Phuket is endowed with good attributes for hikers. Besides rolling hills and gushing waterfalls, evergreen rainforest and mindblowing views are just a few reasons the hiking trails in Phuket, Thailand, are well worth the sweat.
Feel on top of the world at Black Rock (Pa Hin Dum)
Unheard of before 2016, Pa Hin Dum or Black Rock, is a massive granite rock well-known by hiking enthusiasts. Yet, few people bother to hike up to the viewpoint overlooking all of southern Phuket and the nearby islands. Probably because the “lover version,” as hikers call the two to three-hour jungle trek, is challenging.
Be that as it may, the panorama of southern Phuket from Black Rock lives up to the highest expectations and is one of the best things to do in Phuket.
Suppose an easy one-hour hike along the coastline through tropical rainforest sounds more appealing. In that case, you can also get to Pa Hin Dum via Nui Beach, situated a few hundred meters after the Kata viewpoint on the way to Rawai Beach.
Getting to Black Rock
Head for Ao Sane near Nai Harn Beach if you opt for the longer trek on the jungle path. Alternatively, Nui Beach if you only want to hike for an hour. You can park your car or scooter there at the beginning of the short trail, where a pick-up truck collects beach bums visiting the beach. You’ll find one track leading down to Nui Beach and another on your left, going up one kilometer to Black Rock.
Turn right 250 meters after the parking lot, then continue on this path for 600 meters. Then you’ll see the entrance of a small trail on your left that meanders through the forest like a slithering snake. Black Rock Viewpoint is signposted, but bring water and sunscreen as there aren’t any street vendors around.
Let the Big Buddha intrigue you
Big Buddha, a 45-meter-tall statue layered with white Burmese jade marble, is a mesmerizing sight on top of Nak Kerd Hill (between Kata and Chalong). Sitting cross-legged on a pedestal 25 meters across and radiating poise, it’s visible from as far as Karon Beach or Phuket Town.
Up here, the peace is hardly interrupted by the tinkling of bells, fluttering of yellow Buddhist flags, and dharma music playing in the background. The steps to the Buddha are marble, and the spruced-up viewpoint area overlooks green hills to the north and down to Phuket Town, Chalong Bay, and Phrom Thep Cape in the south.
Getting to Big Buddha
There are two ways to get to the Big Buddha.
You can hike along a dirt track from Karon or Kata Beach to Big Buddha, almost 400 meters above sea level. After ten minutes, the jungle opens up, offering vistas of Karon Beach.
Trekking in the jungle for 7.7 km has appeal. You might spot wildlife and hear exotic birds. The first part of the climb is on the road, but don’t be fooled. It comes to a pretty steep dirt track and will surely get your heart pumping. It’s well signposted, and there are ropes at the most vertical sections.
Otherwise, you can start across the road from Pineapple and stroll up Patak Soi 14 next to the Ice Family Tour in the Karon area. It’s easy walking for a kilometer on this unbusy road. When the road splits, you’ll have reached about 100 meters above sea level and will see the marked way to Big Buddha.
Escape the crowds at Paradise Beach
Dislike the tourist masses at Patong Beach? The six-kilometer route from Patong to Paradise Beach makes for the best hiking in Phuket.
The hilly route from busy Patong runs southwest to Thawewong and Muen-Ngern Road. Go past the Elephant Sanctuary. There’s a brick sidewalk along most of the Patong to Paradise Beach hike through the headlands. However, conditions worsen on the narrow, winding road the closer you get to Paradise Beach.
There’s a remote feel to the aptly named Paradise Beach, boasting crystal waters, powdery light-brown sands, and longtail boats bobbing in the bay. But the guys running this place ask you to pay an entry fee between 100 to 200 baht, depending on the season.
Splash about in Kathu waterfall’s pools
In the heart of the island near Patong, Kathu waterfall is divided into two areas and provides a series of drop pools—for free! While you’ll find only a natural pool or small stream on the left, excellent for water babies, the falls you want to see are on the right from the parking, after the small bridge, and up the 130-meter staircase.
The top pool is perfectly suitable for swimming but requires some effort to reach. Still, the stairs and shade from green trees make the challenging climb up a dirt track bearable. The nice thing about these falls is that, apart from their cascading beauty that makes for excellent Insta-shots, you can make it as easy or difficult as you want.
Kids love to go halfway up a concrete path to the drop pool, fine for a dip and every bit as invigorating as the jungle air. It’s a setting that makes for excellent picnicking, too.
Since visiting Kathu waterfall is among the most popular things to do in Phuket, nibbles and drinks are available from street vendors at the bottom, where water cascades down the rocks to form a decently sized, sandy pool.
Getting to Kathu Waterfall
Halfway between Patong Beach and Phuket Town, Kathu Waterfall is easily accessible from the end of Soi Namtok Kathu or Kathu Waterfall Street. You can get there by tuk-tuk or drive your scooter or car, then hike through the forest and enjoy the exotic bird calls. The best time to visit is in the rainy season between May and November when the water gushes to create foamy white pools.
Whether you love viewpoints or waterfalls, hiking through Phuket’s scenery gives you time to take a breather and leave the daily grind behind.
How to get to Phuket
If you arrive in the Kingdom’s capital, you can fly or ride a bus from Bangkok to Phuket. You could also explore the Andaman Sea’s limestone paradise first and then hop on a speedboat or take a two-hour ferry ride from Krabi to Phuket or Koh Phi Phi to Phuket.
No matter what, if you’re a hiking aficionado, you’ll love these cascading charmers and viewpoints. But there is more to do on this island than hike. Check out this 7-day itinerary for all the details.
If you are a waterfall chaser, go between May and mid-December, when downpours are common. Otherwise, it’s drier between January and April.
While not mandatory, it’s definitely a good idea.