The 5 best day trips from Phuket

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Got Phuket on your Thailand itinerary? From island hopping with snorkeling stops to visiting fishing villages, here are the best day trips from Phuket.

Maya Bay Thailand

Electrifying nightlife, high-end seaside resorts, beaches and attractions galore – Phuket offers an endless list of things to do. But Thailand’s most popular destination is surrounded by gorgeous islands and movie locations that beckon from every corner.

So where to go from Phuket once you’ve been to the white, 45m-tall Big Buddha, visited the glittering Wat Chalong temple and the old town with its Sino-Portuguese buildings? Whether you’re a seasoned visitor in the region or a first-timer, you’ll love these day trips from Phuket.

Swim in the crystal waters of Coral Island

Coral Island day trip from Phuket

Coral Island, or Koh He as locals call it, is situated six kilometers southeast of Phuket. It’s a 2.5km-long, jungle-covered granite island and a popular weekend getaway from Phuket.

While the coral has seen better days, the island’s amazonite waters still attract scores of people. To avoid the crowds that typically travel back from Phuket to Bangkok or Phuket to Krabi on a Sunday evening, come here on a weekday. Whether you’re the more active type who likes snorkeling or the classic beach bum, the white sands of Long Beach invite you to linger.

Try the Pad Thai at the beach restaurant. It’s Thailand’s famous stir-fried rice noodle dish with shrimp, peanuts, a scrambled egg, bean sprouts, and other veggies. Or sip on a coconut milkshake and lounge in the hammock in the shade of a cashew tree, listening to the waves washing ashore.

Another lovely stretch of soft white sand is a fifteen-minute jungle walk away from Long Beach. You can access it via the eastern end of Long Beach. Aside from snorkeling spots, this beach attracts hungry fish like trumpet and butterflyfish that want to be fed. Kayaking, massages, and banana boat rides are available too. 

Whatever suits your fancy, a day trip from Phuket to Coral Island is wallet-friendly and offers a change of scenery, with plenty of deck chairs along the shore to let the hours slip past gently.

Hike the viewpoint in Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi landscape

If you wonder where to go after Phuket, Koh Phi Phi is a charmer with its famous Maya Bay. While the karst-lined cove is still closed to tourists, the outrigger-shaped island has emerald waters and limestone cliffs that are best admired from one of three viewpoints.

After a 20-minute climb up some steep stairs, you can enjoy heavenly views of Koh Phi Phi’s east. A turn or two further up, you’ll find the spot with a large wooden viewing platform that many visitors describe as the best vista of the three. The third one is quite a trek down the hillside towards the other side of the island.

Some travelers prefer to travel from Phuket to Railay Beach, but Koh Phi Phi’s scenery of limestone monoliths towering above green-tinted waters is on par with Railay. This is precisely why couples love to hire a private longtail boat for 1,500 baht ($47). The captains usually take you to Monkey Beach, then head for the Phi Leh Lagoon, which is comparable to Maya Bay and excellent for a quick swim and some Insta-worthy pictures.

Get away from it all on the golden sands of Khao Lak

Khao Lak is a great day trip from Phuket

Some 80 kilometers north of Phuket on the mainland, Khao Lak has endless stretches of golden sand. While Khao Lak was severely hit by the tsunami in 2004, much has been rebuilt. Yet, the beach resort area on the Andaman coast is still a quiet escape and offers a family-friendly atmosphere. Traveling there from Phuket, you’ll notice the slower pace of life in the coastal villages.

While day-trippers from Phuket love to bathe in Khao Lak’s warm blue waters and relax on the beach, you can also check out its rustic cafes or explore waterfalls in the dense forests surrounding Khao Lak. And with local markets and bamboo rafting trips, Khao Lak caters to both culture buffs and adventure-seekers.

Also, Khao Sok, a 739-square-kilometer-national park that is 33% larger than Thailand’s biggest island, Phuket, is nearby. 

Follow in 007’s footsteps at James Bond Island in Phang Nga

James Bond Island, near Phuket Thailand

Instead of going straight from Phuket to Koh Phangan or Phuket to Koh Yao Noi, a stop at Phang Nga Bay is well worth it. With over 100 jungle-swathed rock islands jutting hundreds of meters out of emerald waters, Phang Nga Bay boasts staggering scenery and makes for an ideal day trip from Phuket. Plus there is an adorable little overnight stay at Samet Nangshe you should check out.

The region’s popularity is also due to Khao Phing Kan, better known as James Bond Island, an island made famous in the 1974 movie The Man with the Golden Gun. Thanks to the rock pinnacle with its unique features, the place makes for top Insta-shots.

Most boat tours also include a stop in the Muslim fishing village called Koh Panyee. This village’s appeal is not just in the homes built on stilts above shallow waters, but Koh Panyee’s floating soccer pitch, inspired by the 1986 World Cup and built with wood scraps, nails, and tied fishing rafts. Later, they refurbished it but it’s still pretty rustic.

Panyee FC has won several regional championships in Thailand. Due to the island’s popularity, TMB bank has released a short film inspired by how Panyee FC and their unique football pitch came to be.

In Koh Panyee, you can also devour fresh seafood, soak up the sun, and listen to the waves lapping the floating village.

Work on your tan in the paradisiacal setting of Koh Racha

crystal clue waters of Koh Racha

Twelve kilometers south of Phuket, you’ll find Koh Racha Yai (Large Racha) and Koh Racha Noi (Small Racha). The island scores with turquoise waters and white sands that you can’t find anywhere in Phuket. No wonder Koh Racha Yai is home to the villa-style five-star hotel The Racha.

With its horseshoe-shaped Patok Bay, Koh Racha Yai is the more popular of the two islands. You can snorkel and swim in the warm translucent sea or bask in the sun on sands as white as coconut meat.

Koh Racha Noi is not inhabited and doesn’t have any tourist infrastructure, but divers love the place. Phuket tours from Rawai Beach or Chalong Pier take you to the Racha islands in approximately 45 minutes. 

Whichever day trip from Phuket you choose, you’re bound to find your little piece of paradise.


When is the best time to go to Phuket?

February is a good month. Read all about it in our best time to go to Thailand post.

How long should we stay in Khao Sok?

2-3 days is perfect to chill and explore the area.

Can you stay overnight on James Bond Island?

Nope. You can visit for a few hours but that’s about it. It’s uninhabited.

Posted May 16, 2022
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Philipp Meier
Philipp Meier is a Phuket-based travel writer passionate about Thai culture and wandering off Thailand’s well-trodden tourist trail. His work has been published on the Nat Geo Traveller India, South China Morning Post, Culture Trip, BootsnAll, GoNOMAD, and elsewhere. You can find him at Writer Philipp Meier and LinkedIn.
image of blog writer Phil