Phuket Thailand Travel Guide
Phuket Thailand, a rain forested, mountainous island in the Andaman Sea, has some of Thailand’s most popular beaches, mostly situated along the clear waters of the western shore. The island is home to many high-end seaside resorts, spas and restaurants. Phuket City, the capital, has old shophouses and busy markets. Patong, the main resort town, has many nightclubs, bars and discos.
Phuket thailand 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 colourful 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.
Phuket Thailand offers a rainbow spectrum of spectacular holiday sights from blue lagoons and pink sunsets to orange-robed monks. Three wheeled-Tuk Tuks, taxis, buses and long tailed boats transport visitors between these marvels. Phuket’s south coast offers its most popular beaches. The north is more tranquil. Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Patong Beach are popular spots. Diving, snorkeling, wind surfing and sailing are just a few active options. Inland, forested hills, mountains and cliffs wait to be explored.
How to reach Phuket
The Phuket International Airport is the second busiest airport of Thailand after the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. There are two terminals in the airport; Terminal 1 is used for international flights while Terminal 2 is used for domestic flights. The airport is well-connected to Bangkok with daily flights. There are also direct flights to India, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany, among other countries. Some of the airlines with frequent routes between India and Phuket are Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways.
Buses to other regions of Thailand including Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Na and Surat Thani operate at the BKS terminal located just off Thanon Phang Nga in Phuket Town. Buses from the Southern Bus Terminal of Bangkok to Phuket are the most reliable and convenient way of travelling between the two cities and take up to 13 hours to reach Phuket. Both air-conditioned as well as non-air-conditioned bus are available at different prices.
Although there are no direct trains to Phuket, one can travel on trains going from Bangkok to Singapore and get off at Phun Phin railway station. Phuket is another 5 hours by bus from Phun Phin, which is located in the Surat Thani Province of Thailand.
Going Around Phuket
Songthaews are the most common mode of transport in Phuket thailand. They are basically pick-up trucks with two wooden benches for seating on either side of van. Songthaews travel on almost all routes particularly from Phuket Town to the beaches. But they don’t go from one beach to another. They don’t have any fixed stops, and pick and drop passengers as requested.
One can catch Songthaews from the local bus terminal at Ranong Road in Phuket Town. These ply from 7 am until 6:00 p.m. and fares range from 25 THB to 40 THB depending on the distance travelled.
Tuk-tuks are small minivans usually coloured in red or sometimes in yellow. They don’t have meters so you must make sure you negotiate on a price before getting on it or you could end up paying a lot more than you should be.
Metered yellow and red taxis are a cheap and dependable mode of transport in Phuket thailand but there are very few of them so you might not be able to find one easily. They are safer and more comfortable than tuk-tuks but you may need to bargain during peak tourist season. You can ask your hotel for the number of a metered taxi.
Motorcycles are easily available on rent in the Patong area of Phuket Thailand. These rentals are quite reasonable and fares vary depending on the type of vehicle. For instance, a 100cc Honda scooter can be hired for 150 THB to 200 THB per day. Don’t forget to negotiate for discounts and do wear a helmet to avoid being fined 500 THB. Also, it’s advised to carefully examine the bike before hiring it so that you don’t get charged for pre-existing damage. You can also take a ride on motorbike taxis known as motosai. While these are one of the cheapest modes of transport, they aren’t the most comfortable.
If you want to go island hopping, you can take a longtail boat from one island to another. While you can haggle for a good price, the cost should be about 500 THB per hour or 1,800 THB for a day. They’re not usually equipped with life-jackets so be careful if you’re with children or non-swimmers.
Thailand follows left-hand drive and although the roads are generally in good conditions, the standard of driving can be chaotic. Traffic is similar to that on Indian roads as is the disregard for following road rules.
To rent a self-drive car, you’ll need to put down a security deposit and also present a valid driver’s license from your home country. Another option available is renting private motorcycles and scooters from shops around Phuket. Locals are more than willing and since there’s no fixed price, bargaining is key. Most shopfronts have signs advertising car or motorcycle rentals so they’re easy to spot.
Phuket Thailand Climate
It is warm in Phuket Thailand all year round with temperatures ranging between 25 – 34°C (77 – 93°F). Phuket’s weather is typically divided into two distinct seasons, dry and rainy, with transitional periods in between. The seasons are dictated by the tropical monsoon, which is characterised by prevailing winds that blow from the northeast for half the year, then reverse and blow from the southwest, producing a dry season and a wet season.
