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When imagining your ideal beach getaway with white sand, wind-blown palm trees, turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs, chances are you’re imagining Thailand. Phuket specifically is one of Thailand’s most beautiful and most popular destinations. So, if you’re planning a trip to the island, it’s helpful to be conscious of your itinerary and make sure it’s not full of tourist traps. Luckily, AllTheRooms has created a list of the best-hidden things to do in Phuket. Add these to your agenda to make your vacation that much better.
Tour the Sino-Portuguese Mansions
Everyone visiting Phuket will most likely wander along Thalang Road at some point on their vacation. It’s the main central street in Phuket’s charming old town and makes for a great afternoon walk. If you’re a fan of old architecture, continue down the road to stumble across the massive and beautiful centuries-old mansions. Some of them have been refurbished and repurposed, while others have fallen victim to slow decay and the quiet encroachment of the surrounding jungle. Our favorites include the Limpanon house, the Dibuk mansion, the Baan Chinpracha, and the Raya house.
It’s a weirdly anticlimactic feeling when a beach advertised as a “paradise” turns out to be a steaming hotbed of tourists and aggressive techno music. If you’re having to swim-move crowds of children en route to the water, you may be better off finding a different spot. Surprisingly, not every stone has been unturned in Phuket. Hat Nai Han is a great spot on the south coast that’s very peaceful. There’s a collection of small restaurants tucked away from the water with great views of the sunset.
Slightly west of Nai Han is Ao Sane, a very secluded rocky beach with a handful of cabanas and only one restaurant. It’s a good spot for snorkeling but bring your gear from elsewhere as the facilities in Ao Sane are limited. In the far south of Phuket are Hat Nai Yang and Hat Mai Khao, two long stretches of beach usually only visited by locals. These spots neighbor the Sirinat National Park which boasts some of the islands best green spaces. Pro tip: Mai Khao is situated right next to the airport, so park yourself on the beach and watch the planes fly frighteningly close to your head.
One of the best ways to experience a place is often from above. No matter where you are — Tokyo, New York, or Cape Town — getting to the tallest structure with the best viewpoint is a great way to gain some perspective. Phuket is no different. One of the best is Sabai Corner, a lesser-known restaurant with stunning views of Kata Yai, Kata Noi, and Karon beaches.
Away from the commotion and resorts of Phuket proper is Samet Nangshe, one of the best viewpoints on the island. Hike to the top of a steep hill and appreciate a landscape where lush marshlands meet jungle-topped monoliths rising spectacularly out of the sea. There’s no light pollution, so you may be able to spot the milky way on a clear night. If that’s not your thing, try the Radar Hill viewpoint; despite its gringo name, it’s a great lookout for scenes of the beach below.
As far as nightlife is concerned, it seems that most people visiting Phuket enjoy the electronic club scene, so, that leaves plenty of hidden gems in the genre of live music. Rockin’ Angels Blues Bar has resident musicians playing smooth jams and often invite customers to join them on stage. Timber Hut is a great place where locals tend to party with bands playing rock and pop, and DJ’s playing hip-hop between sets. Café Opera offers a more upscale jazz ambiance with extremely talented musicians and a great menu for dinner and drinks.