Difference between revisions of "Phuket Island"
Revision as of 02:15, 4 August 2009
Phuket (ภูเก็ต) , pronounced (roughly) "poo-get", is Thailand's largest island. It is 48 km in length, 21 km at its widest, and is located in Southern Thailand, on the west-facing Andaman Sea coastline, suspended from the southern tip of Phang Nga Province by a pair of short but substantial road bridges.
Only a few of Phuket's cities are not on the beach.
The major beaches from north to south are:
There are dozens of small islands (ko) between Phuket and Krabi. The following have accommodation:
Phuket nestles in balmy Andaman Sea waters on Thailand’s Indian Ocean coastline 862 kilometres south of Bangkok.
Phuket formerly derives its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colourful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign trader’s ship logs.
In recent times, though, Phuket's top earner has been tourism, which has transformed the island into Thailand's wealthiest province. The west coast of Phuket was hit severely by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, but almost no evidence of the damage now remains.
Phuket enjoys great popularity as a travel destination. Most beaches are on the west coast, with Phuket Town to the south-east and the airport in the north.
Phuket is hot and humid throughout the year. The high season is generally considered to be from November to May. During the summer monsoon season, mornings and afternoons are still sunny and clear, but it tends to rain in the evenings and water clarity goes down. Locals consider May to October the "cool" season, and the weather is quite tolerable, much more so than in the tourism centers around the Gulf coast. It's comparable to Florida's summer weather in temperature and intensity of rain storms: 25-33 deg C, flying clouds, short and thunderous rainfalls in the afternoons and evenings. Surfing is possible off the western beaches.
Phuket is a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Outside of the provincial town, the rural folk speak with a thick Southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand. The provincial town’s economy having boomed over the past decade has lead to a lot of the youngsters leading similar lives to those in Bangkok. Altogether, the lifestyle of the urban Thai-Chinese resembles that of Bangkokians.
Festivals and Events
The compact Phuket International Airport (IATA: HKT) (ICAO: VTSP) is located in the north of the island, and is Thailand's second largest hub, second only to Bangkok. There are very frequent flights to/from Bangkok as well as direct flights to many other airports in the region, including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and direct charters to Europe and Australia in the high season.
There are some charter flights in high season from Europian and Asian contries such as Sweden, Taiwan, Japan, etc. The airlines charge very cheap fare.
Several domestic discount airlines fly here, including Air Asia . Tickets from Bangkok can cost under 1000 baht one-way if booked well in advance, or around 2000 baht (including taxes) if bought on the day.
Thai Airways  flies from Bangkok (both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports) several times every day, as well as once daily from Chiang Mai (but there are no direct flights in the opposite direction). Additionally, they sell tickets from/to many domestic and international destinations with stopover in Bangkok - which are usually cheaper (especially international) than if you book separate tickets. Cheapest (non-exchangeable and non-refundable - though taxes are refunded even in the unfortunate case of no-show, if you call them later) one-way ticket from Bangkok, as of April 2008, costs 2320 baht - worth checking if you book just a few days before flight, as low-cost airlines may cost only 200-300 baht less in this situation, but you get world-famous Thai Airways service, and free onboard meals too.
Bangkok Airways  has a monopoly on direct flights between Phuket and U-Tapao (Pattaya / Sattahip) and Ko Samui. They also have 4 daily flights from Bangkok - fares are around 1700 baht inclusive of taxes when purchased on the airline website.
Destination Air Shuttle  offers direct seaplane transfers (some of which operate seasonally) between Phuket and Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Ranong, Trang, the Similan Islands, and other popular Andaman coast destinations.
To get from the airport to your destination, there are several options:
Departure tax is now included in the ticket price. The airport is notionally divided into Terminal 1 and 2, with some charter and low-cost operators using the second, but these are only a few hundred meters apart and connected by an air-conditioned walkway.
There are no direct train services to Phuket. Travellers by train must get off at Phun Phin railway station in Surat Thani and continue for another 5 hours by regular bus to Phuket. See Surat Thani for details.
