- Coastline Mighty mountains, silvery sands
- Coast life Farangs, flip-flops and fishing boats
Dropped like a giant pearl into the azure Andaman Sea, Phuket is a textbook tropical paradise of perfect beaches and forest-fringed cliffs.
Jetting in by plane, you’ll spy jungle-clad hills twisting across the island like green dragons’ spines, and the fringes of development where Phuket is expanding around – and even up – the mountains. Away from the beach, the island’s towns and temples offer their own thrills, from the unique Sino-Portuguese architecture of Phuket Town to the hectic tuk tuk-travelled streets of Patong Beach, home to some of Thailand’s most dynamic – and infamous – nightlife. Whether you come here for a party, an insight into Buddhist culture, or just the healthy trinity of sand, sun and serenity, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Do go/Don’t go
Phuket is most alive during the sunny season, from November to March. Be prepared to pay significantly higher prices for rooms in this period, and make that dinner reservation promptly. When the monsoon lull hits, expect slower service and more irregular opening hours at shops and eateries.
- Planes 30km from Phuket Town, Phuket International Airport (www.phuketairportonline.com) is Thailand’s second busiest after Bangkok, with charter flights connecting to dozens of destinations.
- Trains There are no trains to Phuket. Buses travel from the Southern Bus Terminal in Thonburi, Bangkok, but the journey is a back-straining 14 hours; it makes far more sense to hop on a one-hour no-frills flight.
- Automobiles Navigating Phuket by car is manageable with the help of a decent map. Roads can be treacherous though, so don’t scrimp on insurance. Motorbike rental is also a possibility, if you can stomach the statistics (10,000 accidents a year).
- Taxis Flagging down taxis in Phuket is relatively hassle-free; fares start at THB50. Three-wheeled tuk tuks are everywhere in Patong and Phuket Town, but are becoming expensive. Negotiate a round-trip rate if you’d like one to wait for you while you shop or sightsee; be prepared to pay upwards of THB150 an hour. A cheaper, but slower, option are songthaews, which run between the main resort areas and Phuket Town.