8 Phuket hiking trails for nature lovers

Off the lounger and onto the trail! As lovely as the beach and a day by the pool can be, sometimes you need to get out and about. So, how about taking some time, going for an adventure and enjoying a hike? Below are eight of our favourite hikes and walks in Phuket, some of which will take you to the beach!

Kathu Waterfall

Nicolas Voitot [CC BY 3.0]
Kathu isn’t a waterfall in the way you might think of Victoria Falls, it’s more rain shower than cascading falls, but this gorgeous spot is well worth the trek. The waterfall has a series of small drop pools that visitors can bathe and relax in. These pools are reached by climbing a wide set of steep stairs and a path through the jungle.

Location: Halfway between Patong Beach and Phuket Town, near the Loch Palm golf course.

Trail length: Short. A couple of hundred metres.

How to get there: Take Route 4020, which connects Patong Beach and Phuket Town. Look out for the street light about 500 metres from the golf course (if you’ve reached the course, you’ve gone too far). At this light, you’ll turn onto Soi Namtok Kathu. The waterfall is signposted.

How much time to allocate: 30 minutes, if you’re looking to get in and out.

When to go: During the monsoon season, September to mid-November. If you go outside of these dates, there won’t be much water to enjoy.

What else to note: The path is on the easier side, so it’s perfect for children and those who might have forgotten their trekking shoes.

Bang Hman Cave Trail

Roma Neus [CC BY 3.0]
While not technically in Phuket, Khao Sok National Park is a must-visit for jungle lovers. The Bang Hman Cave trail starts at the Hman Ranger Station in Khao Sok and runs through a beautiful cave. The cave itself is 400 metres long and has two exits that you can pass through. Knee-high water flows between the two exits. The trail to the cave is 3 kilometres long, which can be taken back to the ranger station, but for an added challenge, the circular loop continues 7 kilometres. This latter part of the walk can get very steep, but you can pass by a 70-metre high waterfall on your way through.

Location: Khao Sok National Park

Trail length: 6 kilometres if taking the easier trek, 10 kilometres for the full loop.

How to get there: The park is a three-hour car trip north of Phuket. It’s best to hire a driver for the day, following route 402.

How much time to allocate: Half a day for the trek, but a full-day if going round trip from Phuket.

When to go: The cave should only be accessed during the dry season of December to March as flooding can make the trek perilous.

What else to note: Make sure to pack head torches for this trek as the cave is quite dark. You’ll want sturdy hiking boots with good traction and a waterproof bag for your phones! It’s best to hire a guide before embarking on this hike. You can do this at the Khao Sok National Park’s visitor centre.

Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail

Chaiyathat [CC BY-SA 4.0]
If you’re headed to Khao Sok National Park, enjoy the park’s main trail. The seven-kilometre path is broken up into two parts – the first three kilometres where you follow a narrow dirt road and can easily visit two waterfalls and a swimming pond, and the latter four kilometres where you must bushwalk through a jungle trail, passing several waterfalls and one swimming spot, which ends at Ton Kloi falls.

Location: Khao Sok National Park

Trail length: 7 kilometres one way, if doing the full trail.

How to get there: The park is a three-hour car trip north of Phuket. It’s best to hire a driver for the day, following route 402.

How much time to allocate: 3 hours for the trek, but a full-day if going round-trip from Phuket.

When to go: Year-round

What else to note: A guide is required if you’re going to complete all seven kilometres of the trek as the trail can be quite tricky. Make sure that you bring sturdy walking shoes!

Read also: 10 of Southeast Asia’s Most Incredible National Parks

Kata Beach to the Big Buddha

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

Partly on the road and partly on dirt tracks, climb your way up 366 metres from the beaches of Phuket to the Big Buddha, one of the island’s most revered landmarks (and a great place to catch the sunset thanks to 360° views of the island). Happily, it’s not easy to get lost here, as authorities have made an effort to ensure there are signs everywhere to point you in the right direction.

Location: Start at Kata Beach and end at Big Buddha, on top of the Nakkerd Hills

Trail length: 4.6 kilometres

How to get there: Begin at Kata Beach which is on the southwestern side of the island.

