Planning a short stay in Phuket? If you only have 3 days in Phuket, what should you do? It’s a big island packed with plenty of options, so how do you decide? If you only have 3 days in Phuket, this is what I would do.
Accommodation in Phuket
With only 3 days in Phuket, you’ll want to minimise the time you spend traveling to activities and entertainment. Sure, lots of people don’t like Patong, but it’s going to be the best base for a 3 day stay. Go ahead and pre-book your hotel, especially if your trip is in high season. Even if you are going in low season, I would still book because you don’t want to waste precious hours looking for a hotel room.
I’m assuming you’ll arrive at the airport in Phuket as most people get to Phuket by air. To get a taxi at the airport, ignore all the touts, walk outside to the front of the new international terminal, and you will see the meter taxi counter about 150 metres on your right. Tell the taxi counter where you want to go, pay them the 100B airport fee and they will allocate a driver. Tell the driver you want to go straight to your hotel (no shops, tour desks, travel agents, timeshare, jewellery stores, etc). Airport taxi prices are now fixed and you will be advised the price at the taxi counter … and it’s normal to give the driver any small change (don’t forget that a 20bht note is only about AU 80 cents).
You are on your way. Where are we staying for 3 days in Phuket? My choices would be between 3 very reliable and well known hotels in Patong. You certainly don’t want to take any risks with only 3 days to spend there. Go with the well known hotels and when you come back another time, you can try somewhere different.
Phuket Graceland Resort and Spa
Phuket Graceland Resort and Spa is located along Patong Beach, overlooking the Andaman Sea. Boasting 2 outdoor pools and 4 dining options, it also has a spa and bowling alley.
Rooms at Phuket Graceland feature wooden flooring and modern Thai décor. Each room has a TV, fridge with minibar, and tea/coffee making facilities. The private bathroom is fitted with a bathtub and shower.
Guests can enjoy a dip in the outdoor spa pool, or a workout in the gym. The tour desk caters to travel needs, while the library is great for quiet reading. Services include car rental, laundry, and luggage storage.
Buffet breakfast is served daily. All-day dining is available at Bua Luang Restaurant, which serves Thai and International dishes, and Parakang Coffee Shop. Drinks are available at the pool bar and the lobby lounge.
Patong Merlin Hotel
Merlin Hotel is a 5-minute walk from Patong Beach and 1 km from Bangla Road and Jungceylon Shopping Centre. It features 4 outdoor pools, a spa and Thai cooking classes.
Patong Merlin Hotel offers modern rooms with a touch of tropical tranquillity. Offering balconies, they come equipped with minibars and tea/coffee makers. En suite bathrooms have toiletries and a hairdryer provided.
A fitness centre is available for the health-conscious guest. Alternatively, pampering massage services await. Hotel Merlin has a tour desk that assists with sightseeing arrangements.
Asian classics and vegetarian delights can be enjoyed at Coconut Coffee Shop while the outdoor Seaside Garden serves themed buffet dinners. For a relaxing session over drinks, guests can head to Café Del Mar, Sunset Bar or Lobby Lounge.
Holiday Inn Patong
Located in the heart of Patong Beach, Holiday Inn Resort Phuket offers stylish accommodation with 24-hour room service. Facilities include 6 swimming pools, a fully equipped fitness centre and 4 dining options.
Holiday Inn Resort Phuket is located in the middle of the shopping, restaurants and nightlife of Patong. It is a 15-minute taxi ride to Phuket Town.
Each modern and contemporary design room at Phuket Holiday Inn Resort features a flat-screen TV, a DVD player and en suite bathroom with rain shower.
Guests can enjoy a relaxing massage or body treatment at the Tea Tree Spa. Other facilities include a business centre, minimart and a beauty salon.
Charm Thai serves Thai cuisines while Sam’s offers steak specialities. A variety of Italian dishes is available at Terrazzo. For international cuisine, guests can head to The Sea Breeze Café.
Day 1 in Phuket
Now that you have settled into your lovely hotel room and possibly taken a quick dip in one of the amazing swimming pools, it’s time to get moving and see Phuket.
On the first day in Phuket I would explore the local area and take in some sights. Hire a local driver for the day. Outside your hotel there will no doubt be a number of taxi drivers waiting for you to approach them and negotiate. Select one (or if you are super organised you would have pre-booked a tour guide to take you out for the day), negotiate and head off to these destinations:
First Stop – Karon Viewpoint
No trip to Phuket is complete without a stop at the viewpoint to take in the breathtaking ocean and coastline.
2nd Stop – Rawai Beach
At the base of Phuket is this beautiful area which is home to the sea gypsies and local fisherman. Rawai Beach has numerous shops and restaurants along the foreshore. We love Nikita’s for a relaxing lunch by the water. Dine on Thai dishes or enjoy a burger or pizza. The food is always good at Nikita’s, and you can’t beat the location.
3rd Stop – Big Buddha
On the way back to Patong, go via Big Buddha and see the amazing structure and the incredible views of Phuket. The Big Buddha is situated high up on a hill with a very steep and windy road. You need to be in a taxi not a tuk tuk for this trip. You probably won’t spend more than an hour here. Climb up to the top of Big Buddha, take some photos and wander through the information building. There’s a few markets near the car park but they tend to be quite expensive.
We visited when they were constructing it, hence the sign asking for donations. It is a giant, towering monument which is a majestic sight on top of the hill.
Get a little rest in at your hotel, possibly another swim, before it’s time to head out for dinner and a show.
