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Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is known throughout the world for its vibrant nightlife, glorious beaches and breathtaking natural landscapes.
The Pearl of the Andaman is by far one of the country’s most famous resorts, favoured by honeymooners and holidaymakers looking for the quintessential exotic escape.
Whilst Phuket is known all over as Thailand’s party capital, this magnificent region offers so much more - it’s not all hedonistic full moon parties! Phuket’s main attractions include its many awe-inspiring Buddhist monuments, historic temples, exciting water parks and magnificent nature reserves.
Flights: You can fly to Phuket from most major UK airports. However, most flights will include a stop off on the way.
Passport/visa requirements: You must hold a valid British passport. This allows you to visit Phuket for less than 30 days without requiring a visa.
Packing essentials:Due to the tropical climate in Phuket, you should pack light, casual clothing, as well as sunglasses, a sun hat, sun cream and a light raincoat. If you plan to visit any temples or religious sites, make sure that you have clothes which cover your legs and shoulders. It’s also worth taking insect repellent..
Phuket holidays offer something for everyone, with world-class resorts that are tailormade to romantic getaways, including Phuket honeymoons, and family breaks.
The island is home to some of Thailand’s best beaches, from the immaculate white shores of Patong Beach to the golden shores of Karon Beach to the palm tree lined coastal stretches of Mai Khao Beach - Phuket’s longest beach.
Those looking to make the most of their holidays to Phuket at the beach will want to head to one of Phuket’s many diving centres. Boat tours and watersports are also very popular and can be found at most beach resorts around the island.
A visit to Karon Beach’s weekly market is highly recommended for those staying in the region. The market, which takes place in the grounds of the historic Wat Suwan Khiri Khet Buddhist temple, is the perfect place for souvenirs, local delights and Thai street food.
Among Phuket’s must visits is the spectacular Big Buddha monument that sits on the top of Nakkerd Hills in Ao Chalon overlooking the whole of Phuket.
For luxury holidays in Phuket, the most distinguished areas are those of Bang Tao and Laguna Phuket. Both destinations are perfect as a place to be pampered and unwind.
Of course, no holiday to Phuket is complete without a visit to the infamous town of Patong. The town is without a doubt one of Thailand’s main party capitals. Bars, night clubs, entertainment venues and glitzy neon discos are plentiful in this city.
Nightlife aside, it’s worth putting some time aside to explore Phuket’s magnificent natural landscapes. Most famous of these is the Ao Phang Nga National Park - a labyrinth of limestone caves, waterfalls and forests.
Phuket’s popularity has no sign of dwindling anytime soon, with numerous tourist attractions that can be enjoyed all over the island.
Bang Tao is a stunning horseshoe shaped beach in the Laguna area of Phuket. Shelving gently into the Andaman Sea, it is perfect for swimming and is surrounded by lagoons.
If you’re looking for a peaceful stretch of beach away from the crowds, Nai Thon Beach is the place for you. Predominantly a favourite with locals, the area surrounding this breathtaking beach is largely undeveloped, except for a handful of shops and restaurants.
Located between Bang Tao and Nai Thon beaches, hidden away behind a stretch of trees are the glorious golden sands of Banana Beach. Here you can enjoy laid back hours of relaxation, or cool off in the fantastically clear waters off shore.
Mai Khao Beach, on the north west coast of the island, is Phuket’s longest beach. Part of Sirinat National Park, this relatively deserted stretch of sand is perfect for anyone seeking heavenly hours of undisturbed relaxation. However, if you head to Mai Khao Beach to swim, it’s worth noting that there’s a sharp drop off a short distance into the water, making for dangerous conditions at certain times of the year.
Freedom Beach is another stunning paradise setting. Located on Phuket’s west coast, Freedom Beach is a fantastic place to bask in glorious Thai sunshine, as well as being a great spot for beach sports, including football and volley. The waters off shore are also superb for snorkelling, with a host aquatic flora and fauna waiting to be discovered below the surface.
Phuket is a great place to enjoy a boat trip, with many stunning islands to visit, including James Bond Island, the Surin Island, the Similan Islands and Koh Phi Phi Leh, the home of Maya Bay, made famous by the film The Beach.
You can also get up close to elephants. The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary offers an ethical wildlife experience where you can help bathe elephants rescued from the logging and tourism industry, and enjoy an unforgettable experience.
