PHUKET

Thailand

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.

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.

Prices in Phuket

PRICES LIST - USD

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter$1.44
Tomatoes1 kg$1.84
Cheese0.5 kg$10.00
Apples1 kg$2.40
Oranges1 kg$2.40
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$1.43
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$14.00
Coca-Cola2 liters$1.10
Bread1 piece$1.00
Water1.5 l$0.45

PRICES LIST - USD

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2$20.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$
Dinner (High-range)for 2$46.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$5.10
Water0.33 l$0.40
Cappuccino1 cup$2.20
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$3.00
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$1.70
Coca-Cola0.33 l$0.75
Coctail drink1 drink$6.00

PRICES LIST - USD

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets$10.00
Gym1 month$55.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$7.00
Theatar2 tickets$
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$0.08
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$2.75

PRICES LIST - USD

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack$4.80
Tampons32 pieces$4.00
Deodorant50 ml.$1.70
Shampoo400 ml.$2.50
Toilet paper4 rolls$1.40
Toothpaste1 tube$1.80

PRICES LIST - USD

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$71.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$32.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$82.00
Leather shoes1$62.00

PRICES LIST - USD

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter$0.82
TaxiStart$2.80
Taxi1 km$0.70
Local Transport1 ticket$0.80

Tourist (Backpacker)  

35 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

113 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

The compact Phuket International Airport  is in the northwest of the island, and is Thailand's second largest hub, second only to Bangkok.

There are very frequent flights to/from Bangkok as well as direct flights to many other airports in the region, including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and direct charters to Europe and Australia in the high season.

The airport is notionally divided into Terminals 1 and 2, with some charter and low-cost operators using the second, but these are only a short distance apart and connected by an air-conditioned walkway.


International flights

  • China- Lots of flights incl. from Beijing, Zhengzhou, Guiyang, Guangzhou, and Sanya.
  • Germany - Air Berlin has non-stop flights to Berlin and Munich.
  • Indonesia - AirAsia flies from/to Jakarta and Denpasar, Bali, and often this is the cheapest connection between Thailand and Java and more eastern parts of Indonesia (promotional fares are often US$30–50 for a 3 hour flight).
  • Korea - Asiana Airlines non-stop services from Seoul with connections from New York.
  • Malaysia - AirAsia flies to Kuala Lumpur (KUL), FireFly flies to Penang, using small ATR-Turboprop aircraft, and Malaysia Airlines has flights from/to Kuala Lumpur. Qatar Airways also operates daily flights from Kuala Lumpur.
  • Philippines - Cebu Pacific Will be operating 3 times weekly starting on August 2013 from Manila.
  • Qatar - Qatar Airways operates direct daily flights from/to Doha, which transit in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Taipei, Taiwan - China Airlines Non-stop direct flights from Taipei to Phuket.

Other low cost direct connections include India, Macau, Seoul and Busan


Charter flights

There are some charter flights in high season from European and Asian countries such as Sweden, Taiwan, and Japan.


Domestic flights

Several domestic airlines fly here, including Nok Air, Air Asia, Orient Thai. Tickets from Bangkok can cost around 1,300 baht one-way if booked well in advance, or around 2,000-2,500 baht (including taxes) if bought on the day.

Thai Airways flies from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport several times every day, as well as once daily from Chiang Mai (but there are no direct flights in the opposite direction). Additionally, they sell tickets from/to many domestic and international destinations with stopovers in Bangkok, which are usually cheaper (especially international) than if you book separate tickets. Cheapest (non-exchangeable and non-refundable one-way tickets from Bangkok cost 2,320 baht. Worth checking if you book just a few days before flight, as low-cost airlines may cost only 200-300 baht less in this situation, but you get world-famous Thai Airways service, and free on-board meals too.

Air Asia. Fly from Phuket to Chiang Mai direct, twice a day at 10:35 and 19:20, affording an opportunity to combine a beach holiday with experiencing the wildlife and exotic cultures of northern Thailand. From Chiang Mai to Phuket flights depart at 13:00 and 21:45. They fly to two cities in Isaan as well, daily to Udon Thani (handy for a trip into Laos) and four times per week to Ubon Ratchathani.

Bangkok Airways has a monopoly on direct flights between Phuket and U-Tapao (Pattaya/Sattahip) and Ko Samui. They also have 6 daily flights from Bangkok. Fares are usually the same as Thai Airways, but sometimes they have very inexpensive promotional fares as low as 1,390 baht.

Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways fly to Suvarnabhumi (pronounced: soo-Var-na-phoom), whereas Nok Air and Orient Thai fly to Don Muang Airport. This may be of importance when you have a connecting flight.

