BY Professor Bear

Phuket: The Complete Island Travel Guide

The southern Thailand island of Phuket is all about beaches, a laid-back holiday, and a tropical lifestyle 🧐 The island enjoys several million visitors a year and many expat residents. 

Phuket Island can be anything you want it to be. From a hub for some of the world’s best nightlife to a peaceful haven surrounded by lush jungles, small villages, and friendly locals πŸ’―

Whether you are coming here on a Thailand holiday or want to live here, this in-depth guide πŸ‘“ to the island will help you to know more. 

 

Phuket Overview

Phuket is linked πŸ“Ž to the mainland by two bridges and divided into four main areas. Western Phuket, Southeastern Phuket, Interior Phuket, and Phang Nga Bay πŸ“œ Phuket town lie along the coastline of Interior Phuket. And the famous beach resort and the party capital of Asia, Patong, is found in Western Phuket. 

Southeastern Phuket boasts off-beat beaches. Chalong Bay has an impressive yacht harbor and ferry port, while lovely Phang Nga Bay has soaring limestone cliffs, caves, and tiny, traditional fishing villages. Interior Phuket, away from the crowds in town and unvisited by the vast majority of tourists 🧐 There are a lot of pineapple and rubber plantations, mangrove forests at Phra Taew National Park, and small Muslim communities. 

 

Phuket Population

The population of Phuket province sits at around 525,000, with at least 115,000 residents of foreign extraction, including Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian workers. The majority are Buddhist, with a significant number of Muslims of Malay descent, descendants of Chinese tin-mining migrants, and Perenakans from Malacca and Penang πŸ‘“ The Muslim community traces its origins to the original sea-dwelling gypsies who first came to the island. 

 

The Bear Travel Quick Trivia!

Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, with an area of 540sqm. Phuket means “Mountain Jewel” and is famous for its 36 sandy beaches. An Island in Phuket was used as the film set of the James Bond Movies “The Man With The Golden Gun,” due to which Island is now known as James Bond Island.

 

Phuket History

Phuket began as an agricultural and fishing settlement until its strategic position resulted in its rise as a central trading hub between China and India 🧐 Wealth was derived from its tin mines and rubber plantations. In the late 17th century, French, Dutch, and English traders competed in the tin trade. 

Initially, a French East India Company ship left the island for Europe in September 1680, loaded with a full cargo of the metal πŸŽ“ Several years later, still looking to reduce English and Dutch influence on the island, the Siamese king named a French missionary, Brother Rene Charbonneau, as governor of Phuket, a position which he held until 1685 when the tin concession was officially granted to the French. 

Three years later, a revolution in Siam permanently dispatched the French and caused the concession to be revoked. The following year, a French expedition attempted unsuccessfully to recapture the island and restore French influence in Siam. Thus ending any connection between Phuket and France πŸ‘“

Almost 100 years later, concurrent with their attacks on the mainland, Burmese forces arrived on Phuket πŸ‘“ Only to be met by a hurriedly assembled local militia organized by the wife and step-sister of the island’s recently deceased governor. After a month-long siege of the capital, the Burmese were forced to retreat, and the two women became heroines πŸŽ“ The tin industry continued under King Chulalongkorn. Phuket became a province in 1933 after the constitutional monarchy was established, and Siam became Thailand. 

 

Backpacking in Phuket

The island's beauty was discovered by backpackers in the 1970s, with the tourism potential soon realized and acted upon 🧐. Over the last 40 years, Phuket has developed into one of Asia’s most popular tropical destinations. With a vast choice of hotels, restaurants, tour offices, and facilities. It’s also a significant destination for holiday and retirement homes, with a large, well-established expat community πŸ’―

 

Phuket Food Guide

Phuket Restaurants and local eateries in the main tourism areas of Patong and Phuket town are surprisingly cosmopolitan. Due to the setting up of Western restaurants by expats happy to cater to their fellow foreigners’ preferences πŸ‘“ Local eateries serve all the Thai favorites, and seafood dishes are the most popular. 

Noodles are the staple here, rather than rice, and are served fried or boiled with chicken or pork, local herbs, and a variety of spices and sauces πŸ“œ Upscale international food is found in many luxury hotels. The major tourist areas represent European cuisines such as Italian and French. Street food, food courts in the malls, and fast foods ensure no one goes hungry 🧐 day or night. 

 

Phuket Transport Guide

Phuket International Airport lies north of the island and is Thailand’s second-largest arrivals hub after Bangkok. It’s a genuine international airport with direct flights to Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, the Middle East, and other Asian countries 🧐 Domestic flights run to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui, and charter flights serve several European destinations.

 Minibusses, an airport bus, metered taxis, and limos provide ground transportation from the airport. Luxury long-distance VIP buses run from Bangkok to the island. Phuket is a large island with limited public transport, with taxis, songthaews, and tuk-tuks the only practical way to get around unless you drive πŸ‘“ Car hire or purchase is straightforward but expensive, and going on the island is an adventure due to local drivers’ lack of care. 

 

Phuket Weather and Climate

Phuket’s tropical monsoon climate makes it hot and humid all year round. Whether it’s the dry season from November through April or the rainy season from May to October 🧐 Daytime temperatures stay around 32-36°C all year. With occasional spikes into the 40s, the monsoon rains are heavy from May through October. December through March see the sunniest and driest months with most visitors. 

 

Phuket Family Attractions

Over the last few years, Phuket has tried hard to cultivate a family-friendly reputation. This was achieved by building and organizing a wide range of children’s attractions and fun things to do 🧐 Theme parks such as Phuket Fantasea, go-kart racing tracks, a modernized Phuket Aquarium, elephant rides, zip-lining through jungle tree-tops, and the Splash Jungle water park with its wave pool, waterslides, lazy river, and various swimming pools πŸ“œ are all favorites with visiting or resident kids and their parents. For older children, family scuba-diving, whitewater rafting, and thrilling ATV ride through jungles make for a great day out πŸ’― 

 

Phuket Sports and Leisure Facilities

Phuket’s sports clubs and fitness centers are places to make friends and stay healthy and fit πŸ’― Places such as Thanyapura Sports Club offer world-class sporting facilities such as tennis, rugby, and football. If you are a fan of golf, Phuket island is the place. The fantastic choice of courses includes the Canyon Course at Blue Canyon Country Club or Red Mountain GC 🧐 If you are a fan of combat sports, there are many top-quality Muay Thai Boxing camps on the island where you can come and learn this ancient martial art. 

Phuket is one of the most awe-inspiring 🧐 and exciting holiday islands in the world. And whether you are already here on holiday, deciding whether or not to book a trip πŸ“œ, or are looking to live here this Phuket holiday guide πŸ‘“ will help you to learn more about this substantial tropical island. 

 

 

The Bear Travel Vocabulary Time!

Muay Thai
: “Muay” means boxing in Thai, and it combines Thai Martial arts and has become a modern combat sport

Songthaew
: covered pickup trucks with rows of seats in the back that transport people along set routes in Thailand

Upscale
: it is relatively expensive and designed to appeal to affluent consumers

Concurrent
: existing, happening, or done at the same time

Constitutional Monarchy
: when a Monarch shares power with a constitutionally organized government

 

 

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Written by
Professor Bear

Hello, I am Professor Bear and I travel by choice. I will take you on a journey to a new place every time and give an immersive experience by telling the history and giving you a detailed tour. Join me for an unforgettable travel experience of your life.

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