Promthep Cape (Leam Promthep)
This is the most popular and largest of all the viewpoints. The area has been developed to offer extensive views over the sea and there are walking paths from the cliffs to the water’s edge for the adventurous. The sunsets are absolutely breath-taking and never the same two days running. If you are romantically inclined this is the place to come in the evenings and hold hands as the setting sun paints the evening skies pretty structure, the Kanchanaphisek Lighthouse which doubles as a museum.
How to get there: Promthep Cape is a headland on the extreme southern end of Phuket about 19 kilometres from Phuket City. You can drive there via Chalong Circle along highway 4021 to Rawai beach and then follow the signs for 2 kilometres.
As the name suggests, this hilltop boasts a modern windmill – the only one on the island. lt can be found on the south of Phuket between Nai Harn and Promthep Cape. This isolated spot offers superb views of the tiny Ya Nui Beach and the main Nai Harn Beach. There are always boats moored off both beaches and in December the anchorages really come alive as the King’s Cup regatta gets underway.
How to get there: Drive from Nai Harn Beach towards the highest hilltop, and take the first road on the right.
Three Beach Viewpoint
This is a very tastefully developed facility with a Thai-style sala that offers a superb view on several levels. From here the golden crescent beaches of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon are framed by tropical forests on one side and the spackling blue-green of the sea on the other.
How to get there: There are two ways. You can drive from Kata Beach along Highway 4233, then follow the signs towards Nai Harn Beach. After about 5 kilometres you’ll find the viewpoint on your right hand side. Alternatively, from Chalong Circle, head onto Highway 4024, and after 2.5 kilometres, turn right onto highway 4233. From there take the Kata turning and you will find the viewpoint on your left.
Rang Hill lies to the northwest of Phuket City. The hilltop has been landscaped into a park with fitness equipment. A winding tree-lined road takes you right to the summit where a sala offers shade during the day. Once there you can enjoy views of the city and beaches on the south and south-west of the island. Try a visit at night when the lights of the city are like a million diamonds scattered on night-blue silk.
How to get there: Normal saloon cars can make the climb up Rang hill. From Phuket Administration Office intersection, take the road to Patong and after 500 metres turn right. From then on, there’s only one road.
Monkey Hill (Khao To Sae)
This hill towers over Phuket City and is easily spotted as the crest is crowded with wireless masts. The approach road is narrow but in reasonable condition, and allows views of the island’s eastern beaches. At the top is a jogging track. The hill is a favourite place for locals who come here after a day at the office to exercise or just to chill out. There are no specific facilities provided but it’s pleasant to visit the Khao To Sae shrine and pay your respects. Well worth a visit if you can make the time. Don’t forget to bring a bag of peanuts to feed the monkeys who inhabit the hilltop. However, a word of warning: don’t get too close; the monkeys are wild.
How to get there: From Damrong Road, pass the Provincial Land Office and the Provincial Court on the left hand side, and then turn left onto To Sae road.
Koh Sirey Temple
Tucked high into a hill and boasting phenomenal views over Phuket and the local neighbourhood, Wat Koh Sirey is an unusual, yet interesting, Buddhist temple adorned with golden Buddha statues. Nestled amongst the various shrubs and trees, the temple is equally peaceful if not a bit overworn, which adds to its charm.
Many of the golden Buddha statues housed at Wat Koh Sirey appear to be in elevated rooms on the sides of the temple, while others are on the outdoor walkway around the temple. Set against the bold backdrop of the jungle and sea, the outdoor statues provide a vantage point for dramatic photographs awash in gold, blue and green.
Inside Wat Koh Sirey, there is a reclining golden Buddha. Although not as impressive as other similar statues found across Thailand, this particular statue is lovely nonetheless and adds a nice touch to this rather rustic temple. Intricate paintings depicting scenes from the teachings of Buddha and his life can also be found inside.
Perhaps the most intriguing fact about Wat Koh Sirey is that on its grounds there sits a giant golden rock, which is actually a replica of the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Burma. It was built by local Thai and Burmese construction workers and builders for the Burmese community. The golden rock indeed adds a nice touch to the temple.
The original Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Burma is located high on top of Mount Kyaiktiyo. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist religious sites in the world and estimated to have been built around 2,500 years ago. Phuket’s replica is rather beautiful.
It appears to glisten in the sunshine and showcases expansive views across Koh Sirey Bay.
How to get there: From Phuket Town head for Koh Sirey and turn right by the statue. The temple is then found on the right.
Khao Kad 360° Viewpoint
Khao Kad offers wonderful views of the Andaman sea beaches and neighbouring Islands from a different perspective – from Cape Panwa in Vichit district. Sunsets are on a par with Promthep. Visitors are faced with a stiff climb up 138 steps but once there the fresh breezes and tranquil surroundings are a sufficient reward. The viewpoint has good parking facilities and services.