The most reliable buses from Bangkok are the public BKS  buses from the Southern Bus Terminal to Phuket. The journey takes 13 hours. There are also 2 private bus companies, Phuket Travel Tour and Phuket Central Tour. Khao San Road operations have a bad reputation for theft, often turn out to include a "surprise" transfer to a minibus at Surat Thani, and are best avoided.
From Phuket bus terminal to your final destination, you can take a motorcycle taxi, tuk-tuk, meter-taxi, or bus. A motorcycle taxi into Phuket Town will be about 10-20 baht; to most beaches 100-200 baht (negotiable).
A local bus to one of the main beaches will cost around 15-30 baht. It's not unusual for the tuk-tuk drivers at the bus terminal to tell arriving travellers that the local bus service has finished, even though it hasn't. If you are of the hiking/backpacking type, the local bus station, which will take you to Patong Beach is about twenty minutes away. When exiting the bus terminal, make a right onto Phang-Nga Rd. Continue down Phang-Nga until it terminates at Yaowarat Rd., then turn left. Within a few steps you will see a roundabout. Once at the roundabout, keep right. By keeping right, you will find Ranong Rd. Within 100 to 200 meters you will find the local bus stop.
Before exiting the Phuket bus terminal, grab a free Phuket map from the information window. While supplies may always not be on hand, the map is a great way to get your bearing before jumping-off.
Phuket is directly connected to the mainland by the Thao Thepkasattri Bridge. From Bangkok, take Highway 4 through Nakhon Pathom, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, thence through Ranong province’s Kra Buri and Kapoe districts, Phang-nga province’s Takua Pa and Thai Muang districts and onto Phuket island. The total distance is 862 kilometres.
Ferry services connect from Rassada Port in Phuket Town to Ko Phi Phi and on to Krabi on the mainland twice a day, taking 90 minutes and costing 350/650 baht one-way/return, for each leg. It's usually a pleasant ride, but can be rather bumpy when it's windy.
There are also speedboats to Ko Racha (2 hours), the Similan Islands (about 3 hours) and other islands in the high season only. Boats and yachts can be chartered at Chalong Bay, the Boot Lagoon, the Yacht Haven and Royal Phuket Marina.
Phuket is a large island and you need some form of transport to get around. Unfortunately, public transport is very limited and taxis and tuk-tuks are in the firm grip of a local mafia that inflated fares to ridiculous prices (by Thai standards), so the only practical — but quite dangerous — option is rent your own wheels.
Hotels generally offer shuttle bus services into Phuket Town, and also have taxi and car hire facilities. Jeeps and motorbikes can be hired from various shops in Phuket and at the main beaches. Taxis are plentiful in town. Tel: 0 7635 1347, 0 7635 1349 for more information.
No public buses, but there are mini-buses which operate a communal service. Just tell your destination to the driver. In town journeys cost 20-30 baht.
From Town to Beaches:
There are local-bus services between town and tourist beaches. Local buses leave for the beaches at the market on Ranong Road at half-hour intervals until 6 p.m. After that, you must hire a taxi. Bus fares range from 25-35 baht.
By songthaew or bus
Public transport within Phuket is limited to a radial network connecting Phuket Town to the beaches. There are a few full-size buses, but most lines are operated with songthaews, basically converted pick-up trucks serving as buses. The fare is 25-35 baht up on distance, and there are no set stops - they pick up and drop off as requested. Most local bus services stop at around 18:00.
Most operate from the local market (Talad Sod or Ban San); those to major beaches go via Phuket Town bus terminal. The main lines connect to Patong, Kata-Karon, Chalong Bay, Rawai-Nai Han beach, Panwa (Aquarium), Mai Khao, and Surin-Kamala. There are very few "cross-beach" connections, and eg. traveling from Surin to Patong (15 min by taxi) requires an hour-long detour via Phuket Town.
