Phuket Island

Being one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations ensures that information describing Phuket’s virtues can be found on travel websites all over the internet.

However, because there is a tendency to emphasise only the positive aspects finding the answers to simple questions like “Does it ever rain there?” or “Are all places on the island beautiful?” can be quite frustrating.

Yes, it can rain a lot in Phuket and no, not all parts are beautiful but go at the right time of year, choose the right place to stay and you will find yourself in one of the nicest tropical settings imagineable.

Many travellers rely completely on the advice of a travel agent who may or may not have their best interests at heart. The aim of this guide is to provide enough basic information (and some opinion) about Phuket to help first-time visitors make their own holiday decisions .

Choosing the Best Time to Visit Phuket

Choosing the best time to visit depends on personal preferences and budget.

Phuket is an all year round holiday destination but there is a "dry season" where consistently fine weather draws by far the largest number of tourists.

However, good weather is possible at any time of year and Phuket during the less busy months can still provide a wonderful tropical vacation but for a lot less money than going in the high season. Air fares are much lower and, with "discount-wars" occurring among the Phuket resorts, its possible to get even luxury accommodation at less than half the high season price.

Which time of year is best for you to visit Phuket? The following describes some positive and negative aspects of each month along with detailed weather statistics, to help you decide.

What to Do on Phuket Island

Being such a popular holiday destination means there's a wealth of activities on offer designed to attract the tourist dollar though there's still plenty to do for little or no money. The following lists some of the more popular pursuits.

Being one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations ensures that information describing Phuket’s virtues can be found on travel websites all over the internet.

However, because there is a tendency to emphasise only the positive aspects finding the answers to simple questions like “Does it ever rain there?” or “Are all places on the island beautiful?” can be quite frustrating.

Yes, it can rain a lot in Phuket and no, not all parts are beautiful but go at the right time of year, choose the right place to stay and you will find yourself in one of the nicest tropical settings imagineable.

Many travellers rely completely on the advice of a travel agent who may or may not have their best interests at heart. The aim of this guide is to provide enough basic information (and some opinion) about Phuket to help first-time visitors make their own holiday decisions .

Choosing the Best Time to Visit Phuket

Choosing the best time to visit depends on personal preferences and budget.

Phuket is an all year round holiday destination but there is a "dry season" where consistently fine weather draws by far the largest number of tourists.

However, good weather is possible at any time of year and Phuket during the less busy months can still provide a wonderful tropical vacation but for a lot less money than going in the high season. Air fares are much lower and, with "discount-wars" occurring among the Phuket resorts, its possible to get even luxury accommodation at less than half the high season price.

Which time of year is best for you to visit Phuket? The following describes some positive and negative aspects of each month along with detailed weather statistics, to help you decide.

What to Do on Phuket Island

Being such a popular holiday destination means there's a wealth of activities on offer designed to attract the tourist dollar though there's still plenty to do for little or no money. The following lists some of the more popular pursuits.

Diving Around Phuket

Phuket offers Great Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

Phuket is an excellent place to base yourself for day-trips to the many beautiful dive spots that surround it. Its also the departure point for a large number of liveaboard dive trips that visit places such as the fabulous Simillan Islands and the Mergui Archipeligo.

There are many 5-Star Padi dive operators most with tour offices in Patong but wherever you stay on the island you'll usually be able to arrange a day trip through the hotel's own tour counter if there is no dive store nearby.

Most trips depart from Chalong Bay which is about 25 minutes drive from Patong. Pick-up and return transport to your hotel is normally included in the dive price.

The dive season in Phuket runs from November to April. Outside of this period operators still run trips including liveaboards though the visibilty and sea state tends to deteriorate dramatically and good diving conditions are far less likely.

Nai Harn Beach, Phuket
Phuket Beaches

The Island Has Many to Choose From

Phuket is blessed with a large number of beautiful white sand beaches. The most popular is Patong due to its proximity to the island's busiest tourist centre. Although its a pleasant 2.5km stretch of sand it can get quite crowded so many people prefer to head to one of the even nicer and less populated ones that can be found all the way along the western coast of the island.

