Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket!

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 Thai plus we enjoy exploring on our own. On many of the pages on this blog 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 so many 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 Easy Day Thailand here and say Jamie sent you!

Easy Day Thailand Tours

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 brochures. A lot more! Rather than "my" top 10, I asked the Easy Day team for a list of their 10 best/most popular/ recommended tours. The list is not in any particular order.

1. Exploring Phang Nga Bay

This would normally be the first trip I would suggest to anyone. We've done Phang Nga Bay trips many times, most recently in 2017 - see here : Phang Nga Bay. Great scenery, several iconic views. You can do trips like we've done by longtail boat in private groups visiting places like Panyee village and James Bond Island (see photo), or there is a very popular (and lower price) tour including sea canoeing around several islands and caves. 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 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 Private Day Trip - More Information
More Phi Phi Islands Tours
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 Tours with Easy Day

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 Trips

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, but some are also available from Phuket. There are various tours available such as a 4 Island Tour, Sunset Cruises, Phi Phi Tours and the very popular Hot Spring Spa.

Krabi Tours Overview
Waree Raksa Hot Spring Spa

Kayaking Mangroves near Krabi

(above) Kayaking in the Mangroves near Krabi

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 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 coast. Tours will also include stops at Hong Island and others. Some more great scenery here. You can actually do several day trips in different parts of Phang Nga Bay .. and we have!

Contact Easy Day for more info about Koh Yao Yai

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'm 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 used to be an option to sleep in tents, but it was not really comfortable and the national park has (since 2018) stopped overnight stays on the islands. But you can stay in aircon cabins on a boat called 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. 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 few 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
Weekend Market Tour

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 beach days and a few tours that's a week gone and then you start to realise that there's 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!

Peranakannitat Museum (Phuket History) in Phuket Town

Right in the heart of old Phuket Town housed inside 2 buildings you can find the Peranakannitat Museum (also called the Baba Museum), which was officially opened in May 2017 by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, but then soon after the grand opening it closed again mainly because the items on display for the visit of the princess were all borrowed from local Phuket people, and not permanent museum exhibits! I have checked now and then over the last year and a half to see if the museum is really open, and finally last weekend - yes, it was! I'll start by saying - it's still under development, but it does have 2 definite plus points - free entry and aircon!

Chartered Bank Building in Old Phuket Town

The main entrance to the museum is on the corner of Phuket Road and Phang Nga Road (see map at the end of this blog post). This building was originally the Chartered Bank, built around 1900 I think, just when Phuket Town became the main town on Phuket Island and the tin mining industry was booming. It was the first bank in town and the police station was built directly opposite (the building with the clock tower). There's no huge "MUSEUM!" sign anywhere ... I was not sure it was open, even though an "OPEN" sign was hanging on the door handle ...

Phuket Peranakan Museum

I opened the door, happy to feel aircon on a hot, hot day. Inside the room was largely empty save for photos of the princess on the wall and a couple of (quite impressive) displays of old Chinese style tableware. And on the far side of the room a desk and several surprised looking young ladies, a couple of whom were dressed in olde Baba / Nyonya style clothes. Oh my goodness! A visitor! One of the young ladies spoke decent English. I signed in to a visitors book, was given an information brochure and was happy to hear that there is no entry fee. I had a quick look at the displays in the main room (which would have been the ground floor of the bank).

Phuket Peranakan Museum

Behind the desk is a back room that was originally the bank vault. Inside is a small collection of jewellery and some explanations of what the jewellery is/was for.

Phuket Peranakan Museum

Phuket Peranakan Museum

(above) Gold jewellery on display in the former bank vault of the Chartered Bank.

I should explain a few of the meanings of words ... Peranakan is the name given to people of mixed Chinese and Malay decent. By "Malay" I don't mean "from Malaysia" but "from the Malay peninsular". In the early 19th century many Chinese left Southern China and settled in places like Singapore, Malacca, Penang and Phuket. The majority of the Chinese were male and many married local ladies. Phuket had a huge influx of Chinese at a time when the tin mining industry was taking off. The names Baba and Nyonya are also used - Baba are the men, Nyonya are the ladies. There is a big Baba Wedding ceremony here in Phuket every year which I have attended a couple of times.

So I was informed by the museum staff (volunteers, I guess, since it's a free entry!) that an Audio Visual presentation would start at 1:30pm on the 2nd floor of the museum. The presentation takes place 5 times per day at 10am, 11am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm. Every day except Monday when the museum is closed. Well .. I was there at 12:30, so had an hour to kill walking around old town and finding some cheap local food for lunch. Plenty of cafes and restaurants around old town. Back at the museum, I was taken upstairs - just me! A good view from the 2nd floor looking over the road to the clock tower - the building used to be the police station in the early 20th century ...

Phuket Old Clock Tower

The "audio visual" presentation took place in several small rooms. One of the volunteers guided me, and several Chinese tourists who also turned up to watch halfway through the first part. It started well with a film showing Chinese heading away from war torn South China to seek their fortune and ending up in Phuket after many weeks at sea.

