Phuket has a wide variety of activities and attractions for the millions of tourists who travel there each year. Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and boating are among the most popular outdoor activities, though travelers can also experience more exotic attractions such as elephant rides, safaris and all-terrain vehicle tours.
Boxing is one of Thailand's most popular spectator sports and a growing favorite among Phuket travelers. The island also has an active nightlife, with countless bars, restaurants, discos and cabarets, as well as world famous full moon parties.
Perhaps the most famous festival on Phuket is the annual 9-day Vegetarian Festivals, which occurs during late September and early October, always during the first days of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. For those wanting to witness the festivities, they usually take place around the six Chinese temples found throughout Phuket, with the Jui Tui Shrine near the Fresh Market in Phuket Town being the main temple.
Loy Kratong Festival
On the quieter side, this beautiful, low-key celebration involves thousands of candles flickering and dancing as they float over nearly every body of water, whether ocean, river or stream. The origins of the Loy Kratong Festival are somewhat muddy, but locals believe it started in a city north of Bangkok some 800 years ago. All of Phuket's west coast beaches participate in the festivities, and visitors and tourists are welcome to participate. Nai Harn and Patong usually see the highest activity, while locals travel to the beaches at Kata and Karon.
Chinese New Year
Visitors to Phuket during Chinese New Year will find celebrations and cultural events across the island, especially in Phuket Town and around local Chinese Shrines.
Old Phuket Festival
Held in collaboration with Chinese New Year celebrations, the Old Phuket Town Festival highlights include a Phuket Baba Light Show, rickshaw tours, cultural parades, opera performances, folk dancing troupes, and much more.
This annual festival is filled with colorful parades, beauty contests, stage performances and live music, along with plenty of food and drink to help sustain participants' energy. The December festival marks the opening of the high season in Phuket.
Phuket New Year's Fair (Red Cross Fair)
Complete your New Year’s celebrations by joining the locals at the family-friendly Phuket New Year's Fair. Try interesting delicacies, or shop for arts and crafts. The fair heats up when the day starts to cool down, with nightly entertainment including live music and dance shows.
Phuket International Blues Festival
This annual Blues and Rock music event in Karon has gained popularity since it started in 2005, and attracts many well-known musicians and bands. A charitable event, the Blues Festival supports the Phuket Has Been Good To Us foundation, and the Rotary Club of Patong.
Phuket Gay Pride Festival
This is a four-night event of parties and festivities, all culminating in the Afternoon Gay Pride Parade, followed by a fantastic and fun street party.
Thao Thepkasattri-Thao Sri Suntorn Festival
One of the island's major festivals, this two-week celebration combines cultural and sporting events into one big party. Bicycle racing, tug-of-war, a takraw tournament (similar to volleyball played with the feet), a mini-marathon, and a Buddhist ordination ceremony all make for a ton of fun. A historical show about Phuket's heroines, Thao Thep Krasatri and Thao Sri Suntorn, who spearheaded an operation that rallied Phuket's troops to fend off invading Burmese forces, takes center-stage. It's an open-air theatre, with a cast of 700 actors, and usually runs three nights. This festival caters largely to the locals, but visitors are welcome. They just might need a translator to get the most from the events.
Celebrate the Thai New Year with Thailand's most famous festival, the Songkran Festival. Live music, stage performances, and lots of water-throwing in the streets take place at all the major beaches, and in Phuket Town.