Great National Parks in Phuket, Thailand

Our stunning island home of Phuket is filled with natural wonders, stunning landscapes, and awe-inspiring views, from lush rainforests to towering hills to white sand beaches. It’s no surprise, then, that Phuket and the surrounding parts of Southern Thailand are home to national parks that preserve and protect these special places.

As advocates for ethical tourism and wildlife conservation, Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve (PENR) is excited to guide you through some of our region’s most spectacular national parks. We have broken our suggestions down into two sections: national parks in Phuket and those that you can reach in a relatively short time from the island.

Scroll down to find out more about the best national parks in Phuket and the surrounding areas. And if you have any questions about our ethical elephant activities in Phuket, please feel free to contact us.

The Best National Parks in Phuket

Khao Phra Thaeo National Park

Nestled in the northern part of Phuket, Khao Phra Thaeo National Park — or Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Area — is a haven for nature enthusiasts seeking tranquillity amidst lush greenery. This 22-square-kilometre sanctuary is home to one of the last remaining rainforests on the island, offering a glimpse into Thailand’s rich biodiversity. 

Explore winding trails that lead to majestic waterfalls like Bang Pae and Ton Sai, where you can cool off in natural pools surrounded by verdant foliage. Keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife such as gibbons, macaques, and colourful bird species that inhabit the dense canopy above.

You can also find the incredible Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Khao Phra Thaeo, near the Bang Pae waterfall. This organisation rehabilitates mistreated gibbons with the aim of releasing them back into the wild. Much like our own elephant experiences, a trip here is a fantastic addition to a Phuket itinerary for a family holiday.

Mai Khao Beach aerial view

Sirinat National Park

Heading westward towards the coast, Sirinat National Park stretches across the northwestern shores of Phuket. This relatively small protected area encompasses gorgeous beaches, mangrove forests, and vibrant coral reefs teeming with underwater treasures. In fact, around 75% of the park’s total area is in the Andaman Sea.

When it comes to beaches in Sirinat National Park, you have four to choose from:

  • Naiyang Beach
  • Naithon Beach
  • Sai Kaew Beach
  • Mai Khao Beach

At a whopping 11km long, Mai Khao Beach has the distinction of being the longest beach in Phuket. And you can earn your relaxing time on the beach after tackling one of Sirinat’s hiking trails. The trails range in difficulty, so there’s something for all fitness levels.

Some of the trails worth your consideration include:

  • Sai Kaew Beach Trail (Easy)
  • Nai Thon Beach to Nai Yang Beach (Easy)
  • Mai Khao Beach to Nai Yang Beach (Easy)
  • Nai Yang Beach to Sai Kaew Beach (Hard)

You can find the coral reefs around 700 to 1,000 metres off the coast. They are home to reef species such as soft coral, sea fans, plate coral, and sea anemones. As such, kayaking and snorkelling are also popular activities here.

And we can’t forget the planespotting! Due to its proximity to Phuket International Airport, you can enjoy incredible views of planes coming in to land. In fact, this was one of our picks for the best things to do in Mai Khao, Phuket.

Girl watches a plane overhead at Mai Khao Beach

The Best National Parks Near Phuket

Mu Koh Surin National Park (Surin Islands)

Located approximately 150 kilometres northwest of Phuket, Mu Koh Surin National Park is a remote archipelago consisting of five islands: Koh Surin Nuea, Koh Surin Tai, Koh Ri, Koh Khai, and Koh Klang. You can find various options to travel to Mu Koh Surin, ranging from a three-hour speedboat ride to a multi-day liveaboard experience.

Compared to other island groups, like the Similans, the Surin Islands are harder to access. While it takes more time and effort to get there, the plus side is that fewer people make the journey. As a result, the islands are renowned for their pristine beaches and vibrant coral reefs, which are among the very best in Thailand. This marine paradise draws snorkelers and divers with its crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. 

Explore colourful coral gardens, swim alongside tropical fish, and relax on secluded beaches surrounded by towering cliffs. Mu Koh Surin National Park offers a serene escape from the bustling crowds, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the untouched beauty of the Andaman Sea.