Happy Air (Phuket to Ranong, also Bangkok to Ranong) with service to and from both BKK and HKT to Ranong.(Ko Phayam and Ko Chang in the Andaman Sea are 20 min from Ranong Airport by boat).


Airport transport

To get from the airport to your destination, there are several options:

  • Starting in mid-2013, there is a private bus service that runs between the airport and Patong and the reverse. There is not yet an English-language website for this service. Times and fares are unclear. There are reportedly signs directing passengers to the curbside bus, but it is not easy to find evidently (Oct 2013).
  • Municipal air conditioned airport bus service (daily, 06:30-20:45, every 60-90 min) to Phuket Town bus station costs 85 baht and takes one hour. Local buses run from there and Ranong St Market to all the major beaches until around 18:00 for about 25-40 baht. After getting off a bus just cross the street and wait for the continuing bus there. It is a very convenient and comfortable spot, with no touts or hustlers, plenty of shade and a minimart for drinks and snacks. The bus will stop anywhere along its route upon signalling the driver ("bus hiking"). See Airport Bus Phuket.

If you are going to take the municipal airport bus from Phuket to the airport in the afternoon (especially the 16:30 and 17:30 buses) you should allow yourself plenty of time. With dozens of schoolchildren getting on and off during weekdays and/or congested traffic the bus is frequently delayed en route.

  • Minibus services (basically door-to-door shared taxis) are a good value. They charge 100-180 baht per seat, and will get you to your destination much faster than the municipal/government buses. To Phuket town 100 baht is typical; to Patong 180 baht; to Kata Beach 180 baht. When you get off the plane, don't dally, because when the minibuses fill up, they leave. If you miss the first group of them, you may have to wait until the next plane comes in, because they don't leave until they're full. Note that the minibuses will stop at a travel agent about halfway to Patong. They'll ask everyone to get out (you don't have to) and then they'll ask you where you're staying, and they'll try to sell you a hotel or overpriced tours on the guise that they are a government agency. You're not obligated to use the hotels they push. Just say you already booked a hotel, and tell them the name. (If you don't yet have a hotel, just say "Holiday Inn"). They will inform the driver, and he/she will drop you off at the hotel. This is a little annoying, but it's over in 10 minutes, and you're on your way again. Any travel agent can arrange a minibus ride for the way back to the airport.
  • Metered (yellow) taxis, aka "Taxi Meter" - Turn right as you exit the airport building (ignore the touts) and you'll see a stand at the end of the walkway. Tell your destination to the staff at the stand and they will give you a paper with the taxi driver number for you to keep in case you need to report a problem. Fares to destinations in Phuket cost around 600 baht and up. The rate is what is displayed by the meter plus 100-baht airport fee. The meter will start with a 50 baht display. You may stumble upon a freelance taxi driver who will take you from the airport to Patong for a flat fee of 450 baht. If the driver is pleasant, you may wish to ask for his mobile number for the return trip later. The same driver can take you from Patong to Phuket Town for 350 to 400 baht.
  • Limousine (blue) taxis from the airport are expensive, costing 600-700 baht to Patong or 800 baht to Phuket Town. The airport co-op booth tucked away towards the back is a little cheaper than the competition. Despite the name, most "limousines" are Toyota Camrys with leather seats, though you may get a Mercedes. It is also likely that your limousine will stop at a travel agent in order to sell you hotel rooms and/or tours. Before you purchase your fare, insist that you do not want to stop at any travel agency along the way. (They will try to legitimise stopping at the travel agency by insisting that "the driver must sign in" or "the driver needs to stop here for directions")

Transportation - Get In

By Train

There are no direct train services to Phuket. But many trains leave from Bangkok central station going south all the way to Singapore. The most comfortable are the sleeper trains (~685 baht for a berth in a 2nd class air-con car. Travellers by train must get off at Phun Phin railway station in Surat Thani Province and continue for another 5 hours by regular bus to Phuket. Do not buy the bus ticket until you actually see the bus and can make sure it is not standing room only, as it picks up passengers at the popular Ko Samui ferry. If full, wait for the next one. 

Transportation - Get In

By Bus

Buses to mainland destinations including Bangkok, Chumphon, Hat Yai,Krabi, Phang Nga, Ranong, Satun, Sungai Kolok and Surat Thani use the BKS terminal off Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town.

The most reliable buses from Bangkok are the public BKS buses from the Southern Bus Terminal to Phuket. The journey takes 13 hours and costs between 650-950 baht. There are also some private bus companies, Phuket Travel Tour, Phuket Central Tour, and Phuket Travel Service .Khao San Road operations have a bad reputation for theft, often turn out to include a "surprise" transfer to a minibus at Surat Thani, and are best avoided. Richly Travel Center offers a bus leaving at 19:00 from near the Hualampong Train Station inside Bangkok (without having to transfer to the Southern Bus Terminal) for 900 baht. The TAT next door offers the same for around 1,100 baht.

