Are you thinking of taking your next holiday to Thailand? Maybe you’ve been wondering why Phuket is so popular. If you want to discover what makes it such a famous holiday destination, you’re in the right spot!

Phuket is Thailand’s biggest island that it actually seems more like an extension of the mainland. Even so, it still has everything you could want when you picture a tropical holiday. The paradise island is a picture-perfect utopia.

But what else makes Phuket so popular? Is it somewhere you should be taking your next holiday and what about the bad stuff?

In this post, we’ll talk about why Phuket is so popular and why it isn’t, all so you can work out if it’s the right place for you!

Why Is Phuket So Popular?

Phuket is known across the world as a popular holiday destination, but why? It’s actually quite an easy question to answer. I bet you’ve all seen pictures of the island featuring white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and a very happy individual bearing a cocktail of some sort.

The beautiful shorelines around Phuket

The beautiful shorelines around Phuket

This is exactly what Phuket is. It’s a sunny paradise, an idyllic escape, a place of dreams and a place which is still amazingly very affordable for tourists; the second reason why it’s so popular and what makes it an attractive holiday spot! 

In truth, there are many reasons why Phuket is so popular, the latest was an ingenious idea to put it back on the map after a devastating couple of years.  

In 2022 the country opened up a unique scheme, known as the Sandbox Scheme, which encouraged tourists to visit Thailand while being confined to the island; promoting travel and quickly re-establishing Phuket as Thailand’s most popular tourist destination!

In truth, we contributed to this number (which reached over 2.5 million) as Phuket was where we chose to enter Thailand after we’d spent a budget-friendly 5-days in Singapore. Unbeknown to us, we actually caught covid in Singapore!

What Happened You Ask?

Nothing too noteworthy but it did mean we had to change our plan. The plan was to stay the 7 days before travelling around the country. However, after testing positive on our second test and an additional 10 days of quarantine, we ended up staying in Phuket longer. 

The result was more time to explore the island which turned into a blessing. Phuket is a breathtaking island which caters to both nature lovers and party people. The landscape is stunning, the sun is always shining, the water warm and the food delicious. 

There’s not much not to like about Phuket, but to make sure you don’t visit with unrealistic expectations we’re going to provide 5 reasons why Phuket isn’t so popular as well as 11 reasons why it is!

11 Reasons Why Phuket Is So Loved

Firstly, let’s dive into more detail about the reasons why Phuket is so loved. I’ve mentioned some above but there are more. Keep reading to find out all the reasons Phuket is so popular, and why it isn’t!

1. The Sunshine

Aerial view of Phuket with its many beaches

Aerial view of Phuket with its many beaches

The main thing which draws the crowds to Phuket is the weather. The sunshine, to be precise, is always warm and welcoming. Thailand has a year-round tropical climate which means it’s sunny, all the time. 

If you’re a sun worshipper and looking for that sunkissed holiday glow, you’ll love Phuket! 

2. The Beaches

Follow up those sunny days with incredible beaches and you’ll feel like you’re in heaven. As it goes, Phuket is full of beaches; it’s an island after all! Some are busier while others are secluded but whichever beach you choose they are famous for its pristine waters, white sand and stunning scenery.

3. The Culture

We love Thai culture! It’s one of the country’s biggest draws and attracts many tourists who, like us, appreciate the rich culture. You’ll find Thai heritage and Buddhism deeply ingrained in their society. Phuket is most famous for a 45-meter marble-covered Buddha statue, known as Phuket Big Buddha. 

There are many temples, both new and ancient, which can be explored while visiting Phuket. You’ll find plenty of museums and even tours offering day excursions to local villages where you can spend the day learning about traditional practices.

4. The Hospitality

Did you know that Thailand is known as the land of smiles? Thai people are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality. Visiting A foreign country with such a different culture can sometimes feel overwhelming, but in Thailand, the locals are so friendly that it can make you feel welcome and at home.

This is another reason why Thailand is so popular, because who wants to go somewhere and not feel welcome? From experience, I can tell you it’s not nice!

5. The Landscape

It’s just like what you’ll see on a postcard, I kid you not, Phuket has an amazing landscape! There are mountains and forests to rice paddies and waterfalls. 

The most famous is the Karst landforms which you’ll find dotted along the coast and are popular for visiting during day excursions while island hopping around the tropical beaches, these make for magnificent photos. 

