Pearl of the Andaman Sea
Phuket is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Asia. There are about 250, 000 inhabitants in Phuket but from November to March, during the tourist season, the population grows exponentially. Around 1.5 million tourists visit Phuket yearly and they have several good reasons to do so.
A commonplace misconception about Phuket is that Phuket is merely a city. In reality, Phuket is an entire island, the largest island in Thailand by square mileage. In total, the island covers 543 square kilometers; it is 50 kilometers long and 21 kilometers wide.
Most tourists visiting the beaches of Phuket don’t wander into the actual city of Phuket, located on the east coast of the island. Phuket Town, the capital city of the island, is mostly inhabited by locals and attracts few tourists. The tourist beehive is on the western side of the island, in the Patong area, and in addition to the above mentioned two areas, there is the rest of the island: square miles after square miles of stunning, glorious views and places to explore, all embraced by clear skies and sparkling sunshine.
The majority of the people in Phuket are disarming in their friendliness and extreme helpfulness – a big reason for developing a serious crush on the place. Thai people in general are one of the genuinely nicest nations in the world.
- Official Name: Thailand
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 67 million
Area: 510, 890 sq. km
Main religions: official religion Buddhism (94.6%), Islam (4.6%), Christianity (0.7%)
Life expectancy: 77 (women), 72 (men)
Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
Main exports: electronics, computer parts, automobiles and car parts, textiles and shoes, fish, rice, rubber
GNI per capita: US $10, 300
Time Zone: UCT/GMT + 7
- Getting bored in Phuket is very difficult; you have to exhaust yourself in order to get there. The island in itself is mesmerizing, and being able to live the every day life in these surroundings can pull the rug from under your feet easily. In addition, you can be in awe of:
Kata Noi, Nai Harn and Patong beaches, as well as the other beaches mentioned in guide books, are absolutely stunning but also busy, for good reasons. Phuket is, though, full of unchartered territory when it comes to finding your favorite sun or swim spot and many of the beach treats are yet unknown by the majority of the holiday goers. Extra time in Phuket is, thus, fun and easy to spend on finding the ultimate beach for you and your friends.
It is easy to be a nature lover in Phuket since even the indoorsy people can enjoy it comfortably from, for example, the Kata View Point, a viewing spot high up above the sea level that reveals panoramic views across the southern Phuket. Also, the southern tip of Promthep Cape is a popular, romantic place to look at the sun set. If you want a more hands on experience with the nature in Phuket, the Khao Phra Taeo national park encloses the last remaining bit of the ancient jungle that once covered the whole island. There is also a rehab center at the park for gibbons, i.e. a species of monkeys, which aims at returning the monkeys, once illegally captured for tourist attractions, back to the wild. The center is a good reminder of the unethical measures sometimes taken to make a buck, and visitors of the island should choose carefully which acts they want to support. For example, the conditions of the elephants at the Phuket Zoo are questionable but there are many animal friendly elephant safaris in Phuket, too.
The sun, even though an important factor in Phuket, does not dominate the best times to crawl out of your cave. Especially Patong has a second coming at night when the bars and clubs on Bangla Road turn on their lights and turn up the music. If you enjoy a good time out, Phuket is an excellent, cheap choice for some dancing, drinking and socializing.
There are various ways to experience the authentic, local culture in Phuket. There are, for example, a multitude of galleries that hang local art in Phuket Town and in Rawai and when you want to tap into your spiritual side, the Wat Chaiyataram temple is a fascinating place for all those interested in the main religion in Thailand, Buddhism.
Many islands in South East Asia are famous for their waves. Phuket doesn’t top the charts as having the biggest waves but it is a good place to start surfing if you have no previous experience on a surf board. The Kata Noi area in the south offers different services for blooming surfers, i.e. boards and teaching. You can also try out surfing on artificial waves in the pool at the Surf House Phuket in Kata. Phuket Wake Park in Kathu, in contrast, has dedicated a whole beach for different water boarding and skiing options. You can try out water skiing where you are pulled by a wire, instead of a boat, there, among many other water sports.
If surfing is too difficult to execute in Phuket, there are various other, great options for keeping fit. The campus has a full size (European) football field and the Kathu area hosts the best golf courses in Phuket. In addition to these Western forms of fun, Phuket is an excellent place to try something more local, Thai boxing. There are a lot of excellent schools offering Thai boxing courses on every possible level. Furthermore, the oceans are not only for surfing or swimming but great for sailing, diving and snorkeling, especially along the southern coastline.
- Phuket is divided into three geographical sections, Mueang Phuket, Kathu and Thaland. Mueang Phuket covers the southeastern region, Kathu the western coastline and middle sections of the island and Thalang the northern areas of Phuket.
The most familiar area for tourists in Phuket is Patong, located on the west coast. Patong is charming but quite crowded during the high season during which one might opt for keeping some distance to the hub. High season Patong is characterized by the dozens of street vendors competing for the attention of the herds of European tourists, trying to sell them everything from t-shirts to watches and from electronics to ferry tickets. The most popular beach in Phuket, Patong Beah, lines the coast of Patong. Patong Beach’s clear blue water and long sandy beaches are uncorrupted in their irresistibility; the beach is a delightful oasis despite its buzzing surroundings.
Bangla Road, which cuts through Patong, is at its heartiest at night when the bars and clubs are filled with bubbly party folk. The atmosphere of the Bangla Road nightlife has nothing to do with a regular Friday night out; this is holiday style partying. It might be quite difficult to find authentic Thai culture in Patong since the area is dominated by Western style restaurants and bars. It is still, though, worth wandering into at least a few times, both day and night, to capture the wonderfully weird flashiness of the area or even catch one of the quirky shows aimed for the tourists.
Patong is especially attractive for students at the weekends because...