Phuket Thailand - Attractions & Sightseeing
Phuket (pronounced poo-ket) is the largest island in Thailand and was the first place to be developed as a tourist resort. It is very busy, being the second most popular beach resort in Thailand after Pattaya, but there are still quiet areas on the island.
Phuket is a province which profited from sea-trading and tin-mining in the nineteenth century, and later developed a rubber industry. Phuket is the richest province in Thailand and continues to produce rubber in addition to rice, cashew nuts, coconut and other foods, but now makes most of its money from tourism. It has a culture of its own, having Chinese and Portuguese influences mixed in with southern Thai and the local chao leh or sea gypsies. The chao leh are an ethnic group unrelated to the Thais and used to have a nomadic lifestyle on the sea but have now settled on various islands in the south. There is a high percentage of Muslims here compared with the rest of Thailand.
Phuket is a more upmarket resort, attracting well-to-do tourists rather than backpackers, and is very commercial. As well as the beaches, there is plenty to do here with diving and snorkelling trips, water-sports and trying the excellent seafood. There is a recompression chamber at Phuket and many excellent dive sites around Phuket. Day trips or live-aboard options are on offer from the many dive shops on the island. The interior of the island is still very beautiful as it hasn't been affected by tourist development or tin-mining. The most developed and expensive resort is Hat Patpong with its slightly seedy nightlife; beaches to the north-west of the island tend to be quieter. Phuket is in the Andaman Sea on the south-west coast of Thailand. When booking a holiday to Phuket, be aware that the Andaman coast is affected by heavy rain from May to November.
There is an international airport at Phuket so it is possible to fly straight there without having to go via Bangkok. On departure you need to pay 500 Baht departure tax and this has to be paid in Baht. If travelling to Phuket on a package deal, check that the departure tax is included in the price so you don't get caught out at the airport. There is a causeway joining Phuket to the mainland so even though it is an island there are buses direct into Phuket town with no boat journey. Frequent air-con buses go from Bangkok's South Terminal overnight to Phuket. Private minibuses run between Phuket and Surat Thani on the east coast: this is the jumping off point for Koh Tao, Koh Pha-Ngan and Koh Samui. There are boats from Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi.
Check out our suggested Phuket hotel.
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