As one of the best-loved tourist destinations in Thailand, Phuket brings in millions of visitors each year from every corner of the world. The dramatic rock formations in the area have indeed mesmerised visitors for generations, while the beaches are also striking in their beauty.
As spectacular as Phuket’s famous attractions may be, there’s much more to this tropical island than its Instagram-ready tourist spots. For the most part, Phuket’s own residents and frequent visitors love the island for entirely different reasons.
From temples and museums all the way to giant shopping malls, Phuket offers a magnificent selection of places to live, relax, and hang out with the people closest to you.
Temples and Monuments
One of the newest and most memorable places to visit on Phuket island is a cultural one. In contrast to its centuries-old (and much smaller) counterparts, the island’s 45-metre Big Buddha statue is brand new, covered with white marble, and constructed at a cost of $1 million in donations. This gargantuan statue offers sweeping panoramic views over Chalong Bay, but there is much more to experience here. Monks frequently conduct ceremonies near the base of the monument, while a museum illustrates the back-story behind the statue itself.
Of course, size isn’t everything – and other statues such as the Buddha of Wat Kao Rang or the reclining Buddha of Wat Sri Sunthorn offer a more traditional experience, with their added depth and texture. Furthermore, Wat Chalong is another beloved holy site on the island, which many regard as the most beautiful temple in Phuket.
For a completely different kind of experience, art and technology lovers will enjoy exploring Phuket Town’s Trick Eye Museum. Its optical illusions are endlessly original, and make for an excellent alternative to the island’s outdoor activities.
Baan Teelanka (The Upside-Down House) near Phuket’s east coast is another eye-bending Phuket attraction that is not to be missed. Baan Teelanka lets you escape to an original and creative universe where normal rules don’t apply and life goes on from a very different perspective.
Old Phuket Town
History lovers will enjoy a visit to Old Phuket Town, with its European architectural influences. You’ll find a great number of old and charming buildings, including Sino-Portuguese shops and Chinese mansions. A casual walk through the streets of Old Phuket is a fine way to spend a relaxing afternoon with friends or family, as you explore the Chinese temples and Sirikit Park. Naturally, there are plenty of coffee shops where you can rest, relax, and re-energise.
Of course, as Phuket is an island with a rich history of blending diverse cultures, it should be no surprise that its markets make for fascinating visits. The centrally located Phuket Weekend Market is a particularly interesting source of traditional goods, letting you appreciate the work of local artisans. Yet the area also thrives as a modern marketplace, letting you browse through a diverse collection of everything from designer handbags to trendy trinkets to second-hand clothes. West of the city, Banzaan Market provides a pleasant and clean environment where you can enjoy some tasty offerings, including seafood, meat, exotic fruits, vegetables and Thai sweets as well.
Jungceylon Mall at Patong Beach currently wears the crown as the best shopping mall in Phuket, where every visit feels like a genuinely special experience. The mall’s visually ambitious layout is home to hundreds of stores and plenty of marvellous relaxation areas.
The nearby Banana Walk mall on the beachfront is another fine Phuket attraction, and a superb place to hang out with friends. Over in Phuket Town, Central Festival will let you relax in air-conditioned peace, see a movie or two, and bring home some fine souvenirs from your trip.