Phuket has views that would make a landscape painter rush out and buy an easel and brushes and the great thing is that you don't have to trek halfway across the country to appreciate them. Whether it's a sunset-watching spot, a 360-degree panorama of the south of the island, a vista from the top of Phuket Town or a glimpse of swathes of tropical lushness it's all within your grasp in minutes. All you need is wheels.
It's a matter of taste, of course, as some prefer the 'outside-in' aspect of viewing the island from a yacht or tour boat. Others prefer life way up in the clouds, looking down from on high while others favour the exact opposite.
The island's most photographed and perhaps best-known location, Phromthep Cape. Every evening, large tour buses, scooters and private cars sweep through Rawai and up the island's southernmost hill to Phromthep.
On the top of the hill stands a busy car park where the vehicles disgorge crowds of people that come from every corner of the world. Cameras flash, fingers point and lovers cuddle as Phuket's most fabulous free show is re-enacted nightly - the sunset.
Not far up the coast road from Phromthep you will see several tall, slim white windmills that look just like airplane propellers on top of a hill and facing out to sea. This is the Phromthep Alternative Energy Station and the wind-driven electricity generators stand at this great viewing spot with a vista not unlike that of Phromthep Cape itself - only with much more intimacy as there is just enough room for a few cars to park here.
The daytime view down on Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches is the sort of stuff that will have you kicking yourself if you have left your camera at the hotel. There is an open-sided sala, or pavilion where a rather eccentric (but harmless) jewelry maker plies his wares and a snack bar to the side. Local enthusiasts fly model airplanes up here to ride the thermals and if you are lucky you will witness sea eagles hunting over the sea between here and Kho Man, a beautiful uninhabited island lying off the coast below this cape.
Another popular viewpoint is Kho saam haad which means 'Hill of the three beaches' because this hilltop looks down over Kata Noi, Kata beach and Karon beach, as well as Pu Island, off Kata Yai Beach.
Situated on the road between Kata and Rawai, it is a fairly well-frequented spot with a car park, nicely cultivated gardens, a few snack outlets and two large pavilions to sit in while you admire the northern-facing vista.
The road is fairly quiet and it is actually possible to walk up to this viewpoint from Nai Harn and Rawai although it's a bit of a challenge. If you like a drink or even a meal with your view, further down the road towards Kata there are two adjacent Reggae bars, the After Beach Bar and Viewpoint. Both are strikingly similar with exactly the same view out over Kata Noi and both feature non-stop throbbing reggae tunes. There is usually someone outside on the road flagging cars down so you'll know where to stop.
Whether it's a sunset-watching spot, a 360-degree panorama of the south of the island, a vista from the top of Phuket Town or a glimpse of swathes of tropical lushness it's all within your grasp in minutes.