A big group of monkeys hanging out at the top of Monkeys hill.

If your itinerary doesn’t spare much time between the North of Thailand and the Southern Islands, then I am here to cram my top 5 things to do in Phuket into one day. 24 hours is plenty of time to see some of the magnificent sights that Phuket has to offer. 

I spent 2 nights in Phuket, arriving at 11pm on the first night and leaving early the next day giving me only 1 day, to see as much as I could. 

Some local friends gave me advice on how to make the most of my short timeframe and I followed the little itinerary they came up with. 

I am now sharing that same itinerary, but with a few extra fun things I found on my travels around Phuket. 

Colourful buildings in Old Town Phuket.

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Firstly, Phuket is a major tourist destination with loads of fun things to do in and around the centre. You could quite easily spend a week here and not get bored. 

However, if, like me, you have little time and want to make the most of your trip to Phuket, here are the top 5 things to do and why this is the best itinerary if you have 24 hours or less.

  • Big Buddha
  • Phuket Old Town
  • The Hogs Head pub (Harry Potter themed)
  • Monkey Hill Viewpoint 
  • Chillva Market

If you have a beautiful sunny day, then I suggest making time to see Kata Noi Beach too. 

Start the day early to make the most of this 1 day itinerary in Phuket.

Visit the Big Buddha

The Great Buddha of Phuket was built in 2004 as a symbol of home for the future after the terrible tsunami.

The statues official name is Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Eknakakiri which translates to the Cherished Auspicious Lord Buddha atop Nāga Hill.

Admission to this sacred temple site is free. But it does take 268 steps to get to the top.

Once you are there, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Phuket and the Andaman Sea.

At the base of The Big Buddha is a temple of worship and a museum showcasing the hard work and craftsmanship that went into creating this incredible landmark.

The Great Buddha sits at 45 metres (148 feet) tall and 25.45 metres (83.5 feet) wide. The whole excursion will take a minimum of an hour.

If this is your first time visiting a Thailand temple, here are a few basic rules to help you stay respectful in the houses of worship:

  • Please cover your shoulders and knees.
  • Please be quiet inside of the temples, as people will be there to pray.
  • Please take your shoes off before entering the inside of the temple.
  • Please, no public displays of affection.
Big Buddha in Phuket.

Take a stroll in Old Town Phuket 

Old Town Phuket is a vibrant, lively part of the city. It is bursting with colourful old Sino-Portuguese buildings, Instagramable storefronts, and quaint little coffee shops. 

Allow yourself a minimum of an hour to walk around the streets and dip in and out of the aesthetically pleasing shops. 

Make sure you check out Thalang Road, Phangnga Road, and Soi Romanee to experience the bright, bold, and brilliant colours. 

When I was walking down these streets, I had a mixture of feeling like I was in Europe and New Orleans. 

If you happen to visit Old Town Phuket on a Sunday, then you will be able to wander around the walking street market. Here you will find yummy street food from local vendors, local artists selling their handcrafted pieces, and local performers entertaining the passersby. 

Don’t forget to coffee shop hop! I love finding pretty little cafes to sit in and people watch. As Phuket is very up and coming, pretty much all the cafes are equipped with wifi. Which is perfect if you want to spend some time planning the next part of your trip. 

If you want to learn about Old Town Phuket’s culture and history, then head to one of the four museums: 

Thai Hua Museum – 200 THB (£4.50) 

Chinpracha House – 150 THB (£3.40)

Phuket Baba & Peranakanittat Museum – free

Shrine of the Serene Light – free

Colourful building in Phuket old Town.

Go to the Hogs Head in Old Town Phuket

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you do not want to miss this opportunity to get a butterbeer or a drink of liquid luck. 

I nearly walked past The Hogs Head when I was exploring Old Town Phuket. I only stopped to look at the wonky door and then saw a sign outside with the word “notice”, and then it clicked!

Whether you are a muggle or a wizard, you will feel the magic the moment you enter the building. 

The thought and detail they have put into the pub is amazing! Suspended from the ceiling is a dragon skeleton. In the window out the back, you can see Olivander’s wand shop. There is a Hogs head behind the bar and barrels of butter beer. Even the menus are on parchment paper. 

A butterbeer costs 95 THB (£2.15). They also serve food, but I had already eaten, unfortunately. 

Hike up to Monkey Hill Viewpoint

If you want to see wild monkeys and a beautiful view of Phuket for free, then head to the Monkey Hill Viewpoint. 

The trail is 4.7km (2.9 miles) out and back. The walk can be challenging in the Thai heat as it is all uphill. Take this into consideration when planning your trip. I went early in the evening to avoid the peak sun. 

The start of the trail was quite busy, but the further up I went, the less people there were. Which is a little scary when you are surrounded by hundreds of monkeys! 

Please do not feed the monkeys, as they can become aggressive. The path does have designated areas where the locals have left them bananas, and you can watch, but I would not advise getting too close. 

When you reach the top, you will see panoramic views of Phuket City and the Nakkered Hills. 

Allow a couple of hours for this walk, as you will be taking lots of photos and breaks from the walk. 

DO NOT TAKE PLASTIC BAGS WITH YOU! The monkeys associate this with food and will try and rob it from you. 

Find some treasure in Chillva Market 

Chillva Market is open every day, (except Sunday) from 5pm – 11pm. 

Here you will find 100s of local vendors selling traditional Thai cuisine, handmade jewellery, knock off brands, elephant pants, sound bowls, gadgets, literally everything!

This market has a really cool, lively vibe. They have local entertainment, areas to sit and eat, pop up bars, and lots of upcycled containers with different products to buy. 

