Holiday planning may be a little complicated and more expensive, especially in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. With mandatory quarantines and tests imposed when traveling overseas, most individuals would rather coop themselves up in their homes in Singapore and not venture outside the country.
However, with all Thailand cities open for quaratine-free travel to travellers from Singapore, you no longer have to look far for a comfortable, yet affordable beach holiday. Just up north from Singapore is a short 1h 40 min flight to the biggest island in Thailand – Phuket. For travellers outside of Singapore, there’s also the Phuket Sandbox Scheme that allows fully vaccinated travellers to enter Thailand without quarantine.
Phuket is one of the more recognisable cities in Thailand, famed for its beaches and resorts. Closer in terms of distance and flight time compared to Bangkok, Phuket is ideal for a weekend escapade and convenient for everyone looking for some fun in the sun.
Here are five activities perfect for seeking a short getaway to Phuket.
1. Beaches & Island Hopping
As one of the biggest islands in Thailand, Phuket is home to some of the best beaches in the country such as Mai Khao, Karon, Kamala, Kata and Rawai. For families with kids, you’d appreciate beaches that are easily accessible from your hotels. Over at popular tourist beaches such as Patong, Kata and Kamala, there will be an array of F&B establishments and watersports activities that everyone can conveniently enjoy. The crowds, facilities and establishments around them are definitely evidence of their demand.
Each beach is lined ample restaurants, shops and nightlife at its doorstep. At the beach, one can rent an umbrella or a deck chair, set up camp for a day out at the beach and relax with a refreshing coconut. Consider bringing along your cameras and posing for some beautiful, Instagram-worthy beach selfies by the sea.
Don’t spend your entire Phuket holiday on a beach though. There are many smaller islands such as James Bond Island, Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Similan Islands that are accessible by boat. Book a day trip out to hop around these islands and enjoy some water activities such as kayaking or snorkeling!
2. Splash Jungle Water Park
If you’re getting bored of the beach, mix it up and head to a fun water theme park just 10min away from Phuket International Airport. Dubbed the best water park in Thailand, the Splash Jungle Water Park features six themed attractions and is another great way to spend the day with your family and friends under the sun.
There's something for everyone to enjoy. With a selection of slides and rides, choose from thrilling rides such as the Superbowl and Boomerango or the six-level Wave Pool. For something more relaxing, drift gently on a tube along the 335m-long Lazy River that circulates around the park.
Younger children can also enjoy water play fun within a safe kids’ water playground. All attractions are manned with lifeguards and the park has adequate shower and dining facilities too.
Also, if you plan to make the water park the last stop of your Phuket trip before you fly out, why not rent a room or a pool villa for night so that everyone can enjoy a full day of fun across Splash Jungle’s attractions. Do remember to bring along some sunscreen as well as your swimming accessories!
Address: 65 Soi Mai Khao 4, Tambon Mai Khao, Phuket 83110
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00am to 5.45pm
3. Old Phuket Town
Old Phuket Town is the provincial capital of Phuket and is steeped in history and architecture. The old town flourished in the 19th century due to the boom in the tin mining industry which saw the Portuguese and the Chinese migrating into Phuket. The town’s architecture remains well-preserved, with an abundance of Chinese-Buddhist temples and beautiful shophouses. Many of its historical buildings have been converted into shops, hotels, restaurants, and museums.
The town isn’t very large so it’s easy to navigate. The Phuket Baba Museum is a good place to get an understanding of the history and Peranakan culture of the town. Along the way, you’ll find beautiful mural paintings and street art that would make good Instagram photos. If you’d like a break, there are plenty of cafes and artisanal ice cream shops for you to cool off from the heat.
If you visit on a Sunday afternoon, Thalang Road, the town’s most famous street, is transformed into a lively night market, filled with souvenirs and street cuisine.
4. Shopping at Jungceylon
Your holiday is not complete without some retail therapy. Apart from the street side souvenir shops and market vendors, the chances are you will end up visiting a shopping mall at least once. Phuket has a few shopping malls around, but nothing beats the largest mall in southern Thailand called Jungceylon.
Its name takes inspiration from the historical title for the island of Phuket, Jungceylon is a high-end shopping centre that houses over 200 tenants offering a wide range of services, shops, and eateries over its 200,000sqm floor space.
