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Phuket

PHUKET
DESTINATION GUIDE

The Ultimate Guide Before You Plan for your Next Trip

Known for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs, Phuket is one of the most beautiful and popular islands of Thailand. The wide beaches of Phuket welcome plenty of tourists from around the world and these beaches offer you the perfect place to sit, enjoy, and a wild night party. You can also indulge in various kinds of water-based games like surfing, snorkeling, and jet-skiing. Apart from the beaches Phuket is also known for its natural reserves providing home for many exotic wild animals like tigers and elephants. The thick green forest covers and the turquoise blue water sets the perfect background as you will get the perfect opportunity to shop and eat from the various street stalls.

Attractions in Phuket

From beautiful beaches to fascinating viewpoints, from wild party destinations to rum distillery the attractions in Phuket are bound to give you an unforgettable experience.

Phuket Trickeye Museum

Though the name suggests that it will 'trick' your eyes but a visit to this museum is certainly a 'treat'. This place is a must-visit site when you are traveling with your kids as the 3-D interactive platforms allows you to have a whole lot of fun. Then there is the trompe-l'œil-style paintings made by a well-known Korean artists offering you some of mind-boggling optical illusions which you and your kids will certainly love. Apart from those there are also tightrope where you can go and teeter. Your kids can touch the Steven Speilberg iconic movie character the ET. Then there is of Spiderman with whom you can climb-up walls along with many other mind-boggling entertainment.

Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Have a feel of the Carriebean in the Eastern Island of Phuket by visiting the famous white rum distillery in the Chalong Bay. The trip to the distillery is certainly a refreshing one, especially if you are a rum lover. There are guided tours provided to the guests which will show you how the rum here is handcrafted from cane and how the entire product is manufactured and bottled. It is a chance for you to go behind the scenes when it comes to rum and know every little secrets of it. The tour is quite enlightening for the tourists as the final stage of the trip makes it even better. At the end of the trip you will be led to a cocktail bar where you will be allowed to sample some of the products yourself.

Tiger Kingdom

Phuket has a very own tiger sanctuary which will allow you to come up-close to these magnificent beasts. Open for the tourists, this place is well-known for grooming and raising tigers from their birth to their last day on the earth. You will get to see a great variety of Indo-Chinese tigers in the place and see how they are being taken care of. Many foreigners volunteer to work with these animals in Phuket as they grab the opportunity of feeding and grooming them themselves. As a tourist you can also have a marvelous time to see some of the tigers taking their afternoon nap whilst some will still be in action. The tigers are usually fed around 7 o'clock in the evening and it is certainly a treat to watch.

Siriant National Park

Also known as the Nai Yang National Park this magnificent piece of coastal area reveals the quite side of an otherwise touristy island of Phuket. Covering as much as 90 square-meters of area on the northwestern borders of the isles, this marine national park is a home to many exotic aquatic mammals and other creatures. The area also has two very nice and decent beaches which are relatively unspoiled when compared to the other coastal areas of the island. The beaches in the form of Hat Nai Yang and the Hat Mai Khao are very special for the nature lovers as these are the places where the leather-back turtles come and lay their eggs at night. The best time to view this amazing phenomena is during November to February.

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

In the Bangtao region of the island the marvelous Elephant Sanctuary will offer you the ultimate chance to come up-close to these beautiful and harmless animals. Just like in the case of the Tiger Kingdom, you will get a chance to see the animals being groomed and fed and it is even better as you can take an active part in it. The Elephant Sanctuary of Phuket offers a great escapade for the foreign lodgers and campers and that is why you are bound to meet few people from the West working with the local staffs, for the overall welfare of the animals. What is even better is that you can actively take part in the bathing sessions of the elephants and enjoy another excuse of completely getting drenched, whilst you are in Phuket.

When To Reach

The ideal time to reach Phuket is during the winter months of November to February. The weather remains in the range of 20 to 25 degree Celsius as the island experiences the lowest humidity. The cool breeze from the sea makes it ideal for some nighttime parties and the supply of seafood is also great in this season. Phuket experiences heavy rainfall from May to October and that is why it is wise to plan your travels from November to February. Summer in Phuket is very hot and humid and with a temperature reaching well over 30 degree Celsius, it is impossible to have a pleasant time during the days.

Seasonality

High Season: Winter is most definitely the peak season for traveling to Phuket and with moderate temperature and low humidity, it is indeed the most comfortable weather too.


Shoulder Season: The months between March to May is hot and humid but still many tourists come to Phuket to enjoy the sea and the water games. The Songkran festival is during April where people throw water at each other.


Low Season: The time between Mid-May to October is the low season as the hotel prices drops considerably. The heavy rainfall keeps the tourists away during those months.