If you like to spend a lot of time basking on a beach then it may be worth considering a hotel outside Patong in Karon, Kata or near Surin Beach.

On most of the main beaches there's a good range of activities on offer such as jet skis, banana boats and paragliding. The water is a lovely clear turquoise with a temperature of around 30° C. throughout the high months.

A word of warning when renting jetskis : they are likely to be uninsured and you may be asked to pay for any damage incurred so be sure to point out to the operator any existing blemishes on the ski before setting out. Additionally, be sure you are clear of the swimming zones at all times as you could feel the full force of Thai law if injury or death is caused to others. Most people manage to come back safely and without problems but the skis are powerful machines and unfortunately they prove very attractive to show-offs whose ego exceeds their ability.

Phuket Nightlife & Bars

When darkness falls on Phuket the lights go on and the party starts or at least it does in Patong. All around the Bangla Road area the bars turn the music up and the streets fill with holidaymakers out for some fun. While many of the bars are undoubtedly aimed at attracting single male tourists there's just as many less rowdy establishments to cater for others including family groups and couples.

If you are staying ouside the Patong area you can usually find at least a small set of late night bars and restaurants nearby. Only the most secluded hotels do not have this but often they will offer their own of in-house entertainment.

For those staying in the smaller towns of Karon, Kata, Kamala and Rawai there's the same sort of entertainment as in Patong but on a much smaller scale with a more relaxed atmosphere that some people prefer.

Phuket Sightseeing Tours
There Are Many Tours on Sea and Land

Visit one of the many tour counters in Phuket's and you'll find you have almost unlimited choice of sight-seeing tours.

For land based tours you can elect to take one of the scheduled island trips in an air-conditioned mini bus or, if you prefer, you can negotiate a private tour with one of the local taxis usually at a very reasonable price. Often the reception at your hotel can provide helpful guidance but as they sometimes organise their own tours it would pay to visit at least one tour counter to compare prices.

Phuket has many small islands within easy reach by boat including the world famous Phi Phi and Phi Phi Ley. You can choose to go with the scheduled trips or negotiate with one of the local boat operators that can be found near the beach to take you to one of the attractive little beaches on nearby islands. If you are staying in Rawai, traditional Thai long-tail boats specialise in ferrying tourists to the nicest spots.

Bungy Jumping in Phuket
A Great Setting for "The Leap of Faith"

Just over the hill from Patong in Kathu is the Jungle Bungy Jump. Located in a very attractive setting next to a small lake surrounded by dense jungle its a great place to spend a few hours. You can choose to do single or tandem jumps with or without a dunking in the water.

Jumpers launch themselves from a platform 50 metres above the lake but some prefer the "catapault" where you start on the ground and are pulled into the air at very high speed.

The Jungle Bungy is run by New Zealanders to New Zealand standards and has been operating since 1992. Insurance cover is provided as part of the jump price.

Phuket Fishing
Great Fishing for Both Novice and Expert

Though better known for its lovely beaches and great nightlife, Phuket is also a fisherman's paradise with a fantastic variety of fish populating the surrounding seas from big gamers such as the blue and black marlin to the just plain good to eat trevally.

Tours are available to suit both the casual fisherman looking for a nice relaxing day on the water with a few tasty fish to take home or the serious game fisherman looking for trophy fish. Prices are reasonable although the big-game boats rigged to chase the likes of marlin will seem very expensive to all but afficianados of the sport.

Phuket Go Karts
Top Class Karting at Great Prices

Just around the corner from the Jungle Bungy Jump is the Patong Gokart Speedway where you choose from a range of vehicles to race around their impressive 750 metre race track.

The karts come in range of power configurations to suit the all skill levels with the fastest being capable of 110 km/h. There are also in-line twin-seaters karts available which are great for dads to take the kids out in.

Thai Cooking Lessons in Phuket
Learn to Cook Real Thai Food

Cooking courses for Thai cuisine are plentiful and very popular in Phuket. Many of the hotels and especially the large luxury resorts offer in-house classes but if the style or format does not suit there's plenty of private classes to choose from.

