Things To Avoid In Phuket, Thailand (And What To Do Instead)
Phuket, Thailand has long been a very popular tourist destination and you can understand why. It is one of the cheapest holidays you can go on, has incredible beaches (as well as spectacular islands to visit), and boasts the wildest nightlife in the world.
If you’re thinking about visiting Phuket, I highly recommend it. You’ll have a trip unlike anything you’ve done before. It’s easy to get around – you can book ground and sea transportation tickets online for every step of the way. You’ll find tickets to Thailand among the cheapest.
However, there are some things you should avoid, including certain tourist traps and unsavoury activities.
Here is what you need to avoid and what to do instead.
Avoid: Visiting every temple
Before you visit some of the incredible Buddhist temples in Phuket, you might have a bit of FOMO. There are so many of them, each with its own history and unique design. However, the moment you’ve seen two temples, you will be sick of the process. They begin to blend into one another, and in the end you’ll just be ticking off items on a list.
Instead: Visit the Big Buddha
The Big Buddha was built as a tourist attraction, but it is an incredible site nonetheless. It is also home to a temple, which will more than satisfy your curiosity. Visit one more temple only if there is one that particularly interests you due to its history or architecture.
Avoid: Shopping all day
Shopping in Phuket is a very exciting experience. You get to test your bargaining chops, and bringing the price down from 2000 baht to 150 baht is exhilarating. But it gets exhausting, and you will spend hours looking at the same wares over and over again. The stuff people are selling looks pretty much the same as “cultural” souvenirs in any country.
Instead: Visit Old Phuket Town
The Old Town of Phuket is one of the most charming parts of Phuket. It is very different to the streets filled with vendors and massage parlours you’ll find in Patong. It is a nice way to spend time shopping for souvenirs without the chaos. You’ll find all the same wares, as well as some items of a higher quality. Go to the hectic markets, but save your proper shopping for the old town.
Avoid: Elephant rides
I’m not much of an environmentalist or activist, but the elephants in captivity in Phuket really bothered me. They were miserable – which is an appropriate response to being kept locked up all the time. Tour operators will reassure you, saying what it takes to get you to go on an elephant ride, but they are often misrepresenting the truth.
Instead: Visit the Elephant Sanctuary
The Elephant Sanctuary, on the other hand, is a good place to see elephants in a responsible environment, recovering from poor treatment. You can also learn more about the situation with captive animals at the sanctuary.
Avoid: Ping pong shows
Ping pong shows are not as they sound. They are a type of “live sex show” that you will be hassled into on Phuket’s famous Bangla Road at night. Even if you are particularly curious, these shows are… grungy, to say the least. Also, they will promise you it is free, but force you to buy a drink at an obscene price.
Instead: See a ladyboy cabaret
A ladyboy cabaret is, in effect, a drag show. It is a lot of fun, and a more wholesome way to experience Bangla Road’s attractions. Take some time between bars to catch a show. They’re interactive and you’ll almost certainly enjoy it more than ducking as ping pong balls and gerbils fly through the air.