How To Reach

Phuket has an international airport and that means you can land directly to this wonderful destination without making a stop in any other place in Thailand. Though there are no direct flights from India to Phuket you can avail various connecting flights which will help you reach the beautiful island in no time. The likes of Thai AirAsia, the Singapore Airlines, AirAsia, and GoAir operate on a regular basis from all the major cities of India. Once you reach the Phuket International Airport you will find a huge array of amenities provided to you and you can also indulge in some duty-free shopping.

Why should you go?

The beautiful island of Phuket is certainly one of the crown jewels of Thailand. With picturesque beaches, fabulous animal reserves, and gorgeous resorts this place is certainly a destination to explore for the Indian tourists. Phuket is also crazy and wild nightclubs and pubs and a hip and young crowd often gather there to have a great time. There are also open-air beach parties happening on every evening in Phuket. The island is also home to many fishing communities, tribes, and maritime cultural heritages. There are also some top-notch shopping centers and markets. Overall Phuket will offer you a romantic and unforgettable trip.
10 Reasons to visit Phuket -
  • Phuket is the largest island of Thailand with an international airport making it a convenient destination for the Indian tourists.
  • Phuket has huge number of beaches where you can sit for sun-bathing or get involved in some water-based games.
  • Some of the beaches of Phuket are quite and isolated making them ideal for honeymooners from India.
  • In some beaches of Phuket you will get to catch some rare glimpse of the leather-back turtles who come there to lay their eggs at night.
  • Phuket is known for its great love for animals and you can hand-feed tiger cubs and elephant calves in different animal reserves and orphanages.
  • Phuket has a distinct colonial past with a visible Sino-Portugese cultural heritage aptly reflected in the old town area.
  • Phuket has dense forestland and national parks and the forests offer a great escapade for the nature loving tourists.
  • Phuket is known for its fabulous night-life and the beach parties making it an ideal location to travel.
  • Phuket is known for its scrumptious food and considering the fact that it is a multi-cultural island you will get to taste a wide range of cuisines.
  • Phuket is also the home to many sea tribes and fishing communities making it an ideal place for the travelers to have some exotic experiences.

Getting Around

Public transportation in Phuket is easy and affordable. There are plenty of alternatives that you can find around here with taxis, tuk tuks, Songtheaws, and buses. There are also motorcycle taxis available in the island like it is found in all the major destinations of Thailand. Depending on your desired destination and the time in your hand you can swap between all the possible options of commute. It is important that you try all of them during your stay because the open-air songtheaws are quite different than the air-conditioned buses whilst the tuk tuks and motorcycle taxis will give you a different adventure altogether.

Tuk Tuk

Be it a short trip to the old town of Phuket or a journey to a neighboring beach, tuk tuks are always visible in front of you, ready to be hired. The tuk tuks are the most convenient mode of transportation in Phuket and they are quite cheap too.

Taxis

There is a GrabTaxi App in Phuket which allows you to book fancy cabs for your travels. Mostly tourists book these cabs when they are going to the airport or they are arriving at the hotel from the airport.

Songtheaws

These open-air buses are a treat to ride as you will get to experience the nature and have an opportunity to view the beautiful scenary outside. No trip to Phuket will be complete without a trip on the songtheaws.

Bus

There are also air-conditioned buses available for longer trips. These buses will take to many tourist locations in and around Phuket. The rides are comfortable and these buses are a bit more expensive than the songtheaws.

Motorcycle Taxis

If you need to bypass the traffic congestion of the Thai cities then the motorcycle taxis are your best friends. Swirl pass the standing buses and taxis as your driver will make you reach the destination in no time.

Weather

Like all other parts of Thailand, Phuket experiences sub-tropical climate with hot and humid summer, long-stretched monsoon, and dry and cool winters. The summers are mostly hot with high humidity. The temperature remains in the mid-thirties range and it makes trekking and hiking extremely challenging. You cannot even sunbathe properly in that extreme heat. However, the evenings are relatively cooler due to the sea breeze. The monsoons are the least traveled month of Phuket as the island experiences heavy shower throughout a tennure of three months. The winters are not extremely cold as the temperature remains in the range of 20 to 25 degree Celsius. Sometimes the cold wind from the sea makes it a tad bit chilly, during the evenings.

What to pack in your suitcase?

