Phuket Tours

by Guest

Phuket Tours - introduction

There are plenty of things to do in Phuket – restaurants, nightlife, museums and temples. Sometimes the best way to explore the area is by a guided tour through Phuket. Tour operators offers myriad options, usually centred around visits to the other nearby islands, adventurous activities like white-water rafting, fishing and shows. Here’s a comprehensive list of the tours available to tourists visiting Phuket Island.

1. Visit the Phi Phi Islands

Located around 40 kilometres from Phuket, Phi Phi is a must-visit place for travelers visiting this region of Thailand. The archipelago is made up from six islands including Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh. The islands are perhaps best known as the filming location of ‘The Beach’, the adaptation of Alex Garland’s award-winning book. The islands are surrounded by limestone karsts that rise out of the turquoise ocean. Relax on the white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees or jump into the sea to snorkel around coral teeming with exotic marine life. Day trips from Phuket cost around US $30 including boat transport and a guided tour.

2. Speed boat tour to James Bond Island

One of the most popular tours from Phuket is a visit to James Bond Island. It’s usually combined with a visit to cruise around Phang Nga Bay. James Bond Island gets its name due to being one of the filming locations from the movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Many options for these tours are available including a junk boat cruise, swimming or canoeing around the limestone karst mountains that tower over the ocean below and through the mangrove forests. Day trips from Phuket cost around US $40 including boat transport and a guided tour.

3. Explore the reefs around Coral Island

If snorkeling is a priority, consider taking the tour to Coral Island located around 10 kilometres off the southern tip of Phuket. The island is surrounded by some of the best coral reefs in the Andaman Sea. Jump onto the sea from the white sandy beaches and snorkel around the coral to discover the rich marine life. There are other activities to do on a day trip. Hike along the islands trails and around the coves or take part in the many water sports including parasailing, jet skiing and banana boat rides. Coral Island is reached by speedboat and takes around 30 minutes from Phuket Island. Day trips from Phuket cost around US $40 including boat transport, guide and sometimes lunch.

Coral Island

Coral Island is located around 10 km off the southern tip of Phuket. Photo by Steve

4. Visit the three Khai Islands

The waters around the three Khai Islands are teeming with wildlife. Speed boat tours from Phuket are daily throughout the high season. There are beaches blanketed in powdery white sand for sun bathers, shallow reefs to snorkel in, and clam waters for swimming. Visibility is almost always excellent here. The islands are tiny and lie around 10 kilometres from Phuket, so an afternoon tour is probably sufficient. Tours from Phuket cost around US $30 including the speedboat ride and a guide.

5. See the limestone karsts in Krabi

It takes around 1.5 hours to reach Krabi from Phuket, but is well worth the journey. If you are travelling onwards, consider taking a one-way tour and spend another day or two in the region before moving on. The towering limestone karsts here are simply astounding. These are punctuated by many sandy beaches and coves. When booking your tour, check that it visits Phra Nang Bay, Poda Island and Koah Tap. Day tours from Phuket cost around US $55 including the speedboat return journey and a guide.

6. Junk boat dinner cruise in Phang Nga Bay

Board a traditional junk boat to take a sunset cruise along Phang Nga Bay. The cruise meanders past the limestone karsts, views of which can be admired while enjoying a mouthwatering southern Thai dinner. When the sun sets and dinner is over. Sit back at look up at the stars, uninterrupted by any light pollution. A sunset cruise costs around US $75 including the boat trip, guide, dinner and drinks.

7. Snorkel in the Similan Marine National Park

The Similan Islands National Park is located 80 kilometres from Phuket Island. The largest island of the tiny archipelago can be walked across in around 10 minutes. Don’t let the size put you off. Some of the best shallow reef snorkeling can be done here. The protected park is home to range of endemic species. It’s possible to do the trip in a day or stay overnight on the island. There are no permanent buildings on the island, so guests stay in tents on the beach. Though this is an interesting experience, it can get hot and sand flies are a problem. Day trips to the Similan Islands including the boat trip, guide, snorkeling equipment and lunch start from around US $80 per person. 

Similan Islands National Park

Similan Islands National Park

8. Phuket Quad bike tours

There are plenty of adventurous tours available in Phuket. For motor-heads, book a ATV (quad bike) tours across the island. Though routes vary, most will visit the huge Big Buddha located on the highest point on Phuket as well as Chalong Bay and through the dirt roads and forests. Drive carefully past the wild elephants! Afternoon tours including quad bike hire, guide, petrol, and helmet costs around US $30.