Upon your return, though, often the bus will drop you off not at the main terminal but at a bus stop somewhere in the middle of Phuket town, where travelers will immediately be set upon by the rip-off tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. Tourist beware!
Phuket has three types of taxi - millions (or so it seems) of small songthaew-style minivans (usually bright red, occasionally bright yellow) called Tuk Tuks, a much smaller number of conventional sedan-style taxis (yellow and red, with a "TAXI-METER" sign on top), and random indistinguishable vehicles that serve as unofficial taxis.
The minivans are universally referred to as tuk-tuks (even though they have four wheels, not three). They have no meter, and their drivers are notoriously mercenary, so always agree a price beforehand and do bargain hard. Short hops around town shouldn't cost more than 40 baht, but good luck getting from Patong to Phuket Town for under 400 baht. Tuk-Tuks should be avoided at ALL times, these are run by what locals call the "Thai Mafia" and charge you 200 baht for less than 1 kilometre runs.
Metered taxis are a much better option when available, being safer, more comfortable, and usually cheaper than tuk-tuks. However, they're often hard to find, and during peak periods their drivers will also ignore the meter and demand flat fares. You can hail one by telephone on +66-76-232157.
Finally, many beaches have little shacks with "TAXI" signs, sometimes unofficially supported by a hotel, offering quick transport at high prices. There are usually pricier than the tuk-tuks, with most fares exceeding 500 baht, but there are usually air-conditioned and more comfortable.
By motorbike taxi
There are also motorbike taxis (motosai). While you should never hop on the back of just anyone's motorbike, motorbike taxi drivers wear bright numbered vests and are usually the cheapest way to go. However, these are more dangerous than a Tuk Tuk, for obvious reasons, and are not comfortable for long trips. However, if you just need to get around town, they are a great way to go.
By car or bike
Renting a car or motorbike to explore the island on your own is a cost-effective way of getting off the beaten track. However, given the driving habits of most locals and the resulting carnage on Phuket's roads every year, the risks do demand careful consideration. Driving habits are Thai style ignoring all the rules and keeping going at all costs, not much worse than Naples, but like there it keeps traffic moving. Traffic lights have just made things worse in the last few years.
Due to the geography of the island with its winding hilly roads and poor vision, Phuket certainly gets more than its fair share of accidents. In fact, the death and injury statistics are more than high. More than 10,000 people are injured and over 250 killed every year in road accidents in Phuket. Nine out of ten accidents involve motorbikes.
Drive very defensively at first and watch what the locals do. Of course, it helps if you are accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, which in itself could be enough to detract some North American or European drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol is both illegal and dangerous, and driving at night also increased the risk of accidents — even if you're sober, many others aren't.
Motorcycle and scooter rentals start at around 200 baht/day, coming down to 150 baht/day for rentals of a week or more. There is a theoretical crash helmet requirement, widely ignored by locals, but farang riding around without one will be taxed 300-500 baht by the police for their stupidity. You must also have a driving license with you, or you'll be slapped with a 500 baht fine.
Renting a car usually costs between 1000-1200 baht if you want to go for an ecomonical one like a Toyota Vios (stay away from the jeeps). Several rental companies are located in and around airport. Avis is located within the airport while Hertz, National and six are located walkable distance outside the airport (across the road). Bookings can be made online for these. Reputable local car rental companies, which are often a little cheaper, include:
Be careful to check the level of insurance on a hire car, as many local companies say they have 'full' insurance when in fact it is only a very basic level.
For a bit of island hopping the longtail boats are a great way to do so. Prices must be negotiated and are app. 500 Baht per hour or no more than 1,800 Baht per day.
Phuket is one of Thailand's premier tourist destinations and (basic) English is very widely spoken, especially in the beach areas. That said, even a little Thai will draw smiles and can be useful in the less touristed areas of Phuket Town.
