General Information of Phuket

Located approximately 862 kilometers south of Bangkok is Phuket,Thailand's largest island, which is often dubbed as the pearl of theAndaman, or the pearl of the south. Its natural resources- rockypeninsular, limestone cliffs, white powdery beaches, tranquil broadbays and tropical in-land forests contribute to making it the South'swealthiest, busiest, most visited and most popular island and province.

Nestled in the tropical zone off the west coast of the southern partof Thailand in the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean, the provincecovers an area of approximately 543 square kilometers (excluding smallislets). It is estimated that Phuket Province covers an area ofapproximately 590 square kilometers if its 39 other small islands areincluded. The islands total length, from north to south, is estimatedat 48.7 kilometers and approximately 21.3 kilometers wide.

Phuket borders on Phang-nga Province to the north. The other 3 sides are encircled by the Andaman Sea the place where many of the best diving sites are located. The island is connected to Phang-nga Province by Sarasin Bridge and Thep Krasattri Bridge.
Staying on the island is easy, as there are only two seasons in a year - the rainy season (May to October) and the hot season (November to April). The low season of phuket is between September and October as they are the wettest months. The best period for a visit, is from November to February, when it is possible to see the clear blue sky, feel the fresh sea breeze and marvel at the crystal clear water while lying on powdery, palm-fringed beaches. Average temperatures ranges between 23 C and 33 C.

Phuket's topology is exceptional with 70 percent of its area covered with mountains which stretch from north to south and the remaining 30 percent being plains located in the central and eastern parts of the island. The island does not have any major rivers except for a total of 9 brooks and creeks.

Phuket is divided into 3 administrative counties namely Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Thalang and Amphoe Kathu.

Phuket has a lot more to offer its visitors other than its natural heritage sea, sand, sky, beach, forest, and world renowned diving sites. Sino-Portuguese architecture casts its spell delighting travelers to the city, while Phuket-style hospitality has never failed to impress visitors from all walks of life. In addition, accommodations ranging from world-class resorts to tropical-style bungalows have warmly catered to the different needs of travelers. For seafood lovers, there is a lot more to sample than just Phuket's famous lobster. Altogether, these characteristics have made Phuket a truly unique destination.

History of Phuket

Most geologists believe that the area known as Phuket today was once a cape that extended into the Andaman Sea. Geographical formations gradually changed the capes location, finally detaching it from the mainland.

A famous Greek philosopher, Claudius Ptolemy, was the first person who mentioned the cape in his book written in the year 157. The cape was locally referred to as Jung Ceylon, which was located between latitudes 6 N and 8 N (the present site of Phuket Island). Natives called the place Cha Lang, which evolved to Tha Lang the name of the main town to the north of the island.

As a perfect stopover sheltering traders from monsoons, Jung Ceylon welcomed merchants from India, Persia, Arabia, Burma, China and also Siam. During the 16th century, the island was also a popular trading port for tin with Portuguese, Dutch, English and French traders flocking to the island. This contributed to making the development of mining so unprecedented. Chinese businessmen and miners later migrated to Phuket and soon enjoyed thriving business wealth. 

Apart from serving as a meeting point for traders from Europe, Central Asia and China, Phuket also attracted ambitious immigrants, especially those from Portugal and China, to work in the tin mines. With its colorful history, visitors admire the Sino-Portuguese style architecture in the city especially those buildings located along the Thalang and Yaowarat Roads.

Thalang town was surrounded by Burmese troops who invaded the coastal area in 1785. It was under the leadership of Chan, the widow of the governor, and her sister, Muk, who united local residents and successfully fought and drove the invaders out of Phuket. It took over 30 days for the defending troops of Phuket, under the command of Chan and Muk, to claim their victory. As a result of such heroic deeds, noble titles were granted to Chan and Muk as Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon respectively. To honor them, a monument was established at Tha Ruea Intersection, 12 kilometers to the north of Phuket City in 1966. They are still highly respected by Phuket residents even today.

