The Ultimate Phuket Itinerary: 5 Days in Southern Thailand

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Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular destinations. Whether you are looking for budget or luxury, parties or serenity, Phuket is known for its ability to entertain and provide. If you are considering a Thai holiday, Phuket is well worth a visit. However, what exactly should you fit in a Phuket 5 day itinerary?

With so many things to do and places to see, the last thing you want in Phuket is limited time. Luckily, five days is the ideal amount of time to get a taster of the isle and the crème de la crème of what’s on offer. And, to save you even more of that valuable time, we’ve prepared an ultimate Phuket 5 day itinerary for you.

Our itinerary features renowned nightlife, famed Phi Phi Islands, endless beaches, and even Muay Thai fights. We’ve covered all of Phuket’s best while also leaving flexibility and time for you to personalize the itinerary. Read on and let the Phuket inspiration begin!

Day 1

Phuket Old Town is a great addition to your Phuket 5 day itinerary. This image shows yellow buildings with white details, typical of Sino-Portuguese architecture.
Phuket Old Town via Pexels.

Morning

We aren’t even going to try to talk you out of this one – you aren’t going to be able to fight the urge, and we don’t blame you. Start the first morning of your Phuket 5 day itinerary with a trip to your nearest beach.

Phuket’s beaches are highly spoken of and for a good reason. We particularly recommend Banana Beach, Kata Beach, and Freedom Beach, although more accessible beaches like Kamala and Kata are also fantastic. Spend the morning enjoying the mild early heat and some saltwater therapy. And, at the more accessible beaches, you can take advantage of the beach facilities and indulge in a Thai breakfast or even a cocktail.

Afternoon

After some downtime at your hotel or a shaded hospitality venue, head to Phuket Town in the afternoon. Depending on where you are staying, and if you have a car hire, you may wish to order a taxi or rent a motorbike for the journey. Phuket Town is located in the center of Phuket, meaning you’ll have to travel inland from coastal areas.

Within Phuket Town, the Old Town is known for its Sino-Portuguese architecture, and both its historic Chinese and Portuguese influences are still enjoyable in the modern-day. The Old Town is the perfect place to window shop and take scenic strolls – especially in that delicious, less intense afternoon sun. Don’t miss Soi Romanee street for photo opportunities and aesthetically colored buildings. The street is lined with independent shops, restaurants, and cafes of different colors. Plus, on Sundays, Soi Romanee leads directly onto Thalang Road’s Street Market.

Evening

After an afternoon of shopping and photos, choose an evening meal in Phuket Town or head back for an early night at your hotel. For those staying in Phuket Town for the evening, we’d recommend the Blue Elephant for an upscale dining experience or One Chun for a popular yet budget-friendly treat.

Day 2

This image shows a huge white buddha against a light blue sky. Big Buddha is a great addition to your Phuket 5 day itinerary.
Big Buddha via Pexels.

Morning

If you can tempt yourself away from another beach morning, we suggest starting your day at Big Buddha. The 40 meters tall Buddha sits on top of Nagakerd mountain, where tourists and locals alike trek to take in the views of Phuket and stand next to the colossal statue.

While you can drive up the mountain to the statue, we recommend parking at the base and walking to the summit. The summit walk is 6km (one way) from the main road at the base and should take approximately an hour, depending on individual fitness. What could be more rewarding than an early morning feeling of accomplishment and views over Phuket?

Afternoon

Treat yourself to a well-deserved midday lunch at a restaurant of your choosing in Kata Village or on the Karon beachfront. Then, after letting your food settle, prepare yourself for another physical challenge.

Tiger Muay Thai is a huge part of Phuket’s Muay Thai legacy and produces many champion athletes. However, don’t let this put you off! Tiger Muay Thai warmly welcomes beginners and those wanting a taster session – making it a perfect addition to our itinerary. Beginners looking for a single session can join a class at 15 USD or choose a one-on-one private lesson for 21 USD. After an hour of tuition, you’ll have mastered some impressive basics and had a true taste of Thailand’s national combat sport.

Evening

After an action-packed day of physical activity, if your hotel has a pool, you’ve earned a relaxing evening by the poolside. Treat yourself to some authentic Thai cuisine at a nearby restaurant and enjoy a rejuvenating evening of socializing and relaxation.

Day 3

This image shows a wooden, traditional Thai longboat with limestone cliffs in the background. In front, a dark-haired girl stands in the water with a yellow bikini top. The Phi Phi Islands are a must add to your Phuket 5 day itinerary.
Phi Phi islands via Pexels.

Morning

Since yesterday was spent on land, today, you’ll head out by boat to explore what Phuket’s ocean has to offer. You can book tours of the Phi Phi Islands online, through most hotels, or at the many local tour operators on Phuket’s streets. You can choose between a speed boat, a traditional longboat, or one of the popular mid-range boats that typically attract sociable backpacker groups.

We recommend booking ‘The Phi Phi Islands Adventure Trip’ through Viator, which costs 73.45 USD and has a Badge of Excellence certification. The tour starts with a complimentary hotel pick-up service between 7 am and 8 am, followed by refreshments at the Royal Phuket Marina before boarding. The first stop is Maya Bay, where Leonardo Di Caprio starred in The Beach. Next on the itinerary are the limestone cliffs of Pileh Lagoon, the Viking Cave home to bird’s nest soup, and the self-explanatory mayhem of Monkey Beach. Guests are given snorkeling gear and plenty of opportunities to swim throughout the morning, so remember to pack swimming clothes and towels.