Phuket"s Karst Limestone Tower

Phuket”s Karst Limestone Tower

If you’re a lover of nature and wildlife you’ll love exploring the natural beauty of Phuket, and even Thailand!

6. The Islands

Even though Phuket is an island, it does feel more like part of the mainland only because it’s pretty big. However, if you want to visit smaller islands, where you can walk from one side to the other there are plenty just off Phuket’s coast. 

The most popular islands to visit are Phi Phi Island, Banana Island and the ‘James Bond Islands’, expect more stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life.

That said, our all-time favourite island in Thailand is the small island of Koh Mook. You can reach it from Phuket although you’ll need to change boats at Koh Lanta. Plan 3 nights at least!

7. The Affordability

Thailand is known for its affordable prices, making it a popular destination for budget-conscious travellers. The affordability of food, accommodation and transport makes a holiday to Phuket that much more appealing.

That said, it can also get expensive! If you’re choosing a luxurious holiday, eating out at top-end restaurants and taking daily excursions the price of your holiday is going to spike. However, compared to the same holiday in the Caribbean, it will be much cheaper!

8. The Accommodation

Phuket offers a huge selection of accommodations from budget hotels to luxury resorts. It’s got something for everyone, to suit everyone’s travel style. What’s even better is that even the top-rated hotels can still be affordable. 

Overall, you’ll get much more for your money in Phuket than say in New York or London. The fact you can stay in some accommodations which might have otherwise been a dream is another reason why Phuket is so popular.

We stayed in Phuket Town which can be slightly more affordable than staying by the beaches. If you don’t mind travelling to the beach on the local bus and are looking for an affordable and cultural location in Phuket, then Phuket Town has some of the best hotels!

9. The Cuisine

I’ve briefly mentioned how affordable the food is but it’s also delicious. Thai cuisine is one of our favourites and is world-renowned for its bold flavours, fresh ingredients and unique combinations making it a major draw for foodies. 

In Phuket, you will notice loads of markets and food street stalls. Don’t shy away from trying that food at these, not only are they delicious but also extremely affordable! 

One of our favourite local food markets was in Phuket Town. We would walk past it every morning and evening and always grab something whether we knew what it was or not, 9/10 times it was very tasty! 

10. The Markets

The large markets in Phuket are not only great for food lovers but also great for anyone looking for anything! They are full of stalls selling a wide variety of products such as fresh produce, souvenirs to clothing and electronics.

You’ll find knock-off designer brands and food stalls and they are the go-to place for gift buying. For yourself or others, you’ll find everything at the markets in Phuket!

We visited the Weekend Market just outside the old town which sells a huge selection of products and Thai delicacies. It’s where we tried deep-fried insects, just because when you’re in Thailand this is what you do right? Toasted up with seasoning and kaffir lime leaves, they weren’t that bad but still not that great…

11. The Night Life

If you love a night-time tipple and dancing until the sun comes up, Phuket is for you. It’s world-known as being a party island and there are areas which live up to this reputation – Patong. 

You’ll find a vibrant nightlife scene with bustling night markets, music blaring from speakers along the roadside and countless bars and clubs to explore. 

That said, you can still experience a quieter, calmer Phuket away from the nighttime escalades if you choose. Just stay away from Patong! 

This is why Phuket attracts such a variety of tourists; it’s great for party-goers but is also perfect for families, nature enthusiasts and those seeking a relaxed holiday.

5 Reasons Why Phuket Isnt Loved So Much

So now you know all the reasons why Phuket is so popular what about the reasons for not visiting?

1. Higher Prices

I know I said how affordable Phuket is for most tourists, but when compared to the rest of Thailand it’s actually more expensive. Thailand is an affordable country overall but because Phuket is such a popular holiday destination within Thailand the prices are hiked up, particularly in terms of accommodation and food.

If you’re looking for a truly budget-friendly holiday experience, Phuket might not be the right place for you. Due to this reason, many people choose to skip Phuket, and instead head to other areas within the country.

2. Touristy Atmosphere

Another reason Phuket isn’t so popular is that some people find it to be too touristy. Many of the attractions and activities are geared towards tourists rather than offering an authentic cultural experience. Especially if you’re staying along the beaches it’s possible to miss out on the culture.

