Pristine beaches, island hopping, party – 3 things that come to mind when you think of Phuket. While all of these is what makes Phuket a perfect holiday destination with friends, there’re plenty of things that you can do if you’re traveling alone or are not particularly interested in partying. During my week long trip to Thailand, I had a two-day stay in Phuket which I mostly explored on my own. If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, I suggest you hop over to Phuket for just a weekend. Here’s all that you can do (apart from watching sunsets at the lovely beaches).
DAY 1 – saturday
Take a boat trip to Muslim Fishing Village (Ko Panyi)
An online search of Phang Nga Bay will give you plenty of cruise tours to James Bond Island and sea caves. While they are cheaper than hiring your own boat, I’d recommend you go for the latter. For 3000 BAHT (you can negotiate for price) you get your own private boat which will take you to the James Bond Island (yep, a couple of Bond movies were shot here), sea caves where you can get on a sea canoe and Ko Panyi – the Muslim Fishing Village. The ride will take around 3-4 hours. There’s an entry of 300 BAHT at the James bond island (you can avoid that) and 400 BAHT for hiring the canoe (go for it! You can also drive the canoe by yourself. I did it while my canoe driver was smoking and chilling).
Ko panyi is the highlight of this trip. The village was built by the nomadic fishing tribe from Malaysia at the time when foreigners weren’t allowed to buy land in Thailand. The village is built entirely on stilts. There’s a mosque which is built on the island (it was built much later when the community was able to buy land) and a floating football pitch.
ProTip: There;re a few big restaurants in Ko Panyi which’ll try to lure you as soon as you get off from the boat. Your boatman will also try and force you to eat there. But I’d suggest you go inside the village and eat at small shops selling mango and sticky rice, curries and soup.
Head to weekend night market
After your private boat cruise head to the Phuket Weekend Night Market which is held on Saturdays from 4-9pm. It’s one of the best places to explore the local food. Here you’ll get fresh seafood which is grilled or fried right there, meat grilled on sticks, weird assortment of sushi (I had one with quail egg), noodles, Thai curries with rice, salads and what not. Grab a Chang or lion (local beer) from any stall and walk around eating to your heart’s content. There’re also shops selling clothes and souvenirs.
Day 2 – Sunday
take traditional thai cooking class
One of my best Phuket experience was this cooking class in Royal Thai cuisine. Blue Elephant restaurant in Phuket Town hosts these classes regularly where they take you on a market tour to familiarize you to local ingredients. You spend around 3 hours learning the nitty gritties of Thai cooking and then have a leisurely lunch of all that you cook. For 3295 BAHT you learn to cook 4 dishes yes, it’s steep but it’s totally worth it if you love to cook.)
Walk around the pretty Phuket town
Once done with your lunch walk around the beautiful Phuket town. It’s lined with pretty cafes and you’ll spot beautiful wall-art all around. In the evening it gets lit-up and looks like a town from a story book.
Plonk yourself at this lovely book cafe
While walking around the street I found this beautiful book cafe called Bookhemian, perfect place to grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa and spend some time with your nose buried in a book.
Take a rum distillery tour
One of the most beautiful places in Phuket, the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery. Nestled between sugarcane farm, this distillery is around 7 years old and makes its rum with pure sugarcane juice (as opposed to brands that make theirs with sugarcane molasses). They have regular distillery tours (last one at 6pm) for 450 BAHT which includes a complimentary and quite potent Mojito. After the tour you can spend some time here downing cocktails and can also buy the rum to take home. They make flavoured rums too and the cinnamon one is a must try.
– The taxis in Phuket are really expensive and they don’t go by meter so it’ll be ideal to hire your own car or bike especially if you want to drive to Phang Nga Bay.
– The tuk tuk guys will bargain but will try to take you to souvenir shops (they get a commission for bringing customers). Make sure you say no to that. It’s a massive waste of time.
– If you’re traveling from India don’t opt for Visa On Arrival, it’s more expensive (2000 BAHT on arrival as opposed to around 1000 if you get it in India itself) and you might end up queuing up for a very long time. Also, for VOA they ask you to carry 20,000 BAHT in cash.
– Very few (to almost none) places accept forex card so make sure you carry cash.