The warmth of the sun on my skin, crystal clear waters for as far as the eye can see. Soft, white sand underneath my toes and a gentle breeze ruffling my hair. Visiting Phuket, Thailand was one of my favorite stops on my five-month solo adventure. It’s here that my love for Thailand was cemented, despite once thinking that it was an overcrowded and overrated country (*cringes*).
My only worry when decided to leave Singapore and fly to Phuket, was the fear that the island would be completely overrun with tourists and thus… overrated. I have heard horror stories of Pa Tong Beach being overcrowded, housing hostile backpackers, and petty crime. But the island has much more to offer than Pa Tong. So when I decided to visit, I decided to avoid what is known as the tourist zones of Phuket and instead spent my time exploring the northwest area of Phuket.
A Guide to Phuket, Thailand
Where to Stay in Phuket
While most of my solo trip was spent in cheap hotels, Airbnbs, and the occasional hostel… in Phuket, I went all out. Or subsequently, my parents went all out. They joined me for nine days as we explored Singapore and Phuket.
We arrived at the island and immediately checked ourselves into Pullman Phuket Arcadia located on Nai Thon Beach in Northwest Phuket (only 15 minutes from the airport). The Pullman Phuket Arcadia is a chic hotel nestled on a hill, away from the hustle and bustle of Phuket’s busy streets. While I preferred staying on hotel property, lounging at the pool overlooking Nai Thon Beach, the hotel also provides easy access to the beach if you’d prefer to lounge on the white sand beach.
When it comes time to eat make sure to venture to the Italian restaurant, Vero, located on the resort. It overlooks the pool, and down to the beach giving you the best seats in the house for a Phuket sunset.
The Best Beaches in Phuket
Two kilometers down the coast of Phuket will bring you to the hidden beach of Banana Beach. Hidden by rocks, and trees, you’ll only know you’ve made it when you come across the multiple, parked motorbikes. Take the steps down to the beach to enjoy a beer on the beach or more longboats!
BANG TAO BEACH
Six kilometers further down the coast of Phuket will take you from Banana Beach to Bang Tao Beach. A more expansive, and open beach with more visitors. However, it’s here that you’ll find the most delicious and authentic food stands. With makeshift restaurants set up on the beach you’ll be able to enjoy the views in front of you, toes in the sand, and amazing food on your plate.
NAI THON BEACH
A quiet beach located near the airport, Nai Thon has more to offer than white sand and clear water. Here you can rent a longboat and boat out to a small, unnamed island for snorkeling. Or walk up to the main street to order street food and a beer to enjoy on the beach.
Where to Eat and Drink in Phuket
Wilawan – Located on Nai Thon Beach, Wilawan is a small, fast restaurant serving coffee and dessert waffles.
Drift Beach Club – Located on Nai Thon Beach, the Drift Beach Club is where you want to go for food and/or drinks with great beach views.
Tomato Bar – For a truly authentic experience head to Bang Tao Beach to discover this makeshift restaurant. Serving the best pad thai I have eaten throughout my entire Thailand trip, it’s worth it to make the trek to Bang Tao strictly for the food.
While one horror story can turn you off from an entire destination, Phuket turned out to be much more of an undiscovered gem than I expected it to be. Although I was visiting in high season – January, I still felt as though I sometimes had entire beaches to myself. I never felt the overcrowding sensation of Bangkok, or the horrible tourist stories I’ve heard from those who visited Pa Tong. Don’t write off Phuket. And if you visit, certainly plan to spend time in the northwest area of Phuket.