48 Hours in Phuket, Thailand

  • Aaron Hutcherson

  • 10 Dec 2019 | Travel

Phuket is a beautiful province off the western coast of southern Thailand along the Andaman Sea. It consists of the island of Phuket along with 32 smaller islands. Though you're not likely to do a weekend getaway to Phuket—you'd spend basically the whole time on the plane when traveling from the U.S.—it does make a great stop as part of a multi-city excursion throughout Thailand or other parts of Southeast Asia. It's the perfect place to pamper yourself at one of the many seaside resorts and spas, sample local fare at one of the many MICHELIN-recommended restaurants and enjoy the various attractions.

So if you're looking for recommendations for your next visit to Phuket, we've got you covered.

The Sunday market along Thalang Road in Old Phuket Town.

What to Do

One great way to spend the day is out on the sea visiting various of the province's smaller islands. Two great options are James Bond Island, made famous as one of the locations in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun, and Phi Phi Don (part of the Phi Phi islands), which has a number of restaurants, shops and white sand beaches—and stunning views, naturally—and is also home to Monkey Beach (also called Monkey Island) where you can watch lots of cute monkeys living their best lives. Oh, and be sure to go for a swim or snorkel along the way.

If you're around on a Sunday evening, there's a market that pops up along Thalang Road in Old Phuket Town starting in the late afternoon and lasting until long after the sun sets. Also known as Walking Street, the road is blanketed by old, colorful Sino-Portuguese houses and in the middle hundreds of visitors are there to purchase a variety of trinkets or clothes, sample local delicacies and listen to live music and watch other live performances.

Other ideas include visiting Wat Suwan Kuha (a cave temple with a huge golden Buddha inside), taking a Muay Thai class and getting a traditional Thai massage to give you the best stretch of your life.

One of the rooms in the villa at Sri Panwa where Mariah Carey once stayed. (Photo courtesy of Sri Panwa.)

Where to Stay

There are tons of places to stay in Phuket recommended by MICHELIN. However, if you're really looking to live it up and sleep in style, check out Sri Panwa. Located at the very end of the island, it's a luxury escape where every room has its own private pool. And for the food lovers out there, the property has hosted a number of celebrated chefs for pop-up dining experiences, including chef Stefano Baiocco Italy's two-MICHELIN-starred Villa Feltrinelli, chef Jackson Yu of San Francisco's one-MICHELIN-starred Omakase and, most recently, chef Noah Sandoval from two-MICHELIN-starred Oriole in Chicago. And if that's not enough to sway you, celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Rita Ora and Mariah Carey have all stayed at Sri Panwa.

What to Eat

Instead of telling you which MICHELIN-recommended restaurants to check out, here are some of the local dishes that you should definitely try. Thai seafood soup (tom yum talay) packs a real flavor punch thanks to a broth made of lime, galangal, lemongrass, chiles and cilantro. Green papaya salad, aka som tum, is so named based on its taste and preparation: "som" means "sour" and "tum" refers to the sound made pounding the ingredients in a large mortar and pestle. Last and certainly not least is mango sticky rice, pretty much the country's national dessert. It's made from glutinous rice, fresh mango and coconut milk—simple yet oh so delicious.

Photos by Aaron Hutcherson unless otherwise stated.

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