Amphoe Thalang (อำเภอถลาง)
Two Heroines Monument (อนุสาวรีย์วีรสตรี) Phuket’s most famous monument in Amphoe Thalang is the memorial statue of the heroines Thao Thepkasattri and Thao Sisunthon, who rallied islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders.
Thalang National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติถลาง) This is located near the Two Heroines Monument. The museum contain permanent exhibition of life in old Phuket, ancient artefacts and remains discovered on the coast and, materials used during war with Burma (Myanmar). It is open daily except national holidays from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. Admission is 30 baht. For more information call 0 7631 1426, 0 7631 3397, 0 7631 1206.
Wat Phra Thong (วัดพระทองหรือวัดพระผุด) Situated some 20 kilometres from Phuket town past the Thalang district office, this temple enshrines a golden Buddha image that sprang up from beneath the earth long ago. The story tells of a young boy who tied his buffalo to what he thought was a post. After doing so, he fell down in agony and died. The father of the boy dreamed that the reason his son had died was for the sin of tying a filthy buffalo to a sacred object, that what the boy thought was a post was in reality the golden peak of the Buddha's conical cap. He told his neighbors the dream and they all went out to dig up the statue but had no success.
Wat Phranang Sang (วัดพระนางสร้าง) This temple is located 20 kilometres from town on the Thepkasattri Road at Thalang district. An old and historical landmark of Phuket, the temple was once a fort resisting Burmese invasion around 1785. Inside the old chapel are enshrined the three oldest and largest Buddha statues made of tin. Called the Three Kings, they are positioned in the midsections of another three large statues.
Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Centre (สถานีพัฒนาและส่งเสริมการอนุรักษ์สัตว์ป่าเขาพระแทว) Its duty is to promote, distribute and wildlife within Khao Phra Thaeo wildlife park. The park is located near Thalang district, 22 kilometres from Phuket Town. 22.28 square kilometers of virgin forest are coverd by this park, which also actively conserves a number of wild animals; they would otherwise be extinct in fast-growing Phuket. It is a center for study of the environment and the forest vegetation is spectacular. Giant trees supported by huge buttresses are thick with creepers and climbers of every description.
One species of palm, the Governor's Palm or White Back Palm (palm lang khao in Thai) is especially rare. Gibbons, civet, macaques, squirrel, flying squirrel, bat, flying lemur, chameleon, mouse deer, wild boar, and many species of birds inhabit the forest. Khao Phra Thaeo serves also as one of Phuket's most important water sources. Major attractions include:-
Ton Sai Waterfall (น้ำตกโตนไทร) A small falls, over which pours a great volume of water during the rainy season. The trees, watercourses, and pools nearby provide one of Phuket's loveliest scenes. The park headquarters with an excellent view are also at Ton Sai.
Bang Pae Waterfall (น้ำตกบางแป) Another waterfall in the sanctuary which is located at Tambon Pa Khlok past the Two Heroines Monument. There is an arboretum and a nursery to rehabilitate captured gibbons before returning them to the wild.
Animal sanctuary Visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project by the beautiful Bang Pae waterfall. They have a visitor centre manned by Western volunteers and English speaking Thai staff who will talk to you about the project. Talks are free, but please support the project by buying a souvenir, sponsoring a gibbon or giving a donation. Don't have your photo taken with a captive gibbon in Phuket or on the beaches.
For nature enthusiasts, the sanctuary has mapped out some walking trails. Further information, please contact the centre, call 0 7631 1998.