From Phuket bus terminal to your final destination, you can take a motorcycle taxi, tuk-tuk, meter-taxi, or bus. A motorcycle taxi into Phuket Town will be about 10-20 baht; to most beaches 100-200 baht (negotiable).

A local bus to one of the main beaches will cost around 15-40 baht. It's not unusual for the tuk-tuk drivers at the bus terminal to tell arriving travellers that the local bus service has finished, even though it hasn't. The bus stop is near the market in the old town. From Bus Terminal 1, make a right onto Phang Nga Rd. Continue down Phang Nga until it terminates at Yaowarat Rd, then turn left. Within a few steps you will see a roundabout. Once at the roundabout, keep right. By keeping right, you will find Ranong Rd. Within 100–200 m you will find the local bus stop.

There are two bus terminals in Phuket, one small, old one in town, and one huge modern one 4 km north of town. You can take a 10 baht pink songthaew (leaves every 30 minutes) between the two. There are also 3 regular songthaew lines within Phuket Town, and both bus stations are served by them. There is a very useful big map just outside the bus stations (look where the taxis are waiting at the old bus station, and at the very rear, not towards the entrance, at the new bus station) that displays the three songthaew routes within Phuket town. Fare's 10 baht, last one at 19:00.

Before exiting the Phuket bus terminal, grab a free Phuket map from the information window. While supplies may always not be on hand, the map is a great way to get your bearing before jumping-off.

Transportation - Get In

By Car

Phuket is directly connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge. From Bangkok, take Hwy 4 through Nakhon Pathom, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, through Ranong province’s Kra Buri and Kapoe districts, Phang Nga Province’s Takua Pa and Thai Muang districts and onto Phuket Island. The total distance is 862 km. You may be better off getting to Phuket by public transport and renting a car on the island.

Transportation - Get In

By boat

Ferry services connect from Rassada Port in Phuket Town to Ko Phi Phi and to Krabi Province on the mainland twice a day, taking 90 to 120 minutes and costing 350/650 baht one-way/return, for each leg. It's usually a pleasant ride, but can be rather bumpy when it's windy.

From the harbour, you could avoid the minibuses and take a 10 baht songthaew to Phuket Town. If it doesn't show up at the bus stop right outside the terminal, you'll have to walk past the gate outside the harbour and along the road, turning left at the first T-junction, about 600 m, then on the main road you can catch a cheap songthaew. There's a picture of all the routes posted just outside the terminal near the bus stop inside the complex. Last one leaves at 19:00.

There are speedboats from/to Ko Racha (45 minutes), Phi Phi (1 - 1.5 hours), the Similan Islands (about 3 hours) and other islands. Boats and yachts can be chartered all year from Phuket at Chalong Bay, Rawai Beach, the Boot Lagoon, the Yacht Haven and Royal Phuket Marina. Boats from Phi Phi and Phang Nga can be found by visiting the local beaches. A search for Phuket speedboat charters will turn up many companies providing inter-island charters and services.

Prices for transfers on board a tour speedboat are typically between 1,500 to 2,500 baht depending on destination. Phi Phi speedboat transfers (no tour) are provided by the Zeavola Resort, which has dedicated speedboats for Phi Phi transfers. Most companies doing Phi Phi speedboat tours will not accommodate transfers that include baggage due to space limitations.

Prices for speedboat charters to/from Phuket range from 3,000 baht to 60,000 baht+ depending on distance/size of boat:

  • Coral Island: 3,000-5,000 baht
  • Racha Yai Island: 8,000-15,000 baht
  • Phi Phi Island: 15,000-25,000 baht
  • Phang Nga: 15,000-25,000 baht
  • Krabi: 20,000-30,000 baht
  • Similans: 30,000-60,000 baht+ (Nov-Apr only. Lower price from Khao Lak, higher price from Phuket)

It's possible to visit Phuket by cruise ship. For cruises from Singapore, try Star Cruises


Transportation - Get Around

Phuket is a large island and you need some form of transport to get around. Public transport is very limited and taxis and tuk-tuks are the only practical means. Another, more dangerous option is rent your own wheels. Hotels generally offer shuttle bus services into Phuket Town, and also have taxi and car hire facilities.

