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Phuket Information

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 Phuket
Information
Introduction
Phuket is Thailand’s largest
island, and is approximately the size of Singapore. Phuket
nestles in balmy Andaman Sea waters on Thailand’s Indian
Ocean coastline 867 kilometres south of Bangkok. Phuket formerly derived
its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colourful history.
The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and
China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign traders’ ship logs. The
Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traded with Phuket. Other visitors
were less friendly. Phuket’s most famous monument is the memorial statue
of the heroines Thao Thepkasattri and Thao Sisunthon, who rallied islanders
in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders.

Phuket is blessed with
magnificent coves and bays, and powdery, palm-fringed beaches; sparkling
island-dotted seas; sincerely hospitable people; superb accommodation
and seafood; delightful turn-of-the-century Sino-Portuguese architecture;
numerous sporting and leisure opportunities; a lush tropical landscape
— all of which combine to create a delightful ambient for truly memorable
holidays.

Location
and Boundaries
Phuket is an island connected
by bridges to southern Thailand’s Andaman Sea coast, in the Indian Ocean,
lying between 7’45” and 8’15” north latitude, and from 98’15”
to 98’40” west longitude on the map. Phuket, Thailand’s largest
islands, is surrounded by 32 smaller islands that form part of the same
administration, with a total area of 570 square kilometers. Measured
at its widest point, Phuket is 21.3 kilometers; at its longest, 48.7
kilometers. It is bounded thus :

North Lies The Pak Prah strait,
spanned by two bridges running side-by-side, the older Sarasin Bridge,
and the newer Thao Thep Krasatri Bridge.
South Is the Andaman Sea.
East Is Phang-nga Bay (In
the jurisdiction mainly of Phang-nga Province).
West Is The Andaman Sea.
Climate
Phuket has two
major seasons: the Rains Season from May through October, and the Hot
Season from November through April. There are many sunny days throughout
the Rains Season: showers customarily last little more than 2 or 3 hours.
September is the wettest month. The best months are November through February.
Average temperatures range between 22 and 34 degrees Celsius.
Attractions
Phuket Town
The compact provincial capital serves mainly as a dormitory and commercial
and shopping centre. Splendid colonial-style residences built by late
19th-century tin and rubber barons, and shophouses from the same period,
with shaded walkways, provide distinctive character.
Rang
Hill

This provides a pleasant view of town while dining, and has a Fitness
Park, a series of hillside sculptural tableaux which enhance calisthenics.

The Thai Village
Also on Thepkasattri Road, the village serves daily a typical southern
Thai lunch that is followed by a spectacular cultural show including
Thai dances, sword-fighting, Thai boxing, southern customs and elephants.
Handicrafts are also on display.

Thalang National Museum
Located near the Two Heroines Monument, this museum contains permanent
exhibition of life in old Phuket, ancient artifacts and remains discovered
on the coast and , materials used during war with Burma (Myanmar).

Island
Attractions
Phuket’s glory is its magnificent
coastline. Beaches range from gentle crescents of white sand with calm
waters to rocky headlands pounded by raging surf. Counterclockwise, from
Phuket’s northern tip, where the Sarasin Bridge connects the island with
the mainland, Phuket’s major beaches (and temples and botanical gardens)
are as follows:
Mai Khao
Beach
(40 kilometres from town)
This pine-lined stretch of sand is Phuket’s longest beach. Each year,
from November through February, gigantic sea turtles struggle ashore
to lay their eggs on Mai Khao Beach.

Nai Yang Beach (30 kilometres
from town)
This forms part of a national park. The tranquil surroundings are ideal
for relaxation, picnics, swimming and snorkelling.

Wat Phra Thong
Inland from Nai Yang Beach, the temple enshrines a famous, partially
buried Buddha. Local legends relate how a boy tethered his buffalo to
a post protruding from the ground. Subsequently, both boy and animal
fell mysteriously sick. Suspicious villagers uncovered the post and
discovered it was the decorative topknot of a buried golden Buddha.
They were able to unearth no more than the upper part of the image,
over which they constructed the present chapel. Burmese invaders attempted
to remove the image in 1785 but failed when they were attacked by vicious
hornets.

Ton Sai Waterfall
Forest Park & Khao Phra Thae o Wildlife Park (22
kilometres from town)
The 22-square-kilometre area teems with various mammals, including bears,
porcupines, gibbons and macaques, reptiles and lizards, and over 100
bird species, in an idyllic setting cooled by sonorous cascades.

