Phuket is an ocean lover’s paradise and many of the most popular Phuket activities revolve around the sea. Sailing, boating, fishing, swimming, sea kayaking, jet skiing and parasailing are some of the many water activities to be enjoyed on the island. But water sports aren’t all that there is on offer in Phuket. Activities on land include Thai kick boxing, ATV trips, elephant trekking, cycling, and shooting, as well as kayaking in nearby Phang Nga Bay (not to be confused with Pha Nga Island in the Gulf).
From November to March the Andaman Sea is one of the calmest and most beautiful bodies of water in Asia, and people flock to Phuket to take advantage of its calm waters and work on the tan while lying on powdery white sand beaches.
Water Activities in Phuket
There are four marinas, one large anchorage and two sailing clubs in Phuket. One club is in Chalong Bay and the other at Ao Yon (Yon Bay); both of which offer rental and tuition for visitors to the island.
Sailing lessons, yacht charters and dinner cruises, mostly departing from Chalong Pier or Yacht Haven Marina, are all popular activities. Sport fishing charters are on hand for those who wish to test themselves against blue water species such as Black Marlin and Sailfish. For those interested in boats who want to be a little closer to the water, sea kayaking may be an attractive option…more on Sailing.
There are companies that offer guided day trips to nearby Phang Nga Bay, with its karsts – stunning towers of limestone rising hundreds of feet vertically from the water. For those wishing to strike out on their own, kayak and canoe rentals are available near most of the island’s beaches.
If boats and kayaks are a little slow for your taste, then head to Patong or Kata beaches and rent a jet-ski. Bouncing along the whitecaps with the throttle wide open and spray in your face is an exhilarating way to spend a day. But remember to be responsible as safety standards aren’t enforced sufficiently in Thailand and there are some unscrupulous operators here. If you want to rise above it all and get a fantastic view, then you might want to try parasailing. Soar above the waves while being pulled along by a speedboat. Parasailing is available right on the beach at Patong and Kata…more on Watersports.
In the north of the island, at Nai Yang Beach, try your hand at kite-surfing: balancing on a surf board while being pulled along by a huge kite.
Diving and Snorkelling in Phuket
Diving is one of the most popular activities in Phuket, and there are dozens of dive shops. Whichever beach you stay at there will be a few choices to join dive excursions and possibly take a course if you have no dive qualification. There are great reefs and wrecks off this coast (some reasonably close to Phuket) and the water visibility is generally regarded to be good; especially during the busy ‘high’ season. Those who’ve never dived can enroll in Open water I, which takes several days and is cheaper than in most other places.
If this is all too much bother, you can still get a taste of the underwater world with a snorkelling trip to witness surface marine life and shallow-water reefs. A lot of day tours also include an hour or two of snorkelling in colourful and lively spots, which is enough for most and more rewarding than hiring gear and trying your luck offshore from the beaches… more pages on Diving, and Courses.
Golfing in Phuket
Many come to Phuket hoping to get in nine or 18 holes against a paradise backdrop and Phuket caters quite well to golfers, if not with the same number of choices found in Pattaya or Chiang Mai. There are eight courses set among pretty lagoons, or, in the case of Red Mountain, rolling landscape amid rubber trees and tropical vegetation. They are all of a high standard, with clubs, caddies, carts and equipment for hire. Green fees of about 1,200 Baht.
If you’re more into the casual side of putting or have the kids along there are also some great miniature golfing courses on the island. Phuket Adventure Mini Golf is the latest and greatest of the bunch, featuring an amazing 18-hole course with sand, water and palms to add to the challenge. Mini golf isn’t just for kids…more on Golfing.
Cycling in Phuket
Phuket is an ideal place for cycling once you get off the main roads. Bikes can be hired in each of the beach resort areas, but they’re more suited for pottering around; most people will find the steep hills to get over to the next beach a bit much while on holiday. In short, don’t come to Phuket expecting professional bikes which you can tour the whole island with. It’s possible if you are fit and willing to put up with inferior gear, but the biggest impediment is reckless traffic.
There are several small, friendly companies with mountain bikes who will take you off the main roads and into the countryside for views of Phuket you would never find on your own.
Thai Boxing in Phuket
Muay Thai is the ancient martial art of Thailand and was used for hundreds of years by warriors protecting the kingdom from Burmese invaders. Today, Muay Thai has gained international recognition as one of the most effective and devastating fighting styles in the world.
Men, and women, from all over come to Phuket to train in this ancient art. Muay Thai is physically demanding and the training is rigorous, yet highly rewarding. Muay Thai is said to increase strength, co-ordination, endurance, flexibility and stamina, as well increasing confidence and being an effective form of self defence.
Muay Thai gyms exist in Rawai, Kata, Chalong, and Phuket Town. People of all skill and fitness levels are welcome and many of the gyms have onsite accommodation and offer stay-and-train packages. You can see Muay Thai exhibitions in Patong – mostly on Soi Bangla. Phuket is not well known for its Muay Thai tournaments; but for the real thing, try the boxing ring near the airport or the stadium in Saphan Hin (near Phuket Town), where tournaments are regularly staged.
Adventure Activities in Phuket
Phuket even has some beautiful rain forests in addition to its world famous coastline and there are several ways to enjoy these lush green environments. Elephants are among the most impressive animals on earth and elephant trekking is a wonderful way to experience Thailand’s outdoors. The strength, grace and intelligence of these magnificent creatures will certainly impress you and the perspective from your perch astride a pachyderm will give you a different view of the forest as they carry you along, swaying from side to side.
ATVs (quad bikes) are another popular way to see the countryside. These four-wheelers are sturdy, simple to operate and can go almost anywhere. Guided tours are available to take you through rubber plantations, over rugged hills and through mangrove forests to secluded, isolated beaches.
For the adrenaline junky the Jungle Bungee Jump in Kathu is a must. Located at the site of an old tin mine, this is one of only a few licensed bungee jump operators in Thailand. The 50-metre jump over the Jungle Lagoon is a heck of a thrill.
For something slightly less vertical, try the zip-line off the road from Thalang to the Ton Sai waterfall, where you get to zoom through towering tropical trees.
If you feel like shooting it up, head over to one of the shooting ranges and squeeze off a few rounds. There’s one in Chalong and another near Kathu waterfall where knowledgeable staff are more than happy to provide instruction in firearm handling and safety. They’ll have you shooting like Wyatt Earp in no time. Next to the Chalong range there is also paintball, for those who want to shoot at each other.
Activities in Phang Nga
Phang Nga is a short distance from Phuket and has a wide variety of outdoor activities that make perfect day trips from Phuket. Rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, tubing and whitewater rafting are all offered and packages are available for adventurers of all ages and skill levels.