Transportation - Get Around

By songthaew or bus

Public transport within Phuket is limited to a radial network connecting Phuket Town to the beach towns. There are a few full-size buses, but most lines are operated with songthaews, basically converted pick-up trucks serving as buses. The fare is 25-40 baht up, depending on distance, and there are no set stops. They pick up and drop off as requested. Most local bus services operate at half-hour intervals and stop at around 18:00.

There is a small public bus network in and around Phuket, serving most neighbourhouds with Phuket Town from 6 AM to 6 PM with 30 minute interval. These blue and pink buses are called ' Songtaew' (two rows) due to the to two rows of seats in the back of the buses, some of them converted from a truck to bus. Fare is around 30 to 40 baht for blue buses (commercial) and 10 baht for pink buses (governmebtal). Tickets are sold by conductor. There are no bus stops, people can board every on safe spots. Tuktuk companies prevent more lines.

  • Blue line 1814: Phuket town - Kathu - Patong Beach (southbound on Rath-U-Thit 200 Pee Road, northbound on Thaweewong Road)
  • Blue line: Phuket town - Hayeak - Rawai -Naiharn
  • Blue line: Phuket town - Panwa (Aquarium)
  • Blue line 8359: Phuket town - Kata - Karon
  • Pink line 1: Phuket town only
  • Pink line 2: Phuket town only
  • Pink line 3: Phuket town only

Most operate from the local market at Ranong Rd (Talad Sot or Ban San). Those to major beaches go via Phuket Town bus terminal. The main lines connect to Patong, Kata-Karon, Chalong Bay, Rawai-Nai Han beach, Cape Panwa (for the aquarium), Mai Khao, and Surin-Kamala. There are no"cross-beach" connections, and travelling, for example, from Surin to Patong (15 min by taxi) requires an hour-long detour via Phuket Town.

Upon your return, though, often the bus will drop you off not at the main terminal, but at a bus stop somewhere in the middle of Phuket Town, where you will immediately be set upon by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. Tourists beware!

Transportation - Get Around

By Taxi

Phuket is known for its "taxi Mafia". Taxi prices are heavily inflated and even for short distances of 2 km they easily charge 200 baht. Taxi drivers often block any kind of change that could endanger their easy money, e.g. by literally demolishing local buses, fighting with clients and setting up road blocks. They're usually also well-connected with the police. Be careful.

Phuket has three types of taxi: millions (or so it seems) of small songthaew-style minivans (usually bright red, occasionally bright yellow) called tuk-tuks, a much smaller number of conventional sedan-style taxis (yellow and red, with a "Taxi-Meter" sign on top), and random indistinguishable vehicles that serve as unofficial taxis.

The minivans are universally referred to as tuk-tuks (even though they have four wheels, not three). They have no meter, and their drivers are notoriously mercenary, so always agree a price beforehand and do bargain hard. Short hops around town shouldn't cost more than 40 baht, but good luck getting from Patong to Phuket Town for under 400 baht. Tuk-tuks should be avoided whenever possible, these are run by what locals call the "Thai Mafia" and charge you 200 baht for less than 1 km runs.

Metered taxis are a much better option when available, being safer, more comfortable, and usually cheaper than tuk-tuks. However, they're often hard to find, and during peak periods their drivers will also ignore the meter and demand flat fares. You can arrange one by telephone. It is recommended you insist your hotels give you a metered taxi phone number and keep on the front desk. Take the taxi meter land line number from the yellow booth right outside of the ground floor of the airport before you depart.

Finally, many beaches have little shacks with "Taxi" signs, sometimes unofficially supported by a hotel, offering quick transport at high prices. They are usually pricier than the tuk-tuks, with most fares exceeding 500 baht, but they are usually air-conditioned and more comfortable.

Transportation - Get Around

By motorbike taxi

There are also motorbike taxis (motosai). While you should never hop on the back of just anyone's motorbike, motorbike taxi drivers wear bright numbered vests and are usually the cheapest way to go. However, these are more dangerous than a tuk-tuk, for obvious reasons, and are not comfortable for long trips. However, if you just need to get around town, they are a great way to go.

Transportation - Get Around

By car or bike

Renting a car or motorbike to explore the island on your own is a cost-effective way of getting off the beaten track. However, given the driving habits of most locals and the resulting carnage on Phuket's roads every year, the risks do demand careful consideration. Driving habits are Thai-style, ignoring all the rules and keeping going at all costs, not much worse than Naples, but like there it keeps traffic moving. Traffic lights have just made things worse in the last few years.

Due to the geography of the island with its winding hilly roads and poor vision, Phuket certainly has more than its fair share of accidents. In fact, the death and injury statistics are more than high. More than 10,000 people are injured and over 250 killed every year in road accidents in Phuket. Nine out of ten accidents involve motorbikes.

