PHUKET

Introduction

PHUKET WEATHER

Info Phuket

introduction

Phuket is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. It consists of the island of Phuket, the country's largest island, and another 32 smaller islands off its coast. It lies off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket Island is connected by the Sarasin Bridge to Phang Nga Province to the north. The next nearest province is Krabi, to the east across Phang Nga Bay.

Phuket Province has an area of 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi), somewhat less than that of Singapore, and is the second-smallest province of Thailand. It formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoys a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English traders. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.

info
POPULATION :  600,000
FOUNDED : 
TIME ZONE : ICT (UTC+7)
LANGUAGE :
RELIGION :
AREA :  576 km2 (222 sq mi)
ELEVATION :
COORDINATES :
SEX RATIO : Male: 49%
 Female: 51%
ETHNIC :
AREA CODE : 76
POSTAL CODE :
DIALING CODE : +66 76
WEBSITE :

Tourism

Phuket floats in balmy Andaman Sea waters on Thailand's Indian Ocean coastline, 862 km south of Bangkok.

Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoys a rich and colourful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign traders' ship's logs.

In recent times, Phuket's top earner has been tourism, which has transformed the island into Thailand's wealthiest province. Expect prices to be a bit higher than on the mainland.

The west coast of Phuket was hit severely by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, but almost no evidence of the damage remains.

Phuket enjoys great popularity as a travel destination. Most beaches are on the west coast, with Phuket Town to the southeast and the airport in the north.


Attractions

  • Two Heroines Monument(อนุสาวรีย์วีรสตรี), is a monument in Amphoe Thalang, a memorial statue of the heroines Thao Thep Kasattri (Kunying Jan) and Thao Sri Sunthon (Mook), who rallied islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders. As the island's governor had just died, the organization of Phuket's defense against the Burmese invasion of 1785 was conducted by his widow, Thao Thep Kasattri. With her sister's help, they assembled what forces they had, then disguised local women as male soldiers, a ruse to swell the ranks of the defenders. After a month's siege, the Burmese invaders became exhausted and withdrew. King Rama I awarded Kunying Jan with the royal title of Thao Thep Kasattri.
  • Thalang National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ ถลาง) is near the Two Heroines Monument. In 1985, on the 200th anniversary of the Thalang War, the Thalang National Museum was established. The museum contains a permanent exhibition of life in old Phuket, ancient artifacts, remains discovered on the coast, and materials used during war with Burma.
  • Hat Patong (หาดป่าตอง) (Patong Beach) is Phuket's most developed beach and is 3 kilometres (1.9 mi)-long. It is 15 km from Phuket town. Patong is mostly made up of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and various tourist attractions. Daytime activities are primarily centered on the beach with watersport activities. Patong is equally well known for its nightlife, centered on Soi Bangla. The northern end of Patong Bay is called Kalim and is a popular place for viewing the sunset and for surfing between April and September each year.
  • Hat Karon (หาดกะรน) is the second largest of Phuket's tourist beaches, approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) from town. Large resort complexes line the road behind the shoreline, but the broad beach itself has no development. The southern point has a coral reef stretching toward Kata and Poo Island. There is also its sister beach, Karon Noi.
  • Kamala Beach, Hat Kamala is a large beach approximately 16 km (10 mi) north of Patong Beach. The beach is undeveloped with coral reefs on the north side and surfing in the low season. It is a tourist beach in the high season and a sleepy seaside Muslim village in the low season. There is a market on Wednesday and Friday nights, as well as a weekly Saturday market.
  • View Point (จุดชมวิว) is located midway between Nai Harn and Kata Beaches. Kata Noi, Kata, Karon, and Ko Pu can be viewed from this point.
  • Laem Phromthep (แหลมพรหมเทพ) (Phromthep Cape) is a headland forming the extreme south end of Phuket. "Phrom" is Thai for the Hindu term "Brahma", signifying purity, and "thep" is Thai for "God". Local villagers used to refer to the cape as "Laem Chao", or the God's Cape, and it was an easily recognizable landmark for the early seafarers traveling up the Malay Peninsula.
  • Wat Chalong (วัดฉลองหรือวัดไชยธาราราม) is where stands the cast statue of Luang Pho Cham, who helped the people of Phuket put down the Angyee, or Chinese Coolie Rebellion, in 1876 during the reign of Rama V. There are also statues of Luang Pho Chuang, and Luang Pho Cham, abbots of the temple during later times.
  • Phuket Pearl Farm located about one kilometer offshore from Phuket's east coast close to coconut island. Can be visited only by boat.
  • Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Centre (สถานีพัฒนาและส่งเสริมการอนุรักษ์สัตว์ป่าเขาพระแทว) is a center for study of the environment. Its duty is to promote and distribute wildlife within Khao Phra Thaeo wildlife park. The park is forested and also conserves a number of wild animals that would otherwise have gone extinct in Phuket.
  • The Big Buddha of Phuket, พระพุทธมิ่งมงคลเอกเนาคคีรี (Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Akenakiri or Ming Mongkol Buddha), is on the peak of a mountain near Muang Phuket, or Phuket town (ภูเก็ต). The image is 45 m in height and covered in white Burmese marble.
  • Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World, สวนผีเสื้อและโลกแมลงภูเก็ต is one of the very few remaining butterfly gardens in Thailand.
  • Old Phuket Town in Phuket town, around Thalang, Dibuk, Yaowarat, Phang Nga, and Krabi Roads. The architecture is Sino-Portuguese-style.
  • Phuket Aquarium is the only public aquarium in the wider region. It is recognized as a major destination on Phuket Island for both foreign and local tourists and attracts around 300,000 vositors each year. You find it easily at the southern part of Cape Panwa on Phuket Island surrounded by breathtaking scenic bays and islands. Phuket Aquarium was established in 1983 as part of the internationally renowned Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC), a research and monitoring station within the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR). The aquarium provides means to communicate research results and to promote environmental awareness. Open hours 8.30 – 16.30.
  • Many of the outlying islands are very popular destinations for tourists, divers and snorkelers, including the Phi Phi Islands and the Similan Islands.