Pansea Bay, Surin Beach, (24 kilometres
from town)

Sing Cape & Kamala Beach
These unfold in rapid succession. Swimming is not recommended at Surin
Beach due to powerful surf and a treacherous undertow. The beach is
a favoured spot for witnessing sunsets. The northern end of Kamala Beach
is suitable for swimming.

Patong Beach (15 kilometres
from town)
Phuket’s most developed beach offers numerous leisure, sporting, shopping
and recreational options along its 3-kilometrelong crescent bay. Windsurfing,
snorkelling, sailing, swimming and sunbathing number among popular daytime
activities. Patong is equally well known for its vibrant nightlife,
among which seafood restaurants prominently feature.

Karon & Kata Beaches
(20 & 17 kilometres from town)
Both beaches are impressively long, relatively peaceful and eminently
suitable for swimming, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing and sunbathing.

Nai Han Beach (18 kilometres
from town)
The white beach fronts a shallow lagoon between rocky headlands. Swimming,
windsurfing, sailing and sunbathing number among popular activities.

Phromthep Cape
Adjacent to Nai Han Beach, Phuket’s southernmost point is the perfect
place from which to view spectacular sunsets.

Rawai Beach (17 kilometres
from town)
The palm-fringed beach is best known for ‘sea gypsies’, a formerly nomadic
fishing minority believed to be of Melanesian descent.

Chalong Bay (11 kilometres
from town)
This beach has several restaurants selling some of Phuket’s best seafood.

Wat Chalong
A few kilometres inland from Chalong Beach, this Buddhist temple enshrines
statues of Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang, Phuket’s most revered
monks.

Phanwa Cape (10 kilometres
from town)
The southernmost tip of this cape is home to a Marine Biological Research
Centre and Phuket’s Aquarium where visitors may inspect several hundred
exotic, grotesque and flamboyantly colourful marine species found mainly
in Phuket’s teeming waters.

Pearl Farms
Pearl farms are located on islands neighbouring Phuket, including Nakha,
Rang Noi, Rang Yai and Bon. Special permission is needed to visit them.
Details are available from Phuket’s TAT office.

Activities
Golf
There are now 4 challenging, 18-hole golf courses in Phuket, including
the Phuket Country Club (Tel: (076) 321-038-40)in Kathu, Blue Canyon (Tel:
(076) 327-440-7) in Thalang district nears the airport, the Banyan Tree
Club (Tel: (076) 324-351-60, 324-358) at Bangtao beach and the Phuket
Century Country Club (Tel: (076) 321-929, 321-933-4) ain Kathu. All courses
offer reasonably priced golf club rentals, green fees and caddy services.
Horse Riding
Three riding clubs, one on Patak Road, on the way to Kata Beach, Ban
Sai Yuan on the way to Nai Harn Beach, and Laguna Phuket, Bangtao Beach,
offer facilities for beginners and experienced riders alike.

Windsurfing
This popular sport is enjoyed at most major beaches. Boards may be rented
by the hour, half-day, full day or week. Expert tuition from Thai teachers
is free.

Sailing
Enjoyed mostly at Nai Han, Patong and Kata beaches. Toppers and dinghies
are available at Patong. Catamaran, Hobie Cats and Top Cats are available
at Kata.

Waterskiing
Popular at Patong on a half-hour or hourly basis. Automated cable water-skiing
is available at the Phuket Waterski Cableway behind the Phuket Century
Golf Course in Kathu district.

Deep Sea Fishing
Daily tours are available, making early morning departures and late
afternoon returns, mostly to lesser islands to fish for Red Snappers,
Rainbow Runners and other game fish.

Swimming
This can be enjoyed throughout the year, and is mostly safe. However,
undertows can be problematic during the Rains Season. It is best to
seek the advice of local people regarding swimming conditions.

Snorkelling
This can be enjoyed in sheltered bays all around Phuket. It is particularly
enjoyable at easily accessible reefs at Patong, Karon and Kata beaches.
Fins, mask and snorkel can be rented on a daily basis from shops
all over the island.

