Phuket is Thailand's largest island and the preferred holiday destination for most foreign tourists.
In Phuket, you can find countless lovely beaches. You can choose between very touristy beaches with easy access to buy chilled drinks or getting a relaxing massage or more deserted beaches where you can have the beach almost to yourself.
You can choose between beaches that are several kilometres long or small cosy beaches; and you can choose between straight, "boring" beaches or picturesque beaches with natural ornaments that makes them a little more interesting, like Yanui Beach at the photo above. Read more about the different beaches and the nearby hotels in the article Beaches in Phuket.
Please note that in the rainy season (May to October), most of the beaches may be dangerous due to rip tides caused by the monsoon wind. Always check the flags on the beach, even in the high season. Do not go for a swim if the flags tell you not to. Every year people drown at the beaches, and it is usually always because they ignored the flags.
Much More than Beaches
Phuket has much more to offer than beautiful beaches. If you do not want to spend all the day lazing at the beach, you can go on a fantastic full day tour of Phang Nga Bay. You can fly among the treetops ziplining; take a vertical dive in a bungee jump; or, if you would rather go vertically upwards, you can challenge yourself with rock climbing.
Of course, you can also go on a jungle trek or a jungle safari; in the period from June to November, you can go white water rafting; that time of the year is also the best if you want to visit one of Phuket's waterfalls. In the high season from December to March, the falls may be less impressive:
The sea around Phuket is ideal for diving. If you do not already have a diving certificate, you can get one cheaply. You will also find plenty of opportunities to relax in a spa or to get a massage.
If you bring children on your holiday, you may want to spend a day at Splash Jungle Water Park. You will find plenty of golf courses if you want to play golf in a beautiful setting. Should you prefer a more hard-hitting kind of sport, you will find several places to learn or train Muay Thai boxing, or you can watch other people fight at Patong Boxing Stadium.
You can ride an elephant, or you can watch elephants in a Las Vegas-style show based on Thai myths and culture.
Simon Cabaret is offering a lavish drag show, where many of the performers are ladyboys. You can get more acquainted with ladyboys on Bangla Road in Patong, either in smaller shows or strutting their stuff on the street. Some of them are for rent for a more personal experience. Bangla Road is the centre of nightlife for tourists in Patong and Phuket.
You will find a few viewpoints in Phuket that is worth a visit. Laem Promthep offers you the chance for some spectacular sunsets. Kata Viewpoint offers you a beautiful view over three beaches, as seen in this photo:
The Big Buddha offers you a sweeping view of the entire southern part of Phuket and a big Buddha statue.
You will find shopping stalls in all the holiday cities, although your best bet for shopping is Patong where you will also find a big shopping mall. Phuket Weekend Market close by Phuket Town is definitely worth a visit too. The weekend market is open every Saturday and Sunday 17-21 (5-9 PM).
Activities and Prices
In the holiday cities in Phuket, you will find an abundance of tourist stalls selling various activities. Booking an activity at a stall is often much cheaper than if you book it directly at the activity's own website.
Typically, you can save from 10 percent and up to 50 percent, depending on the activity. Some activities, like Phuket Fantasea, prohibit discounts; however, you can still get discounts at some of the stalls.
It will be a good idea to visit several stalls and compare their prices and their offers. Please be aware of the price for transport when you compare prices between the stalls. Usually, the transport is included in the price offered; however, some stalls may add the price for the transport separately.
There is no need to book far ahead, for most of the activities you can simply book one day in advance.
Holiday Destinations in Phuket
The holiday destinations are all located at Phuket's west side, as this is where the good beaches are.
Patong is the biggest of the holiday cities and attracts the most tourists. Here you will find the best shopping options, both in terms of stalls and small shops and in the form of the large shopping centre Jungceylon.
In Patong, you will also find an extensive and lively nightlife with numerous bars, go-go bars, discos, etc. located on Bangla Road or in its vicinity.
Families travelling with children are perhaps better off not choosing Patong due to the nightlife there. At least they should probably keep the children away from Bangla Road and the surrounding area after 19:00 (7 PM).
Kata/Karon is more suitable for families with children and you can easily take a trip in the daytime to Patong for shopping etc. Kata/Karon is also a good choice if you do not want to participate in the nightlife, or if you just want a more low-key nightlife than in Patong. Kata/Karon is a twin town just south of Patong, and the second most popular holiday destination in Phuket.
If you go further down to the south/south-east end of Phuket, you will find Rawai. North of Patong, you will find Kamala, Surin, and Bang Tao, the latter consisting mainly of Laguna, which is a large area on the more expensive side with a number of five-star resorts, golf course, etc.
In general, the farther you get from Patong, the "duller" it becomes.
You can also choose to stay at Phuket Town and other cities in the middle of the island or on the east coast, but then you will have to do without a nice beach. In any case, Phuket Town is worth a visit during your holiday.
Take your time to decide what you want to do in Phuket so you can find the right place to stay, like near a golf course, in Patong with nightlife, or at a place with peace and quiet and a nice beach.
Phuket, Geography and Climate
Phuket lies in the Andaman Sea on Thailand's west coast. The island is 48 km (30 miles) long and 21 km (13 miles) at its widest point. Phuket is very mountainous; some 70 percent of the area consists of mountains.
The temperature is between 25° C (77° F) at night and 32.5° C (90.5° F) during the day and does not fluctuate by more than a few degrees during the year. In the coldest month of September, the average daytime temperature is 31.5° C (88.7° F), while the average temperature in March, which is the hottest month, is 34° (93.2° F).
While the temperature does not fluctuate much during the year, the amount of rain does! In the high season from December through March, you will probably not get wet unless by choice. Typically, it will only rain a few days each month, and most of the rain will fall at night. However, in the rainy season, you will experience rain up to 22 days in a month topping with more than 360 mm (14 inches) of rain in September.
Even though that sounds bad, it really isn't that bad. Unlike in a temperate climate where all-day rain is normal, the rain in a tropical climate is a bit different. Most of the rain will be in the form of very heavy showers, typically lasting only 15-30 minutes. In addition, most of the showers will fall late in the evening or at night. Finally, even if you do experience all-day rain or if you are caught out in a heavy shower, the rain is warm.