For all its mega-touristy hubs, Phuket is still undeniably beautiful. Yes, there's the wild nightlife, the chic restaurants and the beaches packed with rows of sun loungers, but there are also peaceful boat trips to be taken around the bay islands and secluded little spots for rest and relaxation. So whether you're lounging in an infinity pool or taking in a transvestite cabaret show, your Phuket holiday will be a winner.
Things to do
Rest assured, there are always interesting things to do in Phuket. Be sure to check out Wat Chalong temple, skirt the limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay by boat, and gaze at the dazzling white figure of the Big Buddha of Chalong. To say this is a tourist-friendly destination would be an understatement, but there are still secluded spots to be found as well as the popular big sights.
Food & restaurants
Restaurants in Phuket offer great choice, with a particular emphasis on seafood. Try the Black Crab Floating Restaurant in Phuket Town. Old Siam Restaurant offers upscale Thai cuisine and awesome views out to sea over Karon Beach, and a cheaper option comes in the form of tasty street food at Or Tor Kor Market. Energetic folk should try out the establishments on Bangla Road in Patong for the thumping nightlife.
There's lots of choice when it comes to Phuket accommodation. For upscale lodgings, there's Vijitt Resort in Rawai complete with infinity pool and peaceful villas. On the other end of the scale there's the basic campsite on the uninhabited island of Koh Rok Nok, where you can hire a tent and get the castaway experience. Alternatively, you could check into a stilt house at Railei Beach Club.
When in Phuket, first stop should be the busy markets. Browse the alleys of Talat Mai, pick up a ripe pomelo from Or Tor Kor Market or cruise the stalls of the Indy Market. Arty types can pick up a local creation at the Heritage Collection gallery, or some teak sculptures from Baanboonpitak. General fashion shopping is best at the malls, such as Patong Promenade.
Phuket has beautiful beaches galore, but many of them can get very busy. For something a bit quieter, you could try little Nai Yair Beach, also known as Pon Beach, north of Patong, where you'll share this quiet stretch of sand with just a handful of people. You may pay a small fee to cross the private land and access the beach.