What to do on a Rainy Day in Phuket
Yes, it rains in Phuket! And it never ceases to amaze me that tourists seem shocked when the rain falls. Surely this is a tropical paradise with year-round sunshine and blue skies? Not exactly. You can get rain any time of year, although some months are drier on average than, Phuket rainfall averages, live webcams, lots of weather forecast links, and more. Low season / rainy season is from May to October and sometimes it all sounds rather wet and scary, but actually much of the time you get decent weather in low season, just (on average) not as much sun as high season. It can be well on impossible to predict daily weather, and if anyone asks about weather I say "some sun, some cloud, some rain, some nice days, some OK days and sometimes you will get a few sh*tty rainy days!". Low season is OK, most of the time the weather is good, or at least not-too-bad! And low season has one big advantage - hotels in Phuket are much cheaper! And please do note that it can rain in high season too!
(above) Here comes the rain - July 2012 at Karon Beach
The photo above is typical of some low season days - you might get rain like this, a quick heavy downpour lasting an hour, and then the rest of the day could be fine. Some days are like that, some have no rain, some are just grey and drizzly in a very Glaswegian way, and sometimes, maybe 3 - 4 times per year you get days and days of grey, wet days in a row .. and if your holiday happens to coincide with those days, sorry! I see a lot of comments from low season visitors saying they had mostly decent weather. If you come to Phuket from May to October, you can expect some wet days and obviously you won't be hitting the beach or wanting to go out sailing or diving on those days. It's the high season tourists who are more shocked by rain. Sure it can rain in December or January, peak season. Phuket is tropical, green, and you don't get all that greenery without rain!
(above) Wet, windy and very green!
So, be prepared. Don't worry if it rains! Not every day is sunny, but every day can be great! Have a small umbrella handy, and figure that some days very rarely might be a total washout when you can consider a massage, a movie, a beer and a long leisurely lunch! I know it's kind of hit and miss, and sometimes you might book a tour and have to go out and get wet anyway, but hopefully the sun will come out. ... a dry bag is a good thing to have. This happened to us a few years ago on a trip to Koh Tachai Island - we got soaked on the way there, but later it was all blue skies.
Fortune favours the brave! Some days if you see a bit of rain, just go out anyway! Try to follow the blue sky, and if the rain pours, find a place to sit with a drink and a smile. Normally it does not last long. I know it's different for me .. I live here, so I can afford to do nothing on a rainy day .. but many times we will just head out in the car and drive out of the rain, because rain can often be localised. It can be raining cats and dogs on your hotel in Patong, but could be a nice day in Phuket Town :)
But given that most people won't fancy a day out in the rain, or maybe won't want to book a day trip on a boat if the forecast looks bad, it's good to know that you can do things in Phuket which won't involve getting too wet. Or you can just go off on your trip to Phang Nga Bay or Khao Sok anyway, probably have a good, if wet, time!
(above) Rain on the roof of our bungalow at Khao Sok National Park
So my message is ... most of the time, never mind a bit of rain. Go out, carry an umbrella and a dry bag. I think most people will agree, but of course some days really are wet, and although it's "only water" and the rain here is warm .. I think we'd all prefer a dry sunny day to be out sightseeing. So, I better recommend some indoor activities. Please don't mope around your hotel room looking out the window. Too wet to go out, too wet to play ball. Rain always looks worse from indoors. Once you're out, it's not so bad, we used to tell ourselves in the cycling club :) OK, so, enough rambling, hope you get the idea that the rain is normally not so bad. But yes, you may need some indoor ideas. Something more than just drinking a beer and trying to find a decent channel on the hotel room TV (good luck!)
