Phuket is world famous as a beach and party destination. Being one of the biggest tourist hubs of Southeast Asia it draws extremely large numbers of visitors each year and provides plenty for them to do during their visit. Phuket is divided into two halves by a large hill. The more touristy part is on one side called Patong, with hotels, shopping, beaches and the vast majority of the city’s clubs and bars. The other side of the hill houses Old Phuket, the original heart of the city, which is home to more local residences and businesses but is where you can see Phukets historic side. While the Old Phuket has more historical buildings, Patong houses the Big Buddha and the largest temple complexes in the region. If you are looking for nightlife and partying, Phuket is the place to be and definitely Patong in particular. As far as bars, clubs and evening entertainment goes, the only place I have seen outdo Phuket is Las Vegas, however, you can’t have a massive night out in Vegas for less than $50. The beaches are the perfect place to rest and recover the next day and Phuket has plenty of them. The Phuket Botanical Gardens are also a fantastic place to relax and unwind amidst some beautiful gardens. If you are looking for elephant riding, Phuket has that too at a reasonable cost. You can find far better elephant experiences in other parts of Thailand and even better in Laos, but if you aren’t leaving the tourist haven of Phuket, its still definitely worth doing.
Phuket Big Buddha
Phukets Big Buddha has been completed since my time in Thailand and having seen pictures, it looks fantastic. The statue is located on a peak looking down over the city. The sheer size of the statue is impressive and the temple leading up to the statue is beautiful in itself, having incorporated the trees on the temple grounds to hold bells and other religious items. Definitely worth a visit.
Wat Chalong Temple
Wat Chalong Temple is not by a longshot the most impressive in Thailand, but is still stunning nonetheless. If your only time in Thailand is going to be spent in Phuket then you have to visit Wat Chalong to get a basic glimpse into Thai religion and culture and to see traditional Thai architecture, which in my opinion is amongst the most stunning in the world.
Phuket’s nightlife is absolutely crazy. As I stated, the only place I have been that rivals or beats it is Las Vegas. The difference being that you can leave home with $50, have an entire night out in Phuket and come home with change. Drinks and street food are dirt cheap and can be found literally everywhere in the city. You stay a week in Phuket and not have to drink at the same bar or club twice. Make sure to hit up the Thai street-food market located at the end of Rat-u-thit Songroipi Rd for some of the cheapest, tastiest and most varied food selections you can find.
Patong does in fact have elephants despite being more urbanized than a lot of Thailand. The company will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the elephant riding location just outside of the city. As I stated earlier you can find far nicer elephant experiences in other parts of Thailand and even nicer in Laos. If you are only visiting Phuket though, its definitely an amazing experience to have.
Phuket Botanical Gardens
Phuket has one of the nicest botanical gardens I have ever visited, being almost on par with that of Singapore. If you need a place to escape the bustle of Patong or to recover from your hangover from the night before then this is a fantastic place to do so. The exhibits and environments created here are almost works of art in some cases. I highly recommend spending some time here, especially if you are on a budget.