Phuket, Thailand is a favorite destination for tourists from all around the world. Home to amazing landscapes, cheap seafood, and wonderfully unique nightlife guests often need a vacation from their vacation after their visit. But not everyone enjoys the hustle of busy tourist locations. I’ve put together a list of 5 off the beaten track places to just chill when visiting this exceptional part of Asia.
Touted as one of the 10 most interesting dive sites in the world, the 9 islands of Koh Similan is a favorite destination for both locals and in the know tourists. With its breathtaking landscape both on land and under the clear turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, the Similan Islands are a perfect place to roll out your beach towel and soak in the sun, park your boat or yacht, snorkel the rich reefs, or dive below the surface and swim with amazing marine life. eOasia offers fantastic diving and snorkeling packages for all levels of experience.
From a topographical aspect the most eye-catching characteristic of these islands are the massive rocks that are scattered on the western and southern coasts. These towering boulders, some as big as houses, are a marvel unto themselves. However, the island’s best feature is the mostly deserted, spectacular white sand beaches.
Getting to the islands are a bit challenging but worth the effort. Having no regular boat service, the best bet for visitors is to hire a boat from Thap Lamu Pier, in the Thai Muang district of Phang Nga province, which is the closest launching point to Similan. Expect about a 3-hour trip. Day trips from Phuket and Khao Lak are also possible.
Radar Hill Viewpoint
This viewpoint is located on a military base and, because most people believe tourists are not permitted to visit the base, it remains a well kept secret. From this peaceful vantage point, panoramic views of the island are simply breathtaking. Patong Beach, Chalong bay, and Phang Nga can be seen in all their glory.
To get there either hire a driver, motorbike, or rent a car and drive yourself. Parking is plentiful and easy.
Another option, to ensure the best views, is to indulge in a helicopter tour. This satisfies the adventure junkie and the photography buff. What better way to impress your friends than to show them aerial photos of Phuket?!
Eat Like a Local
Want to eat like a local? Take a wonderful walking and food tour where you’ll be exposed to local culture and get the chance to try several delicious dishes from various restaurants around Phuket. This is definitely a must if you’re a foodie!
Mor Mu Dong seafood restaurant is another fantastic place to experience local cuisine. Devoid of tourists, this simple, rustic restaurant serves freshly prepared, local caught seafood. You can enjoy your meal in a small private Salas (la little wooden house with a thatched roof and no walls) built over the mangrove, or park yourself under the trees. No muss, no fuss; simple, local, down to earth surroundings with remarkable cuisine.
It’s not an easy place to find. The best bet is to hire a driver to take you, as it’s likely he’ll know exactly where it’s located.
Sarasin Bridge was built to link Phuket Island to the mainland of Phang Nga Province. Two towers connected by a platform make for an interesting destination for a leisurely walk and incredible viewpoint to the Andaman Sea, local fishing villages, and Phang Nga Bay. At dusk, the traditional lanterns lining the bridge create a romantic setting.
After 6pm, local fishermen set up their stools, fishing rods, and torchlights and fish the rich waters under the bridge. On the Phuket side, many vendors setup their stands to sell various Thai snacks and drinks; at the foot of the bridge on the Phang Nga side, sits Thanoon Seafood, a superb open aired seafood restaurant. Depending on which side of the bridge you’re staying, have a driver drop you off at the bridges entrance.
If you’re diving yourself, there are ample places to park on either side.
Explore on Your Own
Phuket is a perfect island to investigate on your own. Rent a motorbike, Jeep or book a unique tour and escape the busy main towns and tourist traps. Don’t be afraid to turn down small roads where you’ll likely find amazing fishing villages, small food stands, exquisite hidden beaches, and wonderful local people. These small off the beaten track places are often where you’ll discover your most cherished memories.