Watch a Movie
As I have 2 kids, if we get stuck for something to do, and the weather really is bad ... we check what's on at the cinema. There are multi screen cinemas at the Jungceylon mall in Patong and the Central Festival mall just outside Phuket Town. Add in a couple of hours shopping and eating - the malls have places to eat too, a favourite of ours is the Fuji Japanese restaurant in Central or Wine Connection or just the cheap food court, and you have a half day out :)
• Watching Movies in Phuket - More Information
We've been here so many times! Cheap entry fee, lots to see, and maybe if you take a taxi from the beaches you can fit in a visit to a viewpoint like Rang Hill or Khao Khad Viewpoint too if it's not too rainy. The aquarium is mostly indoors, though there is a nature trail outside leading to the turtle breeding center.
• Phuket Aquarium - More Information
Museums in Phuket
Although the tourism in Phuket is mostly centered around the beaches, Phuket has a number of good museums, all are indoors, making an ideal place to visit on a wet day. There's the tin mining museum, the Thai Hua history museum, the Seashell museum, Chinpracha House (an old mansion in Phuket Town). Phuket has a lot more history and culture than most people realise!
• Phuket Museums - More Information
(above) Inside the Phuket Tin Mining Museum
Trickeye Museum (3D Art Gallery)
In Phuket Town, right near old town. A drizzly day ideal for a wander around with an umbrella, and you can shelter for an hour or more at the 3D art gallery called the Trickeye Museum...
• Trickeye Museum
Massages and Spas
Something people associate with Thailand, either in a health-related way, or a more "nightlife" related way. You will hear the word "Massage" called at you from the street in Patong. Especially if you are a single male. I'm not really into massage myself, never feel so stressed that it's needed. My wife and I did get membership a few years ago at the Royal Phuket Spa, we had a very nice massage there in a room for couples. And the Raintree Spa in Phuket Town is recommended too. Of course many hotels have their own spa / massage services too. It's pretty much impossible to open a new hotel now without adding "and spa" to the name :)
Visit a Temple
If it's just a bit wet and grey, get the umbrella out and get away from the beach, visit a temple. Phuket has plenty of them! Chalong temple is the most visited, but there are temples near all the main beaches, and many more all around the island, some with interesting histories.
• Phuket Temples - More Information
(above) It doesn't have to be a sunny day to visit a temple!
Old Phuket Town
A couple of the museums are in the old town, so it would make sense to take a walk too (with umbrella). Along Thalang Road and the surrounding area there are lots of cafes and restaurants, small shops, old houses ... some of the streets have covered walkways through the arches, at least for small sections. Not ideal for a really wet day, but a drizzly day .. sure. Museum, coffee, lunch, museum, beer, enjoy the old town... we walk here often! Stop by a restaurant like Kopitiam for some local food, enjoy the smells at the herb shop next door, try a traditional Muslim Roti, and take lots of photos!
(above) Chinese Herb Shop in Phuket Town
More Ideas for a Rainy Day
In the evenings there are plenty of shows you can watch (indoors) like Phuket Fantasea or the Simon Cabaret ladyboy show, or the new Siam Niramit show, or some Thai boxing in Patong. During the day, maybe a Thai cooking class, or some shopping at one of the malls, or (mostly for ladies) visit a beauty salon, or how about a Yoga class?
Tours and days out can be booked with my friends at Easy Day Thailand. Never mind a bit of rain. As a friend of mine used to say on our bike rides many years ago, "you won't dissolve". And remember the rain is warm here! Having said all this, there are occasional days when we just stay home, but then maybe the rain stops and we quickly dash out to make something of the day. You only live each day once.
(above) View from Rang Hill in Phuket Town. It does not have to be a perfect sunny day to get a great view and have a nice day!
If you're worried about the weather, keep up with latest news by following me on Twitter and check the Phuket Weather blog now and then too! But really, don't worry too much. Weather in Phuket is rarely that bad, and there's always things to do. We don't get typhoons, though sometimes in low season it can blow quite hard. Even in low season it's more sun than rain, just carry a small umbrella and a dry bag with you :) And enjoy Phuket. And .. as a bonus, in the low season, the hotels are really cheap too!
Oh and you might want to buy one of these ... a plastic raincoat, normally about 20 - 25 Baht in a shop :