Phuket Peranakan Museum

The second part might have been good but the sound was not working - showing the Chinese settling in to Phuket and having families. Then we had a display showing family life in a typical shophouse style house with the skylight in the middle, followed by small displays about Nyonya clothing and some local foods. It maybe needs a little more work, maybe more signs explaining things, but anyway ... free entry and aircon!

Phuket Peranakan Museum

(photos above show parts of the audiovisual display)

And that was about it .. for now. Over the road in the clock tower building, work is underway with some more presentations of photos and information. I think I'll head back next year and see what's been added. I'm a big fan of museums although I do realise most people visit Phuket for beaches and museums may not be top of the list of things to do! But my Phuket blog does try to suggest more than just the usual attractions, and I do recommend looking around old Phuket Town and so .. why not have a quick look at this museum while you are there!

NOTE - there is another place by the main road in the north of Phuket called the Peranakan Museum, quite a big place. I might check it out soon, but as far as I know it's just a couple of rooms of displays and then some souvenir shops and a restaurant .. a place for bus loads of Chinese to browse, I suspect. (website here)

More places to visit near the Peranakannitat Museum

Thai Hua History Museum
Chinpracha House
Kopitiam Cafe
Old Chinese Herb Shop
Abdul's Roti Shop

Phuket Peranakannitat Museum - Location Map

Ao Sane Beach

You might not have heard of Ao Sane beach. I know people who live here who don't know it, or they have heard of it, but have never been, or don't know how to get there! Ao Sane beach is still a small, quiet beach and when I visited last weekend (September 9th 2018), I felt like I'd gone back in time. First time I went to Ao Sane was 2006 and it's really not changed since then! The southwest corner of Phuket makes for a nice drive in a car or on a moped, there's plenty to see in this area such as the Big Buddha, Karon Viewpoint, Phromthep Cape and plenty more - see A Tour of South Phuket. The roads are quiet here and the scenery is great even if the area is a lot more developed than it used to be.

Ao Sane Beach is not well known and is a little big hidden. You need to get to the larger Naiharn Beach, and at the north end of the beach follow the road that passes around the entrance to The Nai Harn Resort. Then you have about another 600 meters of narrow, twisty cliff-side road before reaching a small parking area and a big sign saying 'Ao-Sane Bungalow and Restaurant'. If you carry on straight you enter the Baan Krating Resort.

Ao Sane Beach Parking

There's space for lots of mopeds, but not so many cars. And I saw a couple of signs saying they will fine you and remove your vehicle if you block the road, so I guess there has been an issue in the past! You could also just park at Naiharn, where there is more parking space, and walk about 1 kilometer from there to Ao Sane.

Ao Sane Beach Entrance

And then you walk down a steep concrete path (see photo above) for about 50 meters to the beach. Ao Sane is not big - the beach stretches only about 130 meters from end to end with granite rocks at either end, and some pretty big granite boulders on the beach and in the sea too! The view looking east (see below) towards Phromthep Cape and Ya Nui Beach is great.

Ao Sane Beach

At the east end of the beach there are some beach chairs in the shade. Not too many, and I am guessing you'll need to pay to rent one. With the restaurant only a few steps away, this is a place you could easily sit for some hours and have a few holiday drinks interspersed with a swim or snorkel in the sea. I believe the snorkeling here is OK when the sea is calm and there used to be a tiny dive shop run by a German guy .. I know he has gone back to Germany, but I hear that he sold the place . it was not open when I visited, but maybe in high season.

Ao Sane Beach

Ao Sane Beach

The restaurant has plenty of tables, mostly in the shade. Looks pretty much like it did back in 2006. Nothing fancy, prices reasonable (maybe a bit more than I'd want to normally pay for Thai food, but ...). And very quiet and relaxing. No loud music, no traffic noise, just the sound of the ocean. I had not planned more than a quick visit to take photos, but figured a beer would be nice and why not have lunch too.

Ao Sane Beach Restaurant

Ao Sane Beach Lunch

Thai food prices were about 90 - 150 Baht. I went for fish and chips (200 Baht) and it was a very good portion! And went very well with a cold Chang beer. I sat for nearly an hour enjoying life. I think a trip with the whole family will be on the cards soon - and then I can have more than 1 beer and let my wife drive :)

To the west side of the restaurant are a few bungalows, some looking better than others. The low season rate - 500 Baht per night. Basic, but right on the beach with a restaurant next door. Deal? I am not sure where else in Phuket you can get a beachfront bungalow for 500 Baht.

Ao Sane Beach Bungalow

I need to spend a bit more time in this area. The nearby Nui Beach is on my list for a visit soon and Naiharn beach is very nice too. Rawai Beach has places to eat and you can hire boats out to nearby islands and one day I really should get to the restaurant at Bon island. Too much to see, too little free time.

Ao Sane Beach - Location Map