History

The Portuguese explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto arrived in Siam in the year 1545 (16th century). His accounts of the country go beyond Ayutthaya and included a reasonably detailed account of ports in the south of the Kingdom as well. Pinto was one of the first European explorers to mention Phuket in any detail, in his travel accounts. He referred to the island as ‘Junk Ceylon’, a name the Portuguese used for Phuket Island in their maps. Junk Ceylon is mentioned seven times in Mendes Pinto’s accounts. Pinto said that Junk Ceylon was a destination port where trading vessels made regular stops for supplies and provisions, however, during the mid-16th century, the island was in decline due to pirates and often rough and unpredictable seas, which deterred merchant vessels from visiting Junk Ceylon. Pinto mentioned several other notable port cities in his accounts, including Patani and Ligor,which is modern day Nakhon Si Thamarat.

In the 17th century, the Dutch, English and, after the 1680s, the French, competed for the opportunity to trade with the island of Phuket (then known as "Jung Ceylon"), which was a rich source of tin. In September 1680, a ship of the French East India Company visited Phuket and left with a full cargo of tin.

A year or two later, the Siamese King Narai, seeking to reduce Dutch and English influence, named as governor of Phuket a French medical missionary, Brother René Charbonneau, a member of the Siam mission of the Société des Missions Etrangères. Charbonneau remained as governor until 1685.

In 1685, King Narai confirmed the French tin monopoly in Phuket to their ambassador, the Chevalier de Chaumont.  Chaumont's former maître d'hôtel, Sieur de Billy, was named governor of the island.  However, the French were expelled from Siam after the 1688 Siamese revolution. On 10 April 1689, Desfarges led an expedition to re-capture Phuket to restore French control in Siam.  His occupation of the island led to nothing, and Desfarges returned to Puducherry in January 1690.

The Burmese attacked Phuket in 1785. Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing by the island, notified the local administration that he had observed Burmese forces preparing to attack. Than Phu Ying Chan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook (คุณมุก) assembled what local forces they could. After a month-long siege of the capital city, the Burmese were forced to retreat on 13 March 1785. The women became local heroines, receiving the royal titles Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Si Sunthon from a grateful King Rama I. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket became the administrative center of thetin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket (มณฑลภูเก็ต) was dissolved and Phuket became a province.


2004 tsunami

On 26 December 2004, Phuket and other nearby areas on Thailand's western coast suffered extensive damage when they were struck by the Boxing Day tsunami, caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves destroyed several highly populated areas in the region, killing up to 5,300 people nationwide, and tens of thousands more throughout the Asian region. Some 250 were reported dead in Phuket, including foreign tourists, and as many perhaps as a thousand of the illegal Burmese workers building new beach resorts in the Khao Lak area. Almost all of the major beaches on the west coast, especially Kamala, Patong, Karon, and Kata sustained major damage, with some damage caused to resorts and villages on the island's southern beaches.

