Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - The Original Phuket Travel Blog since 2006

Top 10 Trips and Tours from Phuket

Most of the trips we do as a family from Phuket are done "our own way" without joining any organised or paid tour. And for us that's easy enough as we have transport, we know the roads, we can speak the lingo plus we enjoy exploring on our own. On many of the blog posts about trips such as Phang Nga Bay or visiting waterfalls I will post directions and maps so if you want to hire a car and explore, go for it! For other trips we get help from our friends who have a tour company called Easy Day Thailand - such as when we visited Koh Tachai Island and we've done trips as a group with these guys to Racha Yai Island, Koh Yao Yai Island and more. There is a lot to do here, lots of trips and that does not include local sightseeing to places like the Big Buddha, Cape Phromthep, old Phuket Town. When I stop to think about it, there is way too much to do here! Indeed after 17 years here, we still find new places to explore and there are lots of trips and organised tours that we have not done, I guess because we're not tourists!

My friends at Easy Day Thailand started by offering private tours and personal service. The private tours they offer are my recommendation, but they will also sell cheaper group tours and can offer airport transfers plus some tours in other parts of Thailand like Krabi, Kanchanaburi or transfers from Phuket to Samui or Koh Tao. Pretty much anything really, just ask them - contact here.

I have resisted adding any "top 10 attractions" list on the blog, because I think that depends what you are interested in. There are hundreds of pages on this blog and please do spend an hour browsing for information and ideas. You'll find there's more to Phuket than is shown in travel agent brochures. A lot more. Rather than "my" top 10, I asked the Easy Day team for a list of their 10 best/most popular/most recommended tours. The list is not in any particular order.

For bookings or questions, please contact Easy Day Thailand.

1. Exploring Phang Nga Bay

This would normally be the first trip I would suggest to anyone. We have done Phang Nga Bay trips many times, most recently in 2015 - see here : Phang Nga Bay. Great scenery, several iconic views. You can do trips like we have done by longtail boat in private groups visiting places like Panyee village and James Bond Island (see photo below), or there is a very popular (and lower price) tour including sea canoeing around several islands and caves in the bay. It's their best selling tour.

Private Phang Nga Bay Tour - More Information

Koh Tapu

Sea Canoes in Phang Nga Bay

2. River Tubing & Jungle Safari at Kapong

Kapong is in Phang Nga province to the north of Phuket Island. We have been in this area for a white water rafting tour, but the trip that is really recommended (and I must do it sometime) includes river tubing, swimming at a waterfall and elephant bathing and trekking .. and yeh, I know elephant trekking is not so trendy now, with concerns about cruelty, but I am assured this place really looks after the elephants and they only take small groups.

Kapong Safari - More Information

Elephant Bathing at Kapong in Phang Nga

3. Private Phi Phi Day Trip

I have not been to Phi Phi for quite a long time. It does tend to be rather crowded and most tours are on big boats with maybe 40 or 50 people. So they can be very cheap and that sounds attractive, and yes the scenery is very pretty despite the crowds, but a private tour is the way to go! Actually, it's best to stay overnight in Phi Phi and get a boat either late afternoon or early morning to avoid the daytrippers from Phuket! Easy Day can arrange that, or a private tour for a day from Phuket, so you get your own boat with a private guide in Phi Phi after taking a ferry from Phuket. And yes, this is more expensive that some of the real budget tours, but really worth the extra. Me and the family must go again sometime. Our last visit was years ago on a seaplane!

Phi Phi Day Trip - More Information
Phi Phi Overnight Tour - More Information

Losamah Bay, Phi Phi Islands from a seaplane

4. Khao Sok National Park

Day trips are possible to Khao Sok, although it's about 3 hours drive from Phuket and it's certainly best to stay a night. We have been many times and Easy Day Thailand use the same hotel that we have used - Cliff and River Resort. Tours include rafting or tubing on the river and/or a trip on the huge Ratchaprapha Lake. We love this area, great scenery, fresh jungle air, a nice change from Phuket!

• Read more about the area here : Khao Sok National Park.

Khao Sok View

(above) View from our room at the Cliff and River Resort in Khao Sok National Park

Lunch stop at Khao Sok

(above) On the lake at Khao Sok National Park

5. Krabi Kayaking and Adventure Day Trip

Krabi is on the east side of Phang Nga Bay, and has some attractions that are a bit too far for a day trip such as the Emerald Pool and the Tiger Temple, plus many small offshore islands. You can also ask Easy Day about tours if you stay in the Krabi area. This particular tour, offered as a private day trip includes a stop at an animal sanctuary, a stop at the very impressive Bang Riang Temple. Then kayaking in the mangroves and a stop at a waterfall. Lots of nature and scenery.