The dry season begins in December and usually lasts until March. The northeast monsoondraws cool, dry air from the Asian continent resulting in a slight drop in temperature. This is the high season for tourism in Phuket, when the climate is at its best, characterized by gentle breezes, calm seas and clear blue skies. It is also the coolest time of year.
The transitional periods last a month or so. During these periods the weather is often hard to predict. The period before the rainy season, around April – May, is the hottest time of year. There may be a lot of rain or none at all. The October – November transition is cooler and usually quite wet.
The rainy season begins in June and lasts until October. When people talk about the monsoon season, they are referring to the southwest monsoon period, which is the rainy season. The strong winds bring warm moist air from the Indian Ocean and plenty of rain. This is Phuket’s low season. The average rainfall in Phuket is about 2500mm or about 100 inches, with the vast majority of it falling within this period. Its hot, humid and wet!
Another aspect of the southwest monsoon is that the seas around the island can be quite rough. Two-metre seas are typical, with many rain squalls. This affects boat tours and ferries, often prohibiting boat trips to other islands. Stirred silt reduces visibility for divers, and although visibility can sometimes be good, stormy seas often prevent diving at exposed sites. For liveaboards, there are dive companies that operate excursions during the rainy season, however, these are not very regular and dependent on the weather.
On the plus side, the lower volume of tourists during this period means that prices plummet, and there are many bargains to be had. Hotel rates are often half that of the high season.
As the weather during the rainy season is by no means unpleasant, this can be ideal for the traveller on a budget or who simply wishes to avoid the crowds during the high season. There can be periods of several days that are dry, and when it does rain it is very unusual for it to rain all day.
Extra care should be taken when swimming in the sea from May – October due to strong currents and rough surf
Things to do in Phuket Thailand
(The places mentioned are random and are not according to popularity)
Far be it from us to tell you what to do in Phuket Thailand, but there are some gems that you really should not miss out on seeing, while on your visit here. And we don’t mean the kind sold at the jewellers… Phuket’s great advantage is that there’s always something to do on and off the island, whether it’s raining or shining. From the sublime to the seemingly profane, the range of activities and places to visit is remarkable for a destination of this size. Here are our Top 10 ‘Must See’ choices If you only get through half of these destinations you’ll have had an unforgettable holiday. Go for it…
01 Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is a bay between Phuket Thailand, Phang Nga and Krabi known for its limestone rock formations. Most visitors explore the area in a one-day tour, but some larger islands have accommodation available. Phang Nga Bay is one of the most beautiful bays of Thailand. It is famous for its gravity-defying limestone formations, including James Bond Island.
Tour operators organise many different tours and most of them follow the standard route around the bay passing weird rock formations, limestone outcrops, hidden lakes, tiny beaches and caves. Tours usually go to Khao Ping Gan (Leaning Rock) which was featured in the James Bond movie The Man With the Golden Gun as Scaramanga’s hideaway. Ko Tapu in front of the James Bond Island is a popular rock. It is often used as a symbol of Phang Nga. Beware that on “the” James Bond Island, the beach is littered with trinket vendors trying to sell you something and the experience of seeing the island may be somewhat disappointing and diluted.
02 Old Phuket Thailand Town
Phuket Thailand town could be seen as the less visited cousin of the famous beaches of Phuket, but there is plenty that will occupy your time and attention in this old town full of heritage buildings. It is a mix of old and new, history and heritage all rolled out to be adored and considered, whilst existing as a backdrop to a modern day hustle of commerce, street markets and great little hidden eateries. The architecture harkens back to a day when wealth ruled the town, provided by the mining activities of nearly 100 years ago. Sino-Portuguese influence is common to see around Yaowarat Rd, Phangnga Rd, Thalang Rd, Krabi Rd and Dibuk Rd. Shops are of a typical Thai style, having not much street frontage and stretching deeply into the back. Many, especially on Dibuk Road, have old wooden doors with Chinese fretwork carving. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore shrines and temples (Buddhist and Chinese) that are dotted throughout the old town.
03 Bangala road
Bangla Road really comes to life once the sun sets. The road is closed to vehicle traffic and becomes a 400 metre festival of neon lights, loud music and cheap beer. Jammed most nights of the year, it is quite a friendly and lively place to walk around as bars and clubs compete with each other for customers. If you’re looking for a fun night out in Phuket Thailand, Bangla Road should be your first (and, often, only) stop. Almost all of the bars are outdoors or open-fronted, so the music from each one blends into a mess of mixed beats. 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.