Here is where I met my friends who live in Phuket. They brought me a bag of Peanut flavoured maggots (10 THB, 23p). I can not say I will be recommending the bug stall to anyone. I also do not like peanut butter, so it was a double no. 

But we had Pad Thai and Nutella doughnuts to finish for around 130 THB (£3). 

Chillva Market is popular amongst locals and tourists, which gives it such a good atmosphere. 

Soak up the sun on Kata Noi Beach

If it is sunny during your 1 day in Phuket, make sure to visit Kata Noi Beach. 

Phuket has several incredible beaches, like Kata Noi, Karon, and Bang Tao, to name a few. 

Kata Noi is a small beach spanning over 700m. It has soft white sand, crystal clear turquoise waters, and is surrounded by tropical jungle. 

This beach is the perfect spot to sit, relax, and swim. If you have snorkel equipment, I recommend taking it with you. The southern end of Kata Noi has rocks where the coral reef and tropical fish thrive. 

Be careful of the swell, and always stay within the flags. 

This day trip in Phuket is jam packed, but it can be condensed and tailored to your needs depending on your arrival/departure time. 

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Helpful tips for spending a day in Phuket 

Getting to/from Phuket Airport and Phuket Boat Port 

If you are only spending one day in Phuket, it is likely you are making an onward journey. Whether you are heading to one of the many islands like Koh Phi Phi or up north to Krabi or Phang Nga, Phuket is a bustling hub that has easy access to everywhere. 

Getting from Phuket airport into the city is very easy. There are loads of minivan companies going all over at relatively competitive prices. I did notice that the companies outside the airport were cheaper than the ones inside. 

Getting a lift to your hostel/hotel will cost around 180 THB (£4). The duration of the journey is long, as they are dropping everyone off at individual hostels/hotels. 

If you prefer to travel privately, then I highly recommend getting the Grab app. This taxi service is very similar to Uber and offers safety and security as it is booked and logged through an app. 

This can be used if you are coming into Phuket through the boat port. Another good transport website to consider is 123go. This website has all the transports leaving the day you wish to travel and that can be booked in advance. 

Best way to get around Phuket for one day

Renting a scooter: 

If you feel comfortable driving a motorised scooter, then this will be the best form of transport for a day in Phuket. A scooter for 24 hours can cost anything from 100 THB (£2) to 300 THB (£7). 

Make sure that when you take the scooter out, you take pictures/videos of the vehicle, showcasing any previous damage. Make sure you are seen to be doing this, and try to get some of the background, so they can see you have taken it in front of their establishment. 

A lot of the time, they will take a passport as leverage if you do not bring the bike back. 

Take a Grab –

I always feel more comfortable in a Grab taxi as the route is monitored on the app. You can either get a Grab car or a bike. I find the bike is cheaper and quicker, as they can weave in and out of traffic. 

Take the bus – 

I tried to take the bus, but it never showed up. I do not think they are the most reliable, but they do have several routes over town. So if you are patient, this may be a good option. 

Where to stay for a night in Phuket

Phuket is a big city, so there are plenty of amazing places to choose from. Depending on your next destination will probably be the deciding factor in where you stay. 

A couple of options I recommend are: 

Sleepy Station

Sleepy Station hostel is located 7 minutes walk to Kata Beach, 1 minute walk to 7/11 (very important), 15 minutes drive to Patong Beach, and a 30 minute drive to Phuket Old Town. 

The dorm room is sectioned into several cubbies with plenty of space, a light, a curtain, and power sockets. 

I really liked this hostel because I met two epic humans there (one of which I fancied!). 

The reception staff were also brilliant; my flight got delayed, and their check-in desk closed at 10pm, which meant I would miss the deadline. Luckily, they left the key out for me and assigned one of the epic humans from my dorm room to let me into the building. 

Art at sleepy station hostel. Colourful wall art of a woman indian chief.

Eco Hostel Phuket

If you would like affordable accommodation close to Rassada Pier, where the boats leave for Koh Phi Phi, then I recommend Eco Hostel

This hostel is well located; it is opposite the bus terminal for Old Town Phuket and a 10 minute drive to Rassada Pier.

This hostel is boujee! With towels provided, big capsule style bunk beds, and plenty of space, you are in for a treat. 

Eco Hostel also has a really nice cafe attached to it, which serves 100% organic coffee. 

How much to budget for a day in Phuket

Phuket will not be the cheapest destination that you travel to. But it is still relatively affordable in the grand scheme of things. 

Here is a rough breakdown of the prices you can expect to see: 

Transport from the airport – 180 THB (£4)

Hostel –  300 THB (£6) 

Rental scooter 300 THB (£6) 

Street food – 300 THB for breakfast/lunch/dinner/water/dessert (£6) 

This is the basics, I personally would allocate 1500 THB (£33) for a day in Phuket. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the do’s and don’ts in Phuket? 

I have compiled a list of 36 things to know before travelling to Thailand. This will tell you all about the do’s and dont’s when visiting Phuket and Thailand as a whole. 

What is the easiest way to get around Phuket? 

The easiest way to get around Phuket is to rent a scooter.

How much money is required for a Phuket trip? 

As Phuket is a big city, I would budget 1500 THB (£33) for the day. This would include a night’s accommodation, transport for the day, getting to your next destination, and food/souvenirs. 

Can you do a day trip from Phuket to Phi Phi?

You can take a day trip from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi, with stops at Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi, Bamboo Island, and other hidden gems along the way. Click here to see this epic trip’s itinerary. 

3 people in front of the water at Maya Bay with cliffs behind.

Final Thoughts 

There are so many different ways to spend a day in Phuket, but these were my top 5 things to do when you only have 24 hours in this big and beautiful city. 

As Always, Happy Exploring! 


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