Phuket Sight-Seeing Suggestions

Phuket is an undeniably beautiful island with enough scenic tours to keep you busy for your whole trip. However, Phuket's not just about scenery and this page shows just a few of the other options available.\

Bangla Road in Patong
The Centre of Phuket's Nightlife

Bangla Road is the heart of Patong's famous nightlife scene. Each night Bangla is closed to traffic, the neon lights come on and the streets fill with tourists strolling around the countless bars and restaurants.

The entertainment tends to be adult themed with most bars staffed by sexily clad hostesses and pole dancers who compete for the tourist's attention.

Its noisy and generally good-humoured fun but for those who find it not to their tastes there are plenty of more conservative bars and restaurants just around the corner on Beach Road.

Wat Chalong, Phuket
Phuket's Most Spectacular Temple

Phuket has many temples or "wats" but the largest and most impressive is Wat Chalong.

There are several buildings in quite a large compound built in the traditional spectacular style centred around the 5 storey high main building. Surrounding the wat are a large number of market stalls selling mostly clothing but look out for the less common items such as orchids.

Wat Chalong is 8km south of Phuket town on the way to Rawai Beach. Entry is free and visitors can enter unsupervised or, if preferred, tours can be booked at tour counters.

Muay Thai boxing in Phuket
Thai Boxing Fights & Exhibitions

Thailand’s traditional form of boxing known as Muay Thai is similar to western boxing but allows the use of legs and elbows in addition to fists.

There are several stadiums on Phuket offering different experiences. In Patong there are two stadiums which offer short “staged” fights especially for foreign visitors . For people wishing for just a quick taste of the sport a visit to the Bangla Road Stadium can be easily combined with other nightlife activities.

The real muay thai fight nights are held at the Phuket Boxing Stadium in Phuket Town.  For those who want to feel the true atmosphere surrounding Thai boxing a trip to this arena can be a terrific experience.

Phuket Aquarium
Living Examples of Andaman Sealife

The warm seas off Phuket’s coast are home to some of the most beautiful and exotic sea creatures to be found anywhere in the world. Its what makes Phuket Island one of the most popular destinations for scuba divers. For non-divers, however, a trip to the Phuket Aquarium allows them to see some of the same things while staying safe and dry.

Visitors can view a huge variety of sealife including sharks, rays, sea turtles in large glass-paned tanks with the centrepiece being  the spectacular transparent tunnel that runs through the main tank. It’s the closest thing you can get to being underwater without getting wet.

Part of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, the Phuket Aquarium aims to educate as well as entertain making it ideal for family outings.

The Big Buddha
Visit Ming Mongkol For the Best View of Phuket

High on a hilltop above Chalong Bay is a huge Buddha statue called Ming Mongkol  but more commonly known simply as “Big Buddha”. Being 45 metres high and sitting on a prominent peak the Big Buddha is visible from miles around but its still well worth a trip to see it close up. As well as viewing the impressive Buddha image in detail you’ll also be treated to fabulous views of the island and, if you time it right, stunning sunsets.

Ming Mongkol has been a long time under construction and has been funded purely by public donations. As of early 2009 development continues and although the Buddha image is finished and clad in white marble the base has yet to be completed but eventually, as funds are made available, will be finished in the same beautiful stone.

There is also another smaller but still very impressive Buddha statue next to the main statue made entirely from brass.

It’s a temple and therefore now a place of great importance to Thai Buddhists but tourists are welcome as long as they are respectful of temple customs.

Phuket FantaSea
Thai Style Variety Show

Phuket Fantasea is huge Thai themed show attraction located at Kamala Beach just a short drive to the north of Patong.

It opens each night from 5:30pm to 11:30pm though visitors are encouraged to time their arrival prior to the buffet dinner starting at 6:30pm followed by the the main show at 9:00pm.

Highlights include elephant circus and las vegas style entertainment with a Thai cultural theme.


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