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Are you thinking of getting away for a Phuket holiday for a few days but want something different? During this current climate, it’s important to travel domestically in Thailand to support tourism in the Kingdom.
Over the past couple of decades, tourism in Phuket has literally tipped off the scales, which in some respects is a great thing for the Thailand tourism industry in general. However, this means that most of the island has become – in a commercial sense – well-trodden. As a resident of Phuket for over five years, I have seen and done things on the island that most people on a Phuket holiday never get to experience.
The main tourist regions in Phuket are the likes of Patong, Karon, and Kata, but in all honesty, there is something to see and do in every corner of the island but holidaymakers very seldom get to see the island in all its full glory. Please enjoy my off the beaten track in Phuket information, which can turn your holiday into something a little special and unique.
Secluded Phuket Holiday Beaches
Most tourists on a Phuket holiday don’t get very far away from the more commercialized Phuket beaches such as Patong. If you just explore a little, you will find yourself on deserted beaches, the likes of which you only see in your dreams.
Starting at the northeast of Phuket, you will find Nai Yang Beach, just a five-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. During the low-season months (April-November), you will be the only person on this majestic stretch of sand.
At the northernmost spot on Phuket, you can experience the wilderness style beach of Haad Sai Gaew, roughly translated as Crystal Sands. Situated at the northern end of Mai Khao Beach, here you will find some quaint grass-topped restaurants and an uncluttered beach that is usually desolate.
Scenic Phuket Beaches
Slightly north of the popular Bang Tao Beach, there is a stretch of sand known as Layan Beach, although contrary to popular belief, the beach is south of Layan Bay. Because no major roads run directly through Layan, not so many people visit this beach.
Ya Nui Beach is located between the viewpoints of Laem Phromthep and Kata Viewpoint on the southwestern coast of Phuket within a quaint cove. The beach is a snorkeler’s paradise, and with the small island of Koh Keyao Noi just 400 meters away, you can take a refreshing swim. The beach is just over 150 meters in length and a great place to have a little stop off to enjoy the scenery.
Tucked Away Phuket Restaurants
Phuket is awash with restaurants. But there are some special restaurants that to the naked holidaymaker’s eye are virtually invisible and only found by those in the know. One of the favorite restaurants for island residents is Friendship Beach, nestled against Chalong Bay on the southeastern coast of Phuket between Chalong and Rawai. Serving delicious western and Thai cuisine, Friendship Beach Restaurant is one of those getaway restaurants that you love at first sight. The food is excellent and the stunning backdrop of outlying islands and the distant Cape Panwa is simply breathtaking. On Friday nights, you can enjoy a spot of live blues music, while Sunday afternoon from 4:30pm onwards, there is a live jazz band playing soothing melodies. The ambiance of the restaurant is conducive to a relaxing evening or afternoon meal.
– Phuket Seafood
Phuket and seafood go together like a knife and fork, especially on a Phuket holiday! The island is famous for the freshest and tastiest seafood in the whole of Thailand. Inexpensive and exquisite, if you ever wanted to sample certain seafood dishes that are relatively expensive in the western world such as oysters, Phuket is the perfect place to start.
Seafood restaurants in Phuket are at every turn, but to find the best and most affordable, I just follow the local Thai people. Of course you could visit Savoey Seafood Restaurant on Patong Beach and have a great experience, but it will be no comparison for some of the more off the beaten path seafood eateries.
The seafood restaurants at Palai, situated on the same road as Phuket Zoo in Chalong are where the Thais consume their aquatic dishes. The selection of restaurants at Palai such as Tang Kae Restaurant, Prantalay and Phong Phang Seafood are all situated beachside and provide you with stunning views of Chalong Bay, especially after sunset.
Another off the beaten track seafood restaurant is Laem Hin Seafood situated on the east coast of the island just north of Phuket Town at Laem Hin. This has been a popular restaurant for those in the know for many years, due to its amazing value for money and sumptuous seafood delights. The restaurant is positioned on stilts and situated waterside with a wooden exterior and interior that creates an authentic atmosphere. For those staying in Patong, Karon, and Kata, the restaurant is roughly 20km away but worth the pilgrimage. This is a restaurant where you won’t find many tourists so take advantage of its unique environment.
Hidden Bars for your Phuket Holiday
The well-trodden bar scene in Phuket usually revolves around Patong with a sprinkling of Karon and Kata in between. However, if you want to sample something a little different and off the beaten track, there are many options available if you are willing to look around. A Phuket holiday is not complete without visiting a few bars.
Some of my favourite bars are situated on a dramatic Cliffside overlooking Kata Noi. There are three bar/restaurants here, affectionately known as reggae bars. I always find the most friendly to be the Small Viewpoint Bar, which as the name suggests, is an excellent place to take in the famous Phuket sunset from this lofty location. Looking out over the Andaman Ocean from the bar is a dreamlike experience that will keep you coming back for more. During most months of the year, the Small Viewpoint Bar has a local Thai band that plays live reggae music and they are surprisingly good.
If you enjoy bar complexes and female accompanied nights out, a visit out to Chalong, Nai Harn, Rawai or Kamala can be much more rewarding than a night out in Patong or Kata. Around the Chalong Circle, you will find a wide selection of beer and girly bars all the way along to Chalong Pier. Here the atmosphere is less pushy than the more commercialized Patong and Kata. In fact, the road that leads from Chalong to Rawai is home to numerous off the beaten track bars that represent a real change from the norm.
Unique Phuket Holiday Activities
Due to the high influx of tourists and more tour guides that you can shake a stick at, most activities in Phuket have become somewhat commercial. One of the most off the beaten track activities to partake is actually off the island in the stunning Phang Nga region of Phuket. You can hire a mini-bus driver for the day or rent a car and make the aesthetically profound journey to the Ton Pariwat Wildlife Conservation area in Phang Nga province. If you are on a Phuket holiday and want a totally unique experience, a soiree off the island for a day is just the ticket.
The journey will take nearly two hours but could be one of the best experiences of your life. The journey through luscious jungle vegetation and the local Thai towns and villages give you an authentic slice of Thailand. Once you get to Ton Pariwat, located at Song Phraek and set in over 100,000 rai of untapped natural beauty, you can enjoy some extreme sports activities such as white water rafting, or take leisurely elephant treks through the jungle. The waterfall at the national park is one of the most beautiful in the south of Thailand. I have done this tour many times before and never get bored. This will be the proverbial cherry on the top of your Phuket holiday experience.
– Experience the Monkey Temple
Another fascinating feature of the road trip is that you pass the famous Monkey Temple, locally known as Wat Suwannakuha. The temple is just a ten-minute drive from Sarasin Bridge when leaving Phuket. I would suggest you stop there on your way to Ton Pariwat. Besides a majestic Buddhist Temple that is built into a mountainside, as the name might suggest, the temple grounds are filled to the brim with hundreds of monkeys. You are literally touching distance from our beloved ancestors, which is a fun experience, no matter how old or young you might be. Be careful if you are eating an ice-cream because the monkeys will swipe it out of your hands in a split-second. The overall trip will take you a full day but it’s one of those things you have to see with your own eyes to fully absorb.
As you can see, a Phuket holiday is much more than just Patong, Karon, and Kata. There are many things to see and do around the island that people just don’t know about. If you want that real travel experience, get off the beaten track and sample some of Phuket’s more untapped features recommended by a long-term resident with an eye for uniqueness.