Warm blue waters, tropical sunsets, palm fronds swaying in the breeze, amazingly friendly people and excellent accommodation values make Phuket the most popular beach destination in all of Asia. Phuket (pronounced “poo-kett”) is an island off the western coast of Thailand near the province of Krabi, and everyone from backpackers to luxury travelers find a slice of paradise to call their own on this magnificent island.
Much of the western side of the island of Phuket was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, but today the tourist infrastructure is largely rebuilt and most travelers will not notice any difference. Phuket is ringed with spectacular beaches, the biggest and most popular of which is Hat Patong, a three-kilometer stretch of white sand in a gorgeous crescent shape. The island is anchored by Old Phuket Town, with interesting colonial and Chinese architecture along with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to check out. Budget accommodation like hostels abound, but if you want to go the other route and live in the lap of luxury, you will have a fine choice of even finer hotels and resorts.
While the biggest attractions on Phuket are most definitely the beaches, there are many exciting cultural sites and adventure activities as well. Khao Praew Thaew National Park is the place to go for a cool dip in a waterfall pool, best in the monsoon season and with a picnic. Nearby is a gibbon sanctuary, and jungle treks are particularly popular in this lush green park. Beautiful viewpoints like Promthep offer unparallel views of the Andaman Sea, and after your hike you will be ready for a traditional Thai massage and a banana shake or two.
Tourist attractions abound: take a speedboat trip, learn to scuba dive, play a round of golf on a championship course, sign up for a forested eco-adventure, rent a sea kayak or spend the day at the spa. Visit the temple of Wat Chalong the spiritual center of the island for the mirror mosaics, elegant pagodas and sacred space. Many other charming and colorful temples dot the island; arrive early in the morning and share in the ritual of giving alms to the monks.
For night owls, cabaret shows with ladyboys abound, and the Fantasea Show features trapeze artists, elephants and pyrotechnics, often together on stage at the same time. Thai Boxing (Muy Thai) is also very popular, and the nightlife on Phuket is some of the best in Thailand- wander Patong’s Bangla Road after dark and your travel journal will be an interesting read the next day. Basically, Phuket has more diversions for travelers and explorers than any other island in the world. Enjoy.
Kantaray Bay Hotel: spotless rooms, lovely views & kitchenettes available, quiet
Kelly’s Hotel: basic but comfortable rooms, good value, nice pool, a romantic oasis
Indigo Pearl: lavish hotel with impeccable service, gorgeous rooms and fabulous views