Drive very defensively at first and watch what the locals do. Of course, it helps if you are accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, which in itself could be enough to distract some drivers. Be aware that many motorcyclists will drive on the wrong side of the road to cover short distances, and passing on the left is a very common occurrence on Phuket roads. Driving under the influence of alcohol is both illegal and dangerous, and driving at night also increases the risk of accidents. Even if you're sober, many others aren't.

Motorcycle and scooter rentals start at around 200 baht/day, coming down to 150 baht/day for rentals of a week or more. Choose a rental company that doesn't hold your passport as deposit (most of them will) or negotiate a cash deposit, as there is a chance that your passport will mysteriously disappear when you return the rental. If possible, arrange the rental through your hotel—they typically won't hold your passport since they already know who you are and will negotiate the deal with the rental company.

Although both motorcycle/scooter drivers and pillion passengers are required to wear helmets, this rule is mostly ignored by locals, but a farangriding around without one is more likely to be hit with a 300-500 baht fine (seems to be another rip-off for tourists, as the official fine for driving without a helmet is 200 baht) by the police if caught. You must carry a valid driving licence with you, or you'll be slapped with a 500 baht fine. Police can check for motorcycle licences, and not having the correct licence type may result in a fine. Your licence will be confiscated if you're stopped, and returned when you pay the fine at the appropriate police station. There can be police check-points on the way, and regular check-point locations include the northern end of Patong Beach Rd, Chalong Circle, and the north end of Karon Beach. If you do wear a helmet chances of being stopped should be low though.

Renting a car usually costs between 1,000-1,200 baht if you want to go for an economy car like a Toyota Vios (stay away from the Jeeps). Several rental companies are located in and around the airport. Avis is located within the airport while Hertz, National and Sixt are located within walking distance of the airport (across the road). Bookings can be made on-line for these. Reputable local car rental companies are also present, which are often a little cheaper.

Be careful to check the level of insurance on a hired car, as many local companies say they have full insurance when in fact it is only a very basic level. Motorcycle rental generally includes no insurance, so take extra care if you decide to opt for the motorbike option.

Transportation - Get Around

By boat

For a bit of island hopping, the longtail boats are a great way to go. Prices must be negotiated and are approximately 500 baht per hour, no more than 1,800 baht per day.

Transportation - Get Around

By boat

Hitchhiking would be delightful if it weren't for the taxi Mafia. Any car could double as a taxi. Mention at least 3 times that you're not going to pay: "no money". "Free ride". "No taxi". Ask if this is clear to the driver. If the driver later on still insists on money, be sure to move on before they get their corrupt police friends involved.

Hotels

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Shopping

Phuket Town is a source of cultured pearls, niello ware, pewter ware, ornaments and dried seafood. Specialist shops dealing in souvenir products can be found on Ratsada, Phang Nga, Montri, Yaowarat, and Tilok-U-Thit Rd, in Phuket Town, Thepkasattri Rd, north of town and at the beach centres of Patong, Kata, Karon, and Rawai.

Phuket's larger beaches are ravaged by ravenous hordes of tailors, who are certainly cheap, but will screw you over if they can. For example, suits done in 24 hours are usually just glued together and will fall apart the first time you take them to a dry cleaner. Choose your own fabrics (you can buy them on Thalang Rd in Phuket Town), insist on multiple fittings and check the quality of work carefully. It makes little difference which tailor shop you choose, since they're all just sales fronts for a few central sweatshops.

There are two giant shopping malls in Phuket: Central Festival, at the northwest edge of Phuket Town, and Jungceylon, in Patong.

There is a night market that opens from Th-Su, a couple of traffic lights past the Central Festival shopping mall. You can buy many things from clothes to jewellery to sunglasses. A great place to visit during your stay.

A small store without a name in Latin letters can be found on Ranong street opposite the market hall and 7-Eleven West of the small roundabout. Standard commodities can be bought there in large quantities (e.g. 12 pack of mosquito repellent, 3 pack of SPF50 sun screen, 5 pack of shower gel) for a discount.

Restaurants

Food in Phuket is surprisingly cosmopolitan, especially in Patong, as many foreigners have set up shop to cater to their fellow travellers. All the usual Thai favourites are of course still available, with a particular emphasis on seafood. See the individual town articles for detailed listings.

Phuket has its own style of preparation and cooking. Some interesting local dishes include:

  • Fried or boiled noodle dishes (หมี่ผัดหรือหมี่น้ำแบบต่าง ๆ), usually with pork or chicken, are available at many noodle shops in Phuket Town such as Mi Ton Pho, Mi Sapam, Mi Ao Ke, Mi Hun Pa Chang.
  • Khanom Jin (ขนมจีน), a version of noodles eaten at breakfast, usually served with a spicy curry sauce and fresh vegetables.
  • Nam Phrik Kung Siap (น้ำพริกกุ้งเสียบ) is a mixture of dried chili and smoked shrimp eaten with various fresh vegetables.

