How to Plan the Perfect Itinerary for Phuket [2024]

Planning your itinerary for Phuket can be challenging. There are so many questions about the best way to spend your time on Thailand’s largest island. We have visited several times and spent hours poring over our itinerary for each visit. Then we put them to the test. So today we will share some things you need to think about when you plan your visit.

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One of the most important aspects of planning your trip to Phuket is deciding the time of year that you will go. Phuket experiences two main seasons each year: the dry season and the wet season.

During Phuket’s dry season (November to May), you’ll be able to enjoy non stop sunshine and the calm, blue waters of the Andaman Sea. This time of year is perfect if you want to plan island-hopping tours or perhaps a snorkelling trip.

If you are planning to visit Phuket during the height of the peak season between Dec and January, I recommend you book as early as possible for the best choice of accommodation.

Wet season sunset Kamala Beach

On the other hand, during Phuket’s wet season (June to October), you may experience some heavy downpours and choppier waters, with a few completely dry days here and there.

On our last wet season visit in July 2023, we had two perfect days and four days with morning showers that were otherwise relatively dry and one day of heavy rain. All days were still warm enough to swim.

For those who love surfing and visiting waterfalls, you may actually prefer the rainy season.

It’s important to note that out of all 77 of Thailand’s provinces, Phuket is one of the most affected regions during its wet season.

In light of that, I recommended budgeting a bit of extra time on your Phuket itinerary.

So how much time you should set aside for your dream Phuket trip? Working out how many days to spend in Phuket is the next step in planning the perfect itinerary.

To see all the major attractions and soak up the tropical island vibes, aim to book between 7-14 days in Phuket.

Don’t forget to allow for some downtime to spend on one of Phuket’s pristine beaches or even a day spent by the pool.

However, If you are planning a trip during the rainy season, then consider at least 10-14 days in Phuket to allow time to reschedule day trips when you hit bad weather.

These timeframes will allow you to explore Phuket at a leisurely pace and soak up its atmosphere. You will also be able to cover plenty of must-see attractions, eat lots of incredible local food, and have the option to do some island hopping.

I highly recommend you resist the urge to see lots of islands in a short amount of time in Thailand. Moving about takes time and I think at least four days is the minimum needed to spend time at a couple of Phuket’s best beaches and explore its interesting old town.

The beauty of visiting Phuket is that the island is brimming with things to do. From stunning, white sand beaches to traditional temples, this island has it all, which is why it’s often a popular destination for first-time visitors to Thailand.

Here are some spectacular places and things to do that can’t be missed from your Phuket itinerary:

Nai Harn Beach – One of Phuket’s best beaches is Nai Harn Beach. In the Southernmost part of the island, this quaint, little beach experiences some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ll ever see.

If you’re a sunset enthusiast, this beach cannot be missed. During the dry season, you’ll experience serene, turquoise-blue waters perfect for a relaxing dip under the scorching Thai sun.

Nai Harn Beach in July – wet season is still wonderful

Conversely, during the wet season, you’ll see strong waves, making it an exciting hub for surfers. Whether it’s serenity or adventure that you seek, this beach is the place to go.

Big Buddha – If you’re hoping to soak up some Thai culture whilst in the country then a visit to a temple is a must-do and Big Buddha is one of the most remarkable temples there is and really is a sight to behold.

The Big Buddha is a must see in Phuket

This giant, seated Buddha statue sits atop Nakkerd hill, 400m above sea level, offering panoramic views of Phuket island, as well as a sense of peace and tranquillity from the temple’s grounds.

Phuket Old Town: Take a walk through Phuket Old Town’s colourful, Sino-Portuguese architecture and bustling local life. During the day, you will find loads of choices for local eats, as well as cafe hopping galore.

There is fun street art and lots of photo opportunities hidden in small streets and laneways.

The street art in Phuket is some of the best in the country

As the sun starts to set, this part of town comes alive with the sound of live music and joyful conversations among friends; You’ll notice night market stalls and local bars will open and you will really feel the vibrance of this island.

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary – the only elephant experience we recommend on Phuket. At this sanctuary you can witness Thailand’s gentle giants up close and enjoy an interactive experience whilst learning about the rehabilitation of these majestic creatures at one of Thailand’s ethical elephant sanctuaries.

