Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, is one of the best bets in Southeast Asia for great food. It was the first city amongst the ASEAN countries to be labeled as the ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’ in 2015 by UNESCO, thanks to its diverse range of influences from the Chinese and the Malays. If you’re looking for gastronomic excellence, fine-dining restaurants are the way to go. But, if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, then there are plenty of eateries and cafes where you can get inexpensive yet tasty meals. However, if you want to capture the real flavor of Phuket, head to the street food markets on the island that attracts locals and tourists in equal measure.
Read on to find out more about food in Phuket, from street food to cafes, check out what Phuket has to offer to sate your appetite.
1. Street food - taste some straight off the hawker stalls
There’s no better way to experience the multicultural nature of Phuket than through its street food. You’ll find creative and delicious street food served everywhere across the island - from makeshift stalls at the beaches to hole-in-the-wall eateries to food carts at the lively bazaars and flea markets. Night markets are among the best spots to devour cheap and tasty local delights, including Pad Thai (fried noodle dish), Kao Niew Ma Muang (mango sticky rice) and Guay Teow (noodle soup with chicken, beef or pork) – and there’s no better place than the Phuket Town’s weekend night market, locally known as Naka Market to try them all. If we’re talking about cheap local street food in Phuket, we have to give a shout-out to the many hawker stalls and barbeque carts scattered across the island. Hawker stalls are open day and night, and serve local specialties, while the barbeque carts are found along the roadsides, often at night. They aren’t Instagrammable or fancy, but the best options to grab a quick, delicious meal at a low cost.
Trip101 recommends trying out these street food items:
1.1 Kway Teow
It is a noodle-based dish, made with egg noodles or rice noodles along with the meat of your choice. Popular at roadside street stalls, the recipe uses several condiments, such as lime juice, dried chili peppers, fish sauce, and sugar to make the soup tasty.
1.2 Thai roti
Much like Malaysia’s roti canai, the Thai roti is a fried pancake made with wheat cake flour and stuffed with eggs and bananas - along with sweetened condensed milk poured on the top. It is readily available at many street stalls across the island.
1.3 Mu Ping
Popular at barbeque carts, Mu Ping is a skewered pork that is marinated in a mixture of garlic, pepper and coriander root and then grilled on charcoals. It is usually served with sticky rice and spicy nam jim jeaw sauce (dried chili dipping sauce) on the side.
1.4 Pad Thai
From humble street food stalls to the upscale restaurants, Pad Thai is a versatile dish that is found everywhere. It is basically a fried noodle dish which is prepared with rice noodles, veggies, and shrimp/chicken or tofu together in a fish sauce or a tamarind-based sauce.
1.5 Rolled ice-cream
Looking for a dessert? Try the Thai rolled ice-cream, which is basically a frozen dessert made with sweet milk, whipped cream, fresh fruits and flavors like strawberry, vanilla or chocolate. It is easily available at the hawker stalls or street food carts dotting the city.
2. Cafe food - pop by the quirky coffee shops dotting the island
Despite getting a late start on the cafe-culture wagon, Phuket now boasts a large number of cafes, where travelers can linger on, with a great cup of coffee and tidbits (also, free WiFi sometimes). These cafes are as much part of the island’s gastronomy scene as the street food and authentic local eateries. Phuket Town is one of the best areas, where you’ll find a wide range of cafes mostly run by locals. Some are traditional, with historical photos and old-world charm, while others have embraced a modern edge.
Trip101 recommends checking out these cafes:
2.1 Gallery Cafe Phuket
Situated in the heart of the lively Old Town area of Phuket, the Gallery Cafe is a convivial spot, complete with a front porch, indoor dining area, and an open-air courtyard. As for food, it specializes in European, Mediterranean and Thai fare; lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available. Their Pad Thai, Eggs Benedict, Caeser Salad and homemade veggie burger are particularly worthy of attention. They also have plenty of drinks, including fresh juices, smoothies, and cocktails, if you want to wet your whistle.
Address: 19 Yaowarat Rd, ตำบล ตลาดใหญ่ Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83000, Thailand
Phone: +66 89 103 7000
Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 8:00am-5:00pm
2.2 Bookhemian 2521
Bookhemian 2521 is one of the best spots for book lovers and coffee connoisseurs alike. They have a wide variety of delicious treats along with coffee; plus they also have an impressive collection of books that serves as a perfect companion for your coffee escapade. The friendly atmosphere and antique decor add to the charm.
