Phuket (province and island), Thailand
Phuket is the name of a city, island, and a province (which includes Phuket island and several surrounding islands) in southern Thailand on the west coast in the Andaman Sea.
Phuket city is the capital of, and largest city in, Phuket province with just over 75,000 residents.
Climate and Geography
Phuket is Thailand’s biggest island. It’s 48 km long, 21 km wide, and covers about 543 square kilometers (not including the small surrounding islands, which are also part of Phuket province). Phuket is located in southwest Thailand, about 863 km south of Bangkok, in the Andaman Sea. Approximately 70% of the island is covered with small mountains that run north-south along the west side of the island. The tallest of these mountains is Mai Thao Sip Song at 529 m. The remaining 30% of the island is comprised of the plains and, of course, sandy beaches. The island is surprisingly deprived of fresh water, with just 9 brooks and creeks and no rivers.
The climate in Phuket is as tropical as they come. The temperature varies little and the year-round average high fluctuates around 32°C and the low around 24°C. Dry season is from November to April and the rainy season, during which it rains 270 – 400 mm per month, lasts from May to October.
Phuket is a spectacular destination for all manner of tourism, adventure travel included. Unfortunately, this is not a secret. Phuket was chosen one of the world’s top five retirement destinations in 2005 by Fortune magazine and, with its own international airport, is also one of Thailand’s most visited, and thus most expensive, destinations. Fortunately, even the most expensive place in Thailand won’t break the bank.
The biggest draws on Phuket are ocean-based. Scuba diving here is huge. Phuket and the surrounding islands have brilliant underwater ecology with both hard and soft reefs, caves, wrecks, and a variety of marine life. Most dive shops are located at Chalong Pier. Sailing and yachting also bring a large number of visitors to the island and Phuket hosts numerous numerous races, including the King’s Cup Regatta.
Water board sports abound on Phuket. Kitesurfing, windsurfing, and wakeboarding (on a cable) are all readily available. What few people seem to know, though, is that Phuket has great surfing. The west coast has more breaks than you can count, local surf shops rent boards by the hour (about $5 USD) and day (about $15 USD) and also offer lessons (about $20 USD), and the Phuket Surfing Contest is held at Kata beach each year in the early fall.
**Rip tides are common in the ocean around Phuket, especially during monsoon season, and caution should be exercised at all times in the water**
On land Phuket has several protected areas including the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting area in the north, which protects 20 square kilometers of rainforest. There is also Sirinat National Park on the northwestern coast is 90 square kilometers and includes Nai Yang Beach where the sea turtles lays eggs from November to February. These turtles are said to be giant but specific information was unavailable at the time of writing. Human-related activities have been contributing to a decline in turtle populations, and their visits to the island have been decreasing.
The mountains of Phuket are excellent for climbing, rappelling/abseiling, and hiking/trekking. Most of the popular beaches are in the south, such as Patong Beach, Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Kata Noi, Nai Harn Beach, and Rawai Beach. Also worth checking out is Koh Sire, an island connected to Phuket by a causeway, which has a sea gypsy colony.
• Stand-up paddle boarding
• Scuba diving (wreck, reef, cave)
• Snuba Diving
• Surfing (all levels)
• Hang gliding
• Bungee jumping
• Kayaking (sea)
• Canoeing (sea)
• Hiking/trekking (all levels)
• Rock climbing (all levels)
• Mountain Biking (novice to expert)
• Horseback Riding
On a Budget?
• Like the rest of Thailand, rooms in Phuket are very reasonable. Among the cheapest hostels is the Sea Blue Hostel & Gueshouse, with dorm beds for less than $5 USD per night. For a bit more, you can enjoy the awesome views at the Gypsy Room Patong Backpacker House (about $8 USD per night for a dorm bed).
A full list of Phuket hostels is available here.
Phuket hotels are also quite reasonable.
• Even thought Phuket is expensive for Thailand, it’s still cheap compared to most places and meals in local restaurants can be purchased for $1.50 to $3.00 USD.
I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.
Images (in order) courtesy of JTeale, *sean, AkumAPRIME, jhecking, mynameisharsha, Neil Rickards, Mike (NO captive birds) in Thailand, Eustaquio Santimano, Socceraholic, Yuxuan.fishy.Wang, Ali Catterall, and Dennis Wong on Flickr.
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The information on this page was provided by My Phuket Info. If you want to know more about Phuket they are the people to ask.