Lonely Planet Pocket Phuket

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Pocket Phuket is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Find your perfect white beach, rock-climb at Railay Beach or dive in the aquamarine waters of the Similan Island; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of the best of Phuket and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Pocket Phuket:

  • Full-colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Over 10 colour neighbourhood maps
  • User-friendly layout with helpful icons, and organised by neighbourhood to help you pick the best spots to spend your time
  • Covers Phuket Town, Hat Patong, Hat Karon, Hat Kata, Rawai, Hat Kamala, Hat Surin, Ao Bang Thao, Thalang, Northern Beaches and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalize your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Pocket Phuket, a colorful, easy-to-use, and handy guide that literally fits in your pocket, provides on-the-go assistance for those seeking only the can't-miss experiences to maximize a quick trip experience.

  • Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Thailand for a comprehensive look at all the country has to offer, or Discover Thailand, a photo-rich guide that focuses on the country's best experiences.
  • Looking to have a beach-centric trip? Check out Lonely Planet Thailand's Islands and Beaches.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards winner in Favorite Travel Guide category for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

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Phuket Town & Around

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What, no beaches? Trade roasting in the sun for soaking up local culture in Phuket’s most authentic corner. Peek down alleyways to serene incense-shrouded Chinese Taoist shrines and wander lantern-strewn streets aglow at night. Century-old Sino-Portuguese hôrng tăa·ou (shophouses) huddle together, hosting artsy cafes, inexpensive boutique-chic guesthouses, quirky galleries, fantastic-value restaurants and buzzing bars, which attract a mixed, fashionable crowd of Thais, expats and tourists.

MFuel up on omelettes and breakfast bagels at Gallery Cafe, then take in the old-style charm and historical Sino-Portuguese buildings of Phuket Town's streets. Put it all into context at Phuket Thaihua Museum, before swinging by Chyn Pracha House. Jump in a taxi to Khao Rang for city panoramas, shade and fresh air. If you're feeling active, brave the one-hour walk back to town. Hungry yet? Drop into The Cook for green-curry-chicken pizza.

RDevote your afternoon to practising your royal culinary skills at Blue Elephant Cooking School. Otherwise, grab an Americano and a good read at Bo(ok)hemian and stock up on upmarket vintage fashion at Ranida, affordable fabrics and accessories at Ban Boran Textiles, or colourful abstract art at Drawing Room.

 

Hat Patong

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If Patong were a celeb, it’d be sprawled across the covers of trashy mags daily. Its knack for turning the midlife crisis into a full-scale industry and its complete disregard for managed development make it rampant with unintentional comedy. The only thing pure here is the white sand on the beach. But if you're after a party, come to Patong.

MNurse that hangover with a morning dip on Hat Patong, before soaking up the scene at Good Luck Shrine and indulging in a Thai herbal steam bath at Let's Relax. Follow up with a fresh Thai lunch at Kaab Gluay. If that sounds a little dull, devote your morning and afternoon to uncovering the Andaman's underwater wonders with Sea Fun Divers.

REscape the buzzing jet skis and afternoon hordes by chartering a long-tail boat to more secluded Hat Freedom. Back in Patong, throw together the perfect island-life outfit at Baru and Mrs Carino, or find Baanboonpitak for the ultimate antiques treasure hunt.

NAs night rolls around, Patong kicks into action. If you haven't scored tickets for Phuket Simon Cabaret or moo·ay tai at Bangla Boxing Stadium, the bars and clubs will keep you busy. Dine at eccentric Thai-Mediterranean Home Kitchen before you hit the sin-city epicentre that is Th Bangla and the heaving dance floors at Seduction and Illuzion.

 

Hat Karon & Hat Kata

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Embodying all that’s wonderful about Phuket, the conjoined twin beach towns of Kata and Karon are deservedly popular destinations. Kata is an energetic blend of bohemia and ritz. Karon is the chilled-out, scruffier, slightly seedier older sibling. Their long beaches, great eateries, host of activities and many bars – minus Patong’s excesses – reel in families, backpackers, Scandinavian and Russian tourists, and visitors from all walks of life.

MStretch straight into the day with a 9am body-bending session at Kata Hot Yoga. Then laze in beachside luxury at Re Ká Ta Beach Club or get pummelled into shape at Spa Royale, Baray Spa or The Spa, depending on where you're based. Grab lunch on the cheap at Pad Thai Shop or Kata Mama.

RFrom here, take your pick between a lazy beach-bliss afternoon at Hat Kata Yai or Hat Karon, an exhilarating surf session with Phuket Surf or a round of minigolf at wacky kids' favourite Dino Park. If you love Phuket's style, swing by Baru and Siam Handicraft for breezy beach outfits.

