Located approximately 862 kilometers south of Bangkok is Phuket,
Thailand’s largest island, which is often dubbed as the pearl of the
Andaman, or the pearl of the south. Its natural resources- rocky
peninsular, limestone cliffs, white powdery beaches, tranquil broad bays
and tropical in-land forests contribute to making it the South’s
wealthiest, busiest, most visited and most popular island and province.
Nestled in the tropical zone off the west coast of the southern part of
Thailand in the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean, the province covers an
area of approximately 543 square kilometers (excluding small islets). It
is estimated that Phuket Province covers an area of approximately 590
square kilometers if its 39 other small islands are included. The
islands total length, from north to south, is estimated at 48.7
kilometers and approximately 21.3 kilometers wide.
Phuket borders on Phang-nga Province to the north. The other 3 sides are
encircled by the Andaman Sea the place where many of the best diving
sites are located. The island is connected to Phang-nga Province by
Sarasin Bridge and Thep Krasattri Bridge.
Staying on the island is easy, as there are only two seasons in a year -
the rainy season (May to October) and the hot season (November to April).
The low season of phuket is between September and October as they are
the wettest months. The best period for a visit, is from November to
February, when it is possible to see the clear blue sky, feel the fresh
sea breeze and marvel at the crystal clear water while lying on powdery,
palm-fringed beaches. Average temperatures ranges between 23 C and 33 C.
Phuket’s topology is exceptional with 70 percent of its area covered
with mountains which stretch from north to south and the remaining 30
percent being plains located in the central and eastern parts of the
island. The island does not have any major rivers except for a total of
9 brooks and creeks.
Phuket is divided into 3 administrative counties namely Amphoe Muang,
Amphoe Thalang and Amphoe Kathu.
Phuket has a lot more to offer its visitors other than its natural
heritage sea, sand, sky, beach, forest, and world renowned diving sites.
Sino-Portuguese architecture casts its spell delighting travelers to the
city, while Phuket-style hospitality has never failed to impress
visitors from all walks of life. In addition, accommodations ranging
from world-class resorts to tropical-style bungalows have warmly catered
to the different needs of travelers. For seafood lovers, there is a lot
more to sample than just Phuket’s famous lobster. Altogether, these
characteristics have made Phuket a truly unique destination.
History of Phuket
Most geologists believe that the area known as Phuket today was once a
cape that extended into the Andaman Sea. Geographical formations
gradually changed the capes location, finally detaching it from the
A famous Greek philosopher, Claudius Ptolemy, was the first person who
mentioned the cape in his book written in the year 157. The cape was
locally referred to as Jung Ceylon, which was located between latitudes
6 N and 8 N (the present site of Phuket Island). Natives called the
place Cha Lang, which evolved to Tha Lang the name of the main town to
the north of the island.
As a 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 also a popular trading
port for tin with Portuguese, Dutch, English and French traders flocking
to the island. This contributed to making the development of mining so
unprecedented. Chinese businessmen and miners later migrated to Phuket
and soon enjoyed thriving business wealth.
Apart from serving as a meeting point for traders from Europe, Central
Asia and China, Phuket also attracted ambitious immigrants, especially
those from Portugal and China, to work in the tin mines. With its
colorful history, visitors admire the Sino-Portuguese style architecture
in the city especially those buildings located along the Thalang and
Thalang town was surrounded by Burmese troops who invaded the coastal
area in 1785. It was under the leadership of Chan, the widow of the
governor, and her sister, Muk, who united 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 Krasattri and Thao Si
Sunthon respectively. To honor them, a monument was established at Tha
Ruea Intersection, 12 kilometers to the north of Phuket City in 1966.
They are still highly respected by Phuket residents even today.
However, 24 years later, the Burmese succeeded in seizing Thalang
causing many local residents to flee to Phang-nga and Krabi. In 1825,
some of them returned to re-establish a town and established a rice
farming community. On the other hand, the area to the south of the
island (Phuket City today) was developed and became a tin trading
When Phuket was elevated to a town in 1850, it attracted more immigrants
from Thalang and nearby communities. In 1894, Phuket was promoted to be
a Monthon administrative unit under the supervision of the central
administrative body (located in Bangkok).
