Phuket is a beautiful island with many nearby destinations that are perfect for day trips. You may want to combine a few of these places together on a single-day trip, or plan for several half-day excursions, with the remainder of your day set aside for relaxing poolside or at the beach.
For each suggestion, we have added some links to our affiliate partners, such as Viator or Get Your Guide, who can offer the convenience of online booking right from your phone. We earn a small commission if you book using any of our recommendations.
Private Tour or Join a Tour Group?
The big difference between the two is always cost; on a private tour, you get transport to yourselves and the undivided attention of your guide and driver. For a family group, you may find your pricing works out very similar to having a private tour mini-bus as joining a group.
On the contrary, it becomes a lot more expensive when you’re talking about heading out to any of the islands on a catamaran, for example. Generally speaking, when you book these tours, lots of small mini buses are sent all over Phuket to fetch passengers, and then you all congregate at a pier to join a larger group on the boat.
If you book a private catamaran just for your family, expect this to be substantially more costly than joining a group.
Visiting off-peak, you never know! You may still be the only ones on board if passenger numbers are low that day, so it will feel like a private tour, without the price tag!
Best Phuket Day Trip Destinations – On Phuket Island
Phuket Old Town
Phuket Old Town is located in the heart of Phuket City and is known for its colourful Sino-Portuguese buildings. You can take a walking tour of the town and visit the many cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops.
Taking a walking tour is highly recommended as you’ll gather a lot more about the historical significance of the buildings with a local guide. You can choose the length of your tour and whether you only want to learn about the history or indulge in some local delicacies that the area is famous for.
Wat Chalong is a famous Buddhist temple located in the southern part of Phuket. The temple is known for its beautiful architecture and is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
A visit will take around one hour, which is often incorporated with other stops in the southern part of the island, including a visit to Big Buddha.
Sirinat National Park
Sirinat National Park (formerly Nai Yang National Park) is a small protected area located on the northwest coast of Phuket. The park is home to several beautiful beaches, including Mai Khao Beach, one of Thailand’s longest beaches.
As it is a national park, the entrance fee is 200 THb per adult and 100 THB for kids.
Bang Pae Waterfall
Bang Pae Waterfall is a small but beautiful waterfall located in the Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary in the northeast of Phuket. You can take a short hike to the waterfall and enjoy a refreshing swim in the natural pool. There’s also the smaller Ton Sai Waterfall within the protected area.
The Khao Prae Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Khao Pra Theaw Non-Hunting Area) has also become well known for its Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (Open by appointment only; hours and how to book are unclear since COVID, try reaching out at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a great day trip for animal lovers. The sanctuary is a retirement home for elephants that have been rescued from the tourism industry. You can spend the day with the elephants and learn about their behaviour and conservation efforts.
NB – we have included links to available tours here but we are still compiling a list of what is conducted at each of these ‘sanctuaries’ to make sure that the tours we recommend on this website fit within our definition of ‘ethical’; sadly despite labelling, its not always the case; please do your research carefully before booking any animal experiences in Phuket.
Khao Lak is a quiet town located north of Phuket, across the Sarasin Bridge. The town is known for its beautiful beaches and nearby waterfalls. You can take a day trip to Khao Lak to relax on the beach and visit the national park.
Popular tourist activities include cruising down the river in Khao Lak National Park and visiting the Sea Turtle Conservation Center in Taplamu. The International Tsunami Museum is also an interesting, though slightly heartbreaking, recommended stop.
Hop On A Boat Journey From Phuket
Many of the best highlights of Phuket lie just off the shore. Here are some of the most popular islands to visit on a day trip from Phuket:
Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands are a popular destination for day trips from Phuket. The islands are known for their stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and limestone cliffs. You can take a speedboat or ferry to explore the islands and enjoy activities like snorkelling, diving, and kayaking.
Our complete guide to visiting Phi Phi Islands is coming soon!
Note that the speed boat to Phi Phi may be much quicker than a ferry but be mindful of just how painful a speed boat journey can be! Definitely not recommended if you’re pregnant or suffer from back problems; take your time on a slower boat for more comfortable journey.
Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is a beautiful bay with limestone cliffs and caves. You can take a boat tour to explore the bay and visit the famous James Bond Island and the floating village of Koh Panyee. Most tours also include the opportunity to take sea kayaks into the caves and will provide you with a buffet lunch on board.
The Similan Islands are a group of islands located in the Andaman Sea. The islands are known for their beautiful beaches and coral reefs, making them a great spot for snorkelling and diving – some of the best in the world!
Note the Similan Islands sit quite some distance away from Phuket, and access is by speedboat; as before with the Phi Phi tours, be aware this is not recommended if you are pregnant or you suffer from back problems. You will set off quite early in the morning to make the most of daylight hours and see as many of the small bays and beaches as possible.
The Similan Islands are closed to tourism during the low season to allow for rehabilitation.
Koh Racha Yai
Koh Racha Yai is a beautiful island about 25 km south of Phuket. The island is known for its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs, making it a popular spot for snorkelling and diving.
We are continuing to explore more tour options every time we are in Phuket and will be updating this list soon with even more great day trip ideas with recommended providers.
© Mama Loves Phuket 2023