However, 24 years later, the Burmese succeeded in seizing Thalang causing many local residents to flee to Phang-nga and Krabi. In 1825, some of them returned to re-establish a town and established a rice farming community. On the other hand, the area to the south of the island (Phuket City today) was developed and became a tin trading center.

When Phuket was elevated to a town in 1850, it attracted more immigrants from Thalang and nearby communities. In 1894, Phuket was promoted to be a Monthon administrative unit under the supervision of the central administrative body (located in Bangkok).

In 1902, Phraya Ratsada Korsimbi, a Sino-Thai businessman who contributed to developing the modern city of Phuket was appointed Governor of Phuket. He also helped to improve the welfare of local residents and set up the market system in the countryside. In 1916, Phuket became a province.

The tin mining industry has gradually failed to generate economic growth in Phuket, especially after 1985 when the price of tin fell by half. However, with its natural resources, Phuket later emerged as a tourist destination with great potential. This polished pearl of the Andaman is truly a destination that provides visitors with memorable experiences.

The islands long history has shaped the distinctive Phuket of the present with its diverse ethnic groups, culture, architectural influence, and fine cuisine. With approximately 35 percent of the population being comprised of Thai-Muslims, it is possible to see an equal number of Wats (Thai temples) located next to Mosques.

How To Go to Phuket

By air
This is perhaps the easiest way to get to Phuket. Domestic airlinesoperate several flights daily between Bangkok and Phuket. Some flightsgo to Phuket via Samui Island with a 40-minute stopover. List ofoperators are as follows:

Phuket Air offers daily flights to Phuket and the journey takes only 1.20 hours. Call 02 6798999 or visit www.phuketairlines.com for more details on flights.

Bangkok Airways has daily flights connecting Phuket with Pattaya andSamui. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 662265 5678. Reservations can be made at tel. 66 2265 5555.Alternatively, browse its website at www.bangkokair.com for more flight details.

Thai Airways International has numerous daily flights servicing theBangkok-Phuket route. In addition, they have regular flights connectingPhuket with Hat Yai, Surat Thani, and Narathiwat Provinces. For moreinformation, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 02 628 2000 or bookyour seat online at www.thaiairways.com

One-to-Go by Orient Thai operates a daily flight between Bangkok and Phuket. The flight time is 1.20 hours. Call 1126 or visit www.onetwo-go.com for more information.

Air Asia also offers several daily flights connecting Bangkok and Phuket. The flight time is 1.20 hours. Visit www.airasia.com or call 02 5159999 for reservations.
Nok Air has several daily flights between Bangkok and Phuket with a flight time of 1.20 hours. Visit www.nokair.com or call 1318 to make your reservation.

Destination Air porvides first class seaplane transfers to and fromPhuket Internation Airport to resorts and hotels located in the Andamansea.  Popular destinations are such as Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Ko Lanta. Services commence in July 2006. Contact Bangkok Office of DestinationAir at Tel: 0 2261 5323, Fax: 0 2261 5331 or visit www.destinationair.com

Getting to Phuket from abroad

There are several direct flights between Phuket and internationaldestinations, e.g. Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Penang, Singapore, andSydney.
Dragon Air, Malaysia Airlines, Silk Airand Singapore Airlines alsooperate international flights connecting Phuket with otherdestinations. Please call airline offices for more details.

Transportation to and from the airport

Phuket International Airport is located approximately 30 kilometersnorth of the city, tel. 076 327230. Taxis between Phuket City and theairport costs approximately 400 baht but the fare to the beach rangesbetween 500 baht and 600 baht (The rate may decline now). Minivanscharge approximately 80 baht /person to town, but 120 baht/person toPatong, Kata and Karon Beaches. Phuket Limousine (tel. 076 248596),located approximately 1 kilometer west of the city, operates hourlyshuttles to the airport from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

By bus
Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok's SouthernBus Terminal for Phuket several times daily. Trips by air-conditionedbus, which normally leaves in the evening, take about 13 hours.
Call 0 2434 7192, 0 2435 1199 or visit www.transport.co.th for more information.