The Big Buddha of Phuket Formerly, officially known as “Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri” and now called the Mingmongkol Buddha image, it is still referred to as the Big Buddha by everyone in Phuket. Sitting serenely in the meditating posture and on a dominant hilltop between Karon and Chalong it overlooks Chalong Bay and far beyond. So dominant is the Big Buddha that it can be seen from many of the southern parts of Phuket Island as well as nearby islands. At a height of 45 m and width at the base of nearly 25m it is completely covered in white Burmese marble tiles which signify purity. The base of the Buddha is wrapped in giant white marble covered lotus leaves signifying love and happiness. It is the largest white marble Buddha image anywhere in the world and has already become a very popular attraction for tourists and a place of significance for local Thai people and the many who visit from other regions. A smaller Buddha image made from 22 tons of brass and 12 m high sits along side the Big Buddha and joins the many other statues, images, sculptures and bells of worship. The Big Buddha was constructed in devoted to the King of Thailand, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 80th birthday and the smaller Buddha in devotion to the Queen, HM Queen Sirikit. Completion is not far away and will eventually include a 7 hectare Buddha-Utthayan” Buddhist garden landscaped with rock features, grassed areas, flowers, shrubs and natural environment. It will be designed for peace, relaxation and meditation. Some say that the early morning is the best time to visit the Big Buddha, with cooling sometimes cold winds you can watch the sun rise across Chalong Bay and the beauty of the suns reflection in the calm waters. Looking from the other side of Chalong Bay it is an awe inspiring sight to watch the sun slowly setting behind the Big Buddha, slowly forming a silhouette of this remarkable image as its features are darkened. The Big Buddha is atop a 400m hill offering spectacular views of Phuket Town, Chalong bay and the islands beyond. It is found by following the signs along Choafa west road on the left side just over 2km km north of the Chalong roundabout or if traveling south less than 1km past Wat Chalong on the right side , look for the ample signs. As the crow flies it is 3km to the Big Buddha from Choafa Road, the road is fairly steep in parts but concreted or sealed so perfectly safe. This is a Buddhist temple and the usual rules of modest dressing, strict respect for Buddha images must be observed and please remove your shoes in areas where you see others removing theirs. At the end of the main reception area you can [after removing your shoes] approach the seated monk, try to make yourself at a lower height than him by stooping or shuffling along on your knees. Watch what the Thais do and do the same, you will then receive a special blessing, and a charm to tie on your wrist. Remember that a female can not receive this charm directly from the monk, he will place it in front of you or ask a male to give it to you. And if you got now the blessing from a monk, you should know something about the 2500 year old Buddhism. The Buddhism monks are learning to see the things as they are and not as they should be, to split yourself from illusions and expectations to get a better human. Work on this simple thing and every day will be your day. Only a short information at the end. The total amount of the building was made from donations and if you enjoyed your visit, then show your gratitude, drink two bottles singha less in the evening and give some donation in one of the boxes around, or write your name onto the backside of a marble plate with them the base of the Buddha will be covered soon.
There are 39 islands to the south and east off Phuket, featuring forests and mountains, rocky formations, beaches, coral reefs and fishing. The main ports are Chalong and Rawai. Islands with accommodation are listed above, but some others open to day trips include:
Ko Nakha Noi (เกาะนาคาน้อย), just off Ao Po on the northeastern shore, is popular for its pearl farm. There are fine sandy beaches suitable for swimming and a seafood restaurant. Tourists can charter a boat at Ao Po or contact tour agencies for a tour package (generally including lunch).
Ko Khai Nok (เกาะไข่นอก), a tiny island surrounded by white sandy beach, is suitable for swimming and snorkelling. To get there, one can hire a boat from Si-Re Island’s pier.
Scuba diving, snorkeling, SNUBA diving, yachting, jet-skiing and parasailing are the most popular activities on the island. Most dive sites are off nearby islands, but distances are fairly short and there are dozens of dive shops and boats to cater to your needs, mostly based near Chalong Pier. In addition there are good snorkeling locations located off several of the most popular beaches. Seek local information regarding riptides, currents, and safe snorkeling areas.
