What comes into the mind of travellers when we talk about sea, sun and sand? Phuket must definitely be one of the answers. A number of exciting activities can be found on this island. In the early days of regional maritime trade, the cape of Phuket was locally referred to as Jung Ceylon, while locals called it Thalang, which evolved to be the name of the main town to the north of the island. As the perfect stopover sheltering traders from monsoons, Jung Ceylon welcomed merchants from India, Persia, Arabia, Burma, China, and also Siam. During the 16th century, the island was a popular trading port for tin. In 1785, Thalang town was surrounded by Burmese troops who invaded the coastal area. It was under the leadership of Chan, the widow of the governor, and her sister, Muk, who united the local residents and successfully fought and drove the invaders out of Phuket. It took over 30 days for the defending troops of Phuket, under the command of Chan and Muk, to claim their victory. As a result of such heroic deeds, noble titles were granted to Chan and Muk as Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Soonthorn, respectively. They are still highly respected by Phuket residents even today. When the city was in a peaceful state, the development of mining was so unprecedented. Chinese businessmen and miners later migrated to Phuket and soon enjoy thriving wealth. The island's long history has shaped the Phuket of the present with its diverse ethnic groups, culture, architectural influence, and fine cuisine. These attributes have made Phuket a complete tourist destination that offers a lot more beyond its natural heritage of sea, sand, forest, and world-renowned diving sites. Sino-Portuguese architecture casts its spell delighting travellers to the city, while Phuket style of hospitality has never failed to impress visitors from all walks of life.
As the most popular island destination in Thailand, Phuket has numerous options for traveling to the island and getting around once you arrive. Both domestic and international airlines service Phuket Airport with direct flights from numerous destinations in Thailand and around Asia. Once on the island, the size of Phuket makes a rental car arguably the best option, though there are various modes of transportation if you do not wish to drive.
Getting Around in Phuket
Car Rental Service:
There are numerous car rental services on Phuket. Cars or jeeps can be rented at the airport, in Phuket Town, and at most of the more popular beaches. Be aware that only Commercial First Class Insurance provides full coverage on rental cars (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance). Most international car rental agencies will offer this insurance (some only for those with a valid international driver's license) while local companies may or may not. You may wish to request a copy of their insurance policy and ensure that it states "For Commercial Use". Regardless, inspect rental vehicles prior to rental and drive with caution, particularly as traffic in Thailand can be quite confusing, especially the habit of Thai motorcycles drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road.
For around 150 to 300 baht per day you can hire your own 100-150cc motorbike, which will typically require you to leave your passport as a deposit. Be sure to inspect bikes prior to rental and drive with extreme caution as rental motorbikes are not normally insured and accidents are frequent. Helmets are required by Thai law. Motorcycles can be rented from rental agencies located on Rasada Road or from different operators at various beaches.
It costs approximately 20 baht / person / trip to travel via motorbike taxi around Phuket Town.
Songtaew and Tuk-Tuk:
Songtaews are operated along Ranong Road in Phuket Town to various destinations including most beaches. The cost ranges from 20 baht to 25 baht / person / trip. Normally the service is provided from 7.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m.
Tuk-Tuks can be chartered for travel between the beaches and Phuket Town or between different beaches; however, rates are negotiable and will cost at least 200 baht to Patong Beach, 230 baht to Karon and Kata Beaches and 300 baht to Nai Han and Kamala Beaches. Within Phuket Town, Tuk-Tuks should cost 20 baht for short distances.
Visitors can call 076 232157-8 to get a metered taxi that will take them anywhere on Phuket. The metered fare will include a 20 baht surcharge.
Boat to islands nearby Phuket:
Boats to nearby islands can be found at the following ports:
An old local port, it is from here that long-tail boats depart for nearby islands such as Koh He, Koh Racha Yai, Koh Mai Thon, Koh Lon, etc. The chartered price depends on the distance.
The largest port of Phuket servicing all kinds of boats, including cruisers of tour companies that organize package tours to other islands.
Located near Phanwa Cape, this port is only for cruisers and container ships.
Boat Lagoon Port (Ao Sapam):
This port is for traveling boats of tour companies.
Phuket has a tropical monsoonal climate. It's warm all year round, but the two periods of April-May and September-October are the hottest. The September-October period is also the wettest due to the southwest monsoon. Phuket is blessed by being in a temperate zone. Even though typhoons and tropical storms occasionally batter Hong Kong and the Philippines, Phuket enjoys mild weather and while the heavier rains in September and October can disrupt things a little, it's rare that the island has several consecutive days of heavy rain. The best time to visit Phuket is during the cool NE monsoon season, from December through March, when it isn't so humid, and the cool breezes keep things comfortable. The average temperature is around 75F to 89F (24C to 32C). Note that lately, as almost everywhere in the world, weather is unpredictable.
Useful Information and Tips
Check out the following for the lowdown on Thai festivals, money matters, cultural sensitivities, communications, tipping, what to do on arrival, language, security and emergencies, time-zones, internet access, electricity and where to go for more info. All you need for a great stay in Phuket!