Phuket Mini Guide
The Pearl of the Andaman Sea
The largest of Thailand's islands, Phuket is well worthy of it's name – the Pearl of the Andaman Sea, there is something for everyone there and it is a wonderful place to relax after spending a hectic few days in Bangkok
as many visitors do. The capital is Phuket Town and although this is an interesting place to visit for a day, not many people choose to stay there as it is nowhere near as picturesque as other parts of the island.
Parts of Phuket were very badly affected by the Tsunami of December 2004, a few months later by August 2005 the locals were pulling themselves up and tourism was booming again. Patong Beach, the main beach on the island and most commercialised with a booming industry of street hawkers and water sports operators, was back in business. Some of the smaller resorts such as Karon Beach took slightly longer to re-build their hotels, but now they've finished and the area is once again packed with tourists.
Backpacking or Luxury?
There really is something to suit everyone there from small guest houses for those on a tight budget to some of the best hotels in the world with everything in between. For a real sense of luxury Mai Khao has more 5 star de luxe hotels than any other resort.
The Clear Blue Sea
The real pearl there though is not the accommodation but the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea. The sea life is unbelievable, just stand ankle deep in the water and watch the brightly coloured fish swim around your feet or take it a bit further and catch a long tail boat from Rawai Beach to Ko Lon Island, where you will land on a beach with snorkels for hire along with the beds and umbrellas. A wonderful way to spend a few hours, relaxing in the sun and snorkeling amongst the fish on a truly beautiful coral island.
It wouldn't be possible to visit Phuket without tasting some of the wonderful seafood on offer. Some of the best places to eat are as you usually find – where the locals go. All over the island you will find street stalls cooking prawns and freshly caught fish which smell so good you can't walk past them and resist. On several beaches, but Chalong in particular, there are small restaurants which are literally shacks on the beach, but which serve fish and seafood which is out of this world and at surprisingly low prices.
Phuket is driven by tourism and you’ll have to look hard to see much of the country’s traditions. For the tourist there are plenty of attractions including Phuket Aquarium and the Butterfly Farm. Just outside of the main city and easily accessed by hire car you’ll also find Thailand’s highest waterfalls.
The highest drops 33 feet into the pools below and, whilst not spectacular, they’re a welcome escape from the frenetic coast. To experience more tranquillity you should consider one of the many boat trips that go out to the dozens of smaller islands off Phuket.