For millions of people the lure of a holiday in a tropical paradise becomes and itch that must be scratched. But for many, the idea of being cut off from their normal, accustomed to, wants and dependencies, makes them shy away from the idea and ignore the itch. However, there are some destinations that allow the traveler to well and truly scratch their itch whilst also being able to pamper to the whims and needs of visitors, regardless of their place of origin.
The Land of Smiles welcomes you to Phuket, the largest of Thailand’s 1430 islands. Sitting in the blue waters of the Andaman Sea and at 576 square kilometers, the island is connected at its Northern tip to Phang Nga province on the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge. The province of Krabi lies to its East across the Phang Nga Bay and in the crystal waters of its coast there are a further 32 islands.
Traditionally the island relied on the tin and rubber industry to support its economy, today the rubber industry is still a major economic contributor for the island and the nation as a whole. Although during the twentieth century the tin industry faded away, tourism took up the mantle and lead Phuket to what it is today, singularly an important part of the kingdom’s economy.
Today, for the visitor Phuket is whatever you want it be. It is high velocity, energy packed epicureanism, it is adventurous and adrenalin pumping, it is contemplatious peace and tranquility. Everyone that visits Phuket finds a bit of themselves on the island, and leaves with a bit of it within them.
What to See and What to Do on Phuket
Obviously Phuket has beaches and everything that goes with the sea and sand. Patong Beach is probably the busiest with Karon, Kamala and Kata beaches also being popular. The best beaches are thought to be on the West side of the island, of course that is opinion based and will depend on what an individual desires. For those that want a beach holiday with less energy and crowds the East side of the island is a better bet.
Away from the beaches treks through the mountains have become a popular activity. The mountain range runs North to South with, officially, its highest elevation being Khao Mai Thao Sip Song at 529 meters above sea level. However, recent barometric testing suggest a higher elevation exists, although with no name, at 542 meters and is to be found dominating the Kamala hills behind the Kathu Waterfalls.
Mountain trekking enables the visitor to familiarize themselves with the lush flora and diverse fauna of the island. Breathing the clear mountain air and taking in the awe inspiring views of the island from the high elevations, creates memories that last forever.
Scuba diving is another reason why Phuket is a popular draw. There are many qualified divers on the island to instruct, advise and take the underwater explorers to the best dive sites around the island. There are many favourites around Phuket, including a small rocky outcrop to the East of the island known as Shark Point. This is now classified as a marine sanctuary to protect its spectacularly diverse marine life, including the impressive Leopard Shark.
It is impossible to list all the coral reefs that you can dive on, but Anemone Reef is a very satisfying dive, not only for the amazing marine life it supports, but also because, here, can be seen the King Cruiser wreck. Also, exploring the underwater cliffs at Kho Doc Mai should not be missed.
Back on terra firma, there is much to see on the island. An impressive, and worthwhile visit is to feast your eyes upon ‘Big Buddha’. To the South of the island at the summit of Nakkerd Hill, this 45-meter-tall pure white marble statue will certainly leave you in awe. Peculiarly, plane spotting has become something of a novelty for visitors to the island. Stay a while at Mai Khao Beach and watch the approaching flying leviathans as the eventually sweep over the beach, so low you can almost reach up and touch them.
Of course spas are very much a part of Thailand, and on Phuket there is plenty to choose from. There many quality spas and wellness centers, including The ban Yan Tre Spa and Coqoon Spa at The Slate. The relaxation and rejuvenation that can be achieved makes a visit to one Phuket’s spa enjoyable and beneficial to mind and body.
Phuket, there’s too much to do! Visit the aquariums and water parks, James Bond Island, the Upside Down House, and the Chalong Rum distillery, take the fascinating tour and bag yourself a bottle as a tasty souvenir of your visit. Bathe with elephants, have dinner on Rang Hill and go to see the Simon Cabaret Show, or be a daredevil at the Flying Hanuman Zipline in the forest close to Patong Beach.
You will never see and do everything that Phuket has to offer, probably in a lifetime, but it certainly is fun and satisfying trying to take in as much as possible. Be an action man, an inquisitor, an explorer, or just be bone idle, whatever you want, Phuket is it.
Visit Phuket Ferry to find the travel info to and from Phuket.