In 1902, Phraya Ratsada Korsimbi, a Sino-Thai businessman who
contributed to developing the modern city of Phuket was appointed
Governor of Phuket. He also helped to improve the welfare of local
residents and set up the market system in the countryside. In 1916,
Phuket became a province.
The tin mining industry has gradually failed to generate economic growth
in Phuket, especially after 1985 when the price of tin fell by half.
However, with its natural resources, Phuket later emerged as a tourist
destination with great potential. This polished pearl of the Andaman is
truly a destination that provides visitors with memorable experiences.
The islands long history has shaped the distinctive Phuket of the
present with its diverse ethnic groups, culture, architectural influence,
and fine cuisine. With approximately 35 percent of the population being
comprised of Thai-Muslims, it is possible to see an equal number of Wats
(Thai temples) located next to Mosques.
This is perhaps the easiest way to get to Phuket. Domestic airlines
operate several flights daily between Bangkok and Phuket. Some flights
go to Phuket via Samui Island with a 40-minute stopover. List of
operators are as follows:
Phuket Air offers daily flights to Phuket and the journey takes only
1.20 hours. Call 02 6798999 or visit www.phuketairlines.com for more
details on flights.
Bangkok Airways has daily flights connecting Phuket with Pattaya and
Samui. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 66
2265 5678. Reservations can be made at tel. 66 2265 5555. Alternatively,
browse its website at www.bangkokair.com for more flight details.
Thai Airways International has numerous daily flights servicing the
Bangkok-Phuket route. In addition, they have regular flights connecting
Phuket with Hat Yai, Surat Thani, and Narathiwat Provinces. For more
information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 02 628 2000 or book
your seat online at www.thaiairways.com
One-to-Go by Orient Thai operates a daily flight between Bangkok and
Phuket. The flight time is 1.20 hours. Call 1126 or visit www.onetwo-go.com
for more information.
Air Asia also offers several daily flights connecting Bangkok and
Phuket. The flight time is 1.20 hours. Visit www.airasia.com or call 02
5159999 for reservations.
Nok Air has several daily flights between Bangkok and Phuket with a
flight time of 1.20 hours. Visit www.nokair.com or call 1318 to make
Destination Air porvides first class seaplane transfers to and from
Phuket Internation Airport to resorts and hotels located in the Andaman
sea. Popular destinations are such as Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Ko Lanta.
Services commence in July 2006. Contact Bangkok Office of Destination
Air at Tel: 0 2261 5323, Fax: 0 2261 5331 or visit
Getting to Phuket from abroad
There are several direct flights between Phuket and international
destinations, e.g. Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Penang, Singapore, and
Dragon Air, Malaysia Airlines, Silk Airand Singapore Airlines also
operate international flights connecting Phuket with other destinations.
Please call airline offices for more details.
Transportation to and from the airport
Phuket International Airport is located approximately 30 kilometers
north of the city, tel. 076 327230. Taxis between Phuket City and the
airport costs approximately 400 baht but the fare to the beach ranges
between 500 baht and 600 baht (The rate may decline now). Minivans
charge approximately 80 baht /person to town, but 120 baht/person to
Patong, Kata and Karon Beaches. Phuket Limousine (tel. 076 248596),
located approximately 1 kilometer west of the city, operates hourly
shuttles to the airport from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok's Southern
Bus Terminal for Phuket several times daily. Trips by air-conditioned
bus, which normally leaves in the evening, take about 13 hours.
Call 0 2434 7192, 0 2435 1199 or visit www.transport.co.th for more
From Bangkok, take Highway No.4 (Phetchakasem Road) through Phetchaburi,
Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Phang-nga Provinces, then
cross the Thep Krasattri Bridge or Sarasin Bridge to Phuket Island. The
total distance is 862 kilometers and the travel time is approximately 12
There is no direct train service to Phuket. Travelers arriving by train
must get off at Phun Phin Railway Station in Surat Thani Province and
continue by regular bus to Phuket. For more information, call the State
Railway of Thailand, 1690, 0 2223 7010, or 0 2223 7020.
