Looking for things to do in Phuket? And you only have 48 hours?
Phuket, Thailand is the perfect place for those wanting an indulgent getaway – whether for just the weekend, or a longer stay. You can get a direct flight from Australia and the prices compared to Down Under are cheap.
We recently stayed at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa for 6 nights and had a fantastic family holiday enjoying all that was on offer on Thailand’s largest island.
We first visited Phuket 10 years earlier on our honeymoon and were not impressed. That was because we stayed in Patong Beach, the area notorious for wild party nights and a chaotic mess of street markets, pubs, and go go bars.
This time, our stay at Karon Beach was perfect. It is a much quieter destination more suited to families and those wanting to relax and appreciate, rather than paint the town scarlet!
We took time to explore Phuket Island, dig deeper into Thai culture, eat lots of delicious food and relax on the beach and by the pool.
Hilton HHonors (the reward program for Hilton Hotels) currently have an Any Weekend, Anywhere sale, where you can receive up to 40% discount on your stay at participating hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio.
Usually, you’re going to visit Phuket, or Thailand, for longer than 48 hours, but we thought this amazing sale would be a great opportunity to incorporate a little spoiling into your longer Thailand holiday. 48 hours of indulgence.
We’ve created a Phuket itinerary for a 48 hour weekend of Thai culture, beautiful scenery and indulgence.
Day 1 – Phuket Town and Karon Beach
Rise early for a breakfast buffet by the pool, or enjoy it in the private Executive Lounge with sweeping views of Karon Beach. (Free breakfast and access to the executive lounge is one of the perks of the Hilton HHonors rewards program)
Take a Traditional Thai cooking class with Pat
Visiting Pat’s home and learning to cook Thai food was one of our Phuket highlights.
Pat’s home cooking school first opened in 1996 in Phuket Town and has since been featured in many print media publications and TV programs.
Our experience began in the local market gathering the supplies for the food we were soon to prepare. We had a lesson in the various uses of vegetables and herbs in Thai cooking as we walked through, picking up each new one to smell and feel their textures.
This introduction was the perfect way to get a feel for the basics of a delicious Thai meal and what sets it apart from the cuisine of its Asian neighbours. I certainly had a better understanding of where I was going wrong with my own attempts of cooking Thai food at home.
Pat’s open aired kitchen is attached to the side of her home and she never has more than 8 people per class, maintaining that small, homely feel.
After a welcome glass of iced lemongrass tea, we donned the aprons and set to work chopping, peeling, mortar and pestle bashing to create some of my favourite Thai meals: tom yum goong, spring rolls, green curry, som tum and banana in coconut milk.
What I loved the most was sharing the experience with Kalyra. She eagerly followed us through the markets learning about the different ingredients and enthusiastically helped me prepare the food. My Junior – Masterchef even rolled a near perfect spring roll.
I was even impressed with my ability to finally produce a delicious Thai meal thanks to Pat’s expert guidance.
Visit Wat Chalong and the Big Buddha
Not far from Phuket Town is the stunning Wat Chalong. I was suffering from Bangkok belly on our visit and could barely focus on the aesthetic designs of the temple complex.
We’ve visited a lot of wats in South East Asia, and this one certainly had its own unique flare. Craig was more than impressed and found it to be a perfect temple for those new to Thailand.
The Grand Pagoda dominates the temple grounds–it’s cool and breezy location makes it just as popular as the splinter of Buddha’s bone that rests inside. The pagoda walls depict Buddha’s life story and immense golden statues of the various Buddha poses sit in the main hall. Choose the one you wish to worship to most.
Pay attention to the fire crackers going off inside the brick oven out the front of the ordination hall. Thai people set them off to celebrate if they receive any good luck.
The Big Buddha sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and is 45 m high and can be seen far and wide across Phuket. Not only is it a place of tranquillity to receive your blessings, but has 360 degree views of Phuket.
The Buddha’s body is layered with Burmese marble which shines in the sun, making it a symbol of hope and a guarding force of protection.
photo credit: Trip Advisor
Relax by the Pool or on the Beach
Thailand is full of difficult decisions, like should I drink a beer or a cocktail, or swim at the pool with ocean views or cross the road to swim in the warm ocean, with views?
You choose what suits you best.
We did both throughout the week, but your objective here is to relax after a busy day. The Hilton Arcadia has 5 pools to choose from. If you have kids you might want to visit the Garden pool and enjoy the small waterslide first, before moving to the Ocean Pool to relax with a cocktail for sunset.
Or head over the road, rent a chair and umbrella for 200 baht and order a beer a cocktail or a fresh coconut from the makeshift bar on the beach. Sit back with a camera in hand as the sun retires. Think of the amazing day you just had exploring a little Thai culture.
Enjoy a special dinner at Thai Thai
I have one rule in Thailand.
No Western food allowed.
I would even put it in my black book of crimes you should never commit. My second rule is you should never stop eating, no matter how full you are.
