Welcome to Phuket!
Locals of Phuket, Thailand, know the best foods to eat and where to find them, as well as the best way to move around to find hidden gems. Explore this guide to learn how to live like the locals, fully experiencing Phuket and making you a worldwide local.
In this city in the land of smiles, a warm smile is likely to follow a friendly “hello” or a conversation with a local. The people of Phuket are brought up to be kind to one another and by extension, to visitors.
Worldwide Local Tip: It is essential to learn about the Thai Wai (Thai bow of greeting) and how to acknowledge it. It is seen as a sign of respect, something that is of value to the local culture.
Where to Begin
The largest island in Thailand, Phuket is a popular destination for tourists looking to either have an active adventure or a laid back day enjoying the beach. The island is jam-packed with historical sites, beautiful monuments, and loads of fun activities, and the Phuket resorts are famously luxurious.
Start your trip by visiting Old Phuket Town, where most of the locals live and get an authentic local experience. This is a great place to visit to immerse yourself as a worldwide local.
Getting Around Phuket
Traffic can be hectic, especially during rush hour, so it’s advisable to avoid driving during these hours and to instead ask the manager at your Phuket hotel how best to get around. There are many road users who rarely follow any of the traffic rules. You’ll notice, however, there is no unnecessary hooting or road rage of any kind.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you are using any public transport avoid carrying any “aromatic” food because the locals consider it a non-verbal form of taboo. This is because it is deemed to be unfair to other passengers.
One Day in Phuket
Begin your day with a favorite local breakfast, Roti with a fried egg and iced tea or with a local brew of coffee. After fueling up, head out to explore the old town. The best way to explore the town is on foot, reveling in the glorious Phuket weather. By strolling along, you’ll be able to take in the old rich corners of Old Phuket Town.
Worldwide Local Tip: Get lost for a few hours, taking in the beauty of the colorful houses lined up on the streets. Don’t forget your camera at home; you’ll want photos to show off your wonderful time.
Admire the architecture of century-old buildings, built in Sino-Portuguese (shop house) style, as you make your way along Thalang, Dibuk, and Krabi roads.
For the History Nerd
For one of the most informational things to do in Phuket, visit the Thai Hua Museum and learn about the Chinese connection to Phuket. This was the first language school built by Chinese immigrants, where you can experience traditional ceremonies practiced in Phuket and taste the local cuisine. You’ll also learn about the buildings on the island built in two distinct styles, Sino-Portuguese and Sino-colonial style (big mansion).
Walking Tours You Can Take on Your Own
Take a walk down the street that connects Thalang and Dibuk roads, known as Soi Romanee. Here, you’ll enjoy learning about its infamous history. The street still maintains its old charm of romance. If you are lucky, you just might spot a cute couple, ambling arm in arm in their full wedding regalia, preparing for their wedding photoshoot.
Thalang Road should also be part of your exploration. One of the oldest roads in Phuket, it is usually busy with traffic--except for Sundays when the road lights up and becomes a market. The Sunday Walking Street Market, known to the locals as “Lard Yai,” meaning “big market, is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs. It is also a great place to enjoy Phuket’s local foods and desserts. This market offers a bit of everything, including steamed fish, pork sausages, fried chicken, barbecued pork, squid, and a variety of other Thai seafood. If you are feeling particularly adventurous you can even try some fried insects. After all, they are high in protein!
Worldwide Local Tip: Thai food is very spicy, which may upset the stomach of a foreigner. If you prefer your food less spicy, it is essential that you learn to say “Mai Phet” which means “no spice.”
Day Trips and Adventures
Phuket island is only an hour boat ride away from some of the most stunning places you’ll ever see. Hop on a boat to visit the mystical Phang Nga Bay and soak in the beauty of limestone karsts that erect magnificently from the turquoise water. You can also visit the Phi Phi, Simian, or any of the other 30 small islands.
Worldwide Local Tip: Take a private speed boat as opposed to a bus-boat. This way you can control the time you want to visit the islands while avoiding the times when the islands are crowded with tourists. The bus-boat tours all operate on the same schedule, so you will better be able to plan your visit around the traffic.
Phuket After Dark
If you are looking to explore the nightlife, the city has fantastic options to choose from. Enjoy a magical time at Phuket FantaSea or see the Ladyboys at the Simon Cabaret Show. For a wild time in Phuket, you can visit Patong Beach to enjoy a drink under the bright lights which make the beach come alive after sunset.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Phuket beach is a hotspot for many tourists and it may become, overwhelmingly, crowded at times. With that said, it’s still a place to visit and experience, even if only once.
Enjoy Your Visit!
Phuket has something for everyone. Experience your trip, as a worldwide local and you will leave with a lifetime of amazing memories.