If you are keen to explore Thailand’s largest island independently, then the best option is to rent some wheels and be inspired by a Phuket drive.
If you want to get off the beaten track in Phuket, then touring the island in a hire car gives you that true taste of travel freedom. A private villa serves as the perfect base for road trips to see a variety of island attractions. You can even pack a picnic of delicious treats whipped up by your villa’s professional chef before heading off to explore.
Renting a car is simple with the help of your villa manager. Then all you need is a map (or even better a GPS) and a sense of adventure
Below are a few to Phuket attractions to visit by car.
One of Phuket’s most revered landmarks is undoubtedly the Big Buddha, which sits atop a hills between Chalong and Kata. At a height of 45m, this impressive statue towers above the surrounding area and can be seen for miles. Layered with white Burmese marble, the statue glows in the light of the sun which makes early morning an extra special time to visit. The best part is, this famous landmark is easily accessible from Phuket’s main road – just shoot off at the right exit, drive for another 6km and you are there. The spiritual calm of the shrine, its panoramic views and easy access by car all combine to make Big Buddha an unmissable attraction.
Path to Promthep
Promthep Cape is the most famous place on the island for Thai and foreign visitors to snap some stunning Instagram shots and make friends back home green with envy. To reach this magical spot, head through Rawai and then up the island's southern-most hill to enjoy Phuket’s most popular evening show – the sunset. Visitors can also tie in a visit to Promthep’s lighthouse maritime museum, which is home to a quirky array of historical objects that provide an interesting window into Phuket’s past. Nearby, there is also a shrine to the Brahma, surrounded by thousands of wooden elephants – an incredible man-made sight to complement the stunning natural surroundings.
If you want to give your camera even more of a workout, Khao Rang is another of Phuket’s most popular viewpoints. Situated to the northwest of Phuket Town's bustling commercial centre, Khao Rang offers a fusion of fantastic natural scenery peppered with modern, urban vistas. The terrace at the summit of the hill is a great place to take photographs, and there is a nearby park to keep children entertained. Once you have feasted your eyes on the fabulous scenery, you can also feast on Thai favourites at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants.
Once you have exhausted Phuket’s selection of lofty viewpoints, there are still plenty more attractions to explore by car. Saphan Hin Park, for example, is a favourite with visitors simply because it offers a little bit of everything. This seaside park has played an important role in local life since Phuket’s tin mining industry was at its peak over a hundred years ago, but the area is now home to restaurants, historic Chinese shrines and open, green spaces. Saphan Hin Park is particularly popular with Thai families enjoying a leisurely afternoon out, so is the perfect destination if you fancy sampling a some authentic local flavour.
Whether you are exploring on four wheels or even two, Cape Panwa offers some of the most sensational coastal scenery on Phuket. Panwa Viewpoint, which is en route to the cape, also tends to attract fewer tourists than Cape Promthep or the Big Buddha so it is the perfect option if you are looking for a more serene spot to enjoy the sunset. From Khao Khad Viewing Tower, visitors can see where Phuket’s tin mines were once located, before casting their eyes further afield to take in panoramic views of offshore islands. If you fancy making a day of it, Phuket Aquarium is a nearby attraction good for a couple of hours of fun with the kids.
Cruise the Views
Phuket offers beach views that would make any landscape painter worth their salt rush out and buy an easel and brushes, and the great thing is that you don't have to trek halfway across the island to appreciate them. Whether it's a 180-degree panoramas, the vista from the top of the hill in Phuket Town, the perfect sunset form Kamala beach or simply roadside glimpses of the ocean framed in lush tropical beauty, all of these can part of your driving itinerary.