Cashew nuts and pineapples are grown in Phuket and available all year round. The nuts are available dried, fried, or coated. Phuket pineapples are some of the most delectable, sweet and firm available.

Sights & Landmarks

Phuket is known the world over for its beaches. There is a wide variety of beaches, some calm, some totally ruined by millions of visitors each year. But you can explore the interior of Phuket, a fertile hilly expanse that consists of mangrove forests, fishing villages, rubber and pineapple plantations, small Muslim communities and shrimp farms.

Things to do

Swimming, snorkelling, diving, yachting, sailing, jet-skiing and parasailing are among the more popular activities on the island. Other activities include freediving, windsurfing, kite surfing, wakeboarding, and deep sea fishing. Popular kite surfing locations include Nai Yang in summer and Chalong Bay in winter season. Sea canoeing is a popular activity in Phang Nga Bay, as many grottoes are only accessible by canoe. Sailing Regattas includ the Kings Cup in December, Pangna Bay Regatta normally in February and Phuket Raceweek in July.


Diving

Phuket has some decent dive sites. Most dive sites are off nearby islands, but distances are fairly short and there are dozens of dive shops and boats to cater to your needs, most based near Chalong Bay. The reefs in the area are in a healthy condition with both solid hard corals and colourful soft corals. There is also an abundance of marine life. Most of the dive locations are suitable for all levels of divers, but there are also some that are quite deep.

The most well-known dive site in the Phuket area is Racha Yai with its sloping rocky reefs and its abundance of solid coral forests. It is home to Ter Bay where there is an exciting wreck in the depths of 25–35 m. The island south of Racha Yai, Racha Noi, is a haven for experienced divers as the depths are greater and the currents stronger. The overall topography is strikingly different from Racha Yai with huge granite boulders. The diving in Racha Noi compared to Racha Yai is definitely more challenging but the rewards are greater.

Just off Phuket, is the limestone island of Ko Doc Mai that soars vertically from the seabed. It is home to a diverse fish and offers the opportunity to view leopard sharks, moray eels, octopus, and turtles. Phuket can also function as a base for dives further afield, such as Ko Phi Phi. Diving in Phuket's warm clear blue waters is best from mid-Oct-May, when the calm seas and rain-free days make Phuket diving great.

Snuba Diving is the safest and easiest way to try diving on holiday in Phuket. The word Snuba is a portmanteau of "snorkel" and "scuba". The swimmer uses swim fins, a diving mask, weights, and diving regulator as in scuba diving. The air, however, instead of coming from tanks strapped to the diver's back, comes through a long hose from tanks on pontoon rafts on the surface. No certification required, children 8+, just like scuba diving except easier. Snuba trips go to most Phuket dive sites. No heavy equipment to wear, no long classes, maximum depth of 7 m. Professional dive guides accompany each group.


Freediving

Phuket is a leading dive centre in Thailand and has recently become a freediving hotspot. It is the home of the area's only AIDA instructor training centre. Most freediving trips go out with scuba dive boats to well-trafficked dive sites, but some freediving off the beach is also possible. The local operators are usually very happy to find like-minded divers and will happily give pointers.


Muay Thai

There are many muay Thai camps on the island offering instruction to visitors. There are courses available for people of different levels of fitness, and those who train hard may be given the option to fight. Chalong Bay and Rawai especially is home to almost a dozen muay Thai gyms. If you're interested in a one day lesson or a six month training stint, it's a good place to look.


Sailing and yachting

Phuket has become a sailing and yachting centre of Thailand and adjacent countries. It's the home of Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, King's Cup Regatta, Phang Nga Bay Regatta, the Phuket International Boat Show (PIMEX), four marinas, and two yacht clubs: the Ao Chalong Yacht Club (ACYC) and the Phuket Yacht Club (PYC). Well-sheltered anchorages teem with yachts. The marinas are all on the east side of the island, which makes them an ideal starting point to explore the natural wonders of Phang Nga Bay. An entire fleet of traditional junk-rigged boats is berthed there, offering day trips.


Snorkelling

Snorkelling can be enjoyed in sheltered bays all around Phuket. It is particularly enjoyable at easily accessible reefs at Patong, Karon and Kata Beaches. Fins, mask, and snorkel can be rented on a daily basis from shops all over the island. Full and half day trips are available to the islands surrounding Phuket. Most popular are Ko Hae, Ko Racha Yai, Ko Khai (a hidden gem in Phang Nga Bay), andKo Phi Phi. There are many tours available at very cheap rates and speedboats will be filled with up to 65 people. Research your options before signing up for any tour.