Sailing and Yachting
Phuket has become the sailing and yachting center of Thailand and adjacent countries. It's home of the Phuket Race Week, Kings Cup Regatta, 4 marinas and some well sheltered anchorages which are teeming with yachts. The marinas are all located at the eastern side of the island which makes them an ideal starting point to explore the nature wonders of the Phang Nga Bay. An entire fleet of traditional junk rigged boats is located there, offering day trips. But as well real sailing yachts are on offer for this. Phuket has sailing yachts of virtually every size and for all budgets on offer to explore the surrounding beautiful islands on a yacht charter. Sailing Thailand Island Cruises  operates a wide array of sailing catamarans from budget to luxury, most of them located in Chalong Bay. Small sailing craft like Hobie Cats and Lasers are available at most of the tourist hot spots on the west side, e.g. Patong and Kata.
Yacht charter Thailand Windward Islands , one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to luxury yacht around Phuket, Thailand and South East Asia. Operating from different offices worldwide (UK, USA, Honk Kong, Dubai, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland).
Phuket Island has some decent dive sites and the largest diving center in Thailand. The reefs around the area are in a healthy condition with both solid and colorfully soft corals. There is also an abundance of marine life. Most of the dive locations are suitable for all levels of divers but there are also some that are quite deep.
The most well-known dive site in the Phuket area is Racha Yai with its sloping rocky reefs and its plentitude of solid coral forests. There is also Ter Bay where there is an exciting wreck in the depths of 25-35 meters. The area south Racha Yai, Racha Noi, is a haven for experienced divers as the depths are greater and the currents stronger. The overall topography is strikingly different from Racha Yai with huge granite boulders. The diving in Racha Noi compared to Racha Yai is definitely more challenging but the rewards are far greater.
Just off Phuket, is the limestone island of Koh Doc Mai that soars vertically from the sea-bed. It is home to a diversity of fish and offers the opportunity to view leopard sharks, moray eels, octopus and turtles. Further afield, most particularly around the enduringly popular Phi Phi Islands in neighbouring Krabi province, some 2 hours east of Phuket, and the Similan Islands, in Phang-nga province, some 110 kilometres northwest of Phuket, and the Raya Islands, 1-3 hours due south of Phuket, depending on the type of boat. Diving in Phuket’s warm clear blue waters is best from mid-October to May, when the calm seas and rain free days make Phuket diving a truly unique experience.
This can be enjoyed in sheltered bays all around Phuket. It is particularly enjoyable at easily accessible reefs at Patong, Karon and Kata beaches. Fins, mask and snorkel can be rented on a daily basis from shops all over the island.
Snuba diving is the safest and easiest way to try diving on holiday in Phuket. Popular in Hawaii, the Carribean, Mexico, and Japan, Snuba gives an introduction into the world of diving. No certification required, children 8+, just like scuba diving except easier. SNUBA trips go to most Phuket dive sites. No heavy equipment to wear, no long classes, maximum depth of 7 meters, professional dive guides accompany each group. SNUBA is available only through licensed and insured SNUBA Recreational Centers.
This can be enjoyed throughout the year, and is mostly safe. However, during the rainy season’ storms this can be very dangerous. Look for posted signs and flags indicating conditions for safe swimming; if the red flag is flying, do not go swimming in the ocean!
Boards may be rented by the hour, half day, full day, or week at most major beaches. Tuition is available free.
Deep Sea Fishing
Daily tours are available, making early morning departures and late afternoon returns, mostly to lesser islands to fish for Red Snappers, Rainbow Runners and other game fish.
This form of eco-tourism is available in several forms, as popular one-day tours, or more extended tours involving overnight camping on island beaches, and occurs principally in the neighbouring Phang-nga Bay and Krabi province, where mangrove swamps and island grottoes are accessible only by canoe.
Elephant riding This is a good way to support the remaining domesticated elephants of Thailand and their mahout, is fairly cheap, and can be an interesting new experience. The elephants are well trained, and you can tip the mahout by giving the money to the elephant who will hand it to the mahout with its trunk.
The golf courses of Phuket are of international standard. Each one has its own particular challenges and scenic splendour that only Phuket can offer. Discount green fee are available by booking through Phuket golf booking agencies. Karon Beach also has a minigolf course.
