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Phuket - Thailand

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Phuket Island

Phuket means crystal mountain, from the Malayan word bookit (bukit) and there are indeed many high mountains on Phuket.
Phuket was also known as The Junk Ceylon, which, with variations, is the name found on most old maps.

Phuket Island is Thailand's largest island and it is connected to mainland at Phang Nga Province by the Sarasin Bridge and it is considerably more developed than any other island in Thailand. Phuket is located 850 km south of Bangkok. It is 50 km long north to south and 21 km wide. The terrain is incredible varied with high mountains (highest peak is 529 meter), rocky headlands, long sandy beaches, tropical vegetation and rubber plantations.
Phuket town itself is an interesting place blending Portuguese and Thai architecture, with some good restaurants and reasonably priced accommodation.

Phuket Province also has a number of offshore islands worth visiting and it is also one of the departure points to the fantastic Similan Islands. Phuket Province is very wealthy by Thai standards and this is reflected in the decent roads all over the island. In the center of the island there is one of Phuket's last remaining rain forest's and also a Gibbon RehabilitationCentere, both well worth visiting.

Phuket has a population of 292,245 (end 2005) with around 63,000 living in Phuket Town. Before the tourist industry was developed (from mid 70's) Phuket was known for tin mining and rubber production.

Nowadays the tourist industry is the biggest income source and the tourists are concentrated at certain beaches, Patong, Karon and Kata Beach. There are in total 17 sandy beaches many of them untouched by the tourist industry. If you want to experience the original Thailand you do not need to go far from the touristic areas. Some people find Phuket very exploited and to touristic but usually they have never been outside Patong and they belive that the beach on Phuket is named Patong. Don't make that mistake. Its very easy to explore the natural wonders of Phuket. Just to visit the 17 Beaches will keep you busy for more than one week.


Weather

Phuket's weather is influenced by monsoon wind, warm humid but pleasant all year long. There are only two seasons. The rainy season lasts from May to October and the dry season from November to April. There is generally a mini-high season in June/July or July/August. Visiting Phuket during the monsoon season is NOT unpleasant because most days are rain-free except for showers in the afternoon.
Phuket averages 2540 mm of rain each year.
Statistics about the weather.

Swimming

Every beach on the west coast of Phuket offers excellent conditions for swimming and bathing. But please be aware that there sometimes during the monsoon season (April-October) are strong currents. Red flags tell you that the beach isn't safe for swimming. Ask the life guards if you are unsure. There are always parts of the beach that are more safe/dangerous. If you are caught in a strong current, do not swim against the current, try to get out of it. Swim along the beach instead.

Nude bathing is neither allowed or popular in Thailand, so you won't find any nude beaches on Phuket. Women are advised to keep their top on! Showing the body naked or half-naked is something you don't do in public. Please respect this Thai custom! Many Thais even keep their clothes on when they take a swim, especially in non-tourist areas.

Patong Beach

patong.gif - 31311 Bytes Patong Beach is the most famous of Phuket's beaches and it has the largest concentration of tourists. It is located on the West Coast of Phuket. The tropical beach is 4 km long deep inside a protective bay, ringed with high green lush green mountains. The white sand and the water is very clean despite this is the most developed beach on the island. The bungalow complexes, restaurants, shops and vibrant nightspots appealing to all tastes are lined up to the seafront. This beach is not recommended for those in search of solitude, but definitely suitable for those looking for a lively holiday, this is the party beach. There is a wide variety of Beer bars, Discotek, Cabaret shows and go-go bars. Patong also has a very lively gay scene, concentrated to Paradise complex area on Rath-U-thit Road in front of Royal Paradise Hotel.

Rawai Beach


Situated 17 km to the south of Phuket town. Many locals go to this beach for the excellent and cheap Thai food available here. This long quiet beach is an ideal place to stay if planning an offshore jaunt to Ko Hae (Coral Island), Ko Bon, and Ko Lone. It is also close to the spectacular cape Laem Promthep and Wat Chalong. There are a number of nicer beaches also within easy striking distance of Rawai. Rawai is about a 20 minute bike ride from Phuket town or can be reached by bus from Phuket town.

Nai Harn Beach


This very nice beach with crystal clear water on the south end of Phuket is home to the prestigious Phuket Yacht Club. Before the explosion of tourism you could find very cheap backpacker huts here and you can still find some reasonable priced places to stay. This beach is still neither touristic nor crowded. The middle of the beach is dominated by the Samnak Song Nai Han monastery, which has obstructed excessive development.

Kata Beach

kata.jpg - 86779 Bytes Of Phuket's highly developed beaches (Kata, Karon and Patong), Kata 17 km from Phuket town, is probably the quietest. The beach is split in two with Kata Noi to the south and the much longer Kata Yai to the north. Kata Yai is the home of Club Med, and Kata Noi has a number of very up-market places as well. Both the beaches are nice and the water crystal clear. You have many restaurants to chose from and some entertainment. A couple of Phukets most exclusive restaurants, the Boat house and Gallery grill are also found here. More quiet than Patong and Karon.