Snorkelling trips to Racha & Phi Phi Islands

Agencies sell all-inclusive day trips from all over Phuket. Prices for group tours range from 1,400-3,900 baht. Quality and safety seem to correlate with prices paid. The lower-end speedboat tours take approximately 30-35 passengers per 2-engine speedboat and 50-60+ passengers on 3-engine speedboats. Very cheap tours take over 100 people in a speedboat. The higher-end tours take approx 15 to 18 passengers on 2-engine speedboats. Insist on knowing the exact number of guests that will be on the boat. Keep in mind that tour desks will tell you anything to get your money, as they receive up to 65% commissions from the lower-end tours. It is always best to contact the dive company directly to ensure that you are getting what you pay for.

The more people on the boat, the longer it takes to get on and off at each stop, thus lowering the amount of time you get to spend off the boat. A packed boat is not very fun or safe when there are large waves.

Private companies providing small group tours are few (currently only 3). Full day tour prices range from 3,200-3,900 baht (no discounts are offered. Can only be booked direct). The tours include stops at all the major sights, higher quality lunches (from picnic to seaside sit-down restaurant meals), full sets of snorkelling gear, minibus transport, fresh tropical fruits, snacks & drinks on board, foreign owner/guide, small groups, attention to safety, and national park fee. Prices vary based on services, amenities and extras are provided.

Festivals and events

  • Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon Fair (งานท้าวเทพกระษัตรี - ท้าวศรีสุนทร) is held on March 13 every year to commemorate the two great heroines who rallied the Thalang people to repel Burmese invaders.
  • Vegetarian Festival or Nine Emperor gods Festival (Hokkien Chinese language: 九皇勝會,Kiú-Hông Sēng-Huē or 九皇爺, Kiú-Hông Iâ) Phuket Chinese people Call 食菜節Tsia̍h-tshài (เทศกาลกินเจ(กินผัก-เจี๊ยะฉ่าย)) is held on the first day of the 9th Chinese lunar month (end-Sep or early-Oct). Phuket islanders of Chinese ancestry commit themselves to a 9-day vegetarian diet, a form of purification believed to help make the forthcoming year trouble-free. The festival is marked by several ascetic displays, including fire-walking and ascending sharp-bladed ladders.
  • Ghost Festival or Phóo-tōo Festival (Hokkien Chinese language: 普渡節) Full name is Û-lân-phûn Sēng-Huē (Hokkien Chinese language: 盂蘭盆勝會) is held on the middle day of the 7th Chinese lunar month. Intrinsic to the Ghost Festival is ancestor worship. Activities include preparing food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as clothes, gold, and other goods for the visiting spirits. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian) are served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family. Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving direction to lost souls.
  • Phuket King's Cup Regatta (งานแข่งเรือใบชิงถ้วยพระราชทาน) is held in December. The Kata Beach Resort hosts yachtsmen, largely from neighbouring countries who compete for trophies.
  • Laguna Phuket Triathlon (ลากูน่าภูเก็ตไตรกีฬา) is held each December. The triathlon (a 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) swim, a 55 kilometres (34 mi) bike race and a 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) run and a 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) fun run) attracts athletes from all over the world.
  • Phuket Travel Fair (เทศกาลเปิดฤดูการท่องเที่ยวจังหวัดภูเก็ต), starting 1 November, is usually called the Patong Carnival, from the place where celebrations occur. Colourful parades, sports events, and a beauty competition for foreign tourists are major activities.
  • Chao Le (Sea Gypsy) Boat Floating Festival (งานประเพณีลอยเรือชาวเล) falls during the middle of the sixth and eleventh lunar months yearly. The sea gypsy villages at Rawai and Sapam hold their ceremonies on the 13th; Ko Si-re celebrates on the 14th; and Laem La (east of the bridge on Phuket's northern tip) on the 15th. Ceremonies, which centre on the setting small boats adrift similar to the Thai festival of Loi Krathong, are held at night and their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck.
  • Phuket Bike Week is the biggest motorcycle event in Asia that is held since 1995. Motorcyclists with their motorcycles and visitors from many countries join this event in every year. The event highlights include Motorcycle Exhibition, Bike Parades “Ride for Peace”, Custom Bike contests, Live Entertainment, Miss Phuket Bike Week competition, Bike accessories and Apparel from local and international venders.

Nightlife

Phuket has a vibrant nightlife, second only to Pattaya among Thailand's beach resorts. Patong's is by far the busiest of the lot. There are plenty of other bars, discos, clubs and activities catering to every taste, from pastor to sex-tourist.