Scuba Diving
Expeditions regularly leave Phuket for dives around neighbouring islands,
and further afield, most particularly around the enduringly popular
Phi Phi Islands in neighbouring Krabi province, some 2 hours east of
Phuket, and the Similan Islands, in Phangnga province, some 110 kilometres
northwest of Phuket, and the Raya Islands, 1-3 hours due south of Phuket,
depending on the type of boat. Several dive shops concentrated in the
Patong, Kata and Chalong areas have Asian and European expatriate(s)
(speaking English and several other languages) and bi-lingual Thai dive
instructors who offer inexpensive beginner’s courses. All diving equipment
is available for hire.

Sea Canoeing
This form of eco-tourism is available in several forms, as popular one-day
tours, or more extended tours involving overnight camping on island
beaches, and occurs principally in the neighbouring Phangnga Bay and
Krabi province, where mangrove swamps and island grottoes are accessible
only by canoe.. Complete details of the several companies offering such
tours is available from the TAT office in Phuket, and the TAT information
centre in Krabi.

Yacht Services
Yachtsmen visiting Phuket can enjoy a full range of services, including
dry dock facilities and boat repairs, and safe and secure moorings,
principally at Ao Chalong, the Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina and Laem Prao
Marina. Yachts of ever shape and size can be chartered, either as bareboats
or with full crew. Please check with the Phuket Immigration Office for
details regarding bringing in a yacht, or leaving by yacht.

Mountain Biking
It ‘s easier than it looks Anyone can enjoy himself on a mountain bike,
which has gearing sufficient to take the mightiest incline. (Andaman
Trails : Tel. (076) 235353)

Herbal Saunas and Thai Massage
are available in a variety of price ranges and levels of expertise.
The best known herbal sauna is : The Hide Away in Patong on Soi Na Nai
Rd at Tel. (076) 340591.

Thai Boxing
“Muay Thai”
as it is called in Thai, strikes blows
at and with every part of the body. The stadium is located at Saphan
Hin in Phuket Town and bouts are held Friday nights.

Target Shooting
Take aim with guns from small caliber to big bore and shot guns (Phuket
Shooting Range at Chalong at Tel. (076) 381667-8; Fax. (076) 281054

Paintball Play at war with guns that shoot paint instead of lead. Loads
of fun. (Top Gun at Chalong at Tel. (076) 381667; Fax. (076) 381665

Monkey School
at Chalong, show times are 11:00, 14:00, 16:00 daily except Friday Tel.
01-9569338.
Snake Farms and Cobra Shows :are located at Chalong and Patong.

Excursions
& Tours
Phuket is the ideal place from
where to visit popular attractions in neighbouring provinces, either on
day tours or as overnight excursions. Principal destinations include:
Phangnga Bay
Located northeast of Phuket, and containing scores of limestone islands,
some riddled with aquatic grottoes, this picturesque bay is an enduringly
popular excursion. Tours are offered by hotels and tour companies throughout
Phuket.

Phi Phi Islands
These picturesque islands in Krabi province are probably Phuket’s most
popular excursion.

Similan Islands
Phuket dive shops operate daily excursions to the Similan islands during
the high season of November-May when underwater visibility is at its
best.

Souvenirs
Cultivated pearls,
batiks and pewterware are Phuket’s best known products. Shops specializing
in such products are found on Rasada, Phangng, Yanwarat, Montri and Tilok
Utit 2 roads in town, and on tourist beaches such as Patong, Kata, Karon
and Rawai.
How
To Get There
By Air
Thai Airways operates daily jet flights between Bangkok and Phuket. There
are further domestic connections with Surat Thani and Hat Yai. Phuket
also enjoys international connections with Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore,
Japan, Taiwan a Hong Kong and Australia.
Bangkok
Airways offers direct flights linking Phuket with Ko Samui, the principal
island in the Thai Gulf.

Please
click here to preview flight timetable or to book a flight

By Coach
Air-conditioned coaches and non-airconditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern
Bus Terminal every day. For further details, please contact Bangkok 435-1200,
434-3233, 435-3018.

By
Car

Take Route 4 from Bangkok to the south. Along the way pass the provinces
of Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap-Khirikan, and at
Chumphon go right to Ranong. From Ranong, go south through Kraburi and
Kapoe Districts to Phang-nga Province. In Phang-nga the road passes
through Kuraburi, Takuapa, and Thai Muang Districts before reaching
the town of Kok Kloy. Then, cross the Thao Thep Kasattri or Sarasin
Bridge to Phuket Island. The distance is 867 kilometers.

