Phuket is Thailand's largest island (approximately the size
of Singapore) and nestles against the Indian Ocean coast some
890km (556mi) south of Bangkok. Phuket derives its wealth from
tin and rubber, is blessed with teeming marine life,and has
enjoyed a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of
the main traderoutes between India and China and was often
mentioned in the ships' logs ofIndian, Arabian, Chinese and
European visitors. The Portuguese, French, Dutch, English traded
with Phuket. Other visitors were less friendly.
Phuket island's most famous monument is the memorial statue of
the heroines Thao Thep Kasattriand Thao Sisunthon who rallied
islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders. The island is
blessed with magnificent bays, powdery, palm-fringed white
beaches,sparkling island-dotted seas, sincerely hospitable
people, comfortable accommodation, superb seafood, tropically
vegetated mountains, lovely waterfalls and parks, and delightful
turn-of-the-century Indo/Portuguese and Chinese-influenced
architecture which create an enchanting ambience.
Phuket's Indian Ocean coastline boasts the finest beaches while
the eastern coastline overlooks some 30 lesser islands occupying
largely tranquil seas. Islands vary greatly in size. Some are
large enough to sustain fishing communities, coconut
plantations, sea crocodiles, deer and wild boar. Others are
little larger than massive rocks, while still others resemble
fortresses and are riddled with caves containing birds' nests
prized by gourmets.
In the past decade, this industry has become the biggest
earner for the area, and it continues to grow. One of the
biggest issues now is how to retain the benefits of tourism
while sustaining the natural attractions that brought the
visitors here in the first place. Phuket now gets more than 3
million visitors every year, and this number is growing. The
area is a popular holiday destination for both Asians and
Phuket's nightlife is sedate (compared with Hat Yai, Pattaya or
Bangkok) and is concentrated largely in the town centre and
Patong Beach in restaurants, bars (many featuring video
entertainment), massage parlours, nightclubs and discotheques.
Getting to Phuket is easy, Thai Airways has almost a dozen
flights from Bangkok daily, and more are laid on for busy
periods.The flight is just over 1 hour. There are also direct
flights from Chang Mai, Hat- Yai, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si
Thammarat and Pattani.
During peak months-November through February: most flights are
full and must be booked well in advance. Thai Airways has a
special window for reconfirmation at the airport. It is a good
idea to reconfirm your departure immediately upon arrival. Thai
Airways flies between Bangkok and Phuket hourly. The flight
takes one hours and ten minutes and costs about 2,000 Baht each
way.Thai Airways Telephone +6676-211-195 in Phuket or
+662-234-3100 in Bangkok.
When you arrive at Phuket Airport, charter guests will be taken
to their hotel destinations by the tour buses. For other
travelers there are two options: the minibus and limousine
service at the ground floor entrance. Minibuses are basically
150 Baht (to Patong), limousines around 650 Baht. Tuktuks are
not allowed to pick up guests at the airport, as transport is
When Heading back to the airport travel agencies supply
minibuses and limousines to the airport by the hour. Basically
the same price range as coming from the Airport.
There are several companies operating air-conditioned bus
service between Phuket and Bangkok for the determined masochist.
The most comfortable is named V.I.P. Bus Service. Contact the
Phuket Town Bus terminal at Tel:+6676-211-480. This trip takes
at least 14 hours. The ticket is 600 Baht for one-way.
There is no train service to Phuket. The nearest station is
at Surat Thani from which buses may be connected to Phuket, a
journey of some six to eight hours and costing around 200 Baht.
Private hire taxis are probably a better bet if there are two or
more individuals participating.
You may travel all around Phuket Island by Tuk-tuk,
Motor-Taxi, and Sonk-Tak. The fee may vary depends on the
distant. Private cars; Jeeps and motorbikes can be hired from a
car-rent company for your convenience.
Motor Cycle Taxi's are probably the easiest way to get around
Patong, Kata, Phuket Town or any of the other beach resorts. All
you have to do is wave them down by holding your arm out and
moving it up and down as they drive by. Alternatively, they have
many pickup points stationed around the Island and Towns where
you can go directly to and pick up a ride. The same goes for
Tuk-Tuk drivers, just tell them where you want to go and they'll
do the rest.
