Local myths and legends come to life, enhanced by dazzling effects. Phuket Fantasea also features a Carnival Village with amusement-park games, handicrafts and shopping; a cavernous buffet dining hall, Similan Adventure Centre, and elephant rides around the magical Songbird Luminarie. As attractions go, this one is hard to beat for all ages and persuasions.
Simon Cabaret is a polished, professionally-staged show with high production values – even kids are welcome. The draw is that all the performers are ladyboys – all extremely talented and beautiful. The aim here is fun and entertainment, through song and dance of the lip-synching variety. Extravagant costumes and intricate sets take the show to another level.
Kathu Mining Museum
Long before the first tourist set foot here, tin mining was Phuket’s major boom industry. Kathu Mining Museum preserves this historical chapter in an attractive European-Sino-Thai building. Exhibits include life-size dioramas of miners at work, and an overview of rocks and geology, touching on the formation of the earth itself. A street is also recreated, depicting town life in the early 1900s.
Phuket Thai Hua Museum
This museum was formerly the oldest Chinese school in Thailand. The 1934 building is a fine example of European-Sino-Thai architecture, with a front gate made of cast iron imported from London. It houses displays on the school’s history, Chinese migrants, local food, architecture, even attire. Peruse photos of students past and imagine life back in the storied decades of the early 1900s. The refurbished building also serves as an exhibition and performance space.
Thalang National Musuem
Thalang National Museum was established in 1985 to commemorate the 200 anniversary of the Battle of Thalang, in which two brave sisters led the people in fending off the invading Burmese. The related Two Heroines monument nearby is considered the physical gateway to Phuket; this museum is the cultural and historical. It showcases Phuket’s cultural diversity, history and prehistoric artefacts, and also traces the evolution of Thai civilization.
Phuket Seashell Museum
Phuket Seashell Museum displays more than 2,000 specimens collected by two brothers over three decades, including some of the most rare and sought-after shells. See the world’s largest golden pearl (140 carats), a ‘left-handed’ volute shell, fossils dating back an incredible 380 million years, giant clams and a massive shell weighing 250 kilograms.
If you’re into golf, Phuket is the place to be. World-class courses offer championship greens and wonderfully scenic vistas. Many have a restaurant, some even have a spa for a pre-game massage or post-game recovery. The name of each course alludes to a distinctive topographical feature. Loch Palm
Golf Club is sprinkled with fan-like palms. Red Mountain Golf Club is a dramatic series of green slopes dotted with red hills and plateaus. Blue Canyon Country Club features blue lakes. Mission Hills is surrounded by verdant slopes. Laguna Phuket Golf Club has a number of tranquil lagoons, while Phuket Country Club unfolds over the site of a former tin mine. Blue Canyon is the closest to Mai Khao so you needn’t go far to play one of the most prestigious courses in the country.
Phuket Aquarium aims to spark curiosity. The young at heart will enjoy the Marine Tunnel where leopard sharks and other creatures swim inches above your head. The Aquarium is a great place for kids to discover marine life, and also houses a turtle conservation project.
The largest and most well-known of Phuket’s temples is especially revered because it houses a splinter of bone believed to come from the Buddha himself. Admire the colourful and intricate architecture and Buddha statues covered in gold leaf. The peace and calm is occasionally punctuated by the lighting of firecrackers – a gesture of gratitude for prayers answered.
Big Buddha / Ko Nakkerd Viewpoint
This massive 45-metre high Buddha sits 350 metres above sea level atop Nakkerd Hill, overlooking Phuket. Nakkerd Hill itself is the place to go for 360-degree views of south Phuket with its slopes, islands and emerald-turquoise sea. When visiting this religious site, please dress appropriately with shoulders and knees covered.
Wat Pra Pud
This is one of Thailand’s most intriguing temples. Local legend has it that a boy once tied his buffalo to a ‘stick’, which turned out to be the top of a Buddha statue buried beneath. Boy and buffalo died within 24 hours for disrespecting the Buddha. Diggers managed to uncover only the torso and a temple was eventually built around the statue to protect it, still half-protruding from the ground. How it got there remains unknown.
Laem Promthep (Promthep Cape) Viewpoint
Reaching into the sea and sprinkled with lofty fan palm trees, this distinctive cape is a Phuket icon. No visit to Phuket is complete without stopping here, ideally for sunset. Scenic photo opportunities abound, and on a clear day you can see as far as Phi Phi Island. A lighthouse with an observation deck provides the best views. A nearby restaurant, souvenir and snack stalls cater to visitors.
Kata Viewpoint is as famous as Laem Promthep for its views. Most visitors stop here on the way to Promthep, the southernmost point of the island. From here, you can see the Andaman flow inland towards the three curving beaches – the quintessential postcard scene. The smallest and closest beach is Kata Noi. Kata Yai is in the middle and Karon is just beyond.
Khao Rung Viewpoint
Head here for a bird’s eye view over Phuket Town and the southern islands. There are a few ways up, one of which passes a rarely-visited Chinese temple where goats roam about a colourful cemetery. On the hilltop, three restaurants offer different panoramas, near a retro exercise park. Also notable is a statue of a former Phuket Governor instrumental in the island’s development during the reign of King Rama V.
Phuket Old Town
In the Old Town, Phuket’s rich history becomes apparent. Century-old Sino-Portuguese buildings lend a visual character lacking in most provincial capitals. Among the turn-of-the-century shophouses and mansions built by tin barons past, galleries, boutiques and cafés add contemporary life. You’ll find many tailors and old shops selling batik, souvenirs and local food. For a pleasant evening out, dine at an atmospheric restaurant, followed with music and drinks at one of the many nightspots.
Elephants are omnipresent in Thailand, seen on countless flags and logos. Still, you may be awed at how majestic they are in real life. Elephant trekking is a unique and enjoyable way to wander through the hilly jungle terrain. Observe elephants at rest and at play, and feed them bunches of bananas and sugarcane. Come away with a deeper appreciation for these gentle giants which have served the Thai people throughout history.
Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands comprise six isles 48 km southeast of Phuket. Diving and snorkeling opportunities abound. The biggest isles are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh; the latter, home to the white sands and jewel-like waters of Maya Bay, immortalised in The Beach. Just two kilometres from this uninhabited bay, Phi Phi Don has it all – restaurants, shopping, bars, resorts, beautiful beaches and thriving nightlife. Despite the activity, the island has no roads for vehicles – only walking streets – and doesn’t feel overly developed.
Phang Nga Bay
Although Phang Nga Bay is part of Phang Nga Province, its limestone cliffs feel quintessentially Phuket. That’s because Phang Nga is one of the most popular tours launching from Phuket. Many of these include lunch at a floating village, home to local fishing families. The most famous spot is James Bond Island, a limestone needle viewed from the beach next door. Kayakers can paddle into some of the limestone formations to see the hidden ecosystems inside. The bay’s placid waters provide good conditions for boating year-round.
Protected as a national marine park, the Islands consistently rank among the world’s top ten diving sites. Teeming with coral and all manner of sea life, the underwater world is absolute paradise. Nine uninhabited islands make up the archipelago, some 95 kilometres northwest of Phuket, with tents and basic bungalows for over-nighters available on just one island. Non-divers come to snorkel and marvel at the snow-white beaches and crystal-clear water. The Similan Islands welcomes visitors from November to May, and the best time to visit is between December and April.
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The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach is positioned directly on the tree-lined, white-sand beach of Mai Khao, located on the northwest coastline of Phuket. The resort is less than 10 kilometres from Phuket International Airport, and only 30 to 45 minutes from the main attractions of Phuket.