Being such a large island and having such a vibrant past, Phuket is full of little nooks and crannies which are often overlooked, particularly by travellers on their first visit. Many of these hidden, hard-to-reach places contain delights which have largely escaped the attention of tourists. Mostly known only to long-term expatriates and locals, these are the best-kept secrets in Phuket. At least, they were until now.

Ranging from secret beaches to out-of-the-way viewpoints, the places on this list may not have the size and grandeur of the more famous landmarks in Phuket, but they make up for it by providing an otherwise unattainable sense of exploration and of straying off the beaten track. If you’re the sort of traveller who likes to escape the crowds and see something a little different – even in such a famously popular destination as Phuket – then this list is for you.

Ao Sane Beach – Nai Harn

Ao Sane is one of the nicest beaches on Phuket’s southwestern coast. Being a little out of the way, it’s one of the island’s least visited. This little cove is down a small, well-marked road past The Nai Harn hotel. It’s only 200 metres in length, with fine, soft sand dotted with large granite boulders. Bordered by dense jungle behind and clear water in front, Ao Sane is one of the top snorkelling beaches in Phuket.

Wassa Homemade Bar – Patong

Wassa Homemade Bar is a relatively modest sundowner spot in Patong. It’s located right at the back of town, about as far from the beach as you can get without going all the way up to Radar Hill, and the access road is extremely steep. The bar’s open-air platform offers one of the most outstanding views of the entire bay of Patong on Phuket’s west coast.

Ao Yon Beach – Near Cape Panwa

Ao Yon is a predominantly residential area populated mostly by locals. As a result, there are very few visitors who know of this quiet beach. Bordered by a small, sleepy village, the soft-sanded strand looks out onto a small cove, which is usually dotted with boats and yachts. Bizarrely, Ao Yon is one of the few beaches on Phuket where you can still reliably find sun loungers, thanks to The Cove Phuket and their small artificial beach, which is just behind the real thing.

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint – Phang Nga

The Samet Nangshe Viewpoint is barely known by most expats, let alone visitors in Phuket. It’s at the top of a steep hill far off the main roads in Phang Nga (about a 30-minute drive from Phuket). Thanks to the long distance from the bustling Phuket resorts, there’s next to no light pollution – you can even see the Milky Way on some nights. As if that wasn’t enough, the view of the sun rising over Phang Nga Bay is absolutely breathtaking.

The Real Kathu Waterfall – Patong

Kathu Waterfall may be the best-known and most-visited waterfall in Phuket, but many people often miss out on the most striking sights to see. The real waterfalls are on the right-hand side, past the bridge and up the hill. It may lack proper signposts and is a bit of a slog to reach, but your efforts will be rewarded with a different perspective that’ll make for excellent photos.

The reclining Buddha of Wat Srisoonthorn – Phuket Town

The reclining Buddha statue of Wat Srisoonthorn (also spelt Wat Sri Sunthon) spans 29 metres in length, making it one of the largest on the island. Even though the temple is right by the main road down the centre of Phuket, it’s often missed because of dense trees surrounding the temple grounds. The reclining Buddha is on top of the temple’s central building, with 9 smaller images in different positions facing the entrance.

Panwa Viewpoint – Cape Panwa

The Panwa Viewpoint offers 360° views across southern and eastern Phuket. Also known as the Khao Khad Views Tower, it’s on the road to Cape Panwa. The stairs leading to the hilltop might test the hamstrings, but you’ll be rewarded with scenic views of Chalong Bay and the iconic Big Buddha on Nakkerd Hills. The 2-storey view tower has 8 photo keymaps in both Thai and English so you’ll know what you’re gazing at.