By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No.4 (Phetchakasem Road) throughPhetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Phang-ngaProvinces, then cross the Thep Krasattri Bridge or Sarasin Bridge toPhuket Island. The total distance is 862 kilometers and the travel timeis approximately 12 hours.

By rail
There is no direct train service to Phuket. Travelers arriving by trainmust get off at Phun Phin Railway Station in Surat Thani Province andcontinue by regular bus to Phuket. For more information, call the StateRailway of Thailand, 1690, 0 2223 7010, or 0 2223 7020.

By Ferry
During the high season, travelers may opt to get to Phuket from Ko PhiPhi and Ko Lanta (both are in Krabi Province). Few ports in Phuketprovide this service with fares ranging between 300 bahts and 500 baht.The trip may take 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on weather conditions.

Getting around Phuket

Car Rental Service
Avis Car Rent Airport Tel: 0-7635-1243, Kata Beach Resort Tel : 0-7638-1530-3

District Tel: 0-7621-5200

Motorcycle taxis
It costs approximately 20 baht / person / trip to travel around Phuket City. Alternatively, motorcycles can be rented from rental agencies located on Rasada Road or from several operators along beaches. The cost may vary from 150 baht 300 baht / day, depending on the number of cylinders.

Songthaeo and Tuk-Tuk
Songthaeos are operated along Ranong Road to several destinations on the beaches. The cost varies from approximately 20 baht to 25 baht / person / trip. Normally the service is provided from 7.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m.

Tuk-Tuks can be chartered to the beach however, the rates which can be negotiated are higher at 200 baht to Patong Beach, 230 baht to Karon and Kata Beaches and 300 baht to Nai Han and Kamala Beaches. However, Tuk-Tuks drive around the town at the rate of 20 baht.

Taxi Meter
Visitors can call 076 232157-8 to get a metered taxi that will take them anywhere in Phuket. The metered fare will include a 20 baht surcharge.

Getting to nearby provinces

By bus
There are regular bus services (VIP, air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned) to neighboring provinces such as Krabi, Phang-nga, Chumphon, Ko Samui (bus/boat), Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ranong, Surat Thani, Satun, Hat Yai, Takua-Pa and Trang. Departures are from the Phuket Bus Terminal off Phang-nga Road. For more up-to-date schedules and fares, call Phuket Air-conditioned Bus Station, tel. 0 7621 1977.

Taxis & Vans
There are shared taxi and van services between Phuket and other nearby provinces. Fares of both are generally around double the fare of an ordinary bus. The stations of both taxis and minivans are also on Phang-nga Road.

By air
Some domestic airlines operate flights from Phuket to Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Hat Yai and Samui. For more details, check with your travel agent or the TAT office.

Getting to nearby islands from Phuket

Boats to nearby islands can be found at the following ports:

Rawai BeachAn old local port, it is from here that long-tail boats depart for nearby islands such as Ko He, Ko Racha Yai, Ko Mai Thon, Ko Lon, etc. The chartered price depends on the distance.

Ao Chalong
The largest port of Phuket that has all kinds of boats, including cruisers of tour companies which organize package tours to other islands.

Ao Makham
Located near Phanwa Cape, the port is only for cruisers and container ships.
Boat Lagoon Port (Ao Sapam) The port is for traveling boats of tour companies.

Activities in Phuket

Cable Waterskiing
This is a quite new sport and require a bit of nerve. Skiers are pulled around the oral track at speeds of up to 30 kilometres per hour by overhead cables on man-made lake.

Instruction is free for beginners. It is on the same way to Kathu waterfall.

Diving
The water of Phuket is internationally renowned for their vitality of marine life, striking coral reefs and high visibility. The most popular dive hotspots included the Similans, Surin, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. There are numerous dive companies conducting trips around the Phuket and Andaman Seas. Mostly offer the full range of impeccable services with Personal attention and care. If you are looking for the perfect diving holiday, Phuket could be the ideal venue for your exciting diving.

Snorkeling
Regard to being one of the top ten snorkeling tourist destination worldwide which explores amazing undersea world of a variety of marine life and beautiful coral reefs to vacationers.