9. Trek on an elephant

Elephant trekking is a wonderful experience. Usually two passengers sit atop an elephant and a guide will take you on a half day tour of the island. Visit the Big Buddha Safari Camp, the highest point on the islands where views down over Chalong Bay, the Andaman archipelago and Phuket City. It can be combined with a ATV quad bike tour to get further afield. An afternoon tour costs around US $27 including an elephant ride, guide, and transport to and from your hotel.

10. Zip lining through the forest

Zip lining is an adrenaline inducing experience. The Flying Hanuman offers an zip lining experience which takes guests through the canopy tree line landing on almost 30 different platforms spread over 80,000 square metres of beautiful jungle. When you arrive, take a short safety briefing before donning a harness and setting out on this thrilling and unforgettable experience. An afternoon day trip starts at around US $60 including equipment, guide and transport to and from your hotel.

11. Explore the wildlife of the jungle

For wildlife lovers, a visit to Khao Lak and Khao Sok National Parks is a must do. Located just over 100 kilometres north of Phuket Town, the parks offer guests the opportunity to spot monkeys, reptiles, and bird life. Night safaris reveal a whole host of other wildlife. It’s not just the wildlife. Visitors get to try their hand at canoeing, bamboo rafting, trekking and elephant rides. For those who want a longer stay, it’s possible to stay overnight in floating lodges in Khao Sok National Park. Day trips to the national parks including activities, guide, transport, food, and snacks cost around US $60.

Fishing in Thailand

Fishing in Thailand

12. Go sport fishing

The warm waters around Phuket are home to some large fish species including sailfish, tuna, marlin and billfish. It’s uncommon to come back from a fishing trip without a catch! Most fishing trips visit the Racha Islands located 25 kilometres of so from Phuket Island. Though it isn’t the best time to visit, the low season between May and November fill the waters with mackerel and barracuda. Try and join one of the boats that cooks up the fresh catch. Private charters are clearly more expensive, but day trips on larger fishing vessels can cost as little as $60 including the boat trip, guide and fishing equipment.

13. White Water Rafting

The Phang Nga Rafting Camp offers thrilling white water rafting tours for people with different skill levels. The rafts take up to six people along with an experience white water rafting guide. The day starts with a safety briefing, before donning safety gear and boarding the boat to head down the river which meanders through the jungle on grade 2-3 rapids. The experience is best combined with a ATC quad bike tour and elephant trekking safari. The white water rafting is an experience for all ages including children and costs around US $25 including transport, guide and equipment.

14. Enjoy dinner at the FantaSea show

A unique experience, the FantaSea is a staged cultural show that highlights elements of Thai culture and history through storytelling. State-of-the-art technology from pyrotechnics, 4-D effects and illusions come together with dancing, singing, acrobatics and aerial performances to create a colourful experience. Much like the shows seen in Las Vegas, it’s big with huge audiences. Though impressive, we’re not as keen on the use of elephants for entertainment. Visitors enjoy a huge (and delicious) buffet dinner to enjoy while the show is on.  Tickets with dinner cost around US $35.

15. Watch the impressive Siam Niramit Phuket show

Another huge Las Vegas-style show with hundreds of performers, colourful costumes and impressive set designs. The storytelling helps guests understand the history and culture of Thailand, helped with plenty of special and 4-D effects, singing, dancing and acrobatics. Tickets cost around US $30 including entrance and transport to and from your accommodation.

16. Learn to cook southern Thai cuisine

There are several cooking schools in Phuket offering morning, afternoon and full day experiences to learn Thai cuisine. Most start with a guided visit to the local produce market to meet the vendors and learn about the exotic ingredients in Thai cuisine. Return to the school to don aprons and start to make your pastes and stir frys. Vegetarians shouldn’t be put off, most cater with meat free dishes. Be sure to check the review on Trip Advisor before booking and ask whether you will be making the pastes or they are premade. It is also worth finding out whether you are given a copy of the recipes to take away and make at home. Thai cuisine is very regional, so make sure you go for a tour which focuses on southern Thai cuisine. Costs for a half day cooking class start around US $25 per person.

17. Take a street food tour

To discover where the locals eat, consider taking an evening food tour. During the small group or private tour, local foodie guides will take you to a number of hidden spots through Phuket Town to try a range of dishes. A good food tour guide will also teach you about the history of Thai cuisine and the eating culture as well as teaching you some Thai. Be sure to check the itinerary carefully. Some tours just visit a couple of the night markets which are easily reached yourself. Look out for tours which take you away from the tourist spots. An evening food tour with guide, multiple dishes and transport costs around $35.

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