Night Time Activities
If you have children, you will want to add a visit to Fantasea – but even if you’re young at heart, this place will delight you. They do have food options there – a buffet restaurant which you can purchase when you buy your entrance tickets. I recommend using Hotels2Thailand for booking tickets and transfers. We have used them many times for different activities and they always deliver at a very cheap price.
Fantasea is not quite a theme park. It’s difficult to describe! There is a show which is very entertaining. Before the show starts you walk around the park and look at the attractions/exhibits. I will warn you now that they do have elephants with rides available, and they do have tigers. Use your own discretion on whether or not this place is for you and your family.
If Fantasea isn’t your thing, then maybe a cabaret show will entertain you! Close by in Patong is the long time favorite, Simon’s Cabaret. Again, we booked the show through Hotels2Thailand with transfers. I won’t recommend places to eat unless it’s a special occasion. There’s so many restaurants in Patong, and many are very good. Try your luck in the area around your hotel and then head out to the show.
And if cabaret isn’t your thing, maybe you want to party in Bangla Rd. Each to their own. There is plenty of night life in Patong, so I’m sure you will find an option somewhere!
Day 2 in Phuket
If you are super organised you would have booked a tour for the day. Let’s suppose you’re not quite that organised. Take a walk to the tour desk in your hotel. Today would be the best day of your 3 days in Phuket to take a boat trip to one of the surrounding islands. Most newbies to Phuket go straight to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island as it’s the most well known location. It is definitely spectacular scenery but go early to avoid the huge crowds.
Choosing tour operators….this can be a dangerous thing. You can choose between fast speed boats or leisurely yachts. Beware of some operators who overcrowd boats. Not all boats carry enough life jackets. Some operators will go ahead with the boat trip even though the ocean is far too rough to be safe. You really must ask some serious questions before going with any boat operator. The only one I will recommend is Phuket Sail Tours. I would not trust my safety or my family’s safety to anyone else. It’s this kind of promise on their web site which seals the deal:
We believe in personal service – We are a small family owned business and Captain Mark tries to meet every guest. Aboard with us you’ll be in the company of a small group of like-minded travelers. We avoid the hordes of tourists, and find our own quiet places, where possible.
Safety – We are committed to the safety of our guests and staff. Our local guides speak English, and really enjoy seeing you get the most out of your day.
Quality tours – We do not overcrowd our boats! We promise small group sizes for your maximum enjoyment. We strive to maintain the best possible service; from what you eat, what you do and to where we take you. We want you to feel like you have had a day out with a group of friends.
If you are looking for ideas for tours, please check out Captain Mark’s web site.
You will probably be so tired from your day out at the islands that you won’t want to do much when you get back to your hotel. I wouldn’t make plans for the night time activities unless you’re sure you can pull back up for it! A quiet but fun activity for the evening would be to visit OTOP Markets – a few drinks at the bars at the back and a bit of souvenir shopping at the markets until late.
Day 3 in Phuket
Wake up early and make the most of your last day in Phuket. Today I would be hitting the shops to buy any last minute things. I’d probably also schedule a bit of pool time before a late check out. It really depends on what time your flight is. If you have another night at the hotel and a flight early on the 4th day, that would be even better. I’m going to assume Day 3 is a full day and suggest activities based on that.
Jungceylon Shopping Centre opens at 10am so that would be my first stop today. A couple of hours wandering the various shops and markets, perhaps a coffee in between, then I would head off for lunch. I will definitely recommend a stop at Nicky’s Handlebar for lunch. It’s a bike themed restaurant and boutique hotel right in the heart of Patong. Their pizzas are fantastic! Definitely worth a trip for a meal and a look around at the bikes and memorabilia.
After a wonderful lunch at Nicky’s, head back to your hotel for a swim/cocktail/nap, and then around 4pm head out to find a taxi. You’re off to Cape Promthrep to watch the sunset. Take your camera and walking shoes. This place is breathtaking. It is the southern most tip of Phuket and the sunsets are world famous. There’s markets and shops to buys snacks and drinks. Be warned it can get very crowded! But if you only have 3 days in Phuket you can’t miss this sunset!
Always a good idea to negotiate the taxi to stay and wait for you. It wouldn’t be fun to be stranded down there. Once it gets dark, there’s nothing much there so you’ll want to leave. If you like great food and have the cash to splurge I would recommend booking a table at Mom Tri’s Kitchen in Kata – which is on the way back to Patong from Cape Promthrep.
The location speaks for itself. Above the beach and rocks at Kata. Amazing food, incredible location. It isn’t a cheap restaurant and I do advise booking a table. It is also a hotel – again, incredible views.
If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far, maybe drop by Kata on the way back and stop at Two Chefs for dinner. It will also give you an idea of what Kata is like as a possible destination to stay on your next trip. I had a delicious raspberry mojito last time we were there. The food is fabulous. If I only had 3 days in Phuket I’d try to come here for lunch or dinner.
As your 3rd day comes to a blinding finish, I hope you have enjoyed our little 3 day expedition around Phuket. There’s so much more to explore – this is just a small sampler of what you could do in 3 days. I haven’t even touched on the Go-Carts, ATV rides, Shooting Range, Aquarium, Galleries or the markets. It’s difficult to recommend the markets as they are on at different times. If you visit on the weekend, definitely find time for the Phuket Town Weekend Market. There’s also the Temple Markets at Karon twice a week. You can easily fill a week with activities in Phuket. I’d love to hear about some of the activities you have done in Phuket. Please leave your comments below.
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