Things to know


Talk

Phuket is one of Thailand's premier tourist destinations and (basic) English is widely spoken, especially in the beach areas. That said, even a little Thai will draw smiles and can be useful in the less frequented areas of Phuket. There are also a number of Thai language courses on the island for those who wish to take their language skills to the next level.


Culture

Phuket is a melange of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims, and Moken people. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Outside of the provincial towns, the rural folk speak with a thick Southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand. The booming tourist economy over the past decade has led to a lot of the youngsters leading lives not dissimilar to those in Bangkok. Altogether, the lifestyle of the urban Thai-Chinese resembles that of their Bangkok brethren.


Cuisine

Local dishes include:

Phuket Chinese, Peranakan, and Malay Food

  • Mee Hokkien (福建麵)- Hokkien noodles
  • Hong-bah (封肉)
  • A-sam Hê (亞參蝦)- Tamarind prawns
  • Sam-bai Hê (參巴蝦)
  • Sambal goreng (參巴Goreng)
  • Tāu-iû Bah (豆油肉)- Sweet pork
  • Jiû-hû Èng-tshài (鰇魚蕹菜)- Squid morning glory
  • Po̍h-piánn (薄餅)- Spring rolls Hokkien- and Cantonese-style
  • Lóo-bah (滷肉)- Fried spicy pork
  • Iû-pn̄g (油飯)- Fried sticky rice
  • Bí-hún Bah-kut (米粉肉骨)- Rice vermicelli bone noodle soup
  • Tshá Mī-suànn (炒麵線)- Fried vermicelli
  • Ô-tāu (蚵豆)- Fried oyster with taro
  • Oo Dao (蚵豆)- Desi thalli Indian
  • Steak (牛扒)- Chinese Steak

Desserts

  • Tāu-sòo Piánn (豆素餅)
  • Âng-ku Kué (紅龜粿)- Red turtle sticky rice cake
  • Tinn-Kué (甜粿)- Chinese year cake
  • Tsut-bí Ka-ia̍h (糯米咖椰)- Sticky rice with egg custard
  • Kue Talam
  • Kue Bengka
  • Káu-tsân Kué (九層粿)
  • Pak Thong Ko (白糖糕)- White sugar sponge cake
  • Huat-kué (發粿)
  • Kue Ape - Malay-style pancake
  • Bán-tsian Kué (曼煎粿)
  • Phàng-piánn (胖餅)
  • Ke-nn̄g Ko (雞卵糕)- Egg cake

Safety in Phuket

Stay Safe

Stay safe

Particularly in the summer monsoon season, there are strong currents on many of the beaches and drownings are a depressingly common occurrence. Four tourists died during a single 3-day stretch in Jun 2009. Heed the warning flags on popular beaches and play it safe if off the beaten track.

Crime as of late has definitely increased in the Phuket area among farangs (Westerners) and you should keep this in mind and be vigilant of anyone who wants to befriend you or trick you into gambling (which is illegal) or anything else you consider out of the ordinary. Katoeys (ladyboys) are notorious for pick-pocketing as you walk around the tourist areas at night. Also muggings do take place on a regular basis. Avoid walking down unlit sois; stick to the main roads. If something looks/sounds too good to be true, it surely is.

Tourist police can be contacted locally by dialing 1155. They have a good basic understanding of English (many are farangs), so if you're in trouble these people should be contacted first. Thai police speak hardly any English and normally take the side of the locals even if at fault. Always insist on the Tourist Police if you have any run-in with the Thai Police. Use only metered taxis and ask hotels to call, take down driver license plate and taxi license number before you get in. You can use the receipt from a taxi to complain to police or find lost property, so take a receipt and license numbers.


Stay healthy

Tap water should be regarded as non-potable. Liquids from sealed bottles nearly always are, and should be used wherever possible, for example, when brushing your teeth. Bars and restaurants universally purchase ice made from purified water.

Hospitals

  • Bangkok Hospital Phuket (โรงพยาบาลกรุงเทพภูเก็ต),  1719, +66 76 354062.
  • Mission Hospital (โรงพยาบาลมิชชั่น),  +66 76 23722026fax: +66 76 211907. Emergency call 076 237227.
  • Patong-Kathu Hospital (โรงพยาบาลป่าตอง-กะทู้),  +66 76 342633-4fax: +66 76 340617. Emergency call 076 340444.
  • Thalang Hospital (โรงพยาบาลถลาง),  +66 76 311111, +66 76 311033.
  • Vachira Phuket Hospital (โรงพยาบาลวชิระภูเก็ต),  1669, +66 76 361234fax: +66 76 211155.

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