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destination - Phuket

Map & Directory Fact Sheet
Phuket
Mention water sports, luxury resorts, sandy beaches, exotic nightlife and Thailand in the same sentence and most probably the first thing that will come to many people's mind is the tropical island of Phuket. With a seemingly unlimited list of things to see and do on an island surrounded by the warm azure waters of the Andaman Sea,Phuket is understandably one of the foremost travel destinations in South-East Asia. Situated off the west coast of southern Thailand, Phuket is just under 900kms from Bangkok and the island is well served by both domestic and international airlines. For decades Phuket had derived its wealth from the tin extracted from open-pit and strip mines, but today it's the tourist dollar that makes the province one of the wealthiest in the country. Half a million permanent residents are believed to call the island home while the number of incoming tourists each year is believed to be ten times that amount. The peak season for tourism in Phuket is during the northern hemisphere's 'winter season' December - March, a period when the island is blessed with north-easterly breezes and temperatures averaging around 25c- 32c. The busiest period of the fake breitling peak tourist season is around Christmas and New Years. Along the island's west coast - in areas such as Patong, Kata and Karong - travellers can choose from a huge range of accommodation that covers all tastes and budgets while making the most of a range of fun filled or relaxing activities. The less developed northern areas of the island offer a more relaxed tempo and includes historical sites, wats (temples) and lush national parkland. It's also where the www.watches2015.uk.com island's international airport is situated. There are also over 30 smaller islands included as part of the broader Phuket province; many of which have been developed for tourism in some way. Phuket is also a gateway to a greater number of islands in the Andaman Sea; many of them are relatively untouched and accessible via boat.  
Getting There
By and large the greatest numbers of visitors arriving and departing from Phuket do so by air.   More >

By and large the greatest numbers of visitors arriving and departing from Phuket do so by air. Flying to Phuket from Bangkok takes just over an hour and can be done by a domestic or regional airline such as Thai Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air and Air Asia. Bangkok Airways also offers 25 minute long flights to and from the tropical tourist location of Koh Samui to Phuket. For overseas visitors, dozens of international carriers fly directly to Phuket, making any need to travel via Bangkok avoidable. If you are visiting the island during the peak tourist season and you need to go through any immigration procedures be pre-warned that there may be a lengthy queue at the airport. Phuket's international airport is situated in the north-west of the island, so some travel by road to the more touristy areas towards the south-west is usually required, i.e. Patong beach is about a 40 minute drive from the airport. If you don't want to fly, it's a cheap 870km overland journey by bus from the Thai capital to the island which will take approximately 12 - 13 hours. For the independent traveller, hiring a car is an option if you can get beyond the challenge of driving in Bangkok. Once you are outside the city, driving is more user-friendly and the country has a good road system. Car hire also offers a fun flexible way to see what Thailand has to offer. A Phuket-Bangkok car trip takes around the same amount of time as does the bus. Trains are another option to travel south from the capital but there's no direct rail line to Phuket. After 12 hours time spent on a train you will need to get off at Surat Thani and from there catch a connecting bus for a further 5-6 hour trip to the island.
Attractions
Phuket fits into many travellers' ideal of a tropical paradise - clear warm waters, lapping white sandy beaches fringed by coconut trees on an island inhabited by friendly people.   More >

Phuket fits into many travellers' ideal of a tropical paradise - clear warm waters, lapping white sandy beaches fringed by coconut trees on an island inhabited by friendly people. The best beaches on the island such as Karon and Kata are on the island's south west coast where the more popular tourist resorts are also situated. Through some effort more secluded and quiet beaches can be found and enjoyed. There's a large concentration of tourist development including five star resorts at Patong beach on the island's central west coast which is also famous for its nightlife and party atmosphere. Beyond partying though, Patpong also offers a dizzying array of attractions from being ringside at a bout of Muay Thai (Thai kick boxing) to attending a glitzy theatre production such as the Phuket Fantasea. There are scores of beautiful offshore islands to explore - i.e. Koh Yao Noi, Phi Phi and the Similan Islands - that are in reach by boat for travellers while the Andaman Sea provides a grand venue for various water sports from yachting to scuba diving. Back on land, in the north-east of the island there is the Kaho Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife and Forest Reserve attracts nature lovers with its hiking opportunities and impressive waterfalls. At Phuket City (formerly known as Phuket Town) on the island's east coast the remains of Sino-Portuguese and Sino-Colonial architecture draws travellers to explore the historic part of the city which were builtduring a 19th century tin mining boom. Just outside of Phuket City is the island's most prominent and visited temple - Wat Chalong that includes an elaborate and large pagoda. The pagoda holds a bone splinter that is said to be from the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. Not that far from Wat Chalong is the 45-meter high 'Big Buddha' which offers glorious views of the surrounding waters. Just north of Phuket are a number of further attractions that are easily visited such as Phang Nga Bay. Phang Nga features dramatic limestone cliffs, sea caves and the famous "James Bond Island," which was featured in the 007 film "The Man With the Golden Gun". Beyond these though, it is easy to get off the beaten track on Phuket (if you have a car) and discover attractions that don't make it into the guide books or travel websites!
Nightlife
From Thai-style beer gardens to go-go bars and upmarket clubs, Phuket's nightlife is as varied as it is renowned.   More >

