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 four-month solo adventure. It’s here that my love for Thailand was cemented, despite once thinking that it was an overcrowded and overrated country.
My only hang up when deciding to visit Phuket, was… will it be 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 Northwest Phuket.
Here’s What I Discovered in Phuket, Thailand…
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. A quick 15-minute drive from the airport, this is a chic hotel nestled on a hill, away from the hustle and bustle of Phuket’s busy streets. With easy access to the beach below, you can stay on the resort and float in the pool overlooking Nai Thon Beach, ordering cocktails to your seats. Or make the short walk down to the beach for some time in the crystal clear ocean water.
And when it comes time to eat? Venture out for dinner or eat at 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.
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.
Banana Beach – 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.
Eats and Drinks
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.
XXIV Bar – For a divey bar, head to XXIV on Nai Thon Beach. Near the action of the street food stalls, you’ll find this cheap outdoor bar.
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 stay in Northwest Phuket.