Krabi Adventure Day Trip - More Information

Wat Bang Riang, Phang Nga

(above) Wat Bang Riang

Kayaking Mangroves near Krabi

(above) Kayaking in the Mangroves

6. Koh Yao Yai and more Islands

This is a new tour based on a trip we did in 2016 - see Koh Yao Yai Island. Day trips are possible, taking a boat from Bang Rong pier on the northeast coast of Phuket, but an overnight trip is better. Koh Yao Yai is a quiet island and the views from the east coast are great, looking across the bay towards the Krabi coastline. Tours will also include stops at Hong Island and others. Some more great scenery here. I think you can actually do several day trips in different parts of Phang Nga Bay .. and we have!

Thiwson Resort Pool

(above) View from Thiwson Resort at Koh Yao Yai Island

7. Similan Islands Overnight Snorkeling

The Similan Islands I know very well! I spent many months on dive boats there and I am still manager at Sunrise Divers, booking people for diving trips right through the high season from mid October to early May. So please do contact me at Sunrise Divers for diving trips. Easy Day can book snorkelers on a couple of different trips. Day trips are possible, but are a bit rushed. An overnight trip is much more relaxed. There is an option to sleep in tents, but this is not really comfortable (yes, it's cheaper) or you can stay in aircon cabins on a boat called the Pansa Queen. The Similan Islands really are beautiful!

Similan Islands Overnight - More Information

Similan Islands

(above) Similan Islands "Donald Duck Bay"

8. Surin Islands Overnight Camping

The Surin Islands are quite a long way from Phuket, it's an easier trip if you are staying in Khao Lak. Overnight or 2 night stays are possible, camping in the Surin Islands national park. A day trip is possible too. It's less crowded than the Similan Islands (because it's further away) and there is lots of great snorkeling plus you can visit the Moken Sea Gypsy village. Staying overnight is a real "get away from it all" experience.

Surin Islands Snorkeling - More Information

Moken Village, Surin Islands

9. Racha Yai Island Early Bird

Racha Yai island, also called Raya Island, is a very popular day trip destination from Phuket. There are lots of boats and lots of snorkelers, plus dive boats along the reef and in the bays. I have dived there many times - see : Diving at Racha Yai. And a few years ago we joined the Easy Day folks for an overnight trip - see : Overnight at Racha Yai. To beat the crowds on a day trip, the early bird tour is a must. Hotel pick up 6 - 6:30am means you get to the island a couple or 3 hours before anyone else! Or you can ask Easy Day about overnight options. If you stay on the island and wake up early, you also beat the crowds!

Racha Yai Early Bird Tour - More Information

Siam Bay, Raya Island

(above) Arriving at Racha Yai Island

10. Private Phuket Island Sightseeing Tours

As I mentioned at the top of the page, Phuket Island itself has many attractions and it's a big island! Easy Day do have a few "set tours" (half day, full day, evening weekend market tour), but you can also contact them for a private tour to see whatever you want .. like maybe you want to start with sunrise at the Big Buddha and then visit Chalong Temple, maybe the Botanic Garden, then lunch in Phuket Town, then up a hill, or a stop at the aquarium and catch an evening show at Siam Niramit, the options are more or less unlimited. Just ask!

Phuket Sightseeing - More Information

Phuket Big Buddha

(above) The Big Buddha

Phuket 3 Beaches Viewpoint

(above) View at Karon Viewpoint

Walking Street Market in Phuket Town

(above) Sunday Market in old Phuket Town

More Services by Easy Day

Airport Transfers
Transfer to Phi Phi Islands
Phuket Cooking Class
Sailing Cruises

Of course, you can't see it all, which is why I do find that many people come back to Phuket. If you have a couple of easy beach days and a few tours that's a week gone and then you start to realise that there is a lot more here! For trips, tours, transfers, please do contact Easy Day Thailand. The trips above are suggestions, some of their best sellers and trips that get the best feedback. If you have questions you can ask them or you can post a question on my Facebook page. See you in Phuket!