  • Pack plenty of t-shirts, shirts, and tops because due to the humidity you are bound to sweat a lot.
  • Carry some shorts and loose trousers because it is more comfortable than jeans, especially if you are out on the beach.
  • Carry your sunglasses and hats as you would need to protect your face from the scorching sun.
  • Carry a light jacket if you are traveling in winter because you might need it during the evenings. However, do not carry plenty of woolen clothes because it is really not that cold.
In the Spotlight

Phuket is known as a major beach destination in Thailand and no coastal paradise is without its hot and spicy delicacies. The restaurants of Phuket offers great variety of cuisines from China, Malaysia, Thailand, and also Europe. There are many haute cuisines giving you fine dining experience whilst the traditional eateries offer you to taste something which is authentic southern-Thai. From age-old timber furnished restaurants to swanky roof-top eateries, the restaurants of Phuket are bound to give you some gastronomical delights. With a whole range of cuisines including seafood, meat, vegetables, and spices, this island state of Thailand has some of the best places to eat in Thailand.

Blue Elephant Phuket : This traditional southern-Thai restaurant has been there for ages and it is one of the most distinguished places to have a fine dining experience in Phuket.
With marvelous decor and friendly waiters this is by far the most elegant eateries in the entire island. Set in a massive Sino-Portugese mansion known as the Gorvernor's Mansion this place arguably serves the best Thai food in the entire country. Blue Elephant has branches in other parts of Thailand and also it is a well-known Thai cuisine brand over the world. The restaurant serves scrumptious seafood and the crispy and spicy shrimps are certainly a delight to have.
Sizzle Rooftop Restaurant : Nestled up on the hills of Phuket this continental restaurant is certainly a delight for the tourists. The view from there is simply mind-blowing, especially if you are visiting the place during sunset.
The food is quite delightful as you will get a ravishing European cuisine. From lobsters, crabs, and vegetables to well-made steaks all kinds of items feature in the menu. It is definitely one of the best places to get sizzlers and grilled items, if you fancy something in those lines. The place also serves very yummy desserts and the cakes and the ice-creams are just heavenly. The place is not too pricey but you are guaranteed a nice treat once you book a table.
Red Duck Restaurant : This is definitely not a big and fancy eatery of Phuket but rather a small and charming one set at edge of the Kata beach.
The charismatic chef here makes you feel like home with his scrumptious offerings and delightful service. The menu is quite simple backed by traditional Thai cooking and from fresh seafood to home-cooked duck dishes you will not be short of options to choose. The place is homely and warm with the chef and the waiters guarantying you a nice dinner after you have spent a long day at the beach. Being in proximity to the beach allows the restaurant to fetch a decent crowd, with mostly tourists flocking to this place.
Pad Thai Shop : Visiting this wonderful Thai island and not having Pad Thai is definitely a sin. And there is no better place to have a nice and spicy Pad Thai than this place at Phuket.
The national dish of Thailand is savory and spicy and this place offers the tourists with an affordable option to taste it. The place makes more than one hundred plates of Pad Thais on a daily basis and this place is mostly frequented by the locals. The decor might look a bit shabby compared to the other high-end restaurants in the island, but nonetheless the food is quite superb. If you really want to taste Pad Thai like a native then make sure you do not miss out on the Pad Thai Shop.
Sam's Steak and Grill : If you are planning on giving your stomach a rest from all the spices and chilies added in a regular Thai dish then this steak house offers you the perfect respite.
Located at the Patong beach this place serves the most tender and juicy pieces of meat and vegetables. A typical hangout for the European and American back-packers, Sam's steak house has gained much attention and got many good reviews. The relaxed atmosphere will not rush you to leave as you can order a beer or two and enjoy for a while. The meats are all imported from Australia whilst the seafood items are obviously local. Overall you will get a good value for money once you visit the Sam's Steak and Grill.

Phuket is very famous for its finger-foods and comfort delicacies which are sold on the stalls of the streets. Being from an island the dishes of Phuket include a lot of seafood and a lot of spices. The mouth-watering cuisine of Phuket can sometimes make your eyes and nose watery too. But fear not you will get less spicey options too. From from tangy soups to tender dimsums, from roasted ducks to fried noodles there are plenty of options to choose from when you come to Phuket. Enjoy the flavor of thick coconut cream with a hint of Chinese and Portugese dishes, in Phuket.

Tom Yam Goong: The tangy coconut cream and shrimp soup, served with many herbs, is quite popular in the island of Phuket.

Mee Hokkien Noodle:The stir-fried noodles served with prawns is available in many food stalls around the beaches.

Massaman Curry: Surprisingly it is not a spicey curry but a sweet one with coconut milk and herb with chunks of chicken or pork.

Green Curry Chicken:The chicken curry made from eggplants and herbs has gained worldwide reputation and you can have it in its authentic form here in Phuket.

Kanom Jeen Phuket: This another popular soup from Phuket which is made from chicken, mushroom, tomatoes, and lemongrass.

