Lying off southern Thailand’s west coast in the Andaman Sea, Phuket often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the South’ is Thailand’s largest and most commercial island.
With its beautiful scenery, amazing sunsets and warm blue seas, Phuket has something to offer everyone, whether it’s the vibrant nightlife in Patong Beach, enjoying an excursion to the surrounding islands or simply relaxing in the sun.
Where to stay
Located 15mins north of Patong, Kamala Beach offers a quieter retreat though close enough to Patong to enjoy its nightlife and shopping areas. The beach is a 2.5km crescent shaped bay with clear and calm waters, the resort has a good range of accommodation to choose from, as well as many small Thai restaurants and bars. Kamala is home to ‘Phuket FantaSea’, a cultural theme park that presents a nightly extravaganza with a cast of elephants, skilled performers and acrobats.
The tourist centre on Phuket, Patong is the busiest resort and with its wide variety of activities and nightlife is an ideal place to party and play. Not recommended for those in search of tranquillity, but more to those looking for a lively holiday, at night the town is bustling with nightlife which includes hundreds of restaurants, lounge bars, beer bars, discos and the infamous ‘girlie bars’.
Patong’s bay is 2km of golden sand and a hive of activity with parasailing and jet-ski operators, boat drivers, beach vendors and masseuse all vying for business. During November to April the water is calm and flat, while May to October larger waves can occur. However Patong beach is safe to swim on most days, just pay attention to the red flags when they’re out.
Just south of Patong, Karon Beach is the second largest of Phukets principal tourist beaches, though less hectic than its neighbour the resort still offers a full range of dining options, facilities and activities. Large resort complexes line the road behind the shoreline, but the beach itself has no development.
Located just south of Karon Beach, Kata Beach is the smallest of Phuket’s main tourist beaches and a popular choice with families. Evenings are a low-key affair here with a good choice of international restaurants, shops and small bars. Ideal for families the resort features Dino Park with Jurassic-themed dining and mini-golf course.
Kata Beach is made up of two beaches separated by a headland; Kata Yai Beach which is wide and 2km long and offers all the usual tourist facilities such as watersports and vendors selling drinks, food and massage services, while Kata Noi Beach is a much quieter and smaller bay.
When to go
A great destination to visit at any time of the year, though generally the busiest time to visit is from late October until early April, with the Christmas and New Year period being the peak.
Phuket sees fairly consistent temperatures year-round, with lows in the mid-20s and peak temperatures reaching the mid-30s. September and October are the wettest months, March and April the hottest, while November through to January is the coolest time to visit.
Phuket is well geared for the tourist with easy access to hotel limousines, tour buses and hire cars etc, as well as local tuk-tuks which are readily available in the street just agree the fare before setting off.
For the more adventurous there is a daytime bus service to most parts of the island, all of which run in a loop from Phuket Town to the destination and back again. Destinations are written on the front of each bus, there are no bus stops in Phuket, all you need to do is flag them down in the street and and in Phuket town the bus terminal is found at the food market (talad sod).
Do’s and don’ts
If you are invited into a Thai home, you are expected to remove your footwear before entering the door.
It is considered disrespectful for anyone to put his feet on the table while sitting. When seated make sure your feet are not pointed at anyone as this is offensive to Thais.
Thais regard the head as the highest (purest) part of the body, so refrain from touching or patting the head in a friendly gesture because it is considered impolite.
It is not proper to lose one’s temper or show exasperation during a misunderstanding. ‘Jai yen’ or a ‘cool heart’ is what the Thais believe will solve the problem.
Whilst visiting a Temple in Thailand, shoes must be taken off before entering and wearing shorts or other revealing clothing is frowned upon.
Monks are the most important people in Thai society and must be treated with respect at all times. A monk’s vow of chastity prohibits him from touching or being touched by a woman. Women are usually advised to smile and slightly bow when encountering a monk and maintain enough distance to prevent any contact with the monk or his robes.Posted : Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 12:35