Muay Thai training (Thai kick-boxing):
MMA training (Mixed Martial Arts):
Mountain Biking - It’s easier than it looks. Most any person can enjoy themselves on a mountain bike, which has gearing sufficient to take the mightiest incline.
Trekking – Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Park offers the best trekking in Phuket with a well preserved natural environment. May through October is the best time for jungle trekking, when the forest is full of blossoms. The park has a marked hiking route for visitors to follow.
Other sports and games such as go-karting, bungy jump and paintball are available at Patong.
Surfing You can go surfing in Phuket on most of the Western facing beaches from April to September.
Phuket has evolved into a major center for spas and wellness in recent years. Several world-class facilities have been built around the island, and all of the island’s top resorts are scurrying to either expand or develop their own in-house spa services. Many offer a blend of Eastern and Western, classy to modern techniques in a tranquil environment, often at lower prices than spas with similar standards of service and luxury in the West.
You can receive a Thai traditional massage costing as little as 250-300 baht, or indulge in a pampering spa treatment program for 7,000 baht or more. There is something here to suite all tastes and budgets. The more basic facilities may be little more than a shop house with a row of chairs or daybeds for giving massages and facial treatments, and there are numerous other places all the way up to a full-service spa such as spas in 5-star hotels/resorts, where a sensational range of treatments are provided in an elegant setting. Some major spa centers outside hotels include:
Cultural Shows and Entertainment
Phuket Fantasea The very biggest of all Phuket's extravaganzas, Fantasea brings Hollywood-sized, Las Vegas-style entertainment to the island. Remarkable acrobatics, dazzling light work, stunning set design and a host of animal action combine in a song and dance spectacular that brings to life tales of history and mythology that will leave visitors in no doubt that Phuket was at least as, if not more, exciting way back when.
Set upon 140 acres in Kamala Bay, this unique cultural theme park houses an immense theatre, a festival village offering carnivals, games and handicrafts, and reportedly the world's largest buffet of Thai and international cuisine. For information, Tel: 0 7638 5111 Fax: 0 7638 5222 or visit http://www.phuket-fantasea.com.
Palace of the Elephants: Palace of the Elephants is a modern theater with traditional acoustics. The theater has seating for 3,000 persons. It is a reconstruction of a Sukhothai-era stone palace, with interesting elephant statues. Visitors can admire a fascinations show which mixes both culture and illusion fronted by a glorious reconstruction of a Sukhothai-era stone palace, with intriguing elephant statues.
“Fantasy of a Kingdom” Culture – Illusion Show: Created by international experts and local professionals, the ultimate in Las Vegas-style theatrical productions, this theater puts on a fascinating show combining culture and illusion. The nine themes are: Thai culture, magical illusions, 4-dimensional effects, aerial performance, acrobatics, indoor pyrotechnics, special effects, elephant circus and stunts. The show is from 9pm til 10:15 and reservation is recommended.
Festival Village: Home to the Kamala people, this village is a haven for shoppers. Things on sale includes the likes of: silk, leather, handicrafts, ceramics, jewelry, souvenirs, unusual items about elephants and Siamese twins etc.. Shoppers can also admire a demonstration of traditional and crafts and enjoy cultural parades, pageants, street shows and elephant rides. Park Operating Hours: 17:30 p.m. – 23:30 p.m.
Simon Cabaret: There's not a diva in the West who can compare, and many a catwalk model has turned green with envy at the sight of the lady-boy performers of Simon Cabaret. This hugely popular tourist attraction, on the hill just outside Patong, has been wowing audiences for years with its exotic, hilarious and transvestite cabaret. With sets and choreography that would do Broadway justice, and gowns dripping with diamante, the boys who are girls stiletto-strut their stuff to full houses each night at 7.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. Tel. 0 7634 2011-5, 0 7634 2114-6 Fax. 0 7634 0437. Admission is 500-600 baht. http://www.phuket-simoncabaret.com/
Meditation & Yoga
Phuket is the source of cultured pearls, nielloware, pewterware, ornaments and dried seafood. Specialist shops dealing in souvenir products can be found on Ratsada, Phang-nga, Montri, Yaowarat, and Tilok-U-thit roads, in Phuket Town, Thepkasattri Road, north of town and at the beach centres of Patong, Kata, Karon and Rawai.
