For international travellers, visiting Phuket is often a bucket list item and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After one visit, Phuket often becomes an annual holiday destination thanks to its friendly people, beautiful weather, reasonable prices, and stunning landscapes.
With so much to see and do in Phuket, it’s no wonder people keep coming back, but there’s only so much you can see in a day without emptying your pockets for private transport. This is why Phuket car rentals are a reasonable option that provide freedom to the adventurous traveller.
The Casual Itinerary
For many first-time travellers to Phuket, their first stop is likely going to be on Patong Beach. Touristy for a reason, Patong Peach is a spectacular beach stretching almost three kilometres (two miles) in length.
Dotted along the beach and in the streets behind it, you’ll find every manner of food, fun, shopping, and relaxation you can imagine. Every possible international cuisine, along with Thailand’s best culinary delights, are available.
On the beach itself, there are beach chairs to rent and all sorts of services, including food delivered right to your seat, parasailing, and afternoon massages in the shade.
The Big Buddha
Thailand takes Buddhism very seriously, and nowhere else is this on more spectacular display than at the Big Buddha. Perched atop a 320-metre-high viewpoint, this statue stands over forty-five metres tall–the view alone is worth the drive.
Phang Nga Bay
While not technically on the island of Phuket, Phang Nga Bay sits a short ninety minute drive to the north. As a beautiful archipelago of limestone karsts that come straight out of the floor of the bay and rise one hundred metres into the air, it is a sight that must be seen to be understood.
A half-day tour of the islands usually includes lunch in a stunning fishing village, a visit to a couple caves, and maybe some sea kayaking.
The Real Thailand Itinerary
The best way to see the real Thailand is to take to the open road and see what’s out there. As a literal tropical paradise, Phuket and the surrounding areas are absolutely stunning, and a beautiful waterfall or viewpoint is just a car ride away. By using the best car rentals in Phuket, getting there is easy and far cheaper than all-day private transport.
Waterfalls and Views
A quick search of Thailand on Google Maps will reveal more waterfalls and national parks than you can imagine–choose a place and go have a look! Most national parks will charge foreigners a higher fee for entry than locals, but there are also many free waterfalls.
Khao Sok National Park
The inland freshwater brother of Phang Nga Bay, Khao Sok is a reservoir lined and filled with the same stunning limestone karsts that dot Phang Nga Bay. Half-day tours are reasonably priced and typically include a ride across the lake on a longtail boat with plenty of photo opportunities and lunch in a floating village.
It should be noted that it’s a three hour trip to Khao Sok each way, so plan accordingly or find a place to stay overnight.
Visit Phuket Town
Those who live in Thailand or visit Phuket frequently will tell you that they don’t go to Patong. In fact, most locals and experienced foreigners prefer Phuket town, located on the island’s east side. Its laid-back charm and older aesthetic are a reminder of a more peaceful time and are a far cry from the neon glitz of Patong.
See the Quiet Southern Beaches
Another place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Patong and other touristy areas is to take a drive to the island’s southern end and visit the stunning viewpoint of Cape Phrom Thep. Many beaches dot the southern end of the island, so you’re bound to find one that you can have all to yourself.
For the ultimate in making your own itinerary, nothing compares to having your own car. Driving in Thailand as a tourist is legal, as long you have your international driving permit or licence. These can easily be obtained online if you have a valid drivers licence from your home country.
Finally, keep in mind that Thailand drives on the left side of the road, so the steering wheel will be on the right side of the car. Take it easy for your first day or two, and watch out for the motorbikes that drive slowly in the left lane and may weave between cars in heavy traffic. With a little planning, you can see Thailand on your own terms, and have a trip you’ll never forget!