How much time to allocate: About three hours depending on your fitness levels, the climb can get very steep.

When to go: Year-round, but aim to be there for sunrise or sunset.

What else to note: Entry to the Big Buddha is free, but it is a holy place, so wear conservative clothing. As well, much of the trail is dirt and can be quite narrow, so closed-toe shoes are preferred.

Bang Pae Waterfall

Image from AsiaWebDirect

One of the more tranquil sites on the island, and entirely kid-friendly, Bang Pae Waterfall is a 16-metre fall surrounded by jungle. The jungle path follows a gentle incline to the waterfall and goes alongside a stream so you can jump in or cool your feet at any point.

Location: The east side of Khao Phra Thaeo National Park

Trail length: Short, will take approximately 15 minutes to walk.

How to get there: Heading out of Phuket Town, drive north to the park. The waterfall is well signposted.

How much time to allocate: The area can be explored within an hour, though it is a nice place to relax and swim for a few hours or the afternoon.

When to go: The falls are most beautiful from May through October. The falls might be too dry outside these months.

What else to note: This is an easy trek for kids, who’ll love playing in the water. The park is also home to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. There is typically an entrance fee for the park, but the entrance is often unmanned.

Patong to Paradise Beach

Roma Neus [CC BY 3.0]
Find yourself in paradise and walk to Paradise Beach. With green-blue water, palm trees, and a secluded vibe (jet skiers are discouraged from coming here), Paradise is widely considered one of Phuket’s best beaches. You can drive to the beach if you prefer, but the hike amid palm trees and granite rocks is a spectacle.

Location: Paradise Beach, four kilometres southwest of Patong.

Trail length: Four kilometres

How to get there: Starting from Patong, walk south and past the Tri Trang Resort, following the road to Emerald Bay.

How much time to allocate: Give yourself a day. The hike won’t take you long, but you’ll want to spend plenty of time on this beach.

When to go: Year-round

What else to note: There is a fee to enter the beach which can vary, but is typically about 200 baht. There are no vendors on this strip of the beach; however, there are a couple of restaurants and clubs.

Banana Rock Beach

Image by Oilinki

Hidden beaches on Phuket are few and far between, but Banana Rock Beach, on a 200-metre-long stretch of sand, is one of the few that might just come close. The beach which is never crowded and in a tiny bay is only reachable by longtail boat or a hike through a jungle path.

Location: On Phuket’s west coast, between Naithon and Bang Tao beaches.

Trail length: Short, but steep.

How to get there: Heading north, go past the Trisara Resort where there is a small parking area. Around here, you’ll find a little red sign, that is too small for most to notice, posted on a tree along the road. Follow the trail by the sign where you’ll walk past a freshwater creek. There is a fork in the trail, but both directions will get you to the beach. We prefer the right-hand path so you can explore the creek and spot some waterfalls.

How much time to allocate: Take the day and enjoy the beach.

When to go: From November to April, when the beach’s waters are calm and crystal clear.

What else to note: The steep, downhill trail is more a walk than it is a hike. Flip-flops can be worn here.

Read also: It’s not all skiing in Hakuba: Must-dos for the whole family

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

Image from Travellennial

A little bit outside of Phuket, the Samet Nangshe Viewpoint offers spectacular vistas over the limestone islets of Phang Nga Bay. The view is full of lush mangroves and the deep blue bay with the limestone peaks. Samet Nangshe is incredibly popular amongst photographers and IGers.

Location: Phang Nga, about a two-hour drive from Phuket or 76 kilometres from Phuket Airport.

Trail length: About twenty minutes of climbing.

How to get there: Drive north, 25 kilometres past Sarasin Bridge and towards the small village of Klong Kian. There are signs for the viewpoint that you can follow.

How much time to allocate: 4 hours for the round-trip drive and about an hour for going up, down and looking around (unless you’re, of course, looking to take a lot of photos).

When to go: Year-round, but being here for sunrise is ideal.

What else to note: The path is dirt, so closed-toe shoes are preferable. There are two viewpoints on the way up, so if the climb is too difficult, you can stop and still get a fantastic view. Camping or staying in a bungalow up there is possible.

What trails are you climbing?

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Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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