The night markets of Thailand have a special charm and they become more exciting in fabulous beach destinations like Phuket. From foods to handcrafted items, from replica branded goods to funky t-shirts you are bound to encounter a lot of light and color. The particular reason that the night markets of Phuket are so popular is that the locals here try and avoid the constant heat and humid of the markets and the tourists also prefer the same. That is the reason why the night markets have become a very popular trend all over Thailand. The night markets of Phuket are well-known for their food stalls, lively hawkers, and their music performances. It is always a festive mood in the marketplaces of Phuket.

Chillva Market: The Chillva Market at the old Phuket Town has a pretty bohemian vibe. Held by the side of the well-known Yaowarat Road this market showcases a certain inclination towards color and music.
Due to the Chinese and Portuguese influences the market has a very maritime appeal, as the town itself was once inhabited by sailors. The market is known for its stalls selling good quality seafood along with different sorts of garments and other materials. Wedged between a pond and a local amphitheater this marketplace covers an area of 6,400 square-meters and offers plenty of local hawkers to sell their products. Opening every evening around 4 o'clock most stalls of the market has colorful shipping containers in their front.
Phuket Weekend Market: The Phuket Weekend Market is perhaps the most popular marketplace of the entire island. With a huge number of stalls selling variety items, this place is bound to be crowded every time.
But the good news is that you do a whole lot of shopping once you visit this place as the local hawkers will allow you to haggle quite a lot. Locals love this market as it offers good quality products at a reasonable price and that is also the same reason why the tourists all flock there during the peak seasons. There are two separate covered and open sections of this market and you will get a good selection of funky t-shirts, jeans, and other touristy items like souvenirs and curious items.
Phuket Walking Street: The Walking Street is set in a rather beautiful location of the old Town of Phuket. Some may argue is more of a cultural exhibition than actually a market
and if we are not very pedantic about the definitions then we can say that this street serves both the purposes pretty well. On one hand you will get to see the Sino-Portugese houses well lit-up and decorated whilst on the other hand you will find a lot of stalls selling locally made handicrafts, apparel, shoes, and various forms of dresses. The place is not as busy like the other markets on this list and there are a plenty of food stalls here from where you can have a taste of some quality fusion food.
Phuket Indy Market: The Indy Market of Phuket is a platform where Independent Traders come and sell their items and it presents itself in the most unique manner possible.
The huge "buy and sell" platform looks well-organized and you can see the genuine efforts and passion of the sellers as they feel really attached to the goods. This is the closet thing for the Thai's to experience "bring and buy sale" and the market is often filled with good vibes, warmth, and smiles. The crowd is very young at this place as students and young-adults come here to buy second-hand products at an affordable price. Though the size of the market is small it is one of the best places to buy certain items at the best price.
Malin Plaza Patong: The Patong beach of Phuket is certainly a lively place and it is turned into a happening hangout with the addition of such great street-food markets.
It is during the evening when the market comes to life as you will find arrays of stalls selling all kinds of Thai finger-foods and delicacies. The market is quite small but the variety of food cannot really be ignored. The brightly lit stalls of the marketplace sells Thai food at the best prices. Many back-packers come here to have their dinners from the stalls and the roofed perimeters do offer tasty and healthy cuisine. Apart from the foods the market also have shops selling bags, t-shirts, various luggage items, and spa products.

Thai Baht is the main currency applicable in Phuket and you really need to fill your purse with a lot of Bahts because the island is a tad pricey when compared to the other locations of Thailand. In a recent survey it was revealed that Phuket is one of the most expensive destinations of the country and that too for good reasons. From charming village markets to fine dining restaurants, from old town sites to the beach-side pubs, you need to pay the people of Phuket in cash. There are FOREX counters available in most of the major hotels of Phuket and you should convert as much currency as possible in order to have a fabulous time ahead.

Special Tips

  • Cost of hotels and rooms range between 200 and 1200 Bhats depending on the quality of service and view and in some cases it even reaches to 3000 Bhats per night.
  • The cost of food also varies according to the type of establishments. Whilst the food stalls on the beach will charge you 10 to 30 Baht the a decent restaurant will charge around 200 to 300 Baht.
  • Transportation in Phuket is not very cheap either as a tuk tuk drive from Karon to Patong will charge you around 300 Baht. However, Songtheaws are cheaper and they can take you from Patong to Phuket Town and then to Karon beach for 80 to 90 Baht.
  • However, all the transactions need to be in cash as these tuk tuk drivers or restaurant owners or the vendors of the small stalls are still oblivious to the concept of digital money or card transactions.

