Is Phuket better than Bangkok? Your Thailand holiday questions answered

Is Phuket better than Bangkok?

Fans of Danny Boyle’s cult film The Beach will be familiar with Thailand’s craggy karst landscape. Covered in thick, moss-like vegetation, limestone rocks soar out of the clear blue ocean, giving the landscape a distinctly Jurassic aesthetic. But is Phuket better than Bangkok? Do you need a visa to get there? What are the best things to do in Bangkok? How long is the flight from Sydney to Phuket? We know you have questions ahead of your next trip and our travel team have the answers. That’s because we’re something of experts when it comes to Thailand, having planned thousands of trips there for our members.

What’s more, you can download our FREE travel guide to Bangkok below. Curated by our expert travel contributors, this is an informed edit to help you navigate your next visit to the Land of Smiles.

Did you know that if you’re a Westpac cardholder, you might have access to Westpac concierge? This access offers insider travel advice and support, perks like room upgrades that make your stay extra comfy and a library of complimentary travel guides to unlock the world. Click here to find out if you’re eligible.

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Is Phuket better than Bangkok?

If you’re looking for those halcyon beach scenes right our of a postcard Phuket has Thailand beat. But what we love about Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, is that it’s about so much more than blissful beach scenes. It’s a veritable hive of activity day and night and it’s also the gateway to the country’s natural beauty, from travellers seeking out hikes in the mountainous north to beach breaks in the pristine waters of the south.

But take the time to slow down and explore this city and you’ll quickly be rewarded with a deeper understanding of the people and culture. With its bustling streets, frantic traffic, golden temples and vibrant nightlife, Bangkok offers an array of distinctive sights, sounds, and experiences.

What are the best things to do in Bangkok?

A concierge guide to Bangkok - what to do, where to eat and places to stay curated by our destination experts

Our complimentary Bangkok Destination Guide below brings you ideas of authentic experiences to enjoy in the city – from exploring its waterways and savouring the city’s best street food to booking a Thai massage and visiting national parks located within a two or three-hour drive away from the city centre, and restaurants to book to get a taste of a vibrant dining scene where bold and fiery flavours take centre stage.

We’ve also rounded up the best hotels where to enjoy world-class hospitality and a comfortable respite from the sweltering heat and activity but also concierge-exclusive benefits which are available to you if you have an eligible Westpac card. Cue complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout, welcome amenities and more.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

Where to stay in Bangkok

Bangkok is no stranger to world-class hospitality, and this energetic city is blessed with an abundance of accommodation that is conveniently accessible while offering a comfortable respite from the sweltering heat and activity. Whether you’re looking for a city stopover or an extended stay, a family-friendly hotel or a romantic getaway, there are plenty of options available.

  • Best for classic atmosphere: The Peninsula Bangkok
  • Best for business travellers: Shangri-La Bangkok
  • Best for families: VIE Hotel Bangkok, MGallery Hotel Collection
  • Best for art lovers: Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River

Read more about these hotels in our FREE Bangkok travel guide, which you can download by entering your details below:

Members of Westpac Concierge enjoy benefits such as complimentary daily breakfast, flexible check-in and checkout times*, and hotel credit along with special experiences. See if you’re eligible here.

How long is the flight from Sydney to Bangkok?

Clocking in at 9 hours 20 minutes, the trip from Sydney is fairly quick. Our travel experts help Westpac Concierge members book the easiest trip for their budget and lifestyle needs.

Southern Thailand

Image of Maya Bay
Image: Miltiadis Fragkidis/Unsplash

Best things to do in Phuket?

Known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and tropical islands, the picturesque region offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation. This is where you go for that requisite beach holiday complete with gently swaying palm fronds and golden coastline. It’s also a excellent base for island hopping to Koh Phi Phi and Maya Bay (pictured above), which reopens to tourists this October.

Where to stay in Phuket?