During the high season, travelers may opt to get to Phuket from Ko Phi
Phi and Ko Lanta (both are in Krabi Province). Few ports in Phuket
provide this service with fares ranging between 300 bahts and 500 baht.
The trip may take 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on weather conditions.
Getting around Phuket
Car Rental Service
Avis Car Rent Airport Tel: 0-7635-1243, Kata Beach Resort Tel :
- Boomerang Travel & Tour 71/13 Patak Road, Chalong Bay Tel: 0-7638-1690
- Dusit Laguna Hotel Bang Thao Beach Tel: 0-7632-4322-9
- Hertz Car Rent Thawon Palm Beach Hotel, Karon Beach Tel: 0-
- Holiday Inn Patong Beach Tel: 0-7634-0608
- K.M. Travel Phangnga Road Tel: 0-7621-0893
- Le Meridian Karon Noi Beach Tel: 0-7634-0480-5
- The Metropol Hotel Montri Road Tel: 0-7621-5050
- Pansea Surin Beach Tel: 0-7632-4017-20
- Patong Merlin Patong Beach Tel: 0-7634-0037-41
- Pearl Village Nai Yang Beach Tel: 0-7632-7006
- Phuket Arcadia Karon Beach Tel: 0-7638-1038-40
- Phuket Airport Tel: 0-7632-7258
- Phuket Cabana Patong Beach Tel: 0-7634-0138-4
- Phuket Car Center Takua Pa Road Tel: 0-7621-2671-3
- Phuket Island Tel: 0-7638-1010
- Phuket Yacht Charter 5/3 Chao Fa Road Tel: 0-7621-6556
- Phuket Horizon Car Rent 235/4 Yaowarat Road, Tambon Talat Nua, Muang
District Tel: 0-7621-5200
- Pure Car Rent Opposite Thavorn Hotel, Ratsada Road, Tel: 0- 7621-1002
- Via Rent A Car 70/85 Rat U-Thit, Patong Beach Tel: 0-7634-0160
It costs approximately 20 baht / person / trip to travel around Phuket
City. Alternatively, motorcycles can be rented from rental agencies
located on Rasada Road or from several operators along beaches. The cost
may vary from 150 baht 300 baht / day, depending on the number of
Songthaeo and Tuk-Tuk
Songthaeos are operated along Ranong Road to several destinations on the
beaches. The cost varies from approximately 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 to the beach however, the rates which can be
negotiated are higher at 200 baht to Patong Beach, 230 baht to Karon and
Kata Beaches and 300 baht to Nai Han and Kamala Beaches. However, Tuk-Tuks
drive around the town at the rate of 20 baht.
Visitors can call 076 232157-8 to get a metered taxi that will take them
anywhere in Phuket. The metered fare will include a 20 baht surcharge.
Getting to nearby provinces
There are regular bus services (VIP, air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned)
to neighboring provinces such as Krabi, Phang-nga, Chumphon, Ko Samui (bus/boat),
Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ranong, Surat Thani, Satun, Hat Yai, Takua-Pa and
Trang. Departures are from the Phuket Bus Terminal off Phang-nga Road.
For more up-to-date schedules and fares, call Phuket Air-conditioned Bus
Station, tel. 0 7621 1977.
Taxis & Vans
There are shared taxi and van services between Phuket and other nearby
provinces. Fares of both are generally around double the fare of an
ordinary bus. The stations of both taxis and minivans are also on Phang-nga
Some domestic airlines operate flights from Phuket to Surat Thani,
Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Hat Yai and Samui. For more details, check
with your travel agent or the TAT office.
Getting to nearby islands from 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 Ko He, Ko Racha Yai, Ko Mai Thon, Ko Lon, etc.
The chartered price depends on the distance.
The largest port of Phuket that has all kinds of boats, including
cruisers of tour companies which organize package tours to other
Located near Phanwa Cape, the port is only for cruisers and container
Boat Lagoon Port (Ao Sapam) The port is for traveling boats of tour