What to avoid in Phuket?

Phuket is defined by millions of tourists visiting it and hundreds of tourist attractions offered to them. Sadly, quantity is not always reflected in quality. On Thailand’s biggest island, it’s easy to make bad choices. Maybe easier than on any other Thai island. Tourist traps, kitsch and ethically questionable “attractions” abound and keep luring miss or under-informed guests.

That’s why we made this list. A list of places and activities best avoided, if you care for your health, life, good taste and clear continence.

What to avoid in Phuket?



Despite the protests, wildlife conservationists’ campaigns and general uproar amongst some circles in Phuket and online, the dolphinarium was launched and still welcomes tourists who either don’t know about or don’t care about the miserable lot of the animals kept there. Animal lovers argue, that venues such as this one are nothing short of torture chambers for the dolphins. If you think that those glorious animals enjoy being taken out of the open space of an ocean, locked up in a tiny pool and made to perform tricks to entertain hordes of tourists, try locking yourself up in a cupboard for a couple of hours. If that’s not enough, the internet is full of reading and viewing material on the tipic, including the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove” – a grim place in Japan where dolphins in Phuket dolphinarium come from.

Phuket Dolphinarium

Phuket Zoo

Thinking of visiting the infamous Phuket zoo? Visit tripadvisor first. Negative comments outweigh the positive ones 10 to 1. Animals kept in appalling conditions, lack of space, filth, cruelty. It’s astonishing that this kind of place still exist in a major tourist destination that Phuket is. Why would you ever go there?

Phuket Zoo Tripadvisor

Tiger Kingdom

The ticket prices at Tiger Kingdom are inverse proportional to the size of the cages where the animal are kept – tigers, which according to their handlers, aren’t drugged up with sedatives. Though looking at the sleepy, staggering animals, we have our doubts. In captivity, those beautiful, and endangered animals, are stripped of their natural dignity and are turned into soft toys used as a photo prop by hundreds of tourists every day of the week.

Don’t take our word for it, see what others have to say.

Tiger in captivity by Braden Kowitz
Tiger in captivity. Photo: Braden Kowitz

Crocodile Shows and Snake Shows

Though separate attractions, we include them in one point, as they are often bundled up in one day Phuket tours, popular with tourists. And both are of the same, low quality and ethical standards – that is unless you enjoy looking at animals being mistreated in dirty pits. As with many such attractions in Phuket, their main goal is to bring the tourist into the retail space adjacent to the show’s “arena” to sell him various merchandise at inflated prices. Waste of time and money.

Revie shows

Phuket has a couple of those and all are equally kitschy and guilty of animal abuse. Sold as “cultural shows” the present a watered down, cartoonish version of Thai culture, with little artistic or entertainment value. What they are full of are dancing elephants. Elephant’s do not dance in nature and to teach them to do it, their handlers use a variety of techniques which are found in a dictionary under the letter “T “ – for torture.

Elephant rides

Phuket is full of elephant camps, where elephant rides are offered to tourists. One would think that enough has been said about the suffering of animals kept it those camps, yet for some reason, they still are very popular and the demand shows no signs of slowing down. So once again – unlike a horse, an elephant is a wild animal, not meant to be saddled. Elephant taming involves brutal torture. As for those cute photos with baby elephants, it might seem harmless, but it’s not – not when the procedure is repeated hundreds of times a day, everyday.

Phuket Elephant Rides


We have nothing against extreme sports, even those way more dangerous than parasailing, such as base jumping, skydiving etc. Two conditions have to be met though – safety measures have to be in place and enforced and those deciding to go for it, should be aware of the risks. With paragliding in Phuket, none of these conditions are met. It’s an accident waiting to happen – in fact it already happened with a 70-year-old Australian plunging to his death in Kata beach as recent as yesterday. Think twice before you risk it yourself.

And then there is the final argument in favor of boycotting of the above mentioned places and activities – for many, if not most locals and expats living in Phuket, all things mentioned on our list are tourist traps, pure and simple. They don’t go there; few could point them out on a map of Phuket and none would ever recommend them to their friends or family. So when in Rome…

Luckily, Phuket has a lot more to offer then what we mention on our list of what to avoid in Phuket. Phuket beaches? Phuket night markets? Great food? All this, and much more keeps Phuket an island to fall in love with.

Find the best hotels in Phuket here

Maciek Klimowicz
Maciek Klimowicz


Maciek Klimowicz is the Editor in Chief at Real Life Phuket. Food, wine, culture and travel are some of the things he enjoys and writes about - luckily Phuket provides plenty of all. Contact Maciek on editor@rl-phuket.com

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