Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, located in the exotic Andaman Sea. With stunning mountains, waterfalls, friendly towns and dazzling beaches, Phuket almost doesn’t feel like an island at all.
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket is not only for those looking for ‘fun in the sun’ – although there is plenty of that to be had – it’s also a paradise for hikers, nature lovers and adrenalin junkies. Jet-skiing, paragliding and parasailing are just some of the high-octane water sports available on Patong Beach while its fabulous night bazaar is the place to bag a bargain. The Similan Islands offer some of best scuba diving in Thailand with some companies even offering a whaleshark sighting guarantee! Hiking in Phuket’s mountain ranges, from the Tenasserim to the Kamala Hills, reveals the breathtaking Kathu Waterfall and plenty of eerie caves crying out to be explored.
Patong is the islands biggest town. Here, spas and cocktails are the order of the day as the glamorous jet-set spend their days lounging on the soft while sands and nights in the town’s hip bars and hot nightspots. There is also some wonderful snorkelling and scuba diving, even night diving, to be done in the crystal clear waters that lap its shores.
Don’t leave without a stroll through the beautiful Old Town of Phuket to see stunning examples of Portuguese Sino-colonial architecture like the Phra Phitak Chyn Pracha Mansion. Pop in to the Shrine of Serene Light and the Thai Hua Museum before ambling along Soi Romanee to admire its brightly rainbow-coloured houses. This street overflows with lively cafes and restaurants, all frequented by locals, and a quirky array of shops such as the “oldest herb shop in Phuket”! The Queen Sirikit Garden is a lovely spot to escape the bustle of the town while a visit to one of the town’s temples offers time for quiet contemplation.
The following information is correct as of November 2014 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Phuket International Airport is located 12 miles from the city centre of Phuket and can be reached by car in approximately 20 minutes. There is a regular bus service that departs from the airport taking around 40 minutes to reach Phuket. There are also taxis available from outside the terminal building.
What you need to know
Currency: The Thai Baht
Visas: British passport holders do not require a visa to visit Thailand for up to 30 days however a valid passport is required for the duration of stay. Passports that are damaged may not be accepted. Nationals of other countries may require a visa. More information can be obtained from a local embassy or from the Foreign Office website.
Laws: Drug offences are harshly punished in Thailand. Long prison sentences and even the death penalty can arise if convicted of possession. Passports must be carried at all times. The legal age for consuming or purchasing alcohol is 21 while a smoking ban prohibits smoking in all indoor public places. Travellers should note that it is a criminal offence to make any critical or defamatory comments about the King or members of the Thai Royal family. Offences are punishable by 3 to 15 year prison sentences.
Best Time to Visit
October to April is high season due to travellers wanting to escape the cold UK winters. November to February is particularly busy. April to June is a quieter period to visit yet still with balmy warm weather but from May to October there is the danger of heavy monsoon rains. Beaches may be too rough for swimming during this time.
April is an exciting time to visit Phuket when the country celebrates Songkran, or Thai New Year, celebrated with processions and a carnival atmosphere. It is also the day that baby sea turtles are released onto the beaches to repopulate the wild. June and July is a fabulous time for shopaholics when the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale see two months of huge discounts on shops throughout the country. In August, there is a three day surfing contest and a 15 day Chinese festival while October is a feast for non-meat eaters with the Vegetarian Festival. November brings more festivals and carnivals, parades, fireworks and beautiful full moon nights lit by candlelight and decorated with lotus flowers and banana leaves.
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