If you’re hungry for more wet and wild fun with your little ones, check out our picks for the best kids’ water activities and water sports in Phuket.


Mu Koh Similan National Park (Similan Islands)

Just a short boat ride from Phuket lies Mu Koh Similan National Park, a group of nine idyllic islands known for their breathtaking underwater landscapes. The park covers an area of 140 km², of which 26 km² is land, and takes around 90 minutes to reach by speedboat from Phuket.

Renowned as one of the top diving destinations in the world, the Similan Islands boast visibility of up to 30 meters and a diverse array of marine species, including manta rays, whale sharks, and colourful coral formations. 

Snorkelers and beach lovers alike will be captivated by the pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and granite boulders that adorn these picturesque islands.

Please note, at the time of writing in 2024, the Similan Islands are only open to visitors during the official tourist season, from November to April. Outside of this period, they are closed to support conservation efforts. The exact dates of closure vary from year to year, so we recommend checking well in advance.

Do you want to learn more about the less desirable aspects of Phuket’s tourism so you can make your trip as ethical and sustainable as possible? We think you will appreciate our blog What is the Dark Side of Tourism in Phuket?

Ao Phang Nga National Park

Venturing northeast of Phuket, Ao Phang Nga National Park showcases the iconic limestone karsts that rise dramatically from the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay. Embark on a scenic boat tour (they’re easy to find in Phuket!) through labyrinthine mangrove forests, hidden lagoons, and secluded sea caves, where you can marvel at the natural wonders that have inspired filmmakers and photographers alike. 

Don’t miss the chance to visit James Bond Island, made famous by its starring role in The Man with the Golden Gun, or paddle through the tranquil waters of Hong Island aboard a traditional longtail boat.

Ao Phang Nga National Park covers an area of 400 km² and is a haven for all manner of water activities, from snorkelling to kayaking. The park is also home to the largest native mangrove forests in Thailand.

We included a boat trip to Phang Nga Bay as part of a sample seven-day itinerary in the blog What Should I Do with a Week in Phuket?

Khao Lampi–Hat Thai Mueang National Park

To the north of Phuket lies Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park, a pristine coastal reserve encompassing dense forests, cascading waterfalls, mangrove swamps, and golden beaches. Nature lovers can embark on scenic hikes through the park’s rugged terrain, keeping an eye out for exotic wildlife such as dusky langurs, hornbills, and monitor lizards. 

The park is also home to the picturesque Thai Mueang Beach, where visitors can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy panoramic views of the Andaman Sea. The beach is also renowned as a sea turtle nesting area.

Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park is somewhat overlooked by its more famous counterparts in the region. But this means that far fewer people visit, providing ample opportunities to truly disconnect from the world in a spectacular natural sanctuary.

If you decide to head to Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park for a day trip, you still have plenty of time to explore the many top-rated attractions and things to do in Phuket.

Khao Sok National Park

Venture inland to the enchanting beauty of Khao Sok National Park, a sprawling wilderness characterized by towering limestone cliffs, ancient rainforests, tranquil rivers, raft houses, and so much more. Covering an area of 739 km², there’s plenty to discover here!

Located approximately 160 kilometres northeast of Phuket, this natural paradise offers a wide range of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including jungle trekking, wildlife spotting, and canoeing along the scenic Sok River. Explore hidden caves adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, spend the night in a rustic jungle lodge, or embark on a thrilling night safari to encounter nocturnal creatures like civets, porcupines, and slow lorises.

Kaho Sok is the most popular national park in mainland Southern Thailand. Once you start exploring, you’ll immediately see why.

Discover Our Range of Ethical Elephant Activities in Phuket

Now that you know more about the great national parks in Phuket, it’s time to start planning more activities for your holiday in the south of Thailand. We’re confident that an elephant experience is on your list of must-dos, so be sure to check out our Phuket elephant activities

When you visit Phuket Elephant Nature Reserve, you support our ongoing conservation efforts and help us to rescue even more elephants from situations of neglect and cruelty. And for added peace of mind, we were also named Elephant Sanctuary of the Year 2023!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions for the PENR team.

Leave a Reply