From open-air food markets, street stalls and local bazaars to departmental stores and upmarket brand stores, shopaholics will rejoice at the variety of shopping options offered in Phuket. Antiques, handicrafts, housewares, batik, jewellery, thai silk and pearls are just some examples of what you can take home from this shopper’s paradise.
Located just outside Phuket Town, Phuket Weekend Market is a spread of secondhand goods, DVDs, t-shirts, sporting goods and more. Take the chance to sample the wide selection of delicious roadside snacks, like spicy sausages, grilled chicken, succulent corn on the cob, fish cakes and even deep-fried insects! Another similar option is Karon Plaza in the central area of Karon Beach Road on the western coast of Phuket Island. Located by the beach, it is a great place for an evening stroll. If you’re in Phuket Old Town, you should also shop at Phuket Walking Street (Lardyai or “big market”), a weekly market in the historical Sino-Portuguese district along Thalang Road. Expect a variety of southern Thai food and local crafts for sale. There is even a trampoline to keep kids entertained.
If you prefer air-conditioned malls, Central Festival Phuket and Jungceylon Shopping Mall are both excellent options. Widely regarded as the islands main shopping hub, Central has more than 120 outlets selling cosmetics, luxury goods, apparels, furniture, kitchenware, mobile phones, gadgets and more. The same goes for Jungceylon. Both malls also have a host of entertainment outlets, like a cinema and bowling alley. If branded goods are on your list, the prices at Premium Outlet Phuket on Bypass Road will not disappoint, with discounts of up to 70 percent.
Bargaining is not applicable anywhere except at markets, small shops or street vendors. Shoppers should also be mindful of touting taxi drivers and guides who offer to bring you on shopping tours. Do be aware of your Value Added Tax entitlements as well, and prepare the relevant forms for customs checks.
Places to Visit In Phuket
Phuket is a stunning holiday destination that will extend your horizons. The famous Patong beach is 15 kilometres from Phuket Town and hosts many of Phuket’s hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other tourist attractions. Hit the sands for watersports like surfing, sailing, diving and snorkling! Patong’s famed nightlife centered around Soi Bangla is not to be missed. A romantic sunset viewing spot is Kalim, at the northern end of Patong Bay. The tides there are perfect for surfing between April and September every year.
Karon beach, the second largest beach in Phuket, is home to large resort complexes and a coral reef stretching towards Kata and Bu Island from its southern point. The beach is expansive but undeveloped, unlike Patong. Ditto for Kamala Beach, with its coral reefs on the north side. This sleepy seaside Muslim village is abuzz with tourist activity during the surfing season. Catch the market every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for great bargains too.
Journey down South to Laem Phromthep (Phromthep Cape) and be rewarded with stunning views of what has been described as Phuket’s most dramatic sunset. This spot gives you panoramic views of the surrounding islands from the southern tip of the island to Nai Harn Beach, the Andaman Sea and the surrounding islands.
The Big Buddha is one of Phuket’s most iconic images, resting on Naka Kerd Mountain near Phuket Town. Standing at an impressive 45 metres, the statue is covered in white Burmese marble. Two other landmarks for history buffs are Two Heroines Monument, Wat Chalong and Thalang National Museum. Two Heroines Monument was built to commemorate the national heroines Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon, who rallied the islands against the Burmese invasion in 1785. In Wat Chalong stands the cast statue of Luang Pho Cham, another hero who helped cease the Chinese Coolie Rebellion during Rama V’s reign in 1876. Near Two Heroines Monument, Thaland National Museum showcases an exhibition of life in old Phuket, wartime and ancient artefacts.
Phuket’s lush forests and abundant biodiversity will appeal to every nature lover. In Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Park, you will find a number of wild animals that would have otherwise done extinct in Phuket. The Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Centre is a center for environmental studies that aims to promote and distribute wildlife within the Park. Many different species of exotic butterflies and moths can be found in Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World, one of the last few butterfly gardens left in Thailand.
The limestone outcrop of the twin Phi Phi Islands towers just a 45-minute speedboat ride or 90-minute ferry ride from Phuket. The larger, uninhabited island, Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds who come to seek respite amidst its lovely beaches, beautiful rock formations and clear blue waters filled with colourful tropical marine life.
Water Activities, Snorkeling & Diving in Phuket
The clear, calm waters of the Andaman Sea are ideal for water sports like swimming, yachting, jet skiing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, fishing parasailing, snorkeling and diving. Nai Yang and Chalong Bay are popular kite surfing locations. The Phang Nga Bay is a good place for sea canoeing; many of its numerous grottoes are only accessible that way.
Ao Sane, Laem Singh, Kata Noi, Paradise Beach and Ya Nui have been cited as great snorkeling locations. Ao Sane is located next to Nai Harn Beach in the South, characterised by huge granite boulders and two very different snorkeling areas; a sharp drop out into deeper waters ride with parrot fish, clown fish and eels, and a stretch of coral just along the beach. Like Laem Singh, it is located in a touristy area with massage parlours, restaurants and the like. Kata Noi’s beautiful turquoise waters have earned it the status of one of Phuket’s loveliest beaches. Kata Noi, Ya Nui and Paradise Beach boast vivid corals of different configurations that beckon for exploration. Most beaches provide gear for rent.
The Phi Phi Islands – the smaller Phi Phi Leh, in particular – are outstanding snorkel destinations. Daily boat trips can take visitors who want a closer look at the sheer limestone walls and their caves and passages, as well as the islands’ shallow lagoons and coral formations. The Coral, Racha, Khai Nok and Similan islands are other offshore accessible the same way. The Similans are a pristine marine wonderland, world-famous for diving.
Rated amongst the top 10 diving destinations in the world, Phuket is a good place to achieve your PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certificate if you want to learn to dive or improve on your technique. Phuket diving day trips leave from the main island to the offshore islands, including the Phi Phi and Racha Islands daily throughout the year. The underwater scenery and the King Cruiser wreck close to Anemone Reef at Phi Phi are truly sights to divers to behold.
Those up for some excitement can dive at Phuket’s Shark Point to spot the leopard sharks living on the sandy seabed. Dive cruises to the Similan and Surin Islands will take you on a world-class scuba diving adventure, deeper into Andaman waters.