Phuket sits on Thailand's west coast and is the country's best known and largest island, although just 30 miles wide by 13 miles long. Home to majestic mountains, rainforests and some pristine beaches, Phuket has a wide appeal due to its variety of attractions, cosmopolitan atmosphere and the range of hotels or sophisticated resorts which cater to all tastes and budgets.
Connected to the mainland by causeway, Phuket has some of the best beaches in Thailand and while some may be more developed than others, it's a fantastic choice for a holiday by the sea. Lively Patong is the island's main resort and will suit those seeking a colourful nightlife, an abundance of bars, restaurants, shops and markets. South of Patong is slightly quieter Karon, which is known for its long beautiful beach and good selection of dining, shopping and entertainment.
Just a few minutes south of Karon Beach are the palm-lined white sands and clear waters of Kata Beach. It’s a popular choice for families and those seeking a good selection of restaurants, bars and shops. From May to October, Kata is also popular with surfers who flock here to catch the waves.
Further up the west coast is Bang Tao Bay, a four mile stretch of beach home to some of Phuket's most luxurious resorts, including those within the Laguna Phuket Resort which are clustered around a series of inland lagoons. There is a small shopping mall within the resort, an 18-hole golf course and the nearby village of Cherng Talay has a variety of good value restaurants.
On the south east coast is the sheltered Panwa Bay where you'll find a long secluded expanse of white sands and a selection of local shops and restaurants. Siray Bay, on Siray Island, is connected by road bridge to Phuket's east coast and has a more rustic charm, yet the bright lights of Phuket Town are only a short drive away.
Clearly the palm-fringed beaches are the main attraction, however venture away from the soft sands and you'll find plenty to explore including the recently constructed Big Buddha, Thalang National Museum, Ton Sai Waterfall and ornate Wat Chalong - one of Phuket's most important temples. Take a stroll around Old Phuket Town and you'll discover turn-of-the-century Sino-Portuguese architecture and funky shops while families may enjoy Phuket Aquarium, Cable Jungle Adventure or Phuket FantaSea Show.
Phuket is also the gateway to many smaller islands that are well worth exploring; while a must-see is stunning Phang Nga Bay with its sheer limestone outcrops jutting vertically from the emerald-green water. Choose from a leisurely cruise or perhaps enjoy a closer look by joining a guided sea kayak tour.
The island also offers a great variety of shopping, from bustling open-air food markets, noisy night markets, to boutiques and department stores. Visiting one of the many markets offers a glimpse of local life and popular markets include Phuket Weekend Market in Phuket Town, Banzaan Market in Patong Beach and the Night Market of Old Phuket Town. Karon Shopping Plaza has a wide range of souvenirs and clothing, Plaza Surin offers boutique-style shopping and Premium Outlets Phuket has genuine designer goods at significant discounts.
It really is impossible to go hungry in Phuket as the number and diverse array of restaurants is quite astounding, although the larger resorts do offer more choice particularly when it comes to international cuisines. As you might expect from an island, seafood is a speciality and features widely in restaurants and food stalls all over Phuket.
- Fantastic beaches
- Great value hotels and resorts
- Watersports galore
- Lots to see and do
- Vibrant nightlife in Patong
- Renowned for seafood
- Gateway to Phang Nga Bay