Top 10 Trips and Tours from Phuket  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog

Black Rock Viewpoint - Pa Hin Dam (ผาหินดำ)

There's always something new to find in the Phuket area! Just about a year ago (May 2016) we found a newly opened viewpoint in Phang Nga, not far from Phuket, called Samet Nangshe - and it was quite a find, hardly known a year ago, but now on quite a few tour itineraries and websites. There are a lot a great views in Phuket, some are advertised viewpoints, some need a bit of a hike! Now, this new viewpoint which we can call "Black Rock", or maybe "Black Cliff" - the Thai name means "Black Rock Cliff". I've not seen an official name in English, not seen this viewpoint on any English websites or blogs, although I first heard about it 4 years ago, but was asked to keep it a secret, and until last weekend I never got around to visiting! Well, the secret is out already. Do a Google search in Thai for ผาหินดำ, and you find plenty of pictures and videos, plus the road heading there has been improved and signs are up (in Thai!), so I think I can safely blog about Black Rock or Black Rock Cliff or Pa Hin Dam without spoiling the place! Anyway, it's still not that easy to get to, there's not even one drinks stall, no signs in English and only a dirt road followed by a short hike uphill. Very glad we went and let's see how developed it gets in the coming year.

The viewpoint is above Naiharn beach, reached by a dirt road that starts not far from the Karon Viewpoint. It's the same dirt road that heads towards Nui Beach - a private beach that I have never been to, partly due to the steep dirt road, partly due to the compulsory entry fee. It was made into a "beach club" and was being investigated for land fraud, was raided by the navy, but I think it's still open! This dirt road has been improved recently. It's only about 1km along the dirt road which is signposted to Nui beach, then you keep left while the road to Nui heads right and steeply downhill!

Dirt road to Pa Hin Dum (ผาหินดำ)

(above) Dirt road heading towards the viewpoint

Sign by the road - ผาหินดำ

(above) When the road splits to Nui beach, keep left and follow to the sign to ผาหินดำ! Not much more than half a kilometer along the left turn we found a very obvious landmark - a big PA HIN DUM painted on a rock. A bunch of mopeds and another couple of cars were parked there. So the place is certainly known .. just not very well known yet.

Sign on the dirt road to the viewpoint

A small note about the Thai language - so the word ดำ means black. The way this is transliterated into English can be "dam" or "dum". The pronunciation is somewhere between the two :)

So, at this point we parked our truck and followed a small path up into the trees on the left side of the road. Not a long walk to the top, only about 10 minutes. The path is obvious enough, no proper steps, just a narrow forest path which runs alongside a barbed wire fence for a while. A few sections are kind of steep, watch your footing, but really nothing to break a sweat.

Hiking up to Pa Hin Dum

Path through the trees to the viewpoint

(above) A little hike up to the viewpoint.

And then ... at the top a small rocky area with this fantastic view ...

View at Pa Hin Dum (Black Rock Viewpoint)

It's really quite high up here - something like 290m (nearly 1,000 feet) above sea level. YOu're looking south and Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches are way below. The wind turbine lookout between those beaches seems quite high when you are there, but it's waaaay down there! You can see Phromthep Cape and islands beyond including Koh Kaew Yai and Racha Yai islands (Racha Yai is 20km south).

A zoomed in view looking south ...

View from Black Rock Viewpoint in Phuket

Please note - there's not so much room at the viewpoint here, and the cliff drops off very very steeply, I advise caution! There's no railings or warning signs, just don't go jumping around near the edge! You can walk carefully down a few meters onto a small flat area just before the cliff, but do it carefully!

My boy at Black Rock Viewpoint

(above) My boy enjoying the view

View looking southeast from ผาหินดำ

(above) Looking a bit more to the east you can see Koh Bon Island and Coral Island

And here's a little iPhone video at the viewpoint. I think I will come up here again for a sunset.

We stayed up there taking in the view for about 20 minutes and then headed back home. Going the other way on the dirt road we had a nice view looking north along the hills. Phuket has plenty of hills, which is actually how the island got it's name - the Malay word for hill is Bukit.

Road back from the viewpoint

So, let's see how long this place stays quiet! Looks like the landowner has made access much easier now, with the dirt road being improved and the viewpoint being signposted. Easy enough to find, if you know where you are going! Many other viewpoints in Phuket are easier to reach!

Black Rock Viewpoint - Location Map

Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea), Krabi

On our little 3 day holiday in the Krabi area at the end of April 2017 there were a couple of well known attractions that we wanted to visit. We were not too bothered about beaches although for sure on our next visit I want to see Railey Beach. We did want to see the Emerald Pool, and will visit there again, but have noted that you have to get there early to avoid the crowds! Top of my list was the Tiger Temple, or Tiger Cave Temple as it's properly known - Wat Tham Suea (วัดถ้ําเสือ). Not to be confused with the Tiger Temple near Kanchanaburi (a couple of hours west of Bangkok) which featured tigers cared for by monks and was raided and shut down last year! The Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi has no actual tigers. It does have a cave although we somehow neglected to visit the cave! The main temple and cave are below a tall cliff with a temple on top. It's 1,237 steps up and quite steep. Sounded like a family challenge :)

This is something to be done early in the morning, or late afternoon. You don't want to do this in the middle of a hot Thai day. We were awake about 6:30am and based on this experience, I'd say that if we do this again we will start even earlier! We could actually see the Tiger Temple from our Krabi Town hotel room - on top of one of the hills in the distance (actually only about 7km away as the crow flies).