By February 2005 many damaged resorts were back to business, and life slowly returned to normal. Following strenuous recovery programs, no tsunami damage can now be seen except on the most remote beaches.

In early December 2006, Thailand launched the first of the 22 U.S.-made tsunami-detection buoys to be positioned around the Indian Ocean as part of a regional warning system. The satellite-linked deep-sea buoys float 1,000 km (620 mi) offshore, roughly midway between Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Climate

Phuket is hot and humid throughout the year. The hot season is generally considered to be from Mar to early May. During the summer monsoon season from May-Oct, mornings and afternoons are sunny and clear, but it tends to rain in the evenings and water clarity goes down. Locals consider Nov-Feb the "cool" season, and the weather is quite tolerable. It's comparable to Florida's summer weather in temperature and intensity of rain storms: 25-33 degrees Celsius, scudding clouds, short and thunderous rainfalls in the afternoons and evenings. Surfing is possible off the western beaches.

 ClimateJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
 
Daily highs (°C)323334333232313131313131
Nightly lows (°C)232424252525242424242424
Precipitation (mm)30214912231926929127339931017659

Geography

Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand. The island is mostly mountainous with a mountain range in the west of the island from the north to the south. The mountains of Phuket form the southern end of the Phuket mountain range, which ranges for 440 kilometres (270 mi) from the Kra Isthmus.

Although some recent geographical works refer to the sections of the Tenasserim Hills in the isthmus as the "Phuket Range", these names are not found in classical geographic sources. In addition, the name Phuket is relatively recent having previously been named Jung Ceylon and Thalang. The highest elevation of the island is usually regarded as Khao Mai Thao Sip Song (Twelve Canes), at 529 metres (1,736 ft) above sea level. However it has been reported by barometric pressure readings that there is an even higher elevation (with no apparent name), of 542 meters above sea level, in the Kamala hills behind Kathu waterfall.

Its population was 249,446 in 2000, rising to 525,709 in the 2010 decennial census, the highest growth rate of all provinces nationwide at 7.4 percent annually. Some 600,000 people reside on Phuket currently, among them migrants, international expats, Thais registered in other provinces, and locals. The registered population, however, includes only Thais who are registered in a 'tabien baan' or house registration book, which most are not, and the end of 2012 was 360,905 persons.

Phuket is approximately 863 kilometres (536 mi) south of Bangkok, and covers an area of 543 square kilometres (210 sq mi) excluding small islets. It is estimated that Phuket would have a total area of approximately 576 square kilometres (222 sq mi) if all its outlying islands were included. Other islands are: Ko Lone 4.77 square kilometres (1.84 sq mi), Ko Maprao 3.7 square kilometres (1.4 sq mi), Ko Naka Yai 2.08 square kilometres (0.80 sq mi), Ko Racha Noi 3.06 square kilometres (1.18 sq mi), Ko Racha Yai 4.5 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi), and the second biggest, Ko Sire 8.8 square kilometres (3.4 sq mi).

The island's length, from north to south, is 48 kilometres (30 mi) and its width is 21 kilometres (13 mi).

Seventy percent of Phuket's area is covered with mountains which stretch from north to south. The remaining 30 percent are plains in the central and eastern parts of the island. It has a total of 9 brooks and creeks, but does not have any major rivers.

Forest, rubber, and palm oil plantations cover 60 percent of the island. The west coast has several sandy beaches. The east coast beaches are more often muddy. Near the southernmost point isLaem Promthep ("Brahma's Cape"), a popular view point. In the mountainous north of the island is the Khao Phra Thaeo No-Hunting Area, protecting more than 20 km² of rainforest. The three highest peaks of this reserve are the Khao Prathiu (384 metres (1,260 ft)), Khao Bang Pae 388 metres (1,273 ft), and Khao Phara 422 metres (1,385 ft). The Sirinat National Park on the northwest coast was established in 1981 to protect an area of 90 square kilometres (35 sq mi) (68 kilometres (42 mi) marine area), including the Nai Yang Beach where sea turtles lay their eggs.

