Phuket

Phuket is Thailand's largest island and nestles against the  Andaman Sea coast 862 kilometers south of Bangkok. The island is about the size of Singapore, with some 40kms of beaches. Phuket has traditionally derived its wealth from tin and rubber however these days up-market tourism and property fuel the growth of the island. Phuket is blessed with magnificent coves and bays, powdery palm-fringed white beaches, sparkling island-dotted seas, genuinely hospitable people and comfortable accommodation. There is super seafood, tropically vegetative mountains, lovely waterfalls and parks, and delightful turn-of-the-century Sino-Portuguese-influenced architecture, which creates an en-chanting ambiance perfectly suited to total relaxation. The island has many golf courses and is a great family destination with fun parks and attractions dotted throughout.

Phuket's population of 1.6 million people ranks sixth among all provinces in Thailand. The province is the richest in Thailand (on a per capita basis) and second only to Bangkok in real terms.

Along with the incredible beaches, hills and lush jungle, Phuket is a water lover's paradise. The reefs and surround ing islands teem with marine life. There is a host of water activities including scuba diving, yachting, water-skiing, windsurfing, jet-skiing and para-sailing on offer. Other attractions are the Phuket Aquarium, the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park and five golf courses, including the prestigious Blue Canyon Country Club. 

Phuket is an ideal base from which to explore the Andaman region. Many boats leave Phuket for trips around Phang Nga Bay, with its impossibly sheer limestone outcrops that rise out of the sea, many caves and odd shaped islands. Other popular destinations are Phi Phi Island, Racha Islands and the Similan Islands. The Similans are considered to be among the top ten dive sites in the world.

Phuket is not all about beaches. If you have time, the interior is definitely worth exploring. There are rice paddies, rubber plantations and small slices of Phuket's remaining rainforest. Phuket Town (now renamed Phuket City) is definitely worth checking out. There's plenty of shops and  departments stores, as well as a few flea markets as well as some small antique and handicraft shops. 

Patong, across the island from Phuket Town, is the noisy nightlife center of the island with great beaches and facilities. Beaches such as Kata, Karon and Surin are quieter and have a more relaxed feel to them.

One of the best family beaches is Nai Harn beach at the southern tip of the island. The best beaches are along the West Side, but the wind and waves from the Andaman sea can make them rough at times. Nai Harn on the other hand is a bay sheltered from worst winds and the sea is shallow for a long way out making it suitable for children (supervised of course). Also the beach is large enough, so there is plenty of room, and the restaurants and bars are right at the back under the tree line.

Getting to Phuket by air from Bangkok takes just over 60 minutes. The bus takes 14 hours and for a train journey you will need to change at Surat Thani having traveled for 12 hours and get the bus which takes a further four hours.