For those seeking a little pampering during their holiday, there are a host of excellent Thai massage parlours all across Phuket, where visitors to the island can revive their minds, bodies and souls and embrace total relaxation.
In contrast, any sports enthusiast visiting Phuket may want to take in a Thai boxing match, with Patong Boxing Stadium, on Sainamyen Road, a great place to experience Thailand’s national sport.
If you’re looking for family-friendly activities, Phuket has plenty to offer when it comes to finding ways to keep you and your loved ones entertained.
Those seeking energy and excitement can live out their Formula 1 dreams during a thrilling visit to Patong Go-Kart Speedway, while the Splash Jungle Water Park, at Mai Khao Beach, is the perfect place to cool off in the tropical heat.
Families who share a love of wildlife are also spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do, with attractions including Phuket Zoo and Phuket Aquarium proving big hits with adults and children alike.
Phuket is home to an eclectic mix of entertaining events and festivals. From traditional and religious celebrations, like Songkran, to the more contemporary carnivals, such as the annual Vegetarian Festival and Phuket Bike Week, the island provides a plethora of exciting events for its many visitors to enjoy.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival (Nine Emperor Gods Festival)
What:With the aim of bestowing good fortune and health among the local community, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival - also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival - sees the abstinence from meat and other stimulants. Celebrations also feature firecrackers, fireworks and drums, and include feats such as firewalking, body piercing and a whole host of other daring acts.
Where: All Chinese shrines and temples around the island
When: October 8 to October 17
Phuket is no different to most other Thailand regions. Holidaymakers can expect all year round warm weather, with temperatures ranging between the mid twenties to mid thirties. Phuket’s has a tropical climate, meaning the island is subject to a monsoon season (September to October). However, sunshine is still to be expected around this time, with outbreaks of rain only lasting a short while. December to March is seen as the best time to visit, with temperatures remaining manageable. April and May is when the island experiences its hottest weather.
You crave glorious palm-lined beaches and enchanting natural scenery.
You enjoy thrilling water sports and vibrant nightlife.
You’re fascinated by ancient monuments, colourful cultures and spectacular wildlife.
You delight in experiencing new cuisines and discovering fresh flavours.
Dining out in Phuket is always a delight, with cuisine for every budget and taste. You can eat for as little as £2, whether that be picking up a bite to eat from a street food vendor or eating in at one of the many restaurants that offer a variety of cheap eats. If you fancy something a bit more sophisticated you will also find a number of high-end restaurants, perfect for a romantic dinner, or a memorable family evening out.
If you’re feeling thirsty during your meal, you’ll be glad to know that drinks are reasonably priced, with a beer costing around £1, while a spirit and a mixer will set you back around £2.
When the sun goes down, Phuket comes alive, offering a range of entertainment and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re planning to go for a drink or two in vibrant Patong, enjoy a romantic dinner with a mesmerizing sea view, or take in a fun-filled show, you’re sure to be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding how to fill your holiday evenings.
You can’t enjoy the whole Phuket experience without sampling the nightlife on offer in the buzzing resort of Patong. Here you’ll find dozens of tightly packed bars, some with live entertainment and all with enticing deals on drinks. If you want to make a proper night of it, you can party until dawn at one of the many popular nightclubs dotted around the area.
Take a break from the bright lights of Patong by finding yourself some great bargains and wonderful souvenirs at one of Phuket’s superb night markets. Often offering a festival feel with live music and absorbing street performances, you can roam freely around traditional street food vendors and clothes stalls, searching for that evening snack or perfect present to take home. Popular night markets include the lively Chillva Market and Phuket Weekend Market.
As well as offering opportunities to party and shop, Phuket is also a great destination for romance. Indeed, loved-up couples will find a raft of romantic hotspots where they can enjoy picture-perfect sunsets and make incredible memories. One superb option is the family-run Wassa Homemade Bar, where you can savour outstanding views of Patong Bay with the accompaniment of mellow music and delicious food. The modern Kata Rocks restaurant is also a heavenly place to spend an evening, offering stunning views out over the sparkling Andaman Sea.
If you’re wanting to witness mesmerising theatrical performances, then Phuket really is the place for you. Treat yourself to an evening of myths, legends, fascinating culture and an abundance of colours at the Siam Niramit Dinner Show. Or how about seeing the famous Thai ladyboys strut their stuff at the entrancing Simon Cabaret Show?
