Phuket (pronounced “Pooket”) is the largest island in Thailand measuring 540 square km it is compared with Singapore that is a similar size.
It is difficult to state the number of people living in Phuket with the number of tourists that visit the island together at any one time but is considered over 250,000 persons.
The main town is “Phuket Town” and has the largest number of inhabitants and well worth a visit especially at ‘festival time’
There are around 35 beaches on Phuket - some well known by the tourists and some are quite stunning and secluded with clear waters but difficult to find and we call them 'secret beaches'. However in time we fear these will also be developed to accommodate the beach hungry tourists.
Patong beach is the most popular beach located on the west coast and is now more or less a resort rather than the fishing village it was around 15 years ago and tourism here gives a big boost for the Phuket and Thailand economy.
Agriculture including the farming of coconuts, bananas, pineapples etc is still a major source of income for Phuket as well as the fishing industry and a number of rubber plantations cover large areas of land.
Phuket is the most visited tourist spot in Thailand and attracts more than 3 million visitors annually and it's sheer size and what it offers allows visitors to escape from the madding crowds.
Limestone cliffs and palm-fringed tropical beaches and calm azure blue waters give Phuket it's popularity and are its biggest draw with each beach having a character and charm of its own separated by picturesque headlands. However exploration by trek or by elephant of the inland areas can be an interesting diversion with it's plantations, rice paddies and rain forest.
Phuket's weather conditions are dominated by monsoon winds that blow year round. It is therefore always warm and humid. There are two distinct seasons -- the green season ( May - October) where the climate is pleasant and cooler but expect some heavy showers - and the hot season (November - May) when short heavy thundery showers give a welcome relief to the humidity at this time of the year.
The Andaman Sea is blessed with crystal clear water, beautiful geography and warm weather all year round. It remains Thailand's leading destination for sailing, and one of the primary sailing centers in South East Asia.
The clearest and the calmest waters are off the west coast of the island near Patong. Sailing and yachting around Phuket offers some resplendent sights to the north, west and south of the island. The highlights include Pi Pi Islands, Phang Nga, Krabi, Similan Islands and Surin Islands.
Attractions to visit
Phuket has a number of watersport based and other activities to choose from as listed in the 'Activities' section however we have listed below a few of the many attractions that can be seen at a leisurely pace.
Aquarium and Marine Biological Research Centre
The Phuket Aquarium is located in the south of Phuket at Cape Panwa and gives a good introduction to the marine life found in the waters around Phuket. It has recently undergone an extensive renovation and now one of the highlights is a 10 metre long underwater glass tunnel.
Old Phuket Town
Take a half day trip and see the beautiful shop houses of Old Phuket town to these old Sino Portuguese streets which also has many cafes, bakeries and other eateries to enjoy. There is also a 'walking street' market on Sundays.
This show is quite an extravaganza very professionally presented. Including traditional dancing, trapeze artists, Thai warriors on elephants and everyday scenes recreated with a great sound-and light show, it provides a glimpse into some Thai myths and legends as well as a bawdy pantomime style entertainment.
In the land of the "katoey", Simon Cabaret is one of the biggest, glitziest, most glam cabaret shows around. The entertainment features a spectacular musical, performed by this very professional, entertaining troupe of "girls" all wearing out-of-this-world feathered and sequined numbers, and performing choreographed routines. Fabulous fun.
Spa and Wellness
Many arrive in Phuket having heard about the benefits of the various treatments derived from ancient traditions and looking to achieve physical and mental well being which is a key to maintaining health and beauty. Phuket is also paradise for spa lovers and boasts world class spas offering luxurious and rejuvenating body and facial treatments, aromatic steam baths, expert massages and yoga classes. If you feel like leaving the your luxury Phuket villa for a treatment there are many Spa and Well Being centres in Phuket most of which are attached to the Resort hotels
The island is approximately 860 km south of Bangkok and located in the Andaman Sea off Thailand's west coast that is part of the Indian Ocean, Phuket or 'The Pearl of the South' is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge.
Phuket airport is an international airport and Thailand's second busiest hub behind Bangkok.
Flights arrive direct from all over the world including Singapore,, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Penang many cities from Australia and Europe as well as domestically from other Thailand destinations.
There are no direct train rail services to Phuket, although a train from Bangkok will take you to Surat Thani where a bus can be taken for a 2 - 3 hour journey to Phuket.
If you prefer a bus ride the overnight air conditioned bus from Bangkok is the best option and will take 12 - 14 hours to Phuket.
Not sure where to stay in Phuket? Thailand Retreats has a wide range of villas to rent across Phuket. Here's our insider knowledge of each area. Close to the bustling nightlife of Patong? Our chic and elegant villas areas of Kamala and Surin in the north of the island, the popular beaches and town of Kata or the chilled out south of the island at Chalong and Cape Panwa. Choose what's best for you.....