 

Rawai

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Now this is a place to live. Phuket's rapidly developing south coast is teeming with retirees, artists, and Thai and expat entrepreneurs. The island's original tourist destination, Rawai doesn't obviously embody beach-bum bliss, but has hidden beauties. Visit for the laid-back vibe, seafood grills and lush coastal hills tumbling into the Andaman forming Laem Phromthep, Phuket's southernmost point.

MLife is all about kicking back in Rawai, so start off late with pancakes or pastries at the German Bakery. Devote an hour or two to soaking up the spiritual atmosphere at Wat Chalong, then head straight to Hat Ya Nui or Ao Sane for a slice of pristine mountain-backed beach minus the crowds. For lunch, seek out spectacularly positioned Sabai Corner.

RGo for an action-packed afternoon of kitesurfing off Hat Friendship with Kite Zone or horse riding through jungle with Phuket Riding Club. Otherwise, take it slow checking out the vibrant art at Phuket Art Village. For sensational sunset views, make your way to Laem Phromthep, arguably the island's finest viewpoint.

 

Hat Kamala & Hat Surin

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Providing the perfect antidote to Patong’s madness, the beautiful, creamy-blonde neighbouring beaches of Kamala and Surin are blessed with exquisite pale turquoise waters and gentle shore breakers. Chilled-out Kamala attracts longer term, lower-key visitors, while Surin revels in a glitzy party vibe. Despite luxury development, these sands suit friends, families and young couples, and remain grounded by rustic beachfront seafood shacks.

MEnjoy an Italian-infused breakfast at Bocconcino, before claiming your white-sand turf on Hat Kamala or Hat Surin, or splashing out on the full beach pampering experience at super-chic Catch Beach Club. For those in Kamala, stroll past the beautiful, serene Tsunami Memorial.

RTake a break from the scorching midday sun to lunch on Thai-Mediterranean fusion fare at Taste or with the sea breeze at simple Thai Meena Restaurant. Then pop over to tucked-away Laem Singh for a late-afternoon dip or escape the heat with a pampering session at Sun Spa. Activity lovers can hire a surfboard or take a surfing class.

 

Big Buddha

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High atop the Nakkerd Hills, northwest of Chalong circle, and visible from almost half of the island, the 45m-high Big Buddha sits grandly on Phuket's finest viewpoint. It can feel more tourist-trap than spiritual haven, but the Buddha’s sheer size and beauty, the awe-inspiring surrounds and the hilltop serenity are reason enough to linger a while. Pay your respects at the tin-roofed golden shrine, then climb the stairs to the Big Buddha itself.

Big Buddha is an 11km drive east of Kata or Karon.

u From Kata/Karon taxis cost 500B.

u Drivers: it's 6km west off Rte 4021, 1km north of Chalong circle.

GOOGLE MAP
www.mingmongkolphuket.com ; off Rte 4021 ; h 6am-7pm ; p

AAs with all religious sites, dress conservatively. Women, especially, should cover up past the knee and over the shoulders. If needed, you'll be loaned a shawl.

 

Ao Bang Thao

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Ao Bang Thao's stunning, 8km-long white-sand beach is a journey into Phuket's psyche. The southern half is dotted with three-star bungalows; inland you’ll find an old fishing village. Smack in the centre is the bizarre Laguna Phuket complex of five-star resorts. At the northern end, Mother Nature, thankfully, reasserts herself with a lonely stretch of powder-white sand and tropical blue sea.

MAo Bang Thao is all about doing nothing, against a blissful beach backdrop. There are no real 'sights' to get you out of bed early here, so have a lie in and then amble down to Hat Bang Thao for a morning dip in the sea. Once you start getting peckish, pop just inland to Cafe de Bangtao for simple Thai and European staples, or stick with Thai and beachfront views at Andaman Restaurant.

RSpend the afternoon stretching out on your rattan sun lounger at Bliss Beach Club, being waited on hand and foot, sipping cocktails and exotic juices under casuarina trees, and deciding between swimming in the sea or the pool. For something to 'do', hunt down a good old Thai massage at Thai Carnation.

 

Thalang & Around

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Phuket's lush northeastern hemisphere is laced with temples, waterfalls, singing gibbons and white-knuckle jungle zip lines. Unfolding around the Heroines Monument, 13km north of Phuket Town, untouristed Thalang conceals some worthwhile cultural attractions. Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife & Forest Reserve, just north, makes for a fun day's adventure through Phuket’s tropical rainforest.

MArrive early to see Wat Phra Thong in the morning sun, before diving into Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife & Forest Reserve to learn about the island's gibbons at the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. Ask about guided hikes at the park's entrance, or take yourself off along a jungle-fringed path for a dip at Nam Tok Bang Pae. After all the action, you'll be starving, so drop in at Monkeypod for an espresso and a light lunch. If you fancy freshly caught seafood instead, head over to mangrove-shaded Bang Rong Seafood.

RSpend the afternoon uncovering fascinating historical facts at the dusty but excellent Thalang National Museum, then rouse yourself with an adrenaline hit ziplining through the jungle at Cable Jungle Adventures.