View from Krabi Town Hotel

We parked at the temple by about 7:15am. Very few people there. A new temple building is under construction and nearing completion. We skipped the cave (and then forgot to visit the cave after the hike) and headed to the start of the climb up the mountainside. First small problem - daughter was wearing shorts that were too short, so she had to rent a skirt (no charge for rental, but a donation is appropriate should you forget to dress properly). Oh, and there is no entry fee here, so I'd suggest a donation anyway, even if you have the right clothes!

Tiger Temple Dress Code

(above) Please dress politely!

So .. we begin a 1,237 step climb. Let's say you should be averagely fit to attempt this. And start early. And carry water with you. Here's us - I am 48, used to be an athlete many years ago, but now mostly sit at a computer and am about 20kg overweight. My dear wife admits that a year ago she'd not have been able to do this climb, but she has been doing a lot of exercise in the last year. Kids - no worries, they are pretty active. Our daughter (15) was worried that she'd struggle, but I think she found it easier than any of us. Our son (12) bounds up and down mountains like a mountain goat.

Tiger Temple 1237 Steps

(above) Ready?

The steps do start very steeply! After just a couple of hundred, I am thinking "1,000 more?!!" Mostly the steps are well built, and easy enough to climb, but in some areas they are quite big - each one is a big step up! There are numbers painted on the railings on the way up, so you can see just how many hundreds more you have to climb! After just a short climb you get a nice view of the temple that's being built below :

New Temple at the Tiger Temple

Steps to the Tiger Temple

(above) I was hoping there would be more shade on the way up, but much of the climb is hot and sunny, even though we started early. I guess, then, that a late afternoon start would be in the shade as you're climbing up the east side of the mountain. This photo taken on the "lower slopes".

Monk on the way up at Tiger Temple

(above) We did see a few monkeys on the way up. I have read that they can be a little naughty and try to steal food and drinks.

Way Up Tiger Temple

(above) Only 491 steps? A long way to go! You start to get nice views as you climb higher, but only looking east across the flat land to the east of Krabi. The mountain views are only seen right at the top ... Keep climbing ...

View from 1000 Steps

(above) View looking east from about 1,000 steps up

Tiger Temple Climb

(above) Our daughter on some steep steps and very nearly at the top! It took us just over 1 hour to climb up. A hot, sweaty climb and we drank all the water that I carried (2 1/2 liters!). I say again - don't try this in the middle of the day! In fact, I'd not start this climb on a sunny day after about 8am. It's hot here in Thailand! My wife's cousin's son did this climb a while back - he's a soldier and he ran up to the top in 15 minutes! Damn!

So ... despite some self doubt about half way up, once we hit 1,000 steps we knew the top was close. And as soon as we got there, it was one of those WOW! moments.

Tiger Temple Krabi

Mountain View - Tiger Temple, Krabi

Thankfully there was some shade at the top. We all needed a 5 minute breather! We stayed at the top for about 20 minutes enjoying the views, the quiet and basking in our family achievement :)

Buddha at the Tiger Temple

(above) Buddha at the top of the Tiger Temple

Buddha Images at Tiger Temple, Krabi

(above) And some more Buddha statues


(above) And time for my wife to say a little prayer

We were pretty thirsty after the hike up despite drinking 5 half liter bottles of water between us. I should have carried more. There is a tap at the top and the sign says that the water is drinkable, but ... well, up to you. We figured that it would not take too long to walk down, and you can buy drinks at the bottom! Well, going down took about 25 minutes, but my thigh muscles were sore and my wife's knees were buckling! We had to stop a few times. The kids got down well before us. It really is quite steep in places! Once back on terra firma we bought some drinks and left some money in donation boxes. Back at the hotel we wished that we'd not taken rooms on the 4th floor in a hotel with no elevator. Ouch! My legs were sore for a few days after the climb. But I think we all agreed that we'd like to do it again.

Related Blog Posts

Holidays in Krabi
Emerald Pool
Krabi Hotels
Temples in the Phuket Area

Tiger Cave Temple - Location Map

Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea), Krabi  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog