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Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and is well known for its crystal-clear waters, stunning beaches, and vibrant nightlife. In order to see the best of this island, putting together a 5-day Phuket itinerary is a good way to maximise your time.
In five days, you can have enough time to explore the island’s many beaches, such as Patong Beach, Karon Beach, and Kata Beach, as well as immerse yourself in Thai culture by visiting local temples and sacred sites, diving into cooking the Thai cuisine, and exploring the bustling markets.
You can also take advantage of Phuket’s proximity to nearby islands such as the Phi Phi Islands or James Bond Island, which allow you to experience some of the most beautiful scenery in Thailand.
If you’re thinking of spending 5 days in Phuket but not sure what to do or where to go, below is the ultimate 5-day itinerary for Phuket.
- Is 5 days enough for Phuket?
- Where to base yourself in Phuket?
- The Ultimate 5 Day Phuket Itinerary
- Day 2: Phang Ngha Bay Boat Tour
- Stop 1: Go on the James Bond Island Tour of Phang Nga Bay (Full Day)
- Day 3: Culture Day: Thai Massage, Phuket Old Town, Cabaret Show
- Day 4: Phi Phi Islands Day Trip
- Day 5: Elephant Sanctuary, Bang Pae Waterfall, Promthep Cape
- Getting Around Phuket
- Best Time to Visit Phuket
- Final Thoughts on This 5 Day Phuket Itinerary
Planning your trip to Phuket last-minute?
Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Phuket! Here are some of the top tours, hotels, and useful items you may need before your trip!
Top Experiences and Tours in Phuket
- Visit the Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket (a must for animal lovers!)
- A day trip to the Phi Phi Islands (see the iconic Maya Bay!)
- Watch the Simon Cabaret Show (an unmissable thing to do at night)
Top Accommodation and Hotels in Phuket
Is 5 days enough for Phuket?
Phuket, Thailand is the perfect place for those wanting an indulgent getaway – whether for just the weekend, or a longer stay.
Personally, I think 5 days is the minimum number of days you need in Phuket as there is so much to see and do, plus you want to have a good amount of time to really enjoy the beaches and top attractions.
We 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.
Where to base yourself in Phuket?
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.
On our second stay in Phuket, we decided to stay in Karon Beach, which 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 discovered that Phuket attracts many type of travelers, but where you base yourself really impacts your experience. If you stay in Karon Beach, Kata Beach or Kamala Beach, you can avoid the nightlife of Bangla Road and enjoy a relaxing beach vacation.
If you want to party, then Patong Beach is the place to go.
Wherever you stay, you can rent a car or scooter to get around and still be able to see the best of Phuket.
Honestly, all of Phuket’s attractions are within a scooter ride and it really doesn’t matter where you base yourself. You just got to pick an area with the vibe that’s right for you.
The Ultimate 5 Day Phuket Itinerary
In the following Phuket itinerary, we’ve captured all of the highlights of Phuket, allowing you time to really get a sense of the Thai culture, discover the most beautiful scenery and indulge in the laid-back Phuket way.
Day 1: Phuket Town and Karon Beach
We’re going to assume that you arrive in Phuket the night before, so our first day in Phuket on this itinerary will be the first full day you have available.
If you traveled a long way, or if you landed in the morning, use the day that you arrive as a rest day before you start exploring.
Stop 1: Hit the beach or sit by the pool
On your first full day, rise early for breakfast in your hotel. Depending on where you’re staying, you might want to spend some time in the morning hitting the Phuket beaches and cooling off with a morning swim.
Some excellent beaches for a swim are Karon Beach, Kata Beach (And Kata Noi Beach, a smaller beach near Kata), Nai Harn Beach, Layan Beach or even Patong Beach in the day time.
You might also need to use your morning to get orientated, such as picking up a sim card and hiring a car or scooter, so use this morning as a chilled morning to get yourself ready for a Phuket adventure.
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 will find there is plenty of time to enjoy the beaches or swim by the pool in this 5 day Phuket itinerary, as we want you to have a relaxing vacation and enjoy the number one thing to do in Phuket – visit the beaches.
At the beginning or end of each day, allow some downtime by the pool or on the beach.
Stop 2: Take a Traditional Thai Cooking Class with Pat
After lunch, opt to take a Thai cooking class with Pat. This is your first introduction to Thai culture and a way to mingle with the locals and learn from them.
Visiting Pat’s home and learning to cook Thai food was one of our Phuket highlights.
Pat’s home Thai 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 the 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.
Stop 3: 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 meter high and can be seen far and wide across Phuket.
Not only is it a place of tranquillity to receive your blessings, but it’s one of the best viewpoints in Phuket which has 360 degree views of the island.
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.
It’s a great place to visit for sunset as it has sweeping views.
Stop 4: Enjoy an indulgent dinner at the Hilton
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!
You can have an indulgent Thai dinner at the Thai Thai Restaurant at the Hilton. It’s a great way to ease into Thai cuisine when you’re not ready for street food yet.
Enjoy it, because tomorrow I’m sending you to a night market!
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 Boat Tour
Your day will start early so first stop will be the poolside breakfast buffet. Eat up as today is a BIG day!
Stop 1: Go on the James Bond Island Tour of Phang Nga Bay (Full Day)
I never wanted to go on his tour before because it was so James Bond focused, and I have never watched a movie.
Our friend Roger recommended it as one of his favorite things to do in Phuket, so we decided to give it a chance.
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 Phang Nga 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.
Stop 2: 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!
Stop 4: Eat Street Food 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 for some incredible street food and to shop for souvenirs.
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.
Day 3: Culture Day: Thai Massage, Phuket Old Town, Cabaret Show
After a long day on the boat yesterday, you might want to give yourself a little treat. I highly recommend you get yourself a Thai massage at least once on your trip.
Alternatively, you can visit a resort spa and opt for a relaxing hot stone massage or aromatherapy treatment.
Stop 1: Indulge in a Thai 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 would definitely say it’s a good idea to get one before a flight home.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a Thai massage, allow me to explain.
A Thai massage is a traditional form of bodywork that originated in Thailand over 2,500 years ago.
It is a type of massage that combines acupressure, stretching, and deep tissue techniques to help release tension and promote relaxation.
During a Thai massage, you typically lie on a mat on the floor while the practitioner uses their hands, elbows, knees, and feet to apply pressure to various points on the body.
The massage therapist may also use gentle stretching movements to help improve flexibility and range of motion.
Essentially it’s a cross between massage and some kind of sports yoga.
Thai massage has many benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving circulation, boosting energy levels, and reducing muscle tension and pain.
Thai massage is often performed fully clothed, without the use of oils or lotions. It is becoming increasingly popular in western countries as a way to relax and rejuvenate the body and mind.
If this doesn’t sound relaxing to you, you can 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.
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.
Stop 2: Old Town Phuket
After a massage, you are probably feeling more energized and ready to explore. So take a trip over to Old Town Phuket, a charming and historic district located in the heart of Phuket.
One of the main reasons to visit Old Town Phuket is its fascinating mix of architecture. The district is home to beautifully preserved Sino-Portuguese buildings, some of which date back to the 19th century.
These buildings give visitors a glimpse into Phuket’s colonial past and offer a unique backdrop for exploring the area.
In addition to its stunning architecture, Old Town Phuket is also home to a vibrant street art scene.
Keep an eye out for colorful murals and graffiti that adorn the walls of many buildings throughout the district.
Stop 3: Try water sports such as jet ski or parasailing
After exploring Old Town Phuket, head over to Patong Beach to try your hand at some watersports.
Patong Beach is a great place to try parasailing, jet skiing, or even just rent a kayak or stand up paddle board and hit the ocean.
If you’ve never tried any adventurous water sports before, this is a great place to try it because the prices are cheap and the bay is sheltered so you don’t get a huge strong wind blowing you in all directions.
Stop 4: Simon Cabaret Show
One of the best things to do in Phuket at night is to attend a cabaret show.
A cabaret show in Phuket is a unique and entertaining experience that allows you to dive into Phuket’s long-standing traditions and history.
The shows are known for their elaborate costumes, stunning stage design, and talented performers. They offer a variety of performances, from traditional Thai dances to contemporary pop numbers, the shows cater to all tastes and interests.
The performances are also family-friendly, making them a great activity for travelers of all ages.
Day 4: Phi Phi Islands Day Trip
Another popular day trip from Phuket is to the Phi Phi Islands, which are arguably the most beautiful islands in the Thailand archipelago.
You can stay on the larger of the two islands, Don Phi Phi, if you have more time, but it’s also easy to see the highlights on a day trip.
Stop 1: Maya Bay
The tour departs from Phuket at around 8am in the morning and you will hop into a speedboat or long tail boat and head to Phi Phi Islands. I would suggest getting a speedboat tour as they are faster, so you can visit more stops.
The first stop is Maya Bay, usually. The boat tours may swap these stops around so you can visit Maya Bay at a time when there are less people.
It’s the highlight of a Phi Phi Islands day tour because it’s Thailand’s most beautiful beach. It was made famous after it appeared in the movie The Beach starring Leonardo Dicaprio and is a protected beach.
It was closed for around five years or so due to overtourism, but now it’s open again for day tours only. You cannot swim in the beach, but it’s beauty is worth the journey.
You can sit back and admire the stunning limestone cliffs that surrounding it, and maybe even spot a black-tip reef shark in the water if you’re lucky.
Stop 2: Lagoon Swim
The next stop is Pileh Lagoon, a hidden gem located between tall cliffs. It’s a great place to swim in the emerald-green waters of the lagoon and take in the breathtaking views around you.
Stop 3: Snorkeling Spot
If you didn’t see much marine life swimming in the lagoon, then don’t worry. The next stop is a snorkel spot at one of the best spots in Phi Phi Islands.
It’s usually a spot around Viking Cave, a sea cave that looks out into the open waters of the Andaman Sea.
Here is a great spot to discover the colorful coral and marine life that inhabit the waters, and marvel at the beauty of the underwater world.
Stop 4: Lunch at Don Phi Phi
I mentioned earlier that Don Phi Phi Island is the largest island in the Phi Phi Islands and is much more developed than the others.
It’s a great place for lunch at a local restaurant and to browse the market shops that line the two streets on the island.
Stop 5: Swimming Spot
Usually, if the weather is good, the tour will end with a swimming spot at a remote uninhabited island.
Usually, you will visit Bamboo Island, a small and secluded island with clear waters perfect for swimming.
Soak up the sun on the white sandy beach or swim in the crystal clear waters before you relax on the boat and enjoy the ride back to Phuket.
Day 5: Elephant Sanctuary, Bang Pae Waterfall, Promthep Cape
On the last day, we will visit some of the lesser known attractions and wildlife sanctuaries.
Stop 1: Elephant Sanctuary
Visiting an elephant sanctuary is one of the most popular and rewarding experiences in Thailand, and allows tourists to see these majestic animals up close while supporting their welfare and conservation efforts.
One of the main reasons to visit an elephant sanctuary in Phuket is the opportunity to witness these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
However, not all sanctuaries provide a safe and ethical environment for elephants, so you do need to do your research carefully.
An ethical sanctuary allows you to observe them roaming freely, socializing with other elephants, and engaging in natural behaviors such as bathing and grazing but without getting involved.
Most of the elephants have been rescued from the tourism or logging industries.
Stop 2: Bang Pae Waterfall
Bangae Waterfall is a stunning natural attraction in Phuket’s Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.
One of the main reasons to visit Bang Pae Waterfall is its breathtaking beauty.
It is the largest and most impressive waterfall on the island, with water cascading down a series of rocky tiers.
You can cool off in the refreshing pool at the base of the falls or take a dip in the natural pools along the trail.
In addition to its natural beauty, Bang Pae Waterfall is surrounded by lush rainforest, making it a great place to explore and hike.
Stop 3: Promthep Cape
Another great sunset spot in Phuket is Promthep Cape, located at the southernmost point of Phuket island.
One of the main reasons to visit Promthep Cape is its breathtaking views. The cape overlooks the Andaman Sea and offers panoramic views of the coastline, islands, and surrounding mountains.
The sunset views from Promthep Cape are particularly stunning and draw large crowds of visitors every evening.
Getting Around Phuket
The best way to get around Phuket is to hire a scooter and drive yourself. It’s going to save you money, and also allows you the freedom to travel at your own pace.
With a family, a scooter isn’t a good option, but you can also hire a car as well.
Alternatively, you can take taxis. This is a convenient and reliable way to get around Phuket. They can be found at Phuket International Airport, major hotels, and tourist areas.
However, taxi fares in Phuket can be expensive, especially for long distances, so you might want to use a ride-share app such as Grab or Bolt.
Tuk-tuks are an experience in Thailand. They are three-wheeled vehicles that are a popular mode of transportation in Phuket.
They are cheaper than taxis, but prices can be negotiated, so it’s important to agree on a price before getting in.
Songthaews are like bus versions of tuk tuks. They are converted pickup trucks that operate as shared taxis.
They are a budget-friendly option, but routes and schedules can be limited, and they also take a long time to get from A to B, making them less convenient for travelers with specific plans.
Best Time to Visit Phuket
The best time to visit Phuket depends on your preferences and travel plans, but winter is our prefered time of year to visit.
Phuket has a tropical climate, with high temperatures and humidity levels throughout the year, though it does have a long rainy season from June to October which can get in the way of your beach time.
The peak tourist season in Phuket is from November to February, when the weather is generally sunny and dry. December is the busiest month and can be crowded, so book accommodation and tours in advance.
The temperatures during this time are milder, making it a great time for outdoor activities such as hiking and beach hopping.
The sea is also calm during these months, making it ideal for water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving.
March to May is the hot season in Phuket, with temperatures reaching up to 35°C.
April is also a time when you see pollution from the north come down to the south, which doesn’t usually reach Phuket, but it does mean you get a lot of people fleeing the north to escape the pollution and residing in Phuket.
So, expect accommodations to be booked up in these months as well.
This can make outdoor activities uncomfortable during the day, but the evenings are cooler and perfect for exploring the island’s nightlife scene.
Final Thoughts on This 5 Day Phuket Itinerary
Phuket is an island that offers so much to see and do, and 5 days is the perfect amount of time for those looking to explore the island’s diverse attractions and experiences.
I hope this Phuket itinerary gave you some inspiration about what to do and how to spend your days in Phuket.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us in the comments.