From Thai-style beer gardens to go-go bars and upmarket clubs, Phuket's nightlife is as varied as it is renowned. The hub of the island's nightlife is found at the tourist town of Patong and while its seedy reputation has somewhat diluted over the years, the town's busiest party area continue to be the go-go bars and beer bars around the infamous Bangla Road. Like Bangkok's Patpong and Pattaya's Walking street, Bangla Road's mix of alcohol, neon and adults-only entertainment draws in the crowds especially during the peak of the tourist season around Christmas and New Years. Thankfully there is more to nightlife in Patong than scantily-clad Thai bar girls and blaring disco music, there are cabarets, live music venues and the odd Irish, Australian or English pubs that operate without resorting to the sleaze factor. The further you move away from Patong, the less hectic the nightlife is. The majority of the beach towns such as Kata and Karon tend to be much more laid back but do have a range of bars and nightspots (and yes some girly or go-go bar areas depending on the town's size). Kata even has a quirky prehistoric themed mini golf course which s also has a bar and restaurant. Further down in south Phuket and out of reach of the backpacking crowd the bars can be anything from ultra trendy, such as the 360 Bar to ultra relaxed Reggae Bar at Nai Harn. But by all accounts, Phuket City offers some of the best nightlife on the island. It's very much a Thai affair and less in your face as compared to Patong. If you are a farang (white western) you will find yourself in the minority as opposed to the touristy nightspots of the west coast.
Shopping
One thing that the more well heeled in Bangkok like to do more than most is to shop and glitzy air conditioned shopping malls have a cult like following in the nation's capital.   More >

One thing that the more well heeled in Bangkok like to do more than most is to shop and glitzy air conditioned shopping malls have a cult like following in the nation's capital. Much of the subsequent shopping know-how has flowed south and mega malls are increasingly becoming part of the Phuket landscape. On the island, the Jungceylon Shopping Complex in Patong and the Central Festival Phuket on the outskirts of Phuket Town are but two of the massive complexes vying for the cream of the retail trade - be it Thai or foreign tourists. Brand and speciallity shops are abundant in these malls while cheap deals can be found at large outlets such as Premium Outlet which has a range of shops selling Pierre Cardin, Lacoste, Levi's, Nike and much more all at reduced prices. Overseas tourists can also claim a 7 per cent VAT refund on purchases made on anything bought over a certain amount. Refunds are made with customs officials on the way out of the country at the international airport. One thing that travelers find attractive about shopping in Thailand is that shops stay open late; allowing holidaymakers to make the most of the daylight hours by the poolside or on the beach and leaving the time for the shops after sundown. By and large though the prices of imported products are similar to those in the west while made in Thailand items are usually cheaper. Among some of the more locally sourced items worth looking at to buy are: Thai silk, textiles, and handcrafted furniture. A visit to a tailor is an option if you are looking to suit up. There's also some shops selling fake and pirated merchandise in Phuket, so a 'Gucci' bag costing 3,000 baht from a no frills vendor may not really be Gucci. For a touch of shopping adventure visit one of the many local markets and mix with the locals as they go about buying their daily fares, there'll be plenty of things there that you have not seen before.
Dining
With choices ranging from fancy restaurants, street vendors or your own hotel, perhaps the only real challenge to eating out in Phuket is in having to make a choice of where to go and what to eat.   More >

With choices ranging from fancy restaurants, street vendors or your own hotel, perhaps the only real challenge to eating out in Phuket is in having to make a choice of where to go and what to eat. Thai food is renowned around the world but when you eat it in Thailand, the authenticity (especially the pungent and spicy elements) takes your taste buds up to the next level. Like the rest of the country, the Thai cuisine in Phuket has an intense mixture of four heart warming flavours - sweet, sour, salty and creamy. Thai fare uses the freshest of ingredients and in many dishes chilli and garlic play leading roles. Being an island, seafood of course is in ample supply and is reasonably priced, even if you dine out at a one of the many beachside or headland restaurants overlooking the Andaman Sea. International dining options, such as Italian and Japanese, are also in good supply in Phuket and of usually high standards. At the other end of the spectrum, are the abundant of food sold by street vendors. It varies from local fruits to made-to-order fried rice. If you're adventurous you can buy a bag of fried crispy grasshoppers or other insects from a street vendor.Ask any Thai what their favourite meal is it will be usually one of two dishes - Tom Yam Goong (spicy hot and sour soup with shrimp) or Som Tum (papaya salad from Thailand's north-east). Beyond that other contenders are Pad Thai (noodles) and Khoa Pad (fried rice) and still you could delightfully go on and on until finally getting to the desserts lists which includes the classic Khao Niaow Ma Muang (mango and sticky rice). In Thailand's south, Indian influences in the cuisine are evident with the popularity of the unleavened roti bread and the heavy use of turmeric in dishes such the curry gaeng massaman. Other neighbourly influences are seen with barbecued chicken satays with peanut dipping sauce which originates from Indonesia. With Chinese being a large ethnic group in Phuket, less spicy Chinese food such as dim sum or noodles can be easily found.
Seasons - when to visit
As far as the weather goes, Phuket has a tropical monsoon climate. There are mostly clear skies from November through to March which generally provide the best months to visit the island, if you don't mind the peak season crowds and higher prices.   More >

As far as the weather goes, Phuket has a tropical monsoon climate. There are mostly clear skies from November through to March which generally provide the best months to visit the island, if you don't mind the peak season crowds and higher prices. However, with modern weather being unpredictable as it is, the rainy season of 2010 went against custom and extended until January of this year. Temperatures during the November -March are usually on average somewhere between 25c to 32c with any humidity being eased by a cool breeze. November typically heralds the end of the rainy season and the following four months are regularly rain free. But depending on where you come from it's a warm-hot place to visit at any time of the year but the hottest period is during April-May when temperatures reach the mid-30s. The heat is welcome relieved by stormy bouts of monsoonal weather, especially during May. While the months of June through to August are part of the rainy season the weather is largely fine until interrupted by intermittent heavy rains. However September is the wettest month of the year, and the large downpours lessen as the year moves into October, the third wettest month of the year. So tourists are best advised not to expect much uninterrupted time on the beach during these two months as the same for the wettish month of May.

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