 

Northern Beaches

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Phuket’s northwest coast is one of its sweetest slices. Within 15 minutes of the airport lie some of the island’s dreamiest and least developed beaches: magnificent Hat Mai Khao, fun-loving Hat Nai Yang and easy-going Hat Nai Thon, protected as Sirinat National Park. If you're chasing what remains of Phuket’s beach seclusion and tranquility, where nature and tourism still co-exist, this is it.

MOnce you've rolled out of bed, grab a coffee and croissant at Bread & Butter before whizzing off to play with furry friends at Soi Dog and touring the foundation's facilities. Laze away the rest of the morning amid lotus ponds at Bua Luang Spa. Once lunchtime rolls around, pull up a plastic chair for tasty Thai at Mr Kobi or tuck into fresh seafood with a side of sea glimpses at Coconut Tree.

RSet aside the afternoon for lounging on the sand of whichever beach takes your fancy. If you get restless, enjoy a lengthy stroll along Hat Mai Khao or fly across the waves with a kitesurfing class at Kite Zone. Otherwise, if you're visiting with kids, the waterslide maze at Splash Jungle will keep everyone entertained.

 

Day-Trippin' Ko Phi-Phi

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Curvy bays, bleach-blonde beaches, bodacious jungles and long-tails puttering between craggy cliffs that rise from vivid turquoise waters. The insanely pretty islands of Ko Phi-Phi Don and Ko Phi-Phi Leh turn tropical-island clichés into a stunning reality. Boat over to Phi-Phi Leh to retrace Leo DiCaprio’s steps in The Beach, dive deep into the blue, hike up to the glorious viewpoint or just kick back for the day on any of the soft white sands sprinkled around.

Ko Phi-Phi is 47km southeast of Phuket.

f Boats leave Phuket's Tha Rassada at 9am, 11am and 3pm, returning at 9am, 2pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm (250B to 300B, two hours).

AArrive at Tha Rassada early to snag a good lounging spot: boats get crowded.

AIf you've got time, stay overnight to experience Phi-Phi's notorious nightlife.

APhi-Phi's fragile ecosystem and infrastructure struggles to cope with its influx of tourists. Tread lightly.

For Phi-Phi's cheapest, most authentic eats, hunt down the bubbly Local Food Market ( GOOGLE MAP ; Ton Sai Village; meals 60-80B; h7am-10pm). Otherwise, feast on world-roaming treats like bagels, burgers and pastas in a cafe-chic setting at expat fave Unni's ( GOOGLE MAP ; %081 979 2865; Ton Sai Village; mains 200-350B; h8am-midnight; W).

 

Diving in the Similan Islands

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Famous among divers the world over, the beautiful 70-sq-km Similan Islands Marine National Park is Thailand’s premier dive spot. Its smooth granite islands are as impressive above the bright-aqua water as below, topped with rainforest, edged with blindingly white beaches, fringed by kaleidoscopic coral reefs and teeming with exotic wildlife. Underwater lie dramatic gorges and boulder swim-throughs. The archipelago comprises 11 idyllic islands; while each is named, most are known by numbers.

f Day/overnight tours (from 2900/5000B), two-dive day trips (from 5000B) and multi-day live-aboards (from 16,000B to 19,000B) from Phuket or Khao Lak are best for Similans access.

Similan Islands Marine National ParkNATIONAL PARK

( % 076 453272 ; www.dnp.go.th ; adult/child 500/300B ; h mid-Oct–mid-May )

Known to divers the world over, the beautiful 70-sq-km Similan Islands Marine National Park lies 70km offshore from Phang-Nga province. Its smooth granite islands are as impressive above the bright-aqua water as below, topped with rainforest, edged with blindingly white beaches and fringed by coral reefs. Unfortunately, recent coral bleaching has killed off many of the hard corals, but soft corals are still intact, the fauna is there and it remains a lovely (and very popular) place to dive.

 

The Best of Phuket

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On an island that reels in six million beach-goers yearly, it’s easy to overlook wonderful Phuket Town, with its lack of white sands, blue waters and fiery sunsets. Which is exactly why you should visit. Phuket Town offers a rare, immediate insight into the island's history and this walk through its core Old Town will lead you past the mid-19th-century architectural legacies, grand mansions and narrow shophouses of the Baba (also known as Peranakan or Straits-Chinese) people.

Start Memory at On On Hotel

Finish Phuket Thaihua Museum

Length 2km; two hours

There are some sensational local-flavoured food stops tucked into Sino-Portuguese shophouses along Th Thalang, including Kopitiam by Wilai ( GOOGLE MAP ; %083 606 9776; www.facebook.com/kopitiambywilai; 18 Th Thalang; mains 80-120B; h11am-10pm Mon-Sat; W), which serves fantastic Phuket soul food alongside fresh chrysanthemum juice.

 

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