Hat Nai Thon
Improved roads to Hat Nai Thon have brought only a small
amount of development to this otherwise pristine coast backed by casuarina and
pandanus trees. Down on the beach, umbrellas and sling chairs are available from
vendors. Swimming is quite good here except at the height of the monsoon, and there
is some coral near the headlands at either end of the bay.
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Hat Mai Khao
Hat Mai Khao is Phuket's longest beach. Sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach here between November and February each year. A visitors centre with toilets, showers and picnic tables can be found at Mai Khao, from where there are some short trails through the casuarinas to a steep beach. Take care when swimming at Mai Khao, as there's a strong year-round undertow.
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Located at the tip of the cape, the 32 tanks display a varied collection of tropical fish and other marine life. Stroll through the tunnel to glimpse life beneath the surface.
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Can you really find peace on a beach just around the corner from Patong? Hell yes. Sheltered by boulders to the north and a headland to the south, this tiny bay is an antidote for your Patong-weary soul. You won’t even see the sprawl.
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From Hat Nai Han it appears as if the road dead-ends into the yacht club. Not true. Keep following the road through the underground parking structure and it pops out on the other side and continues to a small but beautiful, boulder-strewn white-sand beach.
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Secret View Point
If you veer up the rise on the left instead of following the road to its end at Hat Nai Han, you will remain on Hwy 4233 towards Laem Phromthep. But you don’t have to go that far for a sensational view. At the top of the hill there is a turn-off and a small gazebo to the right. Pull over here – you’ll see a vendor and a few tourists, and you’ll have an outrageous north-facing panorama sans tour buses.
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Hat Ya Noi
Tucked between Hat Nai Han and Laem Phromthep, where the road dips back down to the sea, is this lovely cove with a healthy rock reef that is ideal for snorkelling. You’ll have to watch your step to get into the ocean, but once you’re there you’ll want to stay a while. This is the quintessential turquoise bay, with lush mountains behind and an island dominating the horizon.
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Just 15 minutes away from Hat Patong, but a whole different world. If Patong is suffocating you, then you will find freedom on this pristine slice of golden sand.
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For a bird's-eye view of the city, climb up pretty Khao Rang, northwest of the town centre. It's at its best during the week, when the summit is relatively peaceful, but keep an eye out for the mobs of snarling dogs.
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Shrine of the Serene Light
A handful of Chinese temples inject some added colour into the area but the Shrine of the Serene Light, tucked away at the end of a 50m alley near the Bangkok Bank of Commerce on Th Phang-Nga, is a cut above the rest. You'll see Taoist etchings on the walls, the vaulted ceiling stained from incense plumes, and the altar is always alive with fresh flowers and burning candles. The shrine is said to have been built by a local family in the mid-1880s.
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This is a US$60 million 'cultural theme park' located just east of Hat Kamala. Despite the billing, there aren't any rides, but there is a show that takes the colour and pageantry of Thai dance and combines this with state-of-the-art light-and-sound techniques that rival anything found in Las Vegas (think 30 elephants). All of this takes place on a stage dominated by a full-scale replica of a Khmer temple. Kids especially will be captivated by the spectacle but it is over-the-top cheesy, and cameras are forbidden.
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