Bookings for most of the following Phuket day-trips and activities can be made through any tour agent and should include return transport from your hotel (though not for the cooking classes). In addition to the trips listed below, diving is also available (see Diving and snorkelling off Phuket). Other sights worth checking out, especially for kids, include the Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World in Phuket town, the Aquarium on Laem Panwa, the Shell Museum in Rawai, the Big Buddha near Chalong and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project near Thalang. Avoid any tour that features Ko Siray (Ko Sireh), the island across the narrow channel from Phuket town, which merely encourages tour-bus passengers to gawp at Phuket’s largest and longest-established indigenous chao ley community.
Full- and half-day guided mountain-bike rides into Phuket’s rural hinterlands and to Ko Yao Noi, as well as multi-day rides around Phang Nga Bay, with Action Holidays Phuket.
Award-winning, conservation-conscious Siam Safari runs Four-in-One tours featuring their hillside elephant camp plus rubber tapping, buffalo-cart riding and a sail on a Burmese junk; tours to Khao Sok National Park are also on offer.
One- and three-day courses at Hat Nai Yang and Ao Chalong (depending on the season) are offered by Kiteboarding Asia.
If you just need a little time off from the beach, head for the eighteen-hole Dino Park mini-golf, next to Marina Phuket Resort on the headland between Ao Karon and Ao Kata, which is part of a pseudo-prehistoric theme park comprising a dinosaur restaurant and an erupting “volcano” (evenings only).
There are dozens of companies offering canoeing and kayaking in Phuket, but the two with the best reputations are John Gray’s Sea Canoe, who offer “Starlight” afternoon and evening trips around the spectacular limestone karsts of Ao Phang Nga, as well as multi-day and self-paddle trips; and Paddle Asia, who run day-trips to Ao Phang Nga and multi-day trips, which can include Khao Sok National Park and other adventure activities.
The rainy season (roughly May–Oct) is the best time for surfing off Phuket’s west coast; courses and board rental are available from Phuket Surf on Ao Kata Yai.
Thai cookery courses
Most famously, every Sat and Sun morning at The Boathouse hotel on Ao Kata Yai; but also at the Holiday Inn Phuket, 86/11 Thanon Thavee Wong, Patong; and the Blue Elephant Restaurant, 96 Thanon Krabi, Phuket town.
Thai culture and wildlife tours
Plan to Phuket run a number of tours, including full-day “Culture Tours” that include market and temple visits, batik-making and rubber production; and “Jungle Tours” to Ton Sai waterfall and the Gibbon Rehabilitation project; or a combination of both.