The Indian travelers going to Phuket can take advantage of the Visa on Arrival Process. The Visa on Arrival will give you the option of staying in Thailand for 14 consecutive days at a stretch. The Visa on Arrival provision is provided in 32 different international airports of Thailand including the Phuket International Airport. So, you can have your immigration check and visa processing directly in Phuket before you go straight to the beaches to enjoy. The entire thing needs between 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the queue in front. During the procedure you need to show your airline boarding pass and visa application from obtained from the immigration checkpoints.

Special Tips

In case you want to extend your stay beyond the tenure of 14 consecutive days you need to apply pre-emptively to the Royal Thai Embassy. This will enable you to get your visa from the Royal Thai Consulate General located in three major cities including New Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai. Along with your passport (which should be valid for at least 6 months or more) you also need to frame a cover letter mentioning the purpose of your visit along with the expenses you are likely to incurr. You also need to show your bank statements in order to showcase your financial stability to the Consulate.

Generally Phuket is considered to be safe place for travelers with friendly people and helpful hotel staff. There are not many incidents of crimes against tourists recorded in Phuket. However, you do need to be careful when you are roaming around the isolated areas bordering the beaches or the areas occupied by the fishing communities. Do not loiter alone at night and try and stay in the vicnity of your hotel. There are incidents of robberies and purse-snatching recorded by the locals and it would be wise for you, as a tourist, not to push the boundaries too much. Stay within the areas of the marketplaces along with your group and try and avoid unecessary confrontations.

  • Police and General Emergency: 191
  • Medical Emergency: 1669
  • Fire: 199
  • Tourist Police: 1155

Entertainment & Event

The mixed island culture of Phuket makes way for some bizarre traditions and customs.

  • Flora and Fauna

    The thick rainforest cover and the wide coastal areas of Phuket together make way for a rich flora and fauna population in the island. Over the past few years the government has done a lot to preserve the ecological balance of the island and hence is promoting responsible tourism. The tropical hardwood timbers like teak and fern cover a major portion of the island whilst you can also find several exotic orchids, cacti, and bamboo plants growing in patches. In the coastal regions of the island you will also find various palm and coconut tree and they contribute a lot to the local economy. The limestone cliffs are also covered in moss and other aquatic plants as you can find several pretty flowers blooming.

    The island is not shy of its animal habitat either as you will find various sorts of reptiles like salamanders and monitor lizards in different corners of the forests. Apart from that you can also see leather-back turtles in this part of the world and watching them lay their eggs and then the eventual hatching is definitely quite a treat. The trees of the forests are always filled with exotic birds along with monkeys whilst there are separate sanctuaries for larger mammals like tigers and elephants. In some parts of the island you can also find crocodiles lying in an idle manner, enjoying the warm tropical sun.

  • Festivals

    One thing for sure is that the celebrations and festivals of Phuket are never dull. Whether it is a cultural occasion or a religious festival you are bound to witness some color and passion amongst the people of Phuket. Starting from the Chinese New year to Songkran the people of Phuket covers a huge array of festive celebrations in their calendar. Then there are some bizarre celebrations too like the annual Vegetarian Festival which is celebrated for as long as 9 days at a stretch by the Taoist community of the island. Then there is also the Loy Krathong celebrated with same vigor and passion like the rest of Thailand.

    Then there is a Phuket International Boat Show boasting the island's long-term maritime culture whilst the Wat Chalong Festival is the biggest temple fair in entire Thailand. The Phuket Old Town Festival, held on the last week of February, promises another charming gathering of the locals and the tourists alike whilst the annual Phuket Bike Week is the biggest motorcycle event in entire South-East Asia. Phuket honors its street vendors and artists and as a recognition they also organize the Kathu Festival where live shows and music performances are being held.

  • Culture

    The culture of Phuket is distinctly different than the culture of mainland Thailand. Due to its strong Chinese and Portuguese influence the people of Phuket are much more open to foreigners when compared to many other beach locations of the country. There is also a strong Hindu influence in many parts of the island as you will find people with strong beliefs and ideology. The island has been frequented by Indian, Chinese, and Portuguese sailors in the past and that is why they still have a mixed-culture here in Phuket. The people are well-versed in English along with Malay, Chinese, and Thai and that adds to the advantage of the tourists.

    There are also several fishing communities spread across the coastal areas of Phuket and it is also the home to many exotic tribes. The Sea Gypsy Village is a classic example of this semi-nomadic tribe and it is certainly a treat to witness their activities, from a distance. The villagers of Phuket are also great artists and animal lovers and over the years they have learned to stay in harmony with the nature. That is why you will find many animal sanctuaries and reserves in this part of the country.

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