The island of Phuket is abuzz with tourists throughout the high season, but it is also staying busy now during the traditional ‘low’ season as well. We no longer have the dramatic influx during the silly season and super quiet during low season, it has flattened out and we now have tourists all year round. Expats and locals welcome the tourists as they bring the money which turns into jobs for the island, but sometimes we crave open spaces, a moment by ourselves or some quiet time.
Here is, in no particular order, our Top Ten Places to Escape the Crowds on the island of Phuket….
1. Diving and Snorkeling
We are blessed in Phuket with crystal clear waters with an abundance of sea life and coral – nothing brings peace and quiet quite like putting your head under water. In one moment all is calm. There are a number of professional dive operators on the island but we can highly recommend Sea Bees Diving who operate throughout the year with skilled and friendly staff and instructors. Never tried diving or snorkelling? Give it a go with professional instructors and enjoy the serenity!
2. The Cove Phuket
The Cove is a fabulous spot located down the South of the island in Panwa, the three bungalows and beach side restaurant and bar are managed by Edina and Fernando. A cool couple who have introduced a number of environmentally conscious initiatives to the business including removing all plastic straws and replacing them with bamboo.
The Beach Cafe situated on the waterfront in Ao Yon Bay is a relaxed restaurant and beach bar. A perfect place for meeting up with friends in the morning and for long leisurely lunches under the shade of the palm trees with your feet in the sand. A delicious menu of fresh fish, pizzas from our own wood fired oven, Thai favourites, light dishes and a children’s menu are available throughout the day.
3. Old Town Cafe – Kathu
Escape the madness of the West coast of Phuket and head to Kathu or even Phuket Town and experience the fabulous coffee culture. Doesn’t get much more local than this. But add an enterprising Kathu local Old Town Cafe, a great source of coffee beans, a splash of art and some traditional Thai music blaring out of an old transistor and you have the quintessential Thai coffee experience! Free wi-fi, homemade treats and they even do local food for the weekends away from the maddening crowds. Not a lot of parking along the skinny streets of Old Kathu but it’s worthy of a visit next time you’re around the area.
4. La Fayette Bakery Kamala
With two locations in the formerly sleepy village of Kamala, one a cute little café and the other featuring a café but also the bakery production kitchen, La Fayette French Bakery is a wonderful addition to the town . The dine in and takeaway bakery items and rustic, traditionally crafted bread as well as their buttery and fluffy croissants are a naughty pleasure. Well priced and service with a smile without the madness of a Starbucks in Patong!
5. Mai Khao Beach
Phuket has some beautiful beaches, many though are crowded with tourists, locals and unfortunately rubbish. Escape the lot and head to one of the northern beaches like Mai Khao or even venture further over the Sarasin Bridge to Natai beach where you will find almost no one. The beach is long and clear but swimming up there takes a bit of care. The beach drops away very quickly and becomes deep almost immediately into the water. It’s especially dangerous during the monsoon between May and November. Enjoy the serenity and having a beach to yourself but only swim if you are with others and best to avoid swimming altogether during the monsoon.
6. Kathu Waterfall
Kathu Waterfall located in the middle of the island is certainly off the beaten track, especially if you are a tourist they don’t tend to venture this far inland. The waterfall itself is a little under whelming, however there is a series of rock pools as it cascades down the hill where you can take a dip. It is quite the climb to get to the very top but worth the effort if nothing more than just take to a picture and announce that you made it!
7. Monkey Pod Cafe
Popular with the cycling community in Phuket, this very funky cafe is located on the road out to Ao Por Grand Marina and the Gibbsons Sanctuary. Monkey Pod Cafe has excellent coffee and food as well as top service so get in there and support them while fueling your body! The trip out to the east of the island is a very pleasant drive and takes you to waterfalls, walking tracks, marinas, gold courses and small villages. Monkey Pod is just a cool place to drop in whilst having your quiet day.
8. Old Sarasin Bridge
At the top of the island, connecting mainland Thailand to the Phuket, is Sarasin Bridge. It certainly is not recommended to walk across the new bridge, but hidden underneath is the old bridge that serviced the island before the larger bridge was built. In the middle is a lookout point, perfect for taking some stunning pictures and on the other side a great fruit stall to fuel your thirst and hunger. You will see that Phuket really an extension of the peninsula of land that extends south from Phang Nga and only separated by a 200 metre stretch of water you could swim on a calm day. (We certainly don’t recommend trying as there is very strong tides sweeping through the channel)
9. Mission Hill Golf Course
The island of Phuket has a number of world class golf courses, which during the high season can be tricky to get a tee time. Escape the crowds once again and head North East to Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort, booking a tee is still recommended but not as difficult.
Golfers playing at tropical Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort will enjoy the wide range of facilities and services on offer. In addition to the vast array of superior equipment ready for hire, golf enthusiasts can also brush up on their game with a private lesson from a fully qualified PGA Coach or become a member and benefit from unlimited rounds of play and discounts at the spa, business centre and restaurants. Families who would like to play together will be pleased to know that children may also participate in golf, whilst off the course there are a host of other amenities including a fitness room, swimming pool and five-star spa to keep non-golfing family members amused.
10. Ao Por Grand Marina
The boating community is a big part of the culture in Phuket, surrounded by water, it is expected to be. Some of the marinas however are dated and tired and don’t allow easy access for visitors. Ao Por Grand Marina located on the East Coast, quite close to our number 9 on the list Mission Hill Golf Course. The marina has excellent parking, access and facilities as well as a stunning boardwalk to view all the super yachts. Take a walk out onto the marina and look left. You will see one of the stunning views anywhere in the world. Really.
Sit back, relax, enjoy your ‘me’ time and savour the serenity…