Basic fares around Phuket
20 Baht for a person with a tuktuk inside Patong Beach
150 Baht for a tuktuk to Kata Beach
400-500 Baht with a tuktuk to the Airport
200 Baht with a tuktuk to Phuket Town
20 Baht for a person with a motorcycle taxi in Patong Beach.
Temperatures. Year-round temperatures on Phuket vary between
21-34?C. Water temperatures range from 26-28?C, which means
wetsuits are not necessary to enjoy water sports. The northeast
monsoon season, roughly November till April, brings consistently
sunny weather, cool breezes and low humidity, with moderate
seas. The southwest monsoon, May till October, sees the rainiest
and most unpredictable weather along with frequent swells off
the Indian Ocean.
Phuket's glory is its magnificent coastline. Beaches range
from gentle crescents of white sand with calm waters to rocky
headlands pounded by raging surf. Secluded coves lie hidden
among densely forested headlands tumbling around white beaches.
In several such places, visitors can feel years away from
civilization. Phuket's Indian Ocean coastline boasts the finest
beaches while the eastern coastline overlooks some 30 lesser
islands occupying largely tranquil seas.
Islands vary greatly size, some are large enough to sustain
fishing communities, coconut plantations, deer and wild boar.
Others are little larger than massive rocks. Others again
resemble fortresses, are riddled with caves containing the
birds' nests prized by gourmets.
Counterclockwise from Phuket's northern tip, the island's major
beaches, temples and botanical parks are as following:
The pine-lined Mai Khao Beach (34 kilometers from town) is
Phuket's longest beach, site between November and February each
year, where gigantic sea turtle struggle ashore to lay theirs
Nai Yang Beach, to the south (30 kilometers from town) forms
part of National Park and is peaceful, excellent for swimming
Inland from Nai Yang Beach is Wat Phra Thong where a famous
partially-buried Buddha is enshrined. Further east, (20
kilometers from town), the beautiful Ton Sai Waterfall Forest
Park and Khao
Phra Thaeo Wildlife Park have innumerable birds, wild boars and
monkeys to enliven botanical beauty cooled by sonorous cascades.
Further south, Pansea Bay, Surin Beach (24 kilometers from
town), Sing Cape and Kamala Beach unfold in rapid succession. A
public 9-hole golf course fronts Surin Beach where swimming is
not recommended due to powerful surf and a treacherous undertow.
The northern end of Kamala Beach is suitable for swimming.
Patong Beach (20 kilometers from town) is Phuket's most
developed beach. Cabin and bungalow complexes, hotels, bars,
nightclubs, discotheques, shop and restaurants front the
crescent bay. Windsurfing, snorkeling, sailing, sunbathing and
swimming number among major activities.
Karon (20 kilometers from town) and Kata (17 kilometers from
town) are the next major beaches. Both are long, largely
peaceful and eminently suitable for swimming, windsurfing,
sailing, snorkeling and sunbathing. Kata is partially fronted by
Club Mediterranean Complex.
Nearing Phuket's southernmost point, the white Nai Han Beach (18
kilometers from town) fronts a shallow lagoon between steep
headlands. Swimming, windsurfing, sailing, sunbathing and
snorkeling are popular activities.
The nearby Promthep Cape marks Phuket's southernmost point is
the perfect place from which to view spectacular sunsets.
To the east, the palm-fringed Rawai Beach (17 kilometers from
town) hosts Phuket's best known 'sea gypsies'. several offshore
islands have gleaming white beaches, and dazzling underwater
scenery that attracts dedicated fishermen and scuba-divers.
To the northeast, Chalong Bay (11 kilometers from town) extends
in a broad sweep and, a few kilometers inland, Wat Chalong
enshrines statues of Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang,
Phuket's most revered monks.
Finally, on the southernmost tip of Phanwa Cape (10 kilometers
from town) is a Marine Biological Research Centre and Phuket's
Aquarium which displays several hundred exotic, grotesque and
flamboyantly colourful marine species found mostly in Phuket's
There are also several Internet Cafes in the small
communities around the island and especially in the more
developed tourist locations. For those with a laptop computer,
access to internet service providers is possible through one of
the many computer shops found throughout the island.
First-class hotels located within town offer complimentary
transport to their own beach clubs. Economy-class hotels are
also available within town. First-class resort hotels with
spectacular views offer air-conditioned accommodation, as do
many cabin and bungalow complexes on Phuket's most popular
beaches. Yet other 'native-style' complexes, built of bamboo,
rattan and Nipa palm thatch, Phuket's coastal hills and beaches
to offer comfortable and relatively inexpensive accommodation.