- Location: Located in the Southern part of Thailand.
- Attraction Type: Island
- Significance: Made for and bolstered by tourism. Phuket is at the heart of Thailand tourism.
- Best Time to Visit: October to April.
- How to Reach: Flights are available to Phuket International Airport from a number of destinations in Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong and others.
- Nearest international Airport: Phuket International Airport
Once you reach Phuket, you immediately realized that you have reached a destination made for and bolstered by tourism. Phuket is at the heart of Thailand tourism, and offers everything a tourist can possibly ask for. From exciting beach activities to heritage tours, great shopping opportunities and exciting events and festivals, Phuket is the quintessential Thai destination. In the face of its high tourist profile, it will not be unusual if you find everything too made up, too designed to satisfy the tourists’ tastes. What is surprising though, despite its obvious artificiality, this Thai destination successfully maintains a charm and character of its own.
Phuket is located in the Southern part of Thailand. Most of Phuket’s major attractions are located along the beach, which is where most tourists stay. Phuket Town itself is however located further than the beach. Chalong Bay is the tourist hub area, and is located in the island’s east side. You can easily access the main getaway islands from this spot.
As far as attractions go, you will be overwhelmed by options when you reach Phuket. There are beaches, restaurants, spas, shopping centers and tours galore. Add to it a breathtaking and active nightlife and you get the familiar formula for an ideal tropical tourist destination.
Beaches in Phuket
Patong Beach is Phuket’s chief attraction. Any time of the year, but particularly between December and April, this place is bustling with tourist activities. Great sun, wonderful scenery and exciting beachside pubs serving excellent beer make this beach an absolute paradise for tourists. This is also the place with the largest accumulation of hotels, restaurants, pubs, shopping centers and nightclub. Traveling to Patong Beach presents visitors with the quintessential Phuket experience.
There are a number of smaller but exciting beaches in Phuket. They range from the quiet northern beach of Kamala to upcoming high-end beaches like the Surin and Pansea Beach. If you are really looking for a beach tucked away in a reclusive corner of the island, go for Mai Khao or Bang Thao. Kata Noi Beach is considered to be the ideal destination for surfing enthusiasts. These are, however, only a few of the numerous beaches that line the Northern and the Western coasts of the island.
Events and Festivals in Phuket
There are number of highly exciting festivals and events that are held in Phuket. Some of the most popular festivals of Phuket are:
Seafood Festival: Held in May, this is a way to attract more and more tourists towards the exotic seafood preparations of Thailand. It is a great place to indulge yourself, thanks to the many seafood stalls set up specifically for this event and a number of associated events including the Marine Tourism Resources Parade.
Vegetarian Festival: This festival is accompanied by a number of local rituals and showcases not only Thailand’s exceptional culinary treasures but its unique cultural heritage as well. Do not miss out on the ‘Ma Song’, ritualistic performances by devotees who walk on hot coals and perform other daring feats in a state of religious trance. It is held in the ninth Lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
Chao Le Boat Festival: Another of Phuket’s unique events, these ceremonies are over three to five days. Inhabitants of various sea villages of the island set sails on small boats and carry out rituals and festivals, particularly at night to drive away evil spirits. It is an unforgettable experience.
There are plenty of things to see in Phuket. The island generally has a strong Portuguese influence blended with Chinese architectural values in every historic constructions of the city, reminiscent of times when the island was a major trading post. Some wonderful sightseeing delights are spread all over the island that are bound to make your tour extremely memorable. Some of Phuket’s greatest attractions are:
The Big Buddha: Commonly referred to by this name, ‘Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri’ is a 45 m high Buddha statue in meditative posture. Constructed entirely out of Burmese marble tiles, this white Buddha statue attract not only foreign visitors but pilgrims from all over the island. A number of smaller, but equally imposing Buddha statues are found in the vicinity, particularly the smaller brass Buddha by its side.
Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Center: Located in the Thalang district, at some distance from Phuket town, this conservation area is a home to a large number of wildlife species that are fighting extinction and are highly endangered. Flying lemurs, mouse deer, civets and wild boars are some of the species you can expect to spot. The flora is equally impressive with the impressive presence of Governor’s Palms and a large number of creepers and climbers.
Wat Phra Thong: This temple has the famous golden Buddha statue that apparently sprang up from earth centuries ago. A great myth surrounds the temple and the statue, and is one of the major attractions of the island.
One of the main reasons for the immense popularity of Phuket is that it acts as a point of departure for a large number of neighboring islands that provide great getaways. Some of the major getaways from Phuket include:
- Ko Bon: Island with great snorkeling experience
- Koh Mai Thon — It is difficult and expensive to find accommodation here, but is a wonderful little island nevertheless.
- Ko Racha — Another favorite for scuba divers and snorkelers.
- Ko Sire — An island of sea gypsys, and a wonderful getaway.
- Ko Taphao Yai and Ko Khai Nok are also popular off-shore destinations that you can easily access from Phuket.
Accommodation and Dining in Phuket
There are numerous hotels and tropical resorts in Phuket, as is understandable because of its ever-growing popularity among tourists from all over the world. Budget travelers can look for hostels and inns in the Phuket City region, where the rates are comparatively lower because of its distance from the beaches. However, transportation is good and reaching any place in the island will never pose a problem.
If you want to move towards the beaches and be at the center of activities, be ready to pay more. Most beach hotels are centered around the Patong Beach, as it is the most happening place in the island. Duangjitt Resort and Spa is one of the most popular ones. Other popular hotels in Phuket include Six Senses Destination Spa, the Himmaphan, Trisara, Sri Panwa, Amanpuri, Pavilions and the Bell Pool Villa Resort. Andaman White Beach Resort and Ayara Hilltops are great places that offer accommodation at comparatively budget rates.
There are a number of world class restaurants in Phuket. You will easily find the dish of your choice as the fares offered are varied and eclectic. Baluchi Restaurnat and Savoey Restaurant along the Patong Beach are two of the most popular ones. The former is well known for its Indian delicacies. De Marizo, 9th Floor and the Sala Bua Restaurant are other popular ones.