Forget football and rugby. The most popular sport in Phuket is Muay Thai and you can spend your evening in awe watching this stunning spectacle at one of the specially built Thai boxing stadiums in Patong. Any gamblers will also be glad to hear that they can place bets on the thrilling matches.
When visiting Phuket, you should definitely make sampling the local cuisine a priority during your stay.
Food in Phuket features an array of mouthwatering flavours and ingredients, with strong influences from other parts of Thailand, as well as destinations across Asia, including China, India and Malaysia.
Along with Thai culinary staples such as pad Thai, tom yum/tom yam and red and green curry, Phuket offers a host of irresistible dishes to tantalise taste buds and delight diners.
One of the island’s most popular dishes is gai med ma moung, which consists of chicken, spicy chillies, sweet soy sauce and cashew nuts. Another must-try is kao niew with gai yang (sticky rice with barbecue chicken), while kanom jeen (soft rice noodles with fresh, boiled vegetables) is eaten by locals at all times of the time of day or night.
Massaman curry is also well worth sampling while on holiday in Phuket. This Persian-inspired dish has a rich, sweet flavour, but packs less heat than Thai red and green curries.
When it comes to street food, you will find a host of tasty treats to feed your hunger. These include nam chub yam (spicy shrimp paste), bue tord (crispy, deep-fried battered shrimp snacks), mee hoon (stir-fried noodles served with spare ribs and a clear soup), moo hong (salted boiled pork), and o-aew (a sweet iced jelly-like dessert made from flour, banana and seaweed).
Another popular street food which showcases the Chinese influences in Phuket cuisine is hokkien noodles, a fried noodle dish served with seafood, pork and vegetables.
With all these dishes and many more to enjoy, you’re sure to have a feast of fun sampling the many cuisines on the menu during a fabulous holiday in Phuket.
Tony is one of Destination2’s travel specialists and has been fortunate to visit Phuket on many occasions. Having an extensive knowledge of this captivating island means he is the perfect person to give advice to anyone thinking of jetting off on a holiday of a lifetime.
Luxury Phuket holidays
Phuket boasts an array of 5-star hotels and resorts, but when it comes to extravagance and sophistication, Tony recommends Laguna Phuket.
“Laguna Phuket is perfect for families and couples,” says Tony. “It is an upmarket area full of superb hotels, including the Dusit Thani, Banyan Tree and Outrigger Beach Resort. There is also an abundance of sophisticated restaurants and bars, a twice-weekly market and, of course, Bang Tao Beach.”
Laguna Phuket is approximately a 20-minute transfer from Phuket International Airport.
Phuket holidays on a budget
For those looking to experience Phuket without breaking the bank, Tony suggests that the areas of Karon and Kata, are superb options.
“Karon or Kata are ideal for families and couples looking for a Thailand holiday that is a little easier on the pocket,” says Tony.
“Running into each other, these neighbouring destinations offer a number of affordable accommodation options, including The Old Phuket, the Andaman Seaview Hotel and the Centara Kata Resort. They also boast a variety of restaurants and bars, as well as shopping opportunities, with a number of night markets to explore.
“Both Karon and Kata also have stunning beaches, with the gorgeous stretch of white sand in Karon being one of the longest in Phuket. Kata beach is more of a horseshoe shape, but is equally as beautiful.”
Best nightlife in Phuket
If a lively beach break is your thing, Tony recommends a stay in the incredible resort of Patong.
“Patong is the main area for nightlife, with hundreds of restaurants, bars and clubs to be found along the resort’s popular Bangla Road,” says Tony. “It is also a great place to sample the delights of Thai cuisine, whether from a street food vendor or one of the many tempting restaurants.
“Patong is also home to the Phuket Simon Cabaret Show, a spectacular ladyboy show full of bright lights, glamorous costumes and extravagant entertainment.”
Make time to visit…
Tony recommends that you definitely make time to visit the Similan Islands. He said: “A visit to the Similan Islands is a must. However, they are only open between November and April, being closed during the monsoon season. With pristine, white powdery beaches and crystal clear water you will feel like you’re in paradise. You can also spot turtles and dolphins in the seas surrounding the islands.”
Destination2 offers a variety of luxury Phuket hotels and resorts giving you plenty of options when it comes to planning your dream escape.
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