Phuket in southern Thailand is a province; the main island and over 30 smaller ones off coast. It is in the west within the Andaman Sea and is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge. It is 576 square kilometres and hence one of the country’s smallest provinces. It has been a trading post for years with its wealth coming from rubber and tin and its connections with both India and China.
The tsunami in 2004 caused extensive damage though deaths, 250, were much lighter than they might have been. Life returned to normal within a few months with little or no evidence that anything ever happened. The population of approaching 600,000 is an estimate because official figures only include Thai nationals. There is a significant Chinese, Burmese and ex pat. population.
The interior is mostly mountainous though the highest peak is just 530 metres. Rubber and palm oil plantations are widespread on the island whose main income now is tourism.
How to get there
Phuket has its own international airport accepting direct tourist flights from many places. Bangkok is almost 900 kilometres to the north with connection via domestic flights or road.Indochina tour packages often include Phuket within the Thailand leg of the holiday.
Best time to visit Phuket
Phuket is relatively close to the equator so there is little temperature variation. It is usually just above 30C and rarely any lower than 25C. December to March is the dry season with rain the other 8 months yet tourists on holiday in Thailand visit all twelve months of the year.
Things to see and do in Phuket
The best beaches are on the west coast has several sandy beaches with Patong the most popular but it will be crowded. Others to look for are to its south, Karon, Kata, Kata Noi and further down Nai Harn and Rwaai beaches.
The Sirinat National Park is in the northwest and includes Nai Yang Beach a sea turtle nesting site.
Several small coral islands are worth a visit as well as other less developed islands; Bon Island, the Similan Islands and the Phi Islands.
There are some historical and cultural things for enthusiasts:
• Two Heroines Monument remembers two heroines Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon who led islanders in 1785 against Burmese invaders.
• Thalang National Museum close by opened on the 200th anniversary of the Thalang War. There is a permanent exhibition of old Phuket.
• Old Phuket Town boasts architecture in Sino-Portuguese-style.
• Vegetarian Festival or Nine Emperor Gods Festival is held in late September or early October
• Ghost Festival or Phóo-tōo Festival worships ancestors and is held in the 7th lunar month.
ThisThailand travel guide confirms that there are guesthouses and hotels to satisfy the huge demand for rooms. Those on Thailand tour packages will be given a choice of grade when selecting their holiday and that will be confirmed before arrival. Phuket is certainly an important part of a tour of the whole of this popular country.