5 things to do with a day in Phuket Town
Phuket was only meant to be a layover stop for me in order to get a cheap flight to my next destination. I never expected to fall head over heels in love with the city! I only had one day and one night in Phuket Town, so what follows are a few ideas on how you could spend a day in this incredible city. NB Phuket town was upgraded to a city in 2004 but the locals still refer to it as Phuket town, so I’m going to call it that as well.
- See the monkeys on Monkey Hill
I have been dying to see monkeys whilst I have been in Thailand; everywhere I’ve gone I’ve tried to see them in the wild, but to no avail. All that changed in Phuket town. In the north of the city there is a hill known as monkey hill that leads to a viewpoint of the city. Head up there in the morning, after breakfast with a bunch of bananas for some monkeys and prepare to be thoroughly entertained. There are taxis that will take you up the 2km hill to where the monkeys congregate and bring you back down after for a modest sum, but if you are on your own, I would recommend getting a tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi up there (unless you have hired a scooter/car) and then walking back down. The walk down is obviously a lot easier than the walk up and doesn’t really take that long.
The monkeys that live on monkey hill are Macaques and there are a lot of them! You will be able to see adults, teens, and mothers with new born babies and they aren’t scared of humans at all. Whilst I was there I was able to hand feed quite a few monkeys before one decided to get a bit cheeky behind me and started trying to get into my bag! He also tried stealing my water bottle! One monkey had succeeded in stealing a water bottle from another man and proceeded to climb a nearby tree where he could attempt to get into it. It was fascinating to watch him trying to navigate the screw top before becoming frustrated and just biting a hole in the side of the bottle to claim his prize. There are monkeys grooming each other, youngsters play fighting, and the odd real fight that breaks out when tensions inevitably rise in the group. It was just great to watch. From here you can walk the 400m to the view point for a great panorama of the city, and the distant view of the famous white Buddha on the hill directly in front.
2. Trickeye museum
From Monkey Hill, it’s around a 20 minute walk to one of the coolest places I have ever been – The Phuket Trickeye museum. The entry is a steep 500THB, but it is worth so much more than that!. Essentially it is an interactive, 3D optical illusion museum, where you are encouraged to become the subject of the photos you are taking. I’ve seen a few of these before, but never anything so diverse, extensive and fun. If you are with another person then you will be absolutely fine to take turns in every picture, but if you are on your own don’t despair – your entrance fee includes a guide that will come around with you and take every single picture for you, encouraging you to try out different poses and giving you insider knowledge at the same time. Seriously this is a must when in Phuket, it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, and although it was pretty much just an hour of vanity, the pictures are super cool! I tipped my guide 100THB, and got on my way to the next stop.
3. Phuket Old Town
Ideally you need to experience the old town in Phuket twice – once in the day and again at night. Phuket old town is an architectural wonder, with Sino-Portuguese buildings of every colour lining the streets, housing souvenir shops, hip cafes and incredible art galleries. To me the streets reminded me of something you would find in New Orleans, or something from the French Revolution. You could wander the streets here for hours, soaking up the atmosphere, obsessing over the architecture and remodelling the walls of your house as you slalom between the art galleries. Get lunch at one of the cool coffee shops, and sit a while with the locals. Phuket is a really cool city with a hipster vibe, and the cafes are where the youth and young professionals alike come to work, unwind, and meet friends. I love being in the thick of local life, so this is perfect. I would recommend Bookhemian café on Thalang Road; the vibe is laid back, there is beautiful art lining the walls, and that bookshelf is incredible! After here, head to the next street down and find the Drawing Room art gallery to see local artists at work creating some mind blowing work. If you have time to come back at night you will be met with markets, street vendors selling incredible food and the buildings will look even better, which I didn’t think was possible!
4. Have a bit of you time with a Thai massage
This one might not work so well if you have little ones in tow, but a Thai massage is pretty much a must whilst in Thailand. After your day of walking, you deserve a little relaxation and pampering! There are lots of massage parlours around Phuket and most of them are priced reasonably compared to prices on the other islands I have visited. I would recommend the full Thai massage, but be warned: these ladies don’t mess around! Your entire body will crack and groan, and bits will hurt. But afterwards you will feel totally refreshed and rejuvenated. Perfect after your strenuous day!
5. Get to the nearest accommodation to book longer!
I know this one is a bit of a cheat, but if I hadn’t had a flight to Cambodia already booked, the first thing I would have done is book another few nights in Phuket. I fell in love with the vibe here; it’s hip, laid back and I could imagine a lot of people moving here with various internet businesses! I had one night here where I visited a few bars and again this was great. There’s a great Craft Beer bar (FINALLY!!), a slew of cocktail bars and lots of live music. I really wanted to head to Rockin’ Angels, the blues bar, as I’d heard incredible things about the live music there however I was there on a Monday, the only day it’s closed! It’s fine though because I know a certain someone who would really appreciate this venue, so it gives us a reason to come back! However the Timber hut was open and had live music so I was still happy. Apparently Steve Tyler drank there a few years ago and that’s its claim to fame!
If I’d had longer I would have hired a scooter, or alternatively hired a driver for the day (it’s remarkably affordable to do this) and headed out to explore Phuket a little more. I wanted to see the famous white Buddha, and you could even have a day on the party beaches of Patong, or one of the quieter beaches nearby! But seriously, you could spend days just immersing yourself in Phuket town.
So there you have it, my guide to getting the most out of Phuket Town in just one day. If you have the chance to go then make sure you do; lots of people make a beeline for Patong and the party scene, but Phuket town has so much to offer and is such a great place. It is up there with my favourite destinations so far in Asia, and I only wish I’d been able to spend longer here. What would you recommend in Phuket Town? Comment below so I have ideas when I return!
Carpe that Diem!