Situated conveniently in the heart of Phuket’s busiest areas of Patong and Bangla Road, this is arguably the most famous and best shopping mall in Phuket that is closest to the beach. The mall is a perfect place to visit if you are seeking a cool break from the tropical sun.
There are also various entertainment facilities for everyone to enjoy within the mall, such as the cinema, bowling, escape rooms, or virtual reality experiences.
Opening Hours: Opens daily from 11:00am to 10:00pm. (They are recently closed for a revamp and will reopen in end 2022. Check their website for details on which stores are still operating.)
Address: 181, Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road, Patong, Phuket 83150
5. Banzaan Market
If you’re looking for fresh food, Banzaan Market is a modern take on Thailand’s wet and dry markets. The two-level complex is well-ventilated with high ceilings. The market and its stalls are on the ground floor while a set of escalators lead you to a food court on the second level.
The word “banzaan” literally means “fresh market” in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect popular among the Chinese-Thai community in Phuket. Conveniently located at Patong Beach, you’ll be able to buy a wide range of vegetables, seafood, colourful Thai fruits and sweets in organised sections, reminiscent of the fresh markets in Europe. The market stalls are well-stocked and have high hygiene standards.
Pro-tip: Buy your fresh produce from the selection downstairs and take them up to the food court stall vendors. They’ll be able to cook the dishes in your preferred style for a small fee!
Opening Hours: Opens daily from 6:00am to 9:00pm
Address: 181 Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Rd, Patong Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
Think you need to head to European countries such as Germany, Poland, or Italy for an amazing vacation? Think again! With fine white sands beaches, shopping, heritage and lively towns with authentic Thai experiences, Phuket has it all for a perfect getaway.
Things to note while travelling in Phuket
- The Covid-19 protocols are already relaxed in the country, with individuals being able to eat in restaurants and watch movies. Bars and nightclubs are not allowed to operate, though restaurants can still serve alcohol. These establishments will require a negative ART test result before you enter.
- Everyone must still strictly follow mask mandates and adhere to social distancing measures.
- Continue to stay updated on what you can and cannot do while travelling in Thailand here.
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Best Time to Visit
The dry and hot seasons in Phuket last from November to February. As a tropical island close to the equator, the weather in Phuket is warm and humid all year round. Rain showers are common, but they do not appear as frequently or last as long as the wet season (July to October). Pack in your swimwear, sunscreen, shorts and flip-flops to soak up the weather!
Visit Phuket from July to October if you prefer fewer tourists and cooler, rainy weather.
Grab private hire cars, taxis and auto-rickshaws (known locally as “Tuk-Tuk”), are the most commonly used, and cheap, modes of transport around Phuket. All are readily available to and from the airport. For Grab and taxis, they are air-conditioned, and a much more comfortable ride as compared to a Tuk-Tuk.
If you are hailing a taxi, be sure to request for your ride to be metered, instead of negotiating a fee with the driver. If you want to experience the thrill of a Tuk-Tuk, be prepared to negotiate a fee for the ride.
If you are more confident about self-exploring the island at your own convenience without needing to negotiate fares, there are options to rent a car or scooter from the airport. However, be sure to enhance your travel insurance in the event of a mishap!
Phuket’s local currency is the Thai Baht (THB, ฿).
Cash: It’ll be good to convert some Thai Baht on hand before you arrive in Phuket. Cash is usually the only option for Tuk-Tuks, street vendors and markets.
There are plenty of money changers throughout Phuket to change currency at any time. Look out for the safer official bank’s booths, usually air-conditioned and identifiable by the bank’s name/logo. They will give you an official receipt with your exchanged currency. If not, try your luck at the street booths – they offer the best rates (sometimes too good to be true!) but beware their sleight of hand when they count and return your money.
Credit/Debit Cards & ATMs: Most restaurants and retail outlets accept credit and debit cards. ATMs can also be found all over the island. Most of these machines are operated by Cirrus or Plus and will have an English option available. Do note that international withdrawal fees may apply.
There are several flights daily from Changi Airport (SIN) to Phuket International Airport (HKT). Search for great deals and book your tickets now.