7 Must-See Destinations Near Phuket
by Katie McCabe | @awelltraveledpair | May 18th, 2016
When looking to travel to an exotic paradise, look no further than Phuket. Known for its pristine sandy shores, crystal blue waters, and unique mountainous landscape, this Thai gem is the ultimate getaway. Local beaches in Phuket - Patong, Kata, and Karon - are truly exquisite and should not be missed. But if you're looking to explore a little further and get a glimpse of some utterly breathtaking scenery, take a day trip to one of Phuket's nearby destinations. Here is a list of seven must-see places.
Phi Phi Islands
The most popular islands in Thailand are hands down the Phi Phi Islands. Made up of six islands, most people only visit the two larger islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. Phi Phi Don offers dozens of hotels and restaurants, as well as some incredibly fun reggae bars. The beaches are truly captivating, but can get very busy. Phi Phi Leh - only accessible by boat - is uninhabited and offers top notch snorkeling. It is also home to the gorgeous Maya Bay (where Leo DiCaprio filmed The Beach). You can't go to Phuket and not experience the Phi Phi Islands. They are truly one-of-a-kind.
Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is more commonly known by its nickname - James Bond Island. Featured in the film The Man with the Golden Gun, this magnificent island houses incredible limestone karsts and emerald green waters. Visitors arrive by native long-tail boat, and explore this little piece of paradise by land and sea.
If you're interested in spectacular diving unmatched by any other area in Thailand, then head to the Similan Islands. These remote islands are quite a distance from Phuket, about two hours each way, but the crystal clear shallow waters, smooth rock formations, and impressive coral reefs make the journey worth every second. Due to an abundance of wildlife, the islands became a national park in 1982. In order to protect the fragile environment, Similan National Park is closed yearly from May until October, and it is illegal to travel there during that time.
Krabi can be reached by car or boat from Phuket, and this is a trip I highly recommend. Out of all of Thailand's southern sights, Krabi has the most to see and do. Stunning temples, relaxing hot springs, jungle adventures, white sand beaches, and over 150 off-shore islands make Krabi one of the most fascinating places in the world.
The Racha Islands (or Raya Islands) are a quick twenty minute speedboat ride from Phuket. The quiet and tranquil beaches are a big draw for those looking to just unwind and relax. If you're looking to stroll along a powder sand beach with no one else around, head to Ao Siam and enjoy solitude at its best.
The newest resort town in southern Thailand is located in Khao Lak. About an hour drive north of Phuket, Khao Lak consists of miles and miles of white sand coastline embraced by three national parks and tropical forests.
Koh Khai Nok
Koh Khai Nok is a small island tucked away in Phang Nga Bay. Once a hidden gem, it is now getting increasingly popular due to its epic beaches and unmatched marine life. While the sandy shores beckon beach-lovers, the twelve different types of tropical fish make this island paradise a superb snorkeling spot.
Best time to go:
The best time to go to Phuket is during the peak season months of November through March. Temperatures are warm and comfortable (75º-85º F), there is less humidity, and rain showers are quick and light.
The months of March through May can be a nice time to visit, however, the weather is more unpredictable during this time. By late May, monsoon season is arriving. Temperatures are heating up (85º-95º F), and the humidity is on the rise.
The months of June through October are considered the 'wet season'. Full of heavy downpours, high humidity, and monsoon weather, this is not the best time to travel to Phuket.