Address: 61 Talang Road, Talad Yai Subdistrict, Phuket Town, Phuket 83000, Thailand
Phone: +66 98 090 0657
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9:00am-7:00pm | Sat - Sun: 9:00am-8:30pm
2.3 Dou Brew Coffee & Craft
Situated smack dab in the middle of Phuket Old Town, the Dou Brew Coffee & Craft is an unpretentious cafe that attracts locals and tourists alike. The walls are adorned with vintage photos and the ambiance is laid-back, while the menu is filled with a wide variety of coffee and light bites. A real hit (and must-try) is the nitro cold brew.
Address: 15, Soi Rommani, Thalang Road, Talat Yai, Phuket Town, Phuket 83000, Thailand
Phone: +66 91 825 2435
Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 8:00am-6:00pm
3. Local bites - dig in at the local restaurants
Phuket is one of the expensive tourist places in Thailand, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing but high-end restaurants to choose from. It is a foodie-friendly destination when it comes to cash-strapped backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can get the taste of the city’s best culinary offerings, without breaking the bank.
Trip101 recommends checking out these places to eat:
3.1 Albatross Café
Albatross Café is loved as much as for its location as for its food. Set on the waterside at the Canal Village inside the Laguna Phuket complex, the café specializes in Thai and Asian food. There are loads of options for vegan and vegetarian diners as well. Among the numerous options, we recommend trying out the chicken satay sticks, fish cake, Pad Thai, cashew nut chicken, green Thai curry and vegetable spring rolls. These specialties can be savored outdoors while admiring the stunning lagoon views. Plus, there’s live music every evening that adds to its appeal.
Insider tip: Ferries are easily available from the local resorts to Canal Village, where the café is located.
Address: 390/49, Choeng Thale, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 8:30am-10:00pm
Website: Albatross Café
3.2 Corner Restaurant
The Corner Restaurant is a small restaurant with a great personality. The interior is minimal and modern, while the overall vibe is casual and relaxed. It offers delicious international and traditional Thai food that is prepared from the best and freshest ingredients. We suggest you order the grilled duck in red curry, schnitzel, German beef roll, fish finger, barbeque seafood skewers, and green curry with chicken, beef or seafood. And if you’d like to sip on something, there is an outstanding selection of drinks to choose from - freshly squeezed juices, teas, coffees, cocktails, and wines. A la carte breakfast is served all day long, while the lunch and dinner menu is served from 11:30 am until 9:30 pm.
Address: Choeng Thale, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 9:00am-10:30pm
Website: Corner Restaurant
Banputalay is an unassuming small restaurant that serves a wide range of seafood along with Thai classics, including chili crabs, crispy pork, salt fish, pickled eggs, rice crackers and more. Prices are cheap and the portions are generous, which means you definitely won’t leave hungry from here.
Address: Wirat Hong Yok Rd, Tambon Wichit, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83000, Thailand
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 11:00am-11:00pm
4. Fine dining - find some of the best instagrammable dishes
Although Phuket is known for its gorgeous beaches and laid-back vibe, its emerging dining scene led by talented chefs from around the world is putting its restaurants and eateries on the world map. In recent years, there has been a diversification in its culinary offerings. The fine-dining establishments have redefined the local Thai cuisine, by creating creative fusions with international cuisines.
Trip101 recommends checking out these places:
4.1 The Plantation Club
A firm favorite with locals and tourists alike, the Plantation Club is a part of the luxurious The Pavilion Hotels & Resorts. Authentic Thai food and colonial Mediterranean cuisine in this restaurant’s forte and both the indoor and al fresco dining area make for a relaxed and romantic setting to feast.
Address: 31/1 Moo 6, Phuket Pavilion Resort, Choeng Thale Subdistrict, Thalang District, Phuket Province, 83110 Thailand
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 7:00am-11:00pm
Website: The Plantation Club
4.2 Sea Salt Lounge & Grill
There is nowhere better than the Sea Salt Lounge & Grill for those who wish to enjoy an evening meal with a sunset view. This lounge and restaurant overlook Patong Bay, which offers spectacular views of the sea and sun; and the kitchen whips up a wide variety of seafood, Asian and international fare. Must-try dishes include roasted pork, baby back ribs, sea-salt Wagyu burger, and the seafood grilled share plate. What’s more, there’s an impressive list of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to wash your meal down.
Address: 225 Prabaramee Road, Pa Tong, Kathu District, Phuket 83150, Thailand
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 11:00am-12:00am
Website: Sea Salt Lounge & Grill
A foodie's wonderland
Phuket, the largest island of Thailand, is a smorgasbord of cultures and this is reflected in its food scene. So, if you’re visiting Phuket, be sure to try the native Thai cuisine, which has been refined by influences from other cultures.
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