The most popular (and overcrowded) tourist area on Phuket is Patong Beach on the central west coast, perhaps owing to the easy access to its wide and long beach. Most of Phuket's nightlife and its shopping is in Patong, and the area has become increasingly developed. Patong means "the forest filled with banana leaves" in Thai. South of Patong lie Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach, and around the southern tip of the island, Nai Harn Beach and Rawai. To the north of Patong are Kamala Beach, Surin Beach, and Bang Tao Beach. These areas are generally much less developed than Patong. To the southeast is Bon Island and to the south are several coral islands. The Similan Islands lie to the northwest, and the Phi Phi Islands which are part of Krabi province, to the southeast.

Economy

Tin mining was a major source of income for the island from the 16th century until petering out in the 20th century. In modern times, Phuket's economy has rested on two pillars: rubber tree plantations (making Thailand the biggest producer of rubber in the world ) and tourism.

Since the 1980s, the sandy beaches on the west coast of the island have been developed as tourist destinations, with Patong, Karon, and Kata being the most popular. Since the 2004 tsunami, all damaged buildings and attractions have been restored. Phuket is being intensely developed, with many new hotels, apartments, and houses under construction. A total of 5,080 additional hotel rooms are expected to be completed by 2015. In July 2005, Phuket was voted one of the world's top 5 retirement destinations by Fortune Magazine.  There are thousands of expatriates living on Phuket, many of them retirees.

Subdivisions

Cities

  • Phuket Town — the administrative centre of the province with the cheapest accommodation,
  • Bang Thao — long, very quiet beach
  • Cape Panwa — home to Phuket Aquarium
  • Chalong Bay — home to Phuket's most popular yacht anchorage and the primary gateway to the islands off Phuket
  • Kamala — a quieter beach to the north of Patong
  • Karon — the second most-developed beach after Patong, split into Karon Yai and Karon Noi Beaches
  • Kata — busy, clean tourist beach with good surf, also includes Kata Noi, its quieter sister
  • Laem Sing — small bay with stunning views, between Kamala and Surin Beaches
  • Mai Khao — many posh resorts, Thai villages, and restaurants, very quiet and far away from it all
  • Nai Thon and Nai Yang — two quiet beaches in Sirinat National Park
  • Nai Han — somewhat quieter beach (probably the best) in the south, near Laem Phromthep view point
  • Patong — the largest and most popular beach resort known for its nightlife
  • Rawai — jumping off point for lots of local islands, popular with locals for eating on the beach
  • Surin — an up-and-coming upmarket destination
  • Ya Nui — good snorkelling on a shallow reef that juts out from the beach

Other destinations

  • Ko Bon — 10 minutes from Rawai, an ideal island for a day of snorkelling and relaxing
  • Ko Hae — 15 minutes by speedboat from Chalong Bay, accessible all year
  • Ko Maphrao — fishery villages, walking along nature trails, fishing and biking
  • Ko Lon — quiet, mostly Muslim island with a few bungalows
  • Ko Mai Thon — gorgeous little island with only one (expensive) place to stay
  • Ko Racha — two islands (Yai and Noi), popular with scuba divers and a relaxing snorkelling destination
  • Ko Sire — sea Gypsy colony, connected to the mainland by a causeway
  • Phra Taew National Park — Phuket's last significant virgin rain forest

Internet, Comunication

Mail

If you want to send mail, post offices and parcel services are widely available. In Phuket Town, there is a post office at the corner of Phang Nga Rd and Montri Rd. In Patong, there is one at the appropriately named Soi Post Office, a side-street of Thavee Wong Rd (near Molly Malone's).


Telephone

You can usually pick up a free Thai SIM card at the airport in the baggage claim area. Look around for a booth or a kiosk.

The area code for Phuket is 076. Dial the 0 if you're calling from within Thailand.

Pay phones are uncommon, as most Thais have mobile phones. Phuket has very good mobile phone coverage, albeit over slower 2G/2.5G GSM networks. Pay-as-you-go SIM cards can be purchased for a few hundred baht, and local call charges range from 1 to 3 baht per minute depending on the package. You can also pre-purchase a Thai SIM card online.

Mobile Internet is available from all providers, with True Move offering 3G access from a limited network of base stations on the east coast, including Patong, Kata, and Karon. All other networks offer EDGE and/or GPRS access, so don't expect fast Internet connections on your mobile device. For email and basic surfing GPRS speeds are normally fine, but access to websites hosted outside Thailand can be slow.

Unlike many Western countries, Thai networks bill mobile Internet usage by duration rather than bandwidth, with PAYG users paying around 1 baht per minute. Most networks have PAYG monthly unlimited GPRS deals for around 750 baht, and you can easily purchase a SIM and the Internet package at one of the numerous phone shops around Phuket.

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