By Sea
Foreign and domestic cruise ships frequently berth at the Port of Phuket
at Ao Makham, and off Patong Beach, yachts at Ao Chalong, the Phuket
Lagoon Marina and the Laem Prao marina.

Please note that all pleasure boats
and yachts arriving at Phuket must stop first and register with their
Immigration Office and Customs Office, and with the Harbour Office within
24 hours of arrival

Travel
within Phuket
 
Phuket offers convenient
intra-island transport services. Tuk-tuks serve within municipal area
or can be hired to go to other places; rates are dependent on distance
and negotiable.

Rot Song Thaeo (modified pick-ups) and regular buses run from the Talat
Sot (fresh produce market) near the fountain on Ranong Road to the beaches
and other places. Departure every thirty minutes starting from 06:00
hrs. to 18:00 hrs. Fares are 10-20 Baht depending on the distance.

Travel to other neighbouring provinces
There are regular bus services to Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phang-Nga,
Ranong, Surat Thani, Satun, Hat Yai, Takua Pa and Samui Island. Departures
are from the Phuket Bus Terminal on Phang-Nga Road, Tel : 076-211-977.

Festivals
Phuket Vegetarian Festival

is held from the first through the ninth nights of the ninth Chinese lunar
month; that is, in September or October. It was first celebrated in 1825,
when a troupe of actors enacted these rites toward off a plague. Vegetarian
food is eaten by participants and white clothes worn during the period
of the fest. Selfmutilization is practiced by those whose bodies become
the temporary residence of powerful gods. Parades of worshippers brave
fireworks while carrying images through the street; others walk on fire
or climb bladed ladders. Participants number in the thousands.The whole
forms one of the most bizarre festivals in Thailand.
Por Tor Festival
This is an ancestor’s festival of the ethnic Chinese that falls on the
seventh Chinese lunar month, which is the same as the ninth lunar month
of the Thais. Special foods, flowers and candles are presented to the
ancestor’s altars. Cakes in the shape of turtles are made from flour.
This is done because turtles live to great age and it is believed that
by making such offering worshippers may extend the length of their lives.
It is an important merit-making festival.

Thao Thep Krasatri-Thao Sri Suntorn Festival
is held on 13 March yearly in memory of the two heroines who led the defense
of the island against the Burmese in 1785.

Turtle Release Fair
is held on Songkran, the nationwide Thai water festival, on April 13.
It is also the National Fisherman’s Day. Baby turtles are released into
the sea at various locations.

Chao Le Boat Floating Festival
falls during the middle of the sixth and eleventh lunar months yearly.
The fest is held at the Chao Le, or Sea Gipsy, villages in Phuket. The
Rawai and Sapam villages hold their ceremonies on the 13th; Sire village
celebrates on the 14th; and the village at Laem La (east of the bridge
on Phuket’s northern tip) celebrates on the 15th. Ceremonies, which center
around the setting adrift of small boats similar to the Thai Festival
of Loy Krathong, are held at night and their purpose is to drive away
evil and to bring good luck. Fingernail clipping and strands of hair are
put in the little boats before being released, along with little dolls
fashioned from wood. Afterwards, the villagers perform their famous dance
round their own boats, called the Ram Rong Ngeng.

Tourist Season Opening Festival
is usually called the Patong Carnival in English according to from the
place where celebrations occur, and is held on November 1. There are many
stalls with merchandise and food, parades, sports event, and a beauty
competition for foreign tourists. The fest is held to cement solidarity
among the government, the private business sector, and the people.

Phuket King’s Cup Regatta
was first held in 1987 in honour of His Majesty’s 60th birthday. The King
of Thailand is a noted boating enthusiast and yachts come from around
the world to participate in the competition, which is the largest and
most popular in Southeast Asia. It is held yearly on the anniversary of
His Majesty’s birthday, 5 December. Site of the regatta is Nai Han Bay.


Laguna Phuket Triathlon

This annual year end event sees the world’s top triathletes and hundreds
of amateurs competing for prize money and placing on the world triathlon
circuit. The course, which includes swimming, bicycling, and running through
the beautiful natural surroundings of Laguna Phuket in Tambon Choeng Thale,
takes from two-and-a-half to five hours to complete.

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