When visiting Thailand it is a must to visit this amazing island. We stayed here for 10 days and enjoyed every bit of it. Click here to find out how we book our travels. We also visited during monsoon season so this is something to consider when reading our recommendations and suggestions below:
1. Karon Beach: We stayed in Karon beach and enjoyed it as it was not as busy as the more famous Patong beach. Plenty to do and eat nearby. You are close to everything and a taxi or scooter ride away from other beaches (Kata, Kata Noi, Patong, Surin, Tri Tang). Our favorite beaches were Kata Noi and Tri Trang. They both were quieter, less crowded and less contaminated. Unfortunately, a lot of tourists are leaving trash behind and damaging these beautiful beaches.
2. Food: Food was really good at small restaurants. There are a lot of places geared toward tourists with more international food so make sure to find the smaller restaurants to try local cuisine. FYI if you have a shellfish allergy be very careful as all Thai food is usually cooked with oyster sauce. Make sure to tell your server!
4. If you visit during monsoon beaches will be a lot rougher but still beautiful. Visiting some of the other island such as Phi Phi and Maya Bay on the other hand might not be suggested as they are further out and sometimes trips are cancelled due to weather. During monsoon you are chancing it with the rain. Some days will be sunny, others will rain all day and sometimes you'll just have intermittent rain throughout the day.
5. Take a cooking class. What a great experience to learn how to shop and cook some traditional Thai dishes. We did it through: http://phuketthaicooking.com/
7. Visit Wat Chalong and Karon Temple Market to buy some souvenirs. Every Tuesday and Saturday.
8. Visit Bangla Rd. Here you can find some stores for souvenir shopping, restaurants, bars and a lot of tourists. This was a little too crowded for our liking but its part of the party scene that everyone should try out.
9. Get a massage: nothing better than a relaxing massage. Leg and foot massages cost about 500 baht (8 dollars) and they are amazing! You can also get a Thai Massage. These are a little more intense but nevertheless part of the experience. Massage parlors are everywhere so you have plenty to choose from.
11. DO NOT do Elephant Trekking! This seems very appealing to tourists as it did to us until we saw the poor conditions of the elephants. Elephant tourism is very sad and a big problem in Thailand. Elephants in Phuket are exploited and unfortunately tourists continue to pay to take pictures and this only contributes to the cruelty. Elephants are an endangered species. You will see them chained up at Tri Trang beach and then let go for a "Swim" with tourists. You will see them chained up on the road up to Big Buddha and tourists taking pictures. If you want to see them visit the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. This is a sanctuary that protects and looks out for the well-being of Thailand's elephants. If you must do elephant trekking in Phuket look into companies that are working on conservation projects such as Siam Safari.