We stayed in Phuket Town and loved the mix of cultures in the old town. For us, it made our experience in Phuket more authentic. We visited temples, and museums and walked around the old town’s streets immersing ourselves in the lovely Sino-Portugese architecture. 

3. Environmental Issues

With increased tourism comes the issue of environmental degradation. Phuket has experienced its fair share of environmental issues, such as pollution and overdevelopment, which can be a turn-off for some visitors.

4. Overcrowding

Overcrowding at Maya Bay near Phuket

Overcrowding at Maya Bay near Phuket

Linked to the environmental impacts above the issue of overcrowding can be a problem. Phuket can be very crowded, especially during peak season, which can detract from the overall experience.

It’s difficult to escape the crowds in places such as Phuket but you can choose to stay at less populated beaches and visit during the quieter periods. But, if you’re someone who prefers a more quiet and tranquil holiday you’re more likely to not enjoy visiting Phuket.

5. Party Scene

Bangla Road, Phuket

Bangla Road, Phuket

While the nightlife in Phuket might be popular with some of you, the rest of you may find the party scene to be too loud, raucous, and overwhelming. It’s famous for a reason and it’s not to everyone’s taste!

However, you can choose to stay away from the party scene. Jack and I enjoyed a more peaceful escape in Phuket as we aren’t big drinkers and although we enjoyed a few nights out it was never the main focus of our time in Phuket. 

Why Is Phuket So Popular For Tourists?

Overall, we enjoyed our time in Phuket. As tourists, we felt that it catered to all our needs and was a good place to start our travel through Thailand. Immersing yourself in a new culture can be overwhelming to begin with and if it’s your first time overseas, Phuket makes for a great spot to visit.

It’s got a good mix of west meets east and since it’s been a tourist hot spot for decades the tourism infrastructure is well-established. This means that travelling to Phuket and taking excursions and tours is very simple helping to make your holiday experience easy and hassle-free.

In terms of natural beauty, cuisine and cultural attractions Phuket has it all and although it might not be the ideal destination for some travellers you’ll find it hard to not find something you enjoy in Phuket. 

With all this in mind and alongside the stunning beaches and the tropical atmosphere, affordability and kindness of the local Thai community Phuket has become a very popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia.

When Did Phuket Become So Popular?

Interestingly, Phuket’s emergence as a popular tourist destination can be traced back as far as the latter half of the 20th century. In the 1960s and 70s, backpackers began flocking to the island to enjoy the natural beauty and hospitality that Phuket is now so popular for. 

As tourism grew, hotels and resorts began to open, and in the early ’70s, an international airport was built, making Phuket much more accessible to tourists.

Phuket’s popularity was increased even more by its appearance in several Hollywood films, including “The Man with the Golden Gun” and “The Beach,” which helped to attract even more visitors. 

These days, Phuket has become a resort destination and has a reputation for being safe and hospitable, making it a popular destination for families and solo travellers alike.

Why Are There So Many Westerners In Phuket?

This is a good question! Well, we would say that there are many Westerners in Phuket for several reasons. Firstly, Phuket is a well-known tourist destination that offers beautiful beaches, warm weather, and a wide range of activities that appeal to Western travellers. It is paradise after all! 

The island also has many amenities and conveniences that cater to Western tastes, including restaurants serving international cuisine and Western-style hotels and resorts. Due to this, there is a large expat community, providing a sense of familiarity and a home away from home. 

Another reason is because of the island’s location, it makes for a popular stopover for travellers wanting to explore the rest of Southeast Asia.

On top of that, the cost of living in Phuket is relatively low compared to Western countries, making it an attractive destination for long-term stays. Many Westerners come to Phuket to retire and work remotely and so you’ll find that there are many Westerners in Phuket.

Conclusion: Why Is Phuket So Popular?

Phuket is so popular for many reasons but the main ones come down to affordability, landscape and friendliness of the locals. With such a combination, it’s no wonder Phuket is a much-loved holiday destination.

Hopefully, you have found this article useful in helping you determine if Phuket is somewhere you would like to visit. If it’s you’re first time heading to Asia it’s an excellent place to start your travels. 

If it’s not, it’s still somewhere which can be enjoyed by all types of travellers. Since you can find incredible deals, it’s a great place to visit for a relaxing holiday in the sun too.