Phuket's larger beaches are ravaged by ravenous hordes of touting tailors, who are certainly cheap, but will screw you over if they can — for example, suits done in 24 hours are usually just glued together and will fall apart the first time you bring them to a dry cleaner. Choose your own fabrics (you can buy them at Thalang Rd in Phuket Town), insist on multiple fittings and check the quality of work carefully. It makes little difference which tailor shop you choose, since they're all just sales fronts for a few central sweatshops.
Food in Phuket is surprisingly cosmopolitan, especially in Patong Beach, as many foreigners have set up shop to cater to their fellow travellers. All the usual Thai favorites are of course still available, with a particular emphasis on seafood. See the individual town articles for detailed listings.
Phuket has its own style of preparation and cooking. Some of interesting local dishes include:
Cashew nuts and pineapples are grown in Phuket and available all year round. The nuts are available dried, fried or coated. Phuket pineapples are some of the most delectable, sweet and firm.
Phuket has a busy nightlife, second only to Pattaya among Thailand's beach resorts. Patong Beach is by far the busiest, and seediest, of the lot, but in addition to go-go bars there are also plenty of other bars, discos and clubs.
There is a glut of rooms in hotels of all sizes and classifications, serviced (catered) apartment complexes (so-called 'mansions') and homestays. It's a buyers' market even in high season (Nov-May), with air-con room rates starting at under 500 baht, and 2-3 bedroom furnished houses available for 7000-10000 baht/month. For budget accommodation, the best rates are usually those negotiated in person.
AO PO (อ่าวปอ)
LAEM SAI (แหลมทราย)
Nationwide television, cable TVs, local cable TV channels are available in Phuket especially in tourist spots. International newspapers and magazines are available at some bookstores in downtown and tourist spots.
Landline telephones, satellite phones, all mobile phone systems, high-speed internet (ADSL), post offices and parcel services are available in Phuket.
Mobile Phones - Your personal mobile phone can be used while traveling in Thailand using a Thailand SIM card 
Nudity is highly offensive to Thais not to metion illegal, and it is very rude to go topless to beaches. Thais are generally non-confrontational, but it is always best to be respectful while treading on another's home country.
Crime as of late has definitely increased in the Phuket area among Farangs (tourists) and you should keep this is mind and be vigilant of anyone who wants to befriend you or trick you into gambling (which is illegal) and anything else you consider out of the ordinary. Katoeys (Ladyboys) are notorious for pick pocketing as you walk around the tourist areas at night. Also muggings do take place on regular occurrences. Avoid walking down unlit sois; stick to the main roads. If something looks/sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Tourist police can be contacted locally using - 1155 - They have a good basic understanding of English, so if in trouble these people should be contacted. Thai police speak hardly any English and normally take the side of the locals even if it is their fault. Always insist on Tourist Police if you have any run-in with the Thai Police.
For information on what has been happening in and around Phuket, Phuket Gazette contains the latest news, the new Phuket FM Radio broadcasting on 91.5FM throughout the Island are excellent daily news and events sites and , Window on Lifestyle Magazine is a monthly showcase of lifestyle products and services in Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga & the islands of Phang Nga Bay.
Tap water is generally not potable. Liquids from sealed bottles nearly always are, and should be used wherever possible. Take care in restaurants and bars...some may use untreated/unsafe tap water to make ice for drinks that otherwise have bottled/safe ingredients. Some residents claim that ice with round holes is made by commercial ice makers who purify their water; others state that it is wise not to rely on that claim. Tap water in most hotels should not be used for drinking or brushing teeth unless explicitly labeled as safe.