PHUKET

The door to the Andaman Sea and its myriad of gem islands is southern Thailand’s main touristic hub and the country’s biggest island. As such, it has many faces and you’d have to try hard not to find at least one that you like whether you are a honeymooner, party-seeker, backpacker, retiree or with kids. Roughly 50 km/30 mi long and 15 km/9 mi wide, Phuket has more than 30 beaches to discover, from long, lively and semi-urban stretches to small and much quieter bays and coves. Scooters are for rent everywhere and are the best way to go around for those who had the good idea to bring their international driver license. Beside the lovely beaches and the night life, expect to enjoy a ton of different activities, from boat tours, water sports, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, golf, Muay Thai and temples sighting, to name the most popular. Beyond its mass tourism notoriety and the excesses that it provokes, Phuket is a a whole lot of fun and a stunningly beautiful island that shouldn’t be missed, at least for a few days…

Patong Beach, Phuket

Is Phuket dangerous to visit?

Unless you do very stupid things like riding a bike inebriated or without any experience or both, mess with drugs and/or the local underworld, you will feel safe in Phuket.  Petty scams common to all touristic places can occur but nothing to worry about with a bit of caution. If you party alone at night, don’t get stupidly drunk, don’t leave your drinks unattended and avoid dark & deserted areas, just like anywhere else in the world. Romeos might want to look out for some tell tale laryngeal prominence before making a move in poorly lit bars & nightclubs.

Patong Beach, Phuket

What should I avoid in Phuket?

Board a tuk-tuk without settling the fare first. Haggling can be tiresome sometimes but it’ll avoid even more tiresome scenes once arrived at your destination.

Ride elephants or take a selfie with protected animals such as slow lorises or iguanas. You will reward animal abuse in the 1st case and illegal animal trade in the 2nd case. Not what you had in mind, right?

Disregard the red flags on the beach. They mean that there are rip tides in the area. If you think you can overcome them, you are wrong, pure and simple. Swim between the yellow and red flags and enjoy the fun.

Drive a bike without proper insurance. Will that GoFundMe money arrive in time for a life-saving surgery?

Go to buy gems at an unbeatable price in a shop your taxi or tuk-tuk driver happens to know. What’s unbeatable is the profit they’ll all make off of you.

Sun loungers and umbrellas on the Patong Beach

Why is Phuket famous?

Well, first of all because it welcomes tourists since the 1970’s, meaning it is a well established and mature destination, it is very well connected and it is a stunning island with small white sand beaches in secluded coves, lots of activities and an electric nightlife. The release of the movie ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000 popularized further the thirst for ‘discovering’ previously ‘unknown’ islands that lies in every beachcomber and Phuket is the ideal gateway. Whatever your age, motivations and means, it’s hard no to have a good time in the Bukit ( Malay for ‘hill’ and the island’s name origin). Thailand is a fantastic country with a proud & strong culture; add a stunning tropical beach & jungle setting to it and hey, how much more cool than that can it get?

How expensive is Phuket? Are things expensive in Phuket?

Phuket is a bit more than the rest of Thailand, especially for food and transport. Accommodation at walking distance from the beach in Patong, for example, starts under 20 usd/night for a double. Service is excellent even in budget hotels, probably the best in Southeast Asia. Count on a minimum of 40 usd/day/person for basic food & accommodation.

james bond Island, Phuket, Thailand
The famous Island 007, James Bond, who appears in the movie "The Man with the Golden Gun"

Has Phuket recovered from tsunami?

Yes, totally. The tsunami happened over 16 years ago and all physical evidences of the event are long gone. We can only speculate about the psychological and social impact still felt by the population as it is not a topic readily shared with outsiders.

What is the best time to visit Phuket?

The best season is during the coolest and driest months, December to February, and is logically also the busiest. The hottest months are from March to May, when the wet season kicks in, ending in October. The rain seldom fall all day long and prices go down together with the number of visitors, so this off-peak period is worth considering.

Is Phuket worth going to?

Yes, totally. It’s a perfect base to venture further in the Andaman Sea, visit the Krabi area or join amazing boat tours as the Phuket airport is the busiest and best connected in Thailand after Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi  & Don Mueang. The island is spectacular in its own right, with a hilly & lush interior and a dramatic limestone coast with fantastic, clean beaches, exuberant nightlife and friendly locals.

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