Karon Beach


South of Patong is Karon Beach, the second largest of Phuket's tourist beaches. The majority of package tour tourists will end up on this beach. Large resort complexes line the road behind of the shoreline, but the long, broad beach itself has no development. The sand is very white, and squeaks audibly when walked upon. The southern point has a fine coral reef stretching toward Kata Beach. There is a regular daytime bus service to and from Phuket Town.

Ka Lim Beach

Is the continuation of Patong Beach on the northern coastline just north of the rocky cliffs that separate it from Patong beach. Ka Lim is a small charming beach with rocky points and coral. Ka Lim is a quiet alternative to the busy Patong Beach, yet conveniently near to tourist services and night life.

Laem Sing

leamsingwide.jpg - 15085 Bytes North the coastline after Ka Lim is a beautiful small beach without bungalows or hotels, only a few small restaurants huts. You can go here by boat from Patong or climb down from the road on the hill top if you are going by motorbike or car. This is the most beautiful beach on Phuket yet very near to Patong, only 15 minutes by tuk-tuk or motorbike. The name means Lion's Point but so far I have never seen any lions here.

Freedom Beach

A ride in a long tail boat from Patong Beach out and around the headland on the southern tip of Patong Beach brings you to one of the most beautiful and isolated beaches on Phuket. This is an isolated private beach with dazzling white sand and a small restaurant that is open the public, but the owner drives off visitors arriving by jet ski. The coral reefs are among the best on the island so don't forget your mask and fins. When you want to go to Freedom Beach ask one of the locals on Patong beach about renting longtaill boat and soon the owner will appear and you can bargain for a price.

Kamala Beach and Phuket FantaSea

kamalabeach.jpg - 25593 Bytes Phuket FantaSea entertainment complex Phuket FantaSea's attractions combines Thai culture with high-tech special effects in culture shows, magical illusions, circus acts, indoor pyrotechnics and four-dimensional in-theatre effects. The construction of FantaSea World on Kamala Beach begun with a 1.6 Billion Baht budget. The opening was targeted for December 1997 but the economic downturn and weakened Baht boosted the cost to at least 3.3 Billion Baht. The grand opening of Phuket FantaSea was held in January 1999. The tourism industry hopes "Amazing Thailand" will attract 3.5 million foreign visitors to Phuket and that 2.4 million of them will visit FantaSea. Kamala beach itself is 2 km long with soft white sand.

Surin Beach

surin.jpg - 24706 BytesThis very nice beach is worthwhile a day trip from Kama or Patong as the beach has a number of good restaurants to choose from and the water is very clear. You are also allowed to camp on the beach for free. On Sundays a lot of Thai locals go here for a picnic on the beach.

Bang Tao Beach

This is one of Phuket's longest beaches dominated by the Laguna Complex. It was once used for tin mining, but has since been developed into a luxury resort with no less then 5 high class hotels with golf course and. There are, however, alternative accommodations available outside Laguna at the bay's south end.

Nai Thong Beach

naithon.jpg - 21633 Bytes Naithon Beach is 400 meters long and usually safe to swim at even during monsoon. White and clean sand and only a few trees where you can search for shade from the sun. All buildings are separated from the beach by the road. Very quiet, No shopping, No entertainment only a few restaurants and only one resort. Next to Nai Thong are three beautiful, secluded beaches. This is one alternative if you are looking for a quiet and secluded holiday.

Nai Yang Beach


This 13 km long and unspoiled beach south from Sarasin Bridge is a part of Nai Yang National Park. It was established on 13 July 1981, and cover 90 sq. km. On 13 April every year there is a turtle release festival when baby turtles are related back to the sea by Fisheries Department. At the same place throughout November to March turtles come here to lay eggs.

Mai Kaho Beach


This is Phuket's northernmost and largest beach with no real development. The turtle releasing festival also takes place here so it is worth coming up in mid April. Ask at the National Park Office for further details.

Festivals

January/February Chinese New Year (new moon)
February/March Makha Bucha (full moon)
April 12th -14th Songkran (old Thai New Year)
Mid May Wisakha Bucha (full moon)
Mid/Late July Asaraha Bucha and Khao Phansaa (full moon)
September/October Vegetarian Festival, Phuket
November Loy Krathong (full moon)
December 5th Kings Birthday

Post Office

The main Post Office is located along Rath-U-Thit Road, almost accross Aroonson Plaza. Weekdays open until 15.30. Saturday until ??. Closed Sundays.

Telephone and fax services

Available at all the major hotels, but they are quite expensive. There are a also a lot of shops around Patong offering communication services.

Dial 001 for international call followed by country code, area code and telephone number.
Country code for Thailand is 66.
Area code for Phuket is 076.
Area code for Bangkok is 02.

Tourist Police

There is a special Tourist Police in all major tourist areas. They will assure your visit is as safe and as pleasant as possible. Most tourist police will speak English and a few will speak Japanese or other European languages. If you become involved in a dispute during your stay and do not feel you are being treated fairly, call 1699 for the Tourist Police. They are very familiar with all the local scams, and the operators who run them.

Emergency telephone numbers

  • Ambulance - 212 297
  • Fire - 199, 211 111
  • Immigration - 212 108
  • Marine Police/Sea rescue - 211 883
  • Patong Hospital - 340 444
  • Phuket International Hospital - emergencies 210 935
  • Police emergency - 191
  • Tourist police - 1699

 
 

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