We have partnerships with hotels in Phuket, Koh Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, Koand Krabi and when Westpac Concierge members book a stay through us you can expect exclusive benefits to compliment the heavenly views. These include complimentary daily breakfast, early check-in and late checkout*, room upgrade and welcome amenities.

Image: Soneva Kiri by Sandro Bruecklmeier

A secluded island paradise surrounded by rainforests and white-sand beaches, Soneva Kiri invites you to experience luxury in an eco-friendly setting. The hotel’s connection to nature is evident in the open-air villas and bathrooms but also best-enjoyed when booking a TreePod dining experience overlooking the forest canopies. Westpac concierge members receive up to USD 1000 credit with their stay.

The Pavilions Phuket is perched atop one of Phuket’s highest points and boasts jaw-dropping views on top of state-of-the-art amenities, award-winning restaurants and a lap pool. It’s a great option for couples and with concierge your stay will be even more romantic with one complimentary in-villa Taittinger Champagne Floating Breakfast and unlimited 60-minute daily massages for two, on top of other benefits.

Other notable properties from our Global Hotel Collection of 3,200+ handpicked five-star hotels where we have negotiated an array of concierge-exclusive benefits just for our members include ÀNI Thailand in Phang Nga Bay where we will treat you to a 4-hour cruise, Aman Phuket, Primalai Resort and Spa in Krabi, Banyan Tree Krabi, Six Senses Yao Noi and many more.

How long is the flight from Sydney to Phuket?

A nine hour flight from Sydney will take you into Phuket International Airport.

Northern Thailand

Characterised by mountain ranges and the river valleys which cut through them, the North of Thailand offers landscapes that are totally different than those of the South. With no less than 60 national parks, this region is your getaway to green adventures out in the wilderness and meditative stays.

What are the best things to do in Chiang Mai?

Visiting temples are among the best things to do in Chiang Mai. Temple Wat Mahawan is surrounded by mythological lion sculptures and tropical greenery.
Temple Wat Mahawan captured by Peter Borter/Unsplash

The largest city in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a laid-back town where one can spend the day wandering around the markets and 300+ temples scattered throughout the city, visit elephant sanctuaries and explore the lush green countryside.

Where to stay in Chiang Mai?

Conveniently located at the heart of the city, just a few steps away from the vibrant night bazaar, Le Méridien Chiang Mai is the perfect base to explore the city inside out. Book your stay – in an Executive or Diplomatic Suite through us to enjoy benefits ranging from a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and daily breakfast to THB 1,000 credit per stay, early check-in, late checkout* and 20% off food, spa and laundry services. You might be eligible for concierge! Check your eligibility here.

A few of our Global Hotel Collection properties are located in Chiang Mai. Contact us to book stays at Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, Shangri-La Chiang Mai, 137 Pillars House, Cross Chiangmai Riverside Resort and Akyra Manor Chiang Mai and let us treat you to concierge-exclusive benefits such as complimentary breakfast, room upgrades and more.

How to get to Chiang Mai?

If you were to fly direct to Chiang Mai, you’d look at approximately 16 hours of travel time. Travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai? Hop on a local 1 hour flight or take it slow with a 14-hour train journey by bus.

Do Australians need a visa to visit Thailand?

Australia is a visa exempt country which means if you’ve got an Australian passport, you don’t need a visa when visiting Thailand as a tourist. However that’s only valid for trips under 30 days, so if you’re planning an epic long stay, you’ll need to apply for a 60 day tourist visa or a 90-day special tourist visa.

*subject to availability

Aude Camus

Parisian-born Aude visited her first restaurant aged just a few days old – now she's always ready for her next meal. When not interviewing award-winning chefs or looking for a new restaurant to visit, you’ll find her planning her next getaway from Hong Kong where she’s lived since 2015. Her travel writing has appeared in online publications such as Destination Deluxe and The Hotel Journal, and she runs a lifestyle platform for French expats living in Hong Kong.

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