Phuket, a rainforested, mountainous island in the Andaman Sea, has some of Thailand’s most popular beaches, mostly situated along the clear waters of the western shore. The island is home to many seaside resorts, spas and restaurants.
Phuket has a tropical monsoon climate, and is warm all year long. The rainy, or monsoon season is from September until October. During this time it is wet and very hot. Unless rain is not a factor for enjoying a vacation, it is not advised to visit during these two months. For us, January to late March is the best time to visit. Clear sky, pleasant weather and glassy sea.
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Now lets see the attractions you must have in your itinerary!
- Phang Nga Bay
A distinctive feature of Phang Nga Bay are the sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water.
James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are just two of the more famous spots in this bay. By far the best means of enjoying the spectacular scenery, with only brief encounters with the tourist crowds at James Bond and Koh Panyee, is to take one of the boat trips from the northern end of Phuket.
A leisurely day trip cruising through the dramatic limestone islands, occasionally stopping to enjoy quiet beaches, is far more rewarding than the standard bus-boat tour.
- Old Phuket Town – Discover Historical District
Unlike many Thai provincial capitals, Phuket Town fairly shines with personality and nowhere more so than its Old Town. In this historically rich part of town you will find shrines, temples (Buddhist and Chinese), ornate and beautifully preserved ‘shophouses’, quaint cafés, tiny printing shops, impromptu private and public museums and even a mini ex-red light district.
Phuket Old Town was built on riches reaped from Phuket’s tin boom of last century, when the metal was an extremely valuable commodity. In this quarter of the town you will see grandiose Sino-colonial mansions, once occupied by Phuket’s tin barons of 100 years’ ago. Phuket Old Town is compact enough to stroll around in.
The best time to do this is early in the morning or after the day has lost its heat. There are enough restaurants and cafés to provide you with refreshments so don’t bother taking a picnic along!
- Bangla Road
Bangla Road really comes to life once the sun sets. The road is closed to vehicle traffic and becomes a 400 metre festival of neon lights, loud music and cheap beer. Jammed most nights of the year, it is quite a friendly and lively place to walk around as bars and clubs compete with each other for customers.
If you’re looking for a fun night out in Phuket, Bangla Road should be your first (and, often, only) stop. Almost all of the bars are outdoors or open-fronted, so the music from each one blends into a mess of mixed beats. Beer bars occupy most of the street’s length, with several go-go bars and a few pubs, restaurants, discos and shops rounding out the attractions, both on Soi Bangla and down its side streets.
Street performances are also common most nights, which can make dodging around the tailor shop salesmen, leaflet distributors, street vendors and ping pong show touts more difficult, but it is all part of the fun.
- Big Buddha
Phuket’s Big Buddha is one of the most important and revered landmarks on the island. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and, at 45 metres tall, can be seen from as far away as Phuket Town and Karon Beach.
The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island, with sweeping vistas of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon, Chalong Bay and more. Relatively easily reachable via a winding 6-km road leading from Phuket’s main artery route, it is a must-visit island destination.
- Wat Chalong and Phuket Temples
Wats – or Buddhist temples – are among the most important symbols of Thailand, partly because the majority of Thais are Buddhist and partly because they are so beautiful. In Phuket alone, there are 29 Buddhist temples spread around the island.
Wat Chalong has been extending a warm welcome to visitors for over a century. Locals come to pray and Westerners come to learn something about Buddhism. The temple is open from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon.
- Simon Cabaret Show – Backstage Tour of a Tranvestites Show
It’s a spectacular display of colour, originality and fun. Phuket’s Simon Cabaret has become one of Southeast Asia’s outstanding entertainment attractions drawing a thousand enthused visitors from around the world each evening.
A single show runs the entire range of musical theatre from cultures around the world. Extravagant costumes, make-up and sets take the audience from Egypt to Latin America to China and back to Thailand in themed displays of classical dance and song.
- Phi Phi Island
Phi Phi Island is Thailand’s island-superstar. It’s been in the movies. It’s the topic of conversation for travelers all over Thailand. For some, it’s the only reason to touchdown in Phuket. Even with all the hype, it doesn’t disappoint. Phi Phi’s beauty is a large chunk of the allure. The islands, when approached by boat, rise from the sea like a fortress. Sheer cliffs tower overhead, then give way to beach-fronted jungle. It’s love at first sight.
The second part of the why-we-love-this-place story is attitude: few places on the planet are this laid-back. Of the two islands located near Phuket and Krabi, one is completely free of human inhabitants (Phi Phi Leh), and the other is without roads (Phi Phi Don). There’s no schedule, no hustle-and-bustle, no reason to be in a hurry.
- Phuket Fantasea – Phuket’s Most Popular Attraction
Phuket Fantasea is the island’s biggest show. With trapeze artists, a cast of hundreds, performing elephants and other animals and an exotic storyline that blends tradition with fantasy you’ll have a wonderful evening out here.
But the extravaganza doesn’t stop there as FantaSea also hosts one of the biggest buffets in Asia and is set in a theme park that offers carnival-like games, lots of shopping opportunities, a Palace of the Elephants, a Similan Adventure Centre and several other food outlets. It’s spectacular, it’s extravagent, it’s impressive and great entertainment value for all.
- Phuket Viewpoints – Phromthep Cape, Big Buddha, Kata Viewpoint, Rang Hill
Phuket has views that would make a landscape painter rush out and buy an easel and brushes and the great thing is that you don’t have to trek halfway across the country to appreciate them. Whether it’s a sunset-watching spot, a 360-degree panorama of the south of the island, a vista from the top of Phuket Town or a glimpse of swathes of tropical lushness it’s all within your grasp in minutes.
All you need is wheels. It’s a matter of taste, of course, as some prefer the ‘outside-in’ aspect of viewing the island from a yacht or tour boat. Others prefer life way up in the clouds, looking down from on high while others favour the exact opposite. So let’s mix and match. Here are some of Phuket’s best viewpoints for you to check out.
- Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)
One of the most popular spectator sports in Thailand, and now gaining world renown, is the martial art of Muay Thai. Exciting enough on TV – the furious punches, crushing elbow strikes, lethal kicks and artful feints are even more riveting when seen live.
Witness the passion and drama of Thailand’s national sport amidst crowds of onlookers whose cheers blend with the strains of high-pitched Javanese clarinets, drums and finger cymbals that accompany the fights from beginning to end.
For tourists in the Patong Beach area, nightly displays of Thai Boxing are carried out in specially built stadiums on Soi Sai Namyen. If you don’t mind the violence, a Thai boxing match is worth attending for the pure spectacle and the wild musical accompaniment, the ceremonial beginning of each match, and the frenzied betting around the stadium.
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