04 Big Buddha Phuket
The remote Po Lin Monastery, hidden away by lush mountains, became a popular attraction when the extraordinary Tian Tan Buddha statue (informally known as the Big Buddha) was erected in 1993. Sitting 34 metres high and facing north to look over the Chinese people, this majestic bronze Buddha draws pilgrims from all over Asia.
The eyes, lips, incline of the head and right hand, which is raised to deliver a blessing to all, combine to bring a humbling depth of character and dignity to the massive Buddha, which took 12 years to complete. Climb the 268 steps for a closer look at this remarkable statue, and to enjoy the sweeping mountain and sea views that can be seen from its base.
05 Wat Chalong Phuket
Wat Chalong, or Chalong Temple, built at the beginning on 19th century, Its real name is Wat Chaiyathararam, but you probably won’t see it on any road signs.
Wat Chalong ( Chalong Temple ) is the largest of Phuket’s temples, and the most visited. Locals and many Thai tourists come to pray and pay respects to several revered monks who were the founders of Wat Chalong, among them Luang Pho Cham and Luang Pho Chuang, 2 monks, who led the citizens of Chalong Sub district fighting against the Chinese rebellion in 1876 and with their knowledge of herbal medicine helped the injured.
The most recent building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall ‘Chedi’ sheltering a splinter of bone from Buddha. Walls and ceilings are decorated with beautiful painting illustrating the life of Buddha, as well as many donated golden statues. Wat Chalong Chedi is built on three floors so feel free to climb all the way to the top floor terrace to get a nice bird view on the entire temple grounds.
06 Simon Cabaret Show
It’s a spectacular display of colour, originality and fun. Phuket’s Simon Cabaret has become one of Southeast Asia’s outstanding entertainment attractions drawing a thousand enthused visitors from around the world each evening. A single show runs the entire range of musical theatre from cultures around the world. Extravagant costumes, make-up and sets take the audience from Egypt to Latin America to China and back to Phuket Thailand in themed displays of classical dance and song.
07 Phi Phi Islands
Follow Thailand’s long leg of land stretching down to Malaysia and you’ll find Phi Phi Island to the west of the “knee” in the Andaman Sea. Technically, Phi Phi is two islands: Ko Phi Phi Don, where Long Beach, or Hat Yao in Thai, is located, and Ko Phi Phi Leh, which is smaller and only accessible by tour or chartered fishing boat. Ko Phi Phi Don is home to several dozen seafood restaurants, and even more reggae bar and coffee shops, but no motorcars. If you are looking for a beach where you can play Gilligan’s Island, this is it.
08 FantaSea show
Phuket thailand FantaSea Show, or Fantasy of a Kingdom, is a Las Vegas style Thai cultural show infused with cutting edge technology and state-of-the-art show elements. The essence of being Thai, everything from the love for freedom and fun, courage and compassion, is being represented in each scene.See nine exciting shows featuring Thai culture, magic illusion, acrobatics, animal performance, pyrotechnics, stunts, aerial performance, 4-D effects, special effects
09 Phuket Thailand Viewpoints
Phuket has views that would make a landscape painter rush out and buy an easel and brushes and the great thing is that you don’t have to trek halfway across the country to appreciate them. Whether it’s a sunset-watching spot, a 360-degree panorama of the south of the island, a vista from the top of Phuket Town or a glimpse of swathes of tropical lushness it’s all within your grasp in minutes. All you need is wheels. It’s a matter of taste, of course, as some prefer the ‘outside-in’ aspect of viewing the island from a yacht or tour boat. Others prefer life way up in the clouds, looking down from on high while others favour the exact opposite.
10 Tiger Kingdom Phuket
Tigers at Tiger Kingdom are hand raised by their trainers since young, bonding with it throughout the development process. The trainer employs a combination of repetition, trust and encouragement to train their big cats and over time the Big Cat are use to human and often see us as one of the family. In Tiger Kingdom Phuket, our well-trained and experienced staffs will ensure your duty, but these Big Cats are still wild animal that you need to treat with respect.
These Big Cats are handled, stroked and petted on a daily basis, so even the roughest of petting will not bother these Big Cats. It’s normal to them and that is why these cats are so relaxed when you play with them. If you gently stroke the cats, it will feel ticklish and irritated, especially to a sleeping tiger. The best method is to cuddle and stroke the cat firmly to make it feel comfortable. Baby Tiger are playful and likely to play with you. Sometime when playing it tend to be a bit rough or bite, so do be careful when handle with them.
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