Phuket has a great snorkeling spots you could list on your vacation sites such as visiting at Kai Nok Island and Racha Island with a half-day or full-day trips. For those who prefer a short boat ride, Coral Island is appropriate. Almost tour operators provide all snorkeling equipments particularly small size for children with professional snorkeling guides during the trip. Hence, the whole family can have fun in turquoise sea waters.

Windsurfing
Windsurfing Fan Season in November to April, steady winds and a flat sea make for a great combination, perfectly suited to this sport the fantastic West Coast is the place to be Kata, Karon, for example, is a popular windsurfing hangout.

Sailing
The Andaman Region holds a treasure-trove of lagoons and bays perfect for sailing. Even as far south as Langkawi in Malaysia, the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar and the Similan Islands in Thailand, Yachts and motor boats may be chartered from Phuket Yacht Haven Marina or The Boat Lagoon for day trips, overnight excursions and live – aboard adventure tours. Take your dream vacation and sailing here to feel about one of Asia's finest sailing vessels in Phuket.

Bungy Jumping
It is a real test of guts. For those daredevils craving the stomach-wrenching sensation of free-falling 54 metres into a pond.

The bungy jump will certainly quench your thirst.

Elephant Trekking
Thick tropical jungle, fresh crystal streams, spectacular waterfalls and the timid creatures of the forest, leave visitors enchanted with a memory to last a lifetime.

Riding an elephant is a memorable experience not to be missed. Event if you are not interested in trekking, come down and have a look at these magnificent animals in the flesh.

During eco-adventure excursion, tour companies provide bananas that you can feed to elephants including long and cool drinks to keep you refreshed as well. 

Go-Karting
Go pedal-to-the-metal on road side of Patong hill at Kathu.

Extremely fun and not as dangerous as some people imagine.

Horse Riding
The one exciting sport for adventure seekers. Either non- experienced riders or experienced riders could find memorable experience on horseback accompanying with a professional guide who provides you simple instructions along the scenery plantations or sandy beaches.

There are three interested riding clubs in Phuket: on Patak Road (the way to Kata Beach), Ban Sai Yuan on the way to Naiharn Beach, and Laguna Phuket (near Bangtao Beach). All of these offer facilities for both beginners and experienced riders alike.

Fishing Charter
Game fishing is very well-known off the Phuket’s shores. There are a number of sport fish livings in the surrounding sea and a relatively large number of charter game fishing operations to take you to find them.

You do not need to be expert because captains and crew go along with you throughout your day trip. Importantly, the Phuket International Sport fishing Tournament was held every November. If you are a real fisherman, this is the great opportunity to meet all competitors from around the world here.

Canoeing
Canoes are dispatched from “mother boats” to travel through the long cave or around the sea. Take your exciting with one of most famous eco-tourism program like sea canoe to discover beauty of natural and spectacular atmosphere. The popular adventure program such canoeing trip to the hidden caves of Phang Nga that is the highlight of visiting to Phuket could definitely leave you unforgettable journey worth your time and money.

Cruises
Escape from serious works to relaxing, peaceful and natural destination by cruise in and around Phuket Island. Have an ice cold drink while sightseeing the spectacular scenery and drop anchor at certain exotic sites to swim for a while. You can experience this superb journey easily regard to there are many service cruises offer many choices of itinerary including lunch, transfers and park entrance fees in Phuket.

Golfing Phuket
Experience the challenging activity and breathe taking simultaneous on various special feature green courses with well-trained caddies. Daunting and numerous natural hazards could challenge and enjoy the golfer at every level.

All excellent facilities and high standard services offered throughout the game at an affordable price.

Apart from spectacular golf courses some courses also provide excellent cuisine and accommodation for overnight stays.

Spa and Herbal Sauna Thai traditional medicine and healing provided by skillful therapists throughout treatment process. Thai massage with herbal oils recovers the balance of the body’s essentials. Body therapy supports you being healthy. Moreover, Herbal Sauna is one alternative for relaxation. It helps to cleanse and rejuvenate the body either muscles, tissues and skill very well. There are many famous spa establishments in Phuket as following:

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