The sanctuary’s passionate staff will teach you about the welfare and conservation of these animals and provide you with an opportunity to observe their natural behaviours and feed them infinite amounts of fruit. Please reconsider visiting any other less ethical sanctuaries on the island.

Thai Cooking ClassThailand’s delicious cuisine will leave you with plenty of food cravings when you’re back at home. Instead of having to wait until your next holiday to eat it again, you can learn how to cook all of your favourite Thai dishes at a Thai cooking class while on your Phuket trip.

Pad Thai in Bangkok
Perfect Pad Thai an impress your family and friends

From Pad Thai to Tom Yum soup, you’ll be an expert at cooking authentic Thai food by the end of your class.

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Chillva Market – The best way to experience Thai street food is at one of Phuket’s many night markets. Chillva Market is open from Monday to Saturday, 5pm-11pm, and is one of the best markets on the island. Enjoy delicious local Thai cuisine whilst listening to live music and soaking up the lively atmosphere of the market. If you are here on a Sunday visit the walking street in Old Town.

Monkey Hill Viewpoint – It is possible to see wild monkeys in Phuket at this stunning viewpoint in town, if that’s your thing. Personally, I recommend it for the view, monkeys scare me! You can choose to drive or hike up the hill and along the way, you’ll be greeted by packs of macaques.

Aerial drone view from Monkey Hill in Phuket, Thailand
Aerial drone view from Monkey Hill in Phuket

Monkey Hill offers astounding views of the island and you may even be able to snap a pic with a monkey in the background. Do be warned, these monkeys can be thieves from time to time, so don’t take anything too valuable with you.

Promthep Cape: For the best sunsets in Phuket, you’ll want to head to the very south of the island, to Promthep Cape.

Promthep Cape Phuket
Our latest trip to Promthep Cape was too overcast for a good sunset sadly

This lookout point is renowned for its mesmerising sunsets overlooking the Andaman Sea and a neighbouring island. If you’re feeling adventurous, then you can even hike down the cape to get an unobstructed view of the sunset. We didn’t get there for sunset on our most recent visit, but even in midmorning on a wet rainy season day it is a lovely view.

Kata Beach: Another one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches is Kata Beach. This beach is loved by many as it tends to be less crowded than the likes of Nai Harn Beach, has stunning sunset views and even a view of Big Buddha from the water.

Kata Beach Phuket
Kata Beach in the late afternoon sun

You will find plenty of local street food stalls on the road adjacent to the beach. We always pop into this reggae bar at the far end of the beach for a few drinks and some people watching.

We have just scratched the surface with these. Honestly, there is so much more from the water parks to the cultural shows, walking food tours, snorkelling trips, you really will not run out of things to do!

When planning your Phuket itinerary, you should be sure to budget one or two days for a day trip or island-hopping tour. Phuket is well-located in the Andaman Sea and a great hub for accessing some of the most idyllic islands in Southern Thailand.

Here are a few day trip options you may want to consider:

James Bond Island

One of the most iconic locations in the whole of Thailand has to be the famous 007 island, now known as James Bond Island. Located in Phang Nga Bay, this island can be reached by a 1-hour boat ride from Phuket.

James Bond Island Thailand
We took this on our sunrise tour to James Bond Island – start early to avoid the crowds

Along the way, you’ll can kayak through limestone caves and relax on stunning beaches – for most people this tour is a must-do. Some people worry it’s too touristy so if you are not sure if it’s right for you read our article Should you visit James Bond Island? and decide for yourself.

Phi Phi Island

These beautiful islands look straight off of a postcard. When you picture the turquoise-blue waters, white sand beaches and limestone cliffs that are typical of the land of the smiles, the Phi Phi islands are likely what you’re envisioning.

Phi Phi Island
Make the trip to Phi Phi by cruiser, sailing boat or long tail

You can travel between the islands on a long tail boat, catch a dreamy sunset and, if you’re lucky, you may even get the chance to see bioluminescent plankton in the waters surrounding these islands. Travelling on a budget? Plan a do it yourself trip to Phi Phi Islands.

Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are often overlooked by travellers to Southern Thailand who are missing out on this spectacular archipelago. From above the surface, you’ll find crystal-clear waters and picturesque beaches and down below, a vibrant and thriving marine world. These islands attract divers and snorkelling lovers from all around the world, as well as those who simply seek a beautiful view.

Phuket city often gets a bad rap for its nightlife scene, as many assume that Patong is the only place to go if you fancy a night on the town.

Although the famous Bangla Road in Patong can be a fun experience for those who love clubbing and all-night entertainment, if you aren’t partial to the lively nightlife of this area, there are still plenty of options that you can add to your Phuket itinerary:


Just north of Patong Beach, you can experience a wildly different nightlife scene in the areas of Karon and Kamala. These beachside towns are home to some of Phuket’s most glamorous beach clubs, such as Cafe del Mar and Pine Beach Club.

Tann Terrace Kamala Beach

The bars and clubs in this area tend to be more upscale than Patong and have a more relaxed atmosphere. Kamala is the perfect place to go if you want to dance the night away to some tropical house in a beautiful setting.

Bang Tao

Partygoers from across the island will flock to the Bang Tao Beach area at night to catch a beautiful sunset, followed by a night of exotic tunes in one of the many beachside bars and beach clubs. Popular beach clubs in this area include Catch Beach Club and Carpe Diem Beach Club.

Phuket Town

If you want to party where the locals go, then Phuket Town is the place to be. Here you’ll find tons of hidden gem bars with live music and packed full of local Thai people – you may even be the only tourist there.

We prefer the nightlife in Phuket Town to Patong

The bars in Phuket Town have a cheerful, fun vibe and offer a unique look into local life.

Choosing which area to stay in Phuket can set the tone for the rest of your trip, making it one of the most important decisions regarding your Phuket itinerary. Each area has its own unique charm and atmosphere, from luxury resorts and villas in the north to a laid-back fishing village in the south. Let’s review some of the best areas to stay in Phuket.


For those seeking a quiet, peaceful holiday away from the riffraff of Patong Beach, then the Rawai area is ideal. This part of town is home to some of the loveliest beaches on the island (Nai Harn Beach and Ya Nui Beach), has a great mix of local eats and cute cafes, as well as being near the Pier, making it a great location for those wanting to do plenty of island hopping.

Phuket Town

If you’re looking for cultural immersion and delicious street food at every meal, then staying in Phuket Town will offer you the best of both worlds.

On On hotel phuket town
The Memory of On On Hotel

The streets of Phuket Town are filled with vibrant, colourful architecture and are rich in history. You’ll be able to enjoy night markets on the weekend and an exuberant local party scene in the evenings. We have stayed at both The Memory of On On Hotel and Casa Blaca Boutique Hotel and I would highly recommend either for location, comfort and service.

Read our full guide on where to stay in Phuket for more detailed advice


Like Rawai, Bangtao has a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere perfect for those seeking peace and serenity on their Phuket travels.

Bangtao is home to some of Phuket’s most luxurious resorts and villas, so if you’re looking to splash out and treat yourself on this trip, this part of Phuket will be a dream for you.

Bangtao is in the north of the island, close to Phang Nga Bay, making James Bond Island tours very accessible for travellers to this region.

Getting to Phuket is easy, with the island accessible by air and sea. For most international travellers, flying into Phuket International Airport is the most convenient option.

From the airport, you have the full range of options to reach the rest of the island including, a public bus service, taxis, shuttle services and rental cars.

For domestic travellers within Thailand, Phuket is well-connected with regular flights from Bangkok and other major cities.

The distance between Phuket and other key destinations in Thailand varies depending on the mode of transportation chosen. From Bangkok, you can take a direct flight to the Phuket airport, which will take between 1-1.5 hours. One of the furthest locations from Phuket would be Chiang Mai and yet, it can still be reached in two hours on a direct flight.

About the author: Paula Morgan first visited Thailand in 1999 and has been returning regularly ever since. This year she has spent 3 months discovering what’s new. She loves exploring its less visited spots, not just the iconic landmarks and historic temples, but the hidden alleys, family run cafes and food stalls and the small communities in the islands of the south and the lush forests and mountains of Thailand’s north.