Getting to Know
It’s not surprising that Phuket has enthralled you. A glimpse of the sparkling azure waters, lush green forestry, powdery sand and dramatic limestone cliffs is enough to make you want to pack your bags and go, right at this moment.
Dubbed as the “Pearl of the Andaman”, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island – and it’s most popular, too. Located 862 kilometers south of Bangkok, it has an impressive coastline with long stretches of sandy beaches, merged together with rock formations and in-land forests. Any point in Phuket is a good spot to view the marvelous tropical sunset, with a drink in hand of course!
Phuket is a contradiction of sorts. It has been known as the Southeast Asian island to sea and be scene, so parts of it can be largely busy and crowded, such as the notorious Patong Beach. On the other hand, it has also evolved into a cosmopolitan destination, making it a prime hotspot for international resorts with deluxe beach bars, celebrity chefs, and signature sundowners.
There is, however, still a traditional and authentic side of Phuket to discover. There are temples and cultural landmarks — a testament to when Sukhothai was still a thriving kingdom; floating markets with fresh produce and wares, as well as natural resources waiting to be explored.
All this means there is always something to see and do in the majestic island of Phuket!
Begin with our
Fast Facts About Phuket
Got a flight to catch? We’ve run down all the essentials here.
Read About This…
Your Guide to Phuket
Don’t know where to start? We’ll help you navigate the island here.
Western Phuket (Bang Thao, Kamala, Karon, Kata, Laem Sing, Mai Khao,
Nai Thon and Nai Yang, Patong, Surin)
Southeastern Phuket (Chalong Bay, Cape Panwa, Nai Han, Rawai, Ya Nui)
Interior Phuket (Bang Rong, Ko Sire, Phuket Town, Phra Taew National Park, Thalang)
Small islands southern-eastern Phuket and Phang Nga Bay (Ko Bon, Ko Hae, Ko Lon, Ko Mai Thon, Ko Racha, Ko
Maphrao, Ko Naka, Ko Yao, Ko Panyi, Ko Tapu (James Bond Island))
Beyond Phuket (Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi, Koh Racha)
The Best of Phuket
Don’t have enough time? Here are the sights and activities you mustn’t miss.
Read About This…
Fast Facts About Phuket
How to get there
Phuket has its own International Airport, so these days, you can fly direct instead of passing through Bangkok. There are direct flights from many major airline hubs.
Air Asia, Jetstar and Tiger Air offer low cost regular flights to Phuket from destinations such as Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, and India. To check your options, try Skyscanner.com.
How to get around
We’ll be honest – arriving in Phuket is a lot like arriving in any other Asian destination: there will be a horde of taxi operators at the airport exit, trying to strong arm you into a taxi.
To spare yourself from stress, we suggest booking your hotel transfer in advance. Most hotels offer this service, but if you’re staying at a hostel or an Airbnb, there are shuttle services like Viator that can bring you safely to your destination, and at a fixed rate.
Most hotels, larger stores and restaurants accept debit and credit cards. Other than that, please bring cash.
TO GET CASH THROUGH ATM:
Most (but not all) ATMs in Thailand accept foreign cards. Simply look for the VISA, Mastercard or Cirrus signs on the machines. Note though that Thai banks impose a 150 Baht ATM withdrawal fee for foreign cards, and this is separate from any fees your own bank will charge for foreign transactions. Thai ATMs also have a maximum withdrawal of 20,000 Baht in any one transaction.
TO EXCHANGE YOUR MONEY:
There are money changers around the airport, but there are also hundreds of money changers scattered across the main streets. You can try stopping by one before transferring to your hotel.
Health and Safety
Most bars are open until 3am.
Some numbers you want to save in your phone for emergencies:
– Call 072-225-361 or go to: www.phuket-tourist-police-volunteers.com/ for more information.
– Call 1669 or look for the nearest
TAXI CALL CENTER
– Call 1681 or 1661
Topless bathing is a no-no in beaches, but some tourists still do it. We highly suggest you respect local culture. Temples and shrines have dress codes. When in a temple, girls should cover their shoulders, wear long pants or a long skirt, or a sarong.
Your guide to
Phuket Province is made up of one large island (that’s Phuket), and 32 smaller islands surrounding it. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the number of sights to see and things to do, so with a limited amount of time, it would help to plan your route in the most efficient way possible.
More importantly: every island in Phuket has a different vibe. Enjoying Phuket is really a matter of finding a place which fits your needs and your personality.
You’ll find many blogs and articles online about first-timers being disappointed about Phuket, and often, it’s because they booked their stay based on prices and special offers, and ended up in a part of Phuket that wasn’t right for them. So choose the right one!
Make the most of your Phuket trip by identifying which part to stay in or which part to see first, using our guide:
The geography of Phuket has created two very different sides to the island, so tourists who expect all the islands to be practically the same are mistaken!
Beaches on Western Phuket: Bang Thao, Kamala, Karon, Kata, Laem Sing, Mai Khao, Nai Thon and Nai Yang, Patong, Surin
Western Phuket is where all the world-famous beaches are. This part faces the annual Southwest Monsoon, whose waves sweep the Andaman Sea from May to October. Along this coast, the offering vary from Patong’s wild party scene, to Kata and Karon’s family-friendly beach clubs.
Beaches on Eastern Phuket: Chalong Bay, Cape Panwa, Nai Han, Rawai, Ya Nui
Eastern Phuket is exposed to lighter monsoons, giving it smaller waves and more protected waters. You won’t find classically beautiful tropical beaches here, save for the ones at the tip of the coast at Cape Panwa. What this part of Phuket has more of are urban centers and village communities, which remain more ‘Thai’ than ‘tourist’.
Islands Beyond Phuket: Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi, Koh Racha
Beyond Phuket, you’ll find specks on the ocean that are worth seeing and making time for. You may be most familiar with these cluster of islands as those that begin with “Koh”, the Thai word for island. They are a ferry ride (or two) away from Phuket, but the tantalizing combination of tantalising composition of turquoise water, lush jungles and sparkling sand keep tourists and locals alike coming back.
First timers often start with Ko Samui, Koh Phang Ngan and Ko Tao, the most accessible and tourist-friendly in this chain of islands, but there are a few more to be explored. To help you choose, check out our Islands Guide on The Best of Phuket.