The dream of an idyllic escape into a tropical island world becomes a reality on Phuket, Thailand's southern paradise isle.
Shaped like an irregular pearl and measuring approximately 21 kilometres wide by 48 kilometres long, Phuket is Thailand's largest island, a province in its own right. Sparsely populated outside Phuket town, the landscape is one of lush green hills, coconut groves, rubber plantations and a coastline dotted with a dozen spectacular beaches. Unspoilt stretches of fine white sand are found along the entire west coast of the island. Each sun-drenched beach has a character and charm of its own, and is separated from its neighbors by picturesque headlands and backdrops of wooded hills. Lapping the shore are the sparkling warm blue waters of the Andaman Sea.
Located off the southwest coast, just an hour's flight from Bangkok, Phuket is linked to the mainland by a causeway and is thus accessible by road as well as by air. Thai International operates many daily flights from Bangkok, while Phuket is also an international airport and has direct air links with Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Europe. Alternatively there are overnight bus services from Bangkok
Phuket is Thailand's largest island, and is approximately the size of Singapore. Phuket nestles in balmy Andaman Sea waters on Thailand's Indian Ocean coastline 867 kilometres south of Bangkok.
Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed 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 logs. The Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traded with Phuket. Other visitors were less friendly.
Phuket's most famous monument is the memorial statue of the heroines Thao Thepkasattri and Thao Sisunthon, who rallied islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders.
Phuket is blessed with magnificent coves and bays, and powdery, palm-fringed beaches; sparkling island-dotted seas; sincerely hospitable people; superb accommodation and seafood; delightful turn-ofthe-century Sino-Portuguese architecture; numerous sporting and leisure opportunities; a lush tropical landscape -- all of which combine to create a delightful ambience for truly memorable holidays.
Phuket has two major seasons: the Rains Season from May through October, and the Hot Season from November through April. There are many sunny days throughout the Rains Season: showers customarily last little more than 2 or 3 hours. September is the wettest month. The best months are November through February. Average temperatures range between 22 and 34 degrees Celsius.
The compact provincial capital serves mainly as a dormitory and commercial and shopping centre. Splendid colonial-style residences built by late 19th-century tin and rubber barons, and shophouses from the same period, with shaded walkways, provide distinctive character.
Chinese Vegetarian Festival
Each year, beginning on the first day of the 9th lunar month (usually October), 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.
King's Cup Regatta
Early each December, the Phuket Yacht Club hosts international yachtsmen, largely from neighbouring countries who compete in the Nai Han Beach area for royal trophies
Each December, the triathalon (a 1,000- metre swim, a 5-kilometre bike race and a 12-kilometre run) attracts world-class athletes from all over the worrld and qualifies winners for the prestigious Hawaii ironman Triathalon.
How To Get There
Thai Airways operates daily jet flights between Bangkok and Phuket. There are further domestic connections with Surat Thani and Hat Yai. Phuket also enjoys international connections with Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan a Hong Kong and Australia. Reservations may be made in Bangkok (Tel: 280-0060 and 628-2000), and in Phuket (Tel: 211-195, 212-946, 212-499 and 216-755) for both domestic and international flights.
Bangkok Airways (Tel: Phuket (076) 225- 033-4, Bangkok: 229-3434, 229-3456, 535-2429, 535-3756) offers direct flights linking Phuket with Ko Samui, the principal island in the Thai Gulf.
Orient Thai Airlines (Tel: Phuket (076) 232-302-3, 327-270-1, Bangkok: 267-3210-5, 535-2021-2) offers direct flights linking Phuket with Bangkok.
Airconditioned coaches and non-airconditioned buses leave Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal every day. For further details, please contact Bangkok 435-1200, 434-3233, 435-3018.
From Bangkok, take Highway 4 through Nakhon Pathom, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, thence through Ranong province's Kraburi and Kaper districts, Phangnga province's Takua Pa and Takua Tung districts and onto Phuket island across the Thao Thepkasattri Bridge. The total distance is 867 kilometres.
Foreign and domestic cruise ships frequently berth at the Port of Phuket at Ao Makham, and off Patong Beach, yachts at Ao Chalong, the Phuket Lagoon Marina and the Laem Prao marina.
Please note that all pleasure boats and yachts arriving at Phuket must stop first and register with ther Immigration Office and Customs Office, and with the Harbour Office within 24 hours of arrival
Cultivated pearls, batiks and pewterware are Phuket's best known products. Shops specialising in such products are found on Rasada, Phangng, Yanwarat, Montri and Tilok Utit 2 roads in town, and on tourist beaches such as Patong, Kata, Karon and Rawai.
Polite behaviour is welcomed everywhere. What is considered polite in other countries is probably considered polite in Thailand, too. However, there are a few cultural pitfalls, mainly social and religious taboos, the breaking of which can cause offence. For example, visitors should dress neatly in all religious shrines. They should never go shirtless, or in shorts, hot pants or other unsuitable attire.
Shoes should be removed when entering private Thai homes, chapels where Buddha images are kept, and any of the Islamic community's mosques. diving equipment is available for hire.
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Phuket Office : 73-75 Phuket Road Phuket 83000
Tel: (076) 212-213, (076) 211-036, Fax: (076) 213-582
Krabi Information Centre
Tel: (075) 612-740