How to get there: Take Sakdidet road as far as Baan Muang Thong (Muang Thong Village) or follow the signs to Makham Bay and turn right just before arriving at Panwa Cape. The turning is well signposted.
Big Buddha Mountain (Khao Nakkerd)
This is believed to be the highest point in Phuket and the huge Buddha image dominates the surrounding landscape. The development is set in a beautiful forest area and is designated as a National Park. The site offers numerous images and statues of our Lord Buddha and Kuan Im – the Chinese goddess of mercy. The hill offers 360-degree panoramic views of the island and the sea. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Phi-Phi Island in the distance.
How to get there: From Chalong temple, drive towards Chalong and turn right at Soi Yodsane. Follow this road for 6 kilometres. Don’t be afraid of losing the way. The route is marked by yellow flags bearing the symbol of a wheel – from Buddha’s first sermon.
Black Rock Viewpoint
Relatively unknown until around 2016, when gorgeous photographs of the place started to pop up on social media, the Black Rock Viewpoint is one of the most astonishing viewpoints in all of Phuket. Known in Thai as Pa Hin Dam (or Dum), reaching the viewpoint requires navigating a rather treacherous dirt road and a steep hike. However, if adventure is what you seek, then heading out to discover the Black Rock Viewpoint is totally worth the effort.
Located high above the soft sands of Ao Sane Beach in southern Phuket, the Black Rock Viewpoint resembles a large terrace made of reddish-brown soil from down below. At the edge of the cliff, there’s a massive black granite stone and this is how the viewpoint got its name.
Black Rock Viewpoint is quite remote, and upon reaching the top, you do feel like a bit of an intrepid traveller. Even in the last ‘real’ high season, the viewpoint was not overrun with tourists – which adds to its charm. It’s quite challenging to reach the destination, but once you do, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of southern Phuket, including Nai Harn Beach, Promthep Cape and a small island off the coast known as Koh Man. Peeking over the cliff also allows a glimpse of the road to Ao Sane Beach and the small patch of development being constructed there.
The early morning hours of sunrise and late afternoon before sunset are the best times to head to Black Rock Viewpoint. Don’t expect to be alone, as there are often a few photographers atop the cliff hoping to catch the perfect shot. If you venture to Black Rock Viewpoint at any other time of the day, do make sure to bring a bottle of water and a small towel. It can be rather hot and humid trekking through the jungle, and even more so if, upon reaching the top, there are no clouds in the sky.
A few metres down the road from the markers of Black Rock Viewpoint, there’s a small wooden sign nailed to an enormous palm tree. Hand-painted, the sign reads ‘Welcome to Dragon Cape’ with an arrow pointing off to the horizon. Following this road is an adventure unto itself, as the road conditions deteriorate rather quickly with potholes and deep craters tucking themselves into the steep dirt road.
If you have a lot of time to explore, you can carefully maneuver your way down the road through dense jungle and towering coconut trees until you reach the bottom of Dragon Cape. The sea views here are breathtaking and the descent is extremely steep. Be sure to enjoy the views, but also be mindful and watch your step.
The jungle here is dense, affording the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of free nature sounds and to spot majestic sea eagles overhead. The trip back up from Dragon Cape is known to be a bit hairy. Walking down is enjoyable, but walking back up requires that you are in good physical condition as the incline is rather steep and the road up can often be slippery.
How to get there (Black Rock & Dragon Cape): Black Rock Viewpoint and Dragon Cape can both be reached from the road that passes the famous Karon Viewpoint, when heading south towards the Rawai and Nai Harn neighbourhoods. Follow the main road south, then take the second dirt road that leads to Nui Beach (which was closed to the public in July 2020. Either drive or walk (the dirt road can be challenging for vehicles) until you see a large boulder painted with Pa Hin Dam (which means black rock). From here follow (on foot) the ramshackle sign written in Thai that indicates the start of the path up to Black Rock Viewpoint. The sign that reads Welcome to Dragon Cape is just a few hundred metres further down the road.
Krating Cape (Laem Krating)
Krating Cape is the latest viewpoint to be discovered. It’s a tough spot to get to; the viewpoint is at the top of a cliff with green grass and blue sea. On a clear day, you can enjoy amazing panoramic sea views and beautiful sunsets. You look down on Nai Harn beach and across at the Windmill and Phromthep Cape viewpoints. Don’t forget to take pictures at the horn-shaped rock, the landmark of Laem Krating. It’s recommend to come here around 4-5 pm and go back just after sunset before the light is gone; the path is difficult and will be dangerous after dark.
How to get there: From Nai Harn beach follow the road to Ao Sane beach then continue to the Baan Krating Phuket resort. From there, continue walking along the rocky cliffs and you will find yourself on a small trail that leads to the horn-shaped rock, the landmark of Laem Krating.