Thailand is such a beautiful country with so many different types of things to do. Most Thailand vacations include 3 main areas – Chiang Mai, Bangkok and a beach area like Phuket. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in Phuket on our way home from Bali. Phuket is the perfect place to unwind. Whether you are planning a big Thai adventure or a stopover, I’m sharing our Phuket 2 day itinerary with the things we did and the things we will do differently next time around.
I’ve been to Thailand twice now. Bangkok was terrific and what I expected but I have to say that Phuket was not. First, I was totally unprepared for the size. From the Phuket airport to the furthest hotels, it is 1 hour drive without traffic. Phuket is split up into different town/cities that each have their beaches. Because of that, it can be misleading thinking you are choosing a particular beach to stay near but really you are choosing one type of city over another.
How to Choose a Phuket Hotel for Your 2 Day Itinerary
I read that people are often disappointed when they go to Phuket because they make their hotel choice based on deals. They end up being in the wrong location and having a bad experience. That was us in a nutshell. We went on Hotels.com and picked a pretty hotel that was having a deal. That put us in the Patong Beach area, which is the party area of Phuket. Although our hotel was nice and the beach was beautiful, we would have been much happier in a different area. So how do you choose the right are to stay? Do your research keeping the following in mind.
- How far is the hotel area from the Phuket airport or excursions you want to do? If you’re staying for 2-3 days, you don’t want to spend half your time driving to and from the airport/ferry.
- What type of vacation do you want?
- Are you going for a relaxing vacation on a quiet Phuket beach and romantic dinners at night? If so, you might like Nai Thon or the upscale area of Bang Thao.
- Are you ready to party – taking advantage of beach activities by day and clubs by night; you might like Patong or Kata Beach.
- Are you going on a Phuket family trip and want a great spot for kids? Try beautiful Kamala Beach with kid friendly activities nearby.
Best Time to go to Phuket
- High Season: December – March is the high season with December and January having the best weather and the most crowds.
- Shoulder season: November and April. We went in the beginning of November, and it was a little cloudy but there was no rain.
- Low Season: June – October is the rainy season and the temperatures are hotter.
For more in depth, month by month information, check out this post about the best time to visit Thailand.
Related Post: Best Places to Travel in December
Phuket Itinerary – Best Things to do in 2 Days
1. Go to the beach
Definitely go to the beach in your area but try other nearby beaches too. The water is beautiful and it’s also a great way to stay cool in the warm weather. Depending on the beach you choose you can also find activities like jet skis, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkeling and more.
2. Phi Phi Islands
Koh Phi Phi is the star attraction for many visitors. It’s incredibly alluring, has gorgeous resorts, snorkeling, scuba diving, multiple beaches and nightlife. You can visit the Phi Phi Islands on a full day trip or stay overnight at one of the Resorts. We did a day tour from Phuket Town, which left before dawn so we could get to all the areas before anyone else. I’m not a fan of guided tours but the other options weren’t great – take a ferry (2 hours each way) or rent a private boat ($1,200+ for 8 hours). The small group tour for $120 per person got us to all the attractions and was the best of the 3 options. I highly recommend this day trip for your Phuket itinerary.
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3. Phang Nga Bay
One of the most popular Phuket day trips that we didn’t do because of a lack of time was seeing Phang Nga Bay. This is main reason I think it’s better to spend more than 2 days in Phuket. Deciding between the beautiful beaches of the Phi Phi Islands and the interesting landscape of Phang Nha Bay is difficult. Why not plan your trip to Phuket to be at least 3 days and do both. Even though I’ve never been to Phang Nga Bay, here are some tips that I read. There are multiple ways to see it – hire a long tail boat, take a kayak tour or a sunset cruise. Just be cautious about signing up for a group tour of Phang Nha National Park, especially if they call it the “Trip to James Bond Island.” My choice would be the long tail boat or kayak.
4. Phuket Elephants
Sadly people still ride elephants on a Thailand vacation but it hurts the elephants and should never be done. Instead you can have an elephant experience by visiting an elephant sanctuary. Just make sure the place you visit is a real sanctuary that doesn’t offer rides or keep them chained up. Here’s a link to Green Elephant Sanctuary Park Phuket that you can visit and also has information about why you should never ride an elephant.
5. Other Great Phuket Itinerary Activities
- Patong and Bangla Road – I walked down this infamous street during the day and definitely didn’t want to return at night. There’s Thai boxing, wild nightclubs, lady boys, etc… If seedy nightlife isn’t for you, skip it.
- Phuket Weekend Market – I always love night markets and Phuket is known for them. There are multiple – so pick one closest to your hotel or go to the biggest one in Phuket Old Town. You can sample the enormous variety of amazing street food or get in some souvenir shopping. Open Saturday & Sunday from 4-11pm.
- Nighttime Show – We didn’t go to any shows in Phuket but if you have time, there are some you might enjoy. Siam Niramit is a Thai cultural show, originally from Bangkok and very popular in Phuket. You might also try the Simon Cabaret, a “ladyboy” musical show located between Patong and Karon Beach.
- Big Buddha – On a high viewpoint above Phuket, you can see the 150 foot Buddha that is touristy but still worth a visit if you have extra time on your hands.
- Wat Chalong – If you have been traveling around Thailand, you might feel like you’ve seen enough Buddhist temples. If this is your only stop in Thailand, definitely go see Wat Chalong. It’s the largest and most important of the Buddhist Temples in Phuket.
- Thalang Maneekram Floating Market – Right near Wat Chalong, there’s a new Phuket floating market, which is exciting because the Kathu Floating Market is permanently closed. They have shops, Thai massage, some games for the kids and other activities. It’s open from 11am to 9pm every day.
- Khao Phra Thaeo National Park – Visiting this small national park in Phuket will give you a chance to hike through the jungle, splash around in Bang Pae waterfall and visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation project. The park has a variety of wildlife in this last remaining rainforest in Phuket. You can take a tour or go on your own.
What I Would Do Differently
One of the biggest reasons I made this Phuket travel guide is because I would have done some things differently. It’s great to spend 2 days in Phuket but some of the most beautiful places in Thailand are in the surrounding areas that are less touristy and a great addition to your beach vacation. Also, as mentioned, Phuket is a huge area not just a little beach town. If you mistakenly choose the wrong area to stay, you could be spending too much time getting from place to place.
- Plan a longer trip. I went to Thailand before and missed Phuket so we just thought we’d do a quick stopover. It’s better to plan a longer Thailand itinerary with more days in the areas surrounding Phuket. We would have added Phang Nha National Park and Khao Sok National Park. Did you know you can sleep on a floating raft house there?!
- Stay in a quieter, more upscale area of Phuket without all the craziness and a hotel that was on the beach, not on a mountain overlooking the beach.
Hopefully this Phuket 2 day itinerary helps you. If you consider spending 3 days in Phuket or more, there are plenty of additional things to do to make your trip longer. Now all you need to do is get to Phuket. Use our Guide to Score Cheap Flights so you can save money and spend longer on vacation! For another amazing bucket list destination, definitely read about Bali.
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