Afternoon

As a full-day tour, the experience includes a buffet lunch at Koh Phi Phi Le or Koh Phi Phi Don. Dining on secluded Thai islands is an experience in itself, and you can enjoy traditional wooden venues along with plenty of photo opportunities. There are approximately two hours, in total, to spend on the Koh Phi Phi Islands, so expect an afternoon of food, swimming, and sunbathing.

Following your time on the Koh Phi Phi islands, the tour continues to a final snorkeling spot at the marine reserve around Bamboo Island. Here, you can spot Moorish idols, pufferfish, and clownfish amongst the array of marine life.

Evening

By the time you reach the marina at 4 pm, you’ll be well in need of some rest and refreshments. We recommend combining both rest and refreshments with sunset views over Phuket at the Patong Sunset View Restaurant. Not only does the restaurant serve delicious Thai food, but it also provides European and seafood specialties. And, with a rating of 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, it is clear that the Patong Sunset View Restaurant is amassing a deservingly stellar reputation.

Day 4

This image shows a section of beach and light blue ocean with a palm tree leaning into view.
A beach in Phuket via Pexels.

Morning

On the fourth day of your Phuket 5 day itinerary, it’s time to experience Thai life from the road. If you have a driving license and feel comfortable doing so, we recommend renting a motorbike or scooter and exploring Phuket’s coastline. Depending on where you are based, we suggest heading North or South on Phuket’s west coast – which has many stunning beaches for you to stop off at en route. Driving the West coast of Phuket means that you’ll get to experience a mix of busy shopping streets, quiet Thai villages, and many natural attractions that are helpfully signposted.

Afternoon

Pick a spot for lunch at Midday and take a break from the heat and sightseeing. Then, if you fancy even more of an adventure, stop off at Secret Beach on your way back to your hotel. A typically swimmer-deserted beach, Secret Beach has a little café in a beach shack where you can purchase food and drink in serenity. To get to the beach, spot the hand-painted wooden sign on the coastal road between Kamala and Patong. You’ll get a chance to practice your motorbiking skills, as the road is quite rough and rocky in sections. But that’s just all part of the adventure.

Evening

Carrying on from the adventurous, carefree tone of today, we recommend that you indulge in Patong’s nightlife this evening. Swap the motorbike for a taxi and head for Patong as dark falls. Bangla Road is the epicenter of Patong’s (and Phuket’s) nightlife and definitely where you should start your night. Here, you can purchase buckets of alcohol and enjoy some of Thailand’s most notorious partying.

Day 5

This image shows an elephant in a forest setting lifting its trunk.
An elephant via Pexels.

Morning

Treat yourself to a sleep in this morning and allow yourself a slower start to shake any traces of hangover. Then, head straight to your nearest, or favorite, beach to enjoy the final swim of your Phuket 5 day itinerary. And, if you haven’t already, try the traditional khao yam for breakfast, which is available at most cafes and restaurants in Phuket. Khao yam is a tangy rice salad dish and is massively popular across Southern Thailand.

Of course, don’t let yourself get too relaxed at the beach because there is an exciting meeting planned for this afternoon.

Afternoon

Thailand is famous for its gorgeous elephants, and meeting these big, friendly giants is high on many tourist itineraries. We suggest attending the ‘afternoon visit’ at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary to appreciate the impressiveness of elephants first hand.

The visit is purchasable for 75 USD and includes a hotel pick-up service between 12 and 1 pm. Once you arrive at the sanctuary, you’ll receive a brief introduction to the program while you enjoy some snacks and refreshments. Then, you’ll get to work hands-on with the mahouts to prepare, then feed the elephants. By 2 pm, you have millions of photographs, and the elephants will be full and ready for their mud spa. The visit allows you to swim and play with the elephants as they bathe – a unique way to end your time in Phuket.

After a shower and change of clothes, a pad thai is on the dinner menu. Enjoy your complimentary meal, then a return drop-off service to your hotel.

Extra note

There are many elephant sanctuaries in Phuket that you can visit, but we’d advise that you independently research the ethicality of these sanctuaries beforehand. Sadly many elephant ‘sanctuaries’ mistreat and extort the animals, so here are seven positive signs that you can watch out for when visiting.

Evening

Your Phuket 5 day itinerary has come to an end, but there is no reason why you can’t extend your travel in Thailand. Phuket’s airport has excellent domestic flight routes, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi. Alternatively, choose to base yourself on some of Southern Thailand’s islands for a while. The Koh Phi Phi islands are easily accessible via ferry, while Koh Phangan and its full moon party call you from up the coast.

Whatever you decide, you’ve accrued plenty of memories already on your five days in Phuket. Safe travels – onwards or homewards!

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Eibhlis Gale – Coleman is a freelance writer from the UK who is driven by a fierce love of adventure, unique cultural experiences, native animals, and good coffee. She is a passionate traveller and has explored Europe, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and Australia.