Welcome to paradise! It has all the right ingredients surrounded by clear blue water, its palm fringed beaches are of soft, clean sand, it has a vibrant nightlife and you can enjoy the most wide-ranging cuisine – you name it, you can eat it in Phuket. For several years Phuket has topped the polls as a holiday paradise, and in the most recent survey, readers of a top travel magazine voted for it ahead of Bali and Cebu. Add all this to the most welcoming people in the world, and you can see why travellers love it.
Thai Baht, 1 Baht = 100 satang
Emergency Tourist Police: 1155
Marine police: +66 (0)76 211 883
Phuket International Hospital:
+66 76 249 400
Bangkok Post (National)
The Nation (National)
Look East (Magazine available for tourists in most hotels)
Most shops are open from 09.00 to 22.00 in the evening, and are often open 7 days a week. Banking hours are strictly 08.30 to 15.30, Monday to Friday.
Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT)
191 Thalang Road, Tambon Thaladyai, Muang District, Phuket
+66 76 211 036
Phuket and its surrounding islands are some of the most beautiful and intriguing in the world. Tall outcrops of limestone rise vertically from the sea, and probably the most famous of these was used as a location for one of the James Bond films. It’s now known as “James Bond Island,” but its real name is Phang-nga.
Set just off the west coast of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea, Phuket is about the same size as Singapore. The main town is Phuket Town, but many visitors stay in the beach resorts of Surin, Katu, Karon and the most famous (and busy), Patong. To get from Phuket to Patong takes about 20 minutes. Phuket Town has all the administration offices, bigger business hotels and department stores, whilst the beach resorts cater more to the holiday maker. However, excursions to the islands off Phuket go from the port at Phuket Town.
Gorgeous white beach, the bluest water you have seen and snorkeling is like swimming in an aquarium. This is the place to relax and enjoy yourself, either with scuba diving, spa centers or elephant trekking, there is always something to do!
Excursion to Phi Phi Island
Phang-nga and Khai Nai Islands
Anthem Wake Park
Phuket Shooting Range
Dino Park Mini Golf
Splash Jungle Water Park
Phuket Thai Cookery School
Shell World Museum
Phuket Orchid Farm
The Thai kitchen in itself has become one of the country’s biggest exports and naturally nothing can compare to the genuine thing! Why not sample a bowl of Tom Yam Goong (spicy prawn soup), or perhaps the Gaeng Phed Yang (roast duck in red curry) is more