Who cares you cooked up a smorgasbord for lunch, you have had a whole afternoon to digest it. It’s time to top up!
We had our indulgent Thai dinner at the Thai Thai Restaurant at the Hilton.
What I love the most about dining out in Thailand–and this restaurant excelled at this–is the outstanding service. Our head waiter, Pop, was always on hand to ensure we were happy and content. He shared many stories with us of Thailand and his own life, always with an affectionate giggle.
We enjoyed crab cakes and Thai prawn salad for entrees, followed by slow cooked tilapia in coconut milk and Phuket yellow noodles. I had to finish dinner with my favourite Thai desert—mango and sticky rice; Craig opted for the coconut ice cream and tried unsuccessfully to convince me his was better. Lucky Kalyra was asleep in the chair or she would have backed him.
Now you can go back to your room and collapse. The pillows will mould around your head so you feel like you are sleeping on clouds.
Day 2 – Phang Ngha Bay and Kata Beach
Your day will start early so first stop will be the poolside breakfast buffet. Eat up as today is a BIG day!
Go on the James Bond tour of Phang Ngha Bay
I never wanted to go on his tour before because it was so James Bond and I have never watched a movie. Our friend Roger recommended it as one of his things to do in Phuket.
James Bond Island was made famous by his movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” It does not mean much to me, but the island itself is very picturesque and photo worthy.
Many of our followers on facebook recommended the Sea Canoes as the best way to enjoy the limestone tunnels and caves. This was not really an option with our little ones so we did a full day tour taking in four of the islands in the Bay area.
The seas were a little rough and the water murky, but if you arrived on a day when the Andaman Sea was blazing with its crystal clear emerald waters and the dramatic limestone mountains, I’d imagine it would be stunning.
The floating Muslim village at Koh Paynee was a fascinating stop. The silted homes joined together in the mud swamps in front of a large limestone rock island was started 200 years ago by 3 Indonesian families now hosts nearly 1700 people and over 300 families.
We really loved our small kayak tour through the mangroves and tunnels of one island and swimming at Naka Island. It’s a full day tour and popular, but an enjoyable day out.
Catch the Sunset at the After Beach Bar in Kata
Do not delay in heading straight to the After Beach Bar on the hill behind Kata Noi. This place is legendary for sunset drinks and a relaxed vibe.
We arrived here after a day of cruising the beaches of the West Coast of Phuket. As soon as we arrived and saw the amazing views and felt the cool breeze we were happy. It didn’t even faze us that we had chosen the one day in our two weeks in Thailand that was cloudy!!
Luckily there was a small break in the clouds so we were able to see a beautiful pink orb poking through.
Sit back with a cocktail and enjoy. (Just don’t order a mojito – they were awful and they tried to charge me for three of them!)
Pick up a Bargain at the local Karon Temple Night Markets
If you are not too exhausted, head to the Karon temple night markets held every Tuesday and Saturday night.
The shopping here is cheap! It is mostly clothes with the odd tourist artifacts like lanterns and Buddha statues thrown in.
You can even pick up a cheap bowl of curry noodles for 30 baht and Thai banana pancake for 40 baht. (around $1 for each)
Day 3 – Worship your body at Hilton Day Spa
Before it’s time to check out you might want to give yourself a little treat.
Indulge in a massage
You cannot come to Thailand without worshipping your body with a Thai massage. (Crime number 10 to never commit in Thailand)!
We’d already had our cheap 200 baht massage in Bangkok before arriving to Phuket and have many more planned for our next week of travel.
For this indulgent 48 hours though, I’d say ramp up the feel good factor with a special spa treatment. They may be expensive in comparisons to the ones you can get on the beach or in a room with 10 other people, but in comparison to Australian prices they’re really quite cheap.
The Hilton Arcadia had complimentary Kids Club for Kalyra (who was begging us to go. She came home with her hair beautifully braided and a beaded necklace and a broad grin saying it was the best one ever!) Savannah was too young so we hired a babysitter for 2 hours so we could treat ourselves.
A body scrub and a Thai-herbal-heat massage later we felt like new and improved version of ourselves. We possibly couldn’t get any more relaxed.
Finish with a feast at the Sunday Brunch Buffet
Why not gorge one more time? (Remember Rule 2!)
The Hilton Arcadia Phuket holds a special weekly Sunday Brunch. Feast out on a seafood and BBQ buffet washed down with a glass of wine! We indulged while waiting for our pick up to take us from the life of luxury back to budget Thai travel.
Our stay at the Hilton was just what we needed.
It’s hard to travel like this all the time, but it is wonderful to treat yourself every now and then. Reward programs like the Hilton HHonors can be a great way reduce your accommodation expenses so you can have a bit more of that luxury you deserve.
Our stay at Hilton Arcadia was hosted in part by Thailand Tourism and Hilton Arcadia Phuket.
Which Hilton Worldwide property would you book into?