Ao Po is located on the north east coast of Phuket and just 25 minutes from the airport and well away from the tourist crowds of the west coast 30 minutes away. The bay surrounded by mangrove forests and nursery grounds for aquatic animals it is also a nature lovers dream.
The area is home to Ao Po Grand Marina with berths for super yachts up to 80m in length and is known as the best destinations for yacht lovers and those craving a luxury getaway in Phuket.
Bang Tao is situated in the north of Phuket, 25km from Phuket airport. Bang Tao has large stretch of sandy beach and is within walking distance of Surin. This is a peaceful area that is home to a large luxury holiday destination resort called Laguna Phuket featuring a golf course and many restaurants, bars and boutiques. The Splash Waterpark is close by and great fun for the kids.
Cape Panwa is a 'green' hilly peninsular located in the south east of Phuket. It is attractive to many for it's stunning views over the small islands to the south of Phuket and its peace and tranquility, it's well away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches in the west coast.
Cape Yamu is an "Little Italy" shaped peninsular jutting out on to the beautiful Phang Nga bay overlooking a number of small islands on the north east coast of Phuket. The whole area has fantastic views. The area has become known for it's exclusive high end luxury properties which have now been made available for short term holiday rental and we include a number of these in our portfolio.
Chalong Bay is rigidly associated with all things nautical. The muddy shoreline makes it unsuitable for recreational swimming, but the Ao Chalong Yacht Club makes its base here. Many depart from Chalong Pier to visit beautiful Phang Nga Bay, island hop or go on diving and snorkelling excursions. The area also hosts activities such as golf, go-karting, climbing, shooting and paintball.
Kalim beach neighbours lively Patong. It is situated at the northern end of Patong Bay. Kalim is building a reputation for its fabulous villas nestled in the hillside and above the beach and for fine dining experiences. Our Kalim villas refect this with the area being much more serene than Patong, but still near enough to the action.
Kamala is on the west coast of Phuket, north of Kalim and Patong. This was a traditional fishing village that remains closer to its routes than Patong. Kamala Beach is an enclosed bay, with calm waters that are suitable for swimming. It's a tranquil area and the bay surrounded by tropical hillside where several upscale villas and hotels are located - part of which is known as Millionaires mile.
A short distance from Karon beach, the pleasant bay of the famous Kata beach is ever popular due to its spectacular palm-lined beach, amazing restaurants and lively nightlife. More laid back than action packed, this a popular destination for both surfers and sun seekers alike.
The Nai Harn Beach area is located in the south of Phuket and is considered a laid back area compared with the west coast where the majority of tourists aim for. The area is home to two famous viewpoints and other nearby white sand beaches as well as a good choice of restaurants.
Nai Thon beach is a quiet beach, unspoit and relatively untouched, located south of Nai Yang Beach and just north of the smaller Nai Thon Beach on the north west coast of Phuket and is a paradise for people looking for a relaxing beach vacation, away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle.
The pristine Natai Beach is actually located in the neighbouring province of Phang Nga, just 20 minutes north of the Phuket International Airport. Although secluded and quiet, this beach is a short distance from the popular Blue Canyon Golf Course and picture perfect Phang Nga Bay.
Patong is one of the most lively and popular areas in Phuket and is infamous for its nightlife scene. It also has more upscale choices including a broad selection of culinary delights from street food to fine dining and boutique shopping. Patong beach, although not undiscovered, is still beautiful. The beach and surrounding areas brim with life and there is a huge choice of watersports.
Surin is a very chic neighbourhood visited by the jetset and is home to several five star spa resorts. Many have holiday homes here or reside in awe-inspiring villas and it is known as 'Millionaire's Row' due to the number of luxury villas on the hillside. Surin has an understated elegance retaining much of its original tropical beauty and that is why celebrities choose it for a holiday.
Phuket is a relatively large island, and provides a whole host of attractions for the visitor. Phuket's great advantage is that there's always something to do on and off the island whether it's raining or shining.
From the relaxing, out of-the-way beaches and villages to the hustle and bustle of the tourist strips and Phuket town, there are things to see and do around every corner. Choose to do nothing or everything - the opportunities are endless.
Phuket offers so much for everyone. Walk through some bustling open-air markets laden with the freshest seafood, fruits, vegetables, and sample from vendors selling all manner of tasty treats.
Not only do most of the major hotels and resorts offer a wide selection of quality international restaurants and bars, featuring cabaret shows and live music, but every tourist centre has numerous other entertainment venues
Patong is undoubtedly the epicentre of the island's entertainment scene, boasting a wealth of bars, clubs, live music, and cabaret shows, yet there is still plenty to discover around the island, with Kata/Karon and Phuket town offering such a diverse range of clubs and nightspots.