Phuket has a fantastic array of attractions. From natural to man-made, from land-based to water activities, there's always something to see and do on Phuket Island. The beauty of it all is that these wonders are all within a short driving or sailing distance from each other. There are weird and wonderful museums, remarkable religious and cultural structures, exotic shows, vibrant nightlife and some beautiful beaches on which to enjoy the soft white sand, tropical surf and the amazing scenery.
Phuket's reputation as a partying hotspot is well-deserved and agreed by an international crowd of revellers who descend on the island. With go-go bars, ladyboy cabaret shows, discos and clubs, live bands and international DJs, there's everything that makes Thailand's party scene famous the world over. While most parts of the island have their own small party scene, the place to be after dark is Bangla Road in Patong, with its bright neon lights, loud music and crowds of young party-lovers.
Phuket has a great variety of shopping, from bustling open-air village markets, noisy night markets, and street stalls to western-style department stores and upmarket specialist shops. Prices naturally vary, going from amazing bargains to credit card-melting designer labels.
With traditional handicrafts, beautifully designed clothing, jewellery, antiques, homeware and much more to choose from, the only thing you'll regret about shopping in Phuket is that you didn't bring a bigger suitcase!
If you love food, you will love Phuket. There are restaurants to suit every taste, serving a huge selection of western and Asian food. The variety of cuisine and dining experiences is one of the major attractions of the island. You can eat breakfast at your hotel, lunch at a local noodle stall, and have dinner with fine wines in a sophisticated air-conditioned restaurant.
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. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ships' logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English traders, but was never colonised by a European power. It formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber and now from tourism.
Phuket is hot and humid throughout the year. The hot season is generally considered to be from March to early May. During the summer monsoon season from May to October, mornings and afternoons are still sunny and clear, but it tends to rain in the evenings and water clarity goes down. Locals consider November to February the "cool" season, and the weather is quite tolerable, much more so than in the tourism centres around the Gulf coast. It's comparable to Florida's summer weather in temperature and intensity of rain storms: 25-33°C, flying clouds, short and thunderous rainfalls in the afternoons and evenings. Surfing is possible off the western beaches.
Phuket is among the world’s finest beach destinations, with fine white sands, nodding palm trees, glittering seas and lively towns. It has something for a wide array of tastes and budgets, with hundreds of hotels to choose from, an eclectic choice of dining and plenty of partying options. Aside from visiting the fantastic attractions of Thailand’s biggest island, you can take an exhilarating speedboat trip to the many nearby tropical islands, including the famous Koh Phi Phi, or enjoy a serene cruise around the mystical Phang Nga Bay.
Phuket is blessed with more than 30 amazing beaches to choose from. Patong Beach, Kata, Karon and Kamala have always been the most popular, but the north of the island reveals some hidden gems for travellers searching for a more romantic atmosphere.
• Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon Fair is held on March 13 every year to commemorate the two heroines who rallied the Thalang people to repel Burmese invaders.
• Vegetarian Festival or Nine Emperor gods Festival Phuket Chinese people Call Tsia̍h-tshài 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 nine-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 Festival 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-mache 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 is held every December. The Kata Beach Resort hosts yachtsmen, largely from neighboring countries who compete for trophies.
• Laguna Phuket Triathlon is held each December. The triathlon (a 1,800 meters (5,900 ft) swim, a 55 kilometers (34 mi) bike race and a 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) run and a 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) fun run) attracts athletes from all over the world.
• Phuket Travel Fair starting 1 November, is usually called the Patong Carnival, from the place where celebrations occur. Colorful parades, sports events, and a beauty competition for foreign tourists are major activities. A popular festival, the Patong Carnival opening drew over 30,000 foreign and Thai tourists.
• Chao Le (Sea Gypsy) Boat Floating Festival 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 center 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. Motorcyclists with their motorcycles and visitors from many countries join this event in every year. The event highlights include a 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.
Festivals in Phuket are exciting, sometimes bizarre spectacles and certainly never bland. The island's most distinctive event is the annual Vegetarian Festival, featuring processions of god-mediums performing shocking acts of self-mortification as a test of faith. This bazaar of the bizarre is held annually over 9 days in the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
Lively and colourful events that are unique to Phuket include the Phuket King's Cup Regatta and Phuket Bike Week, while others, such as Loy Kratong and Songkran, Chinese New Year, are part of nationwide celebrations. The island gets busy during festival times so be sure to book your hotel well in advance.
Phuket has a tropical monsoonal climate. It's warm year-round, but it’s hottest from April to May and from September to October. The September–October period is also the wettest, thanks to the south-west monsoon.
Thanks to its position in the Andaman Sea, Phuket weather is mostly mild. The island avoids the majority of the typhoons and tropical storms which occasionally batter Hong Kong and the Philippines. Heavy rains in September and October can cause minor disruptions. Even so, it's rare to see several days of bad weather. Note that online weather forecasts are always on the pessimistic side – a whole week with the thunderstorm icon doesn't mean it will rain all day!
Phuket's Bangla Road really comes to life after sunset, when the road is closed to traffic and becomes a 400-metre festival of neon lights, loud music and cheap beer. Jammed most nights of the year, it's quite a friendly and lively place to walk around, with dozens of bars and clubs competing with each other for customers.
Beer bars occupy most of the street's length, with several go-go bars and a few pubs, restaurants, discos and shops rounding out the attractions, both on Soi Bangla and down its side streets. Street performances are also common most nights, which can make dodging around the tailor shop salesmen, leaflet distributors, street vendors and ping-pong show touts more difficult, but it is all part of the fun.
There are no direct rail services to Phuket.However, many trains leave from Bangkok's central station going south all the way to Singapore. The most comfortable are the sleeper trains (c. 685 baht for a berth in a 2nd class air-con car. Get off at Phun Phin railway station near Surat Thani 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. See Surat Thani for more details.
The compact Phuket International Airport (IATA: HKT) is in the north of the island, and is Thailand's second largest hub, second only to Bangkok. There are very frequent flights to and 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.
6 hospitals exist in Phuket. The main hospital in Phuket operated by the Ministry of Public Health is Vachira Phuket Hospital, with smaller hospitals at Thalang and Patong. 3 Private hospitals exist which are Phuket International Hospital, Bangkok Hospital Phuket and Mission Hospital Phuket.
To reach for the city of Bangkok there are two main airports, one running in the North and another from the East of Bangkok. It is the Suvarnabhumi Airport that locates itself 25 km to the east and the Don Muang Airport located 24 km to the north catering to domestic and international flights in abundance.
Suvarnabhumi airport has direct and easy connectivity to the city by taxis, buses, and Airport Rail Link that is a high-speed train service in downtown Bangkok. There will be round the clock availability of roadway services from outside both the airports to drop you to your final destination.
The roadway services offer you with buses and taxis that get you wherever you wish to be in Bangkok. There are three bus terminals considered to be the major ones, the Northern Bus Terminal- Mochit, the Eastern Bus Terminal-Ekkamai, and the Southern Bus Terminal-Sa Tai.
The buses will take you not just round the city but also to Pattaya, Krabi, Phuket, etc. cities neighbouring Bangkok. If looking out for taxi services, then do know that the taxis run according to the metered price so confirm the prices before the journey.
Bangkok has great rail connectivity throughout Thailand and also to other neighbouring countries. Hua Lamphong serves as the main railway station of the city to travel to neighbouring countries and many other parts of Thailand. There is another railway station, Thornburi station that connects the city from within for travelling to the local parts of the city.
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