Thailand’s largest island is blessed with natural beauty. It’s surrounded by stretches of white sand beaches, warm turquoise water and untouched forests. Although only 48 kilometres long and 21 kilometres wide, it is home to luxury hotels, world-class restaurants, rustic markets and crowded dance clubs. You’ll discover a very diverse culture where orange-robed monks cross the street next to well-heeled businessmen.
Phuket is nestled in the Andaman Sea off Thailand’s southern Indian Ocean coastline. Activity on the island is centred round the western shoreline. Head towards the neon-lit Patong Beach if you’re looking for dance clubs and a party atmosphere. For a family-friendly beach, Kamala Beach is a much quieter place to spend some time.
Active travellers will love the water sports on offer, both above and below the waves. The island is blessed with natural resources and there’s equipment for hire, so you can try your hand at swimming, snorkelling, diving, jet-skiing, parasailing and surfing, whether you’re an expert or a novice. For adventures on dry land, hike along the coast or explore deserted islands that are only accessible by boat or kayak. At Ao Phang Nga National Park, hire a private boat or join a tour to cruise around the stunning limestone formations rising from the water. Many of the islands around Phuket will be familiar to visitors having starred in various well-known films, and the National Park’s most famous feature is Ko Phing Kan, sometimes known as “James Bond Island” after its appearance in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun. The Phi Phi Islands were the backdrop for the 2000 film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
After a busy activity-filled day, or if you just feel like winding down, there’s no better way to spend some time in Phuket than to stretch out in a hammock and relax. Escape to hidden bays such as Laem Singh or Kata Noi for peace and quiet, or treat yourself to a waterside massage at one of the shacks dotted along the island’s beaches. Search for tranquillity and inner calm beneath the Big Buddha or at the Nai Harn Beach Samnak Song Buddhist monastery. In the late afternoon, head to Promthep Cape to watch a magical sunset.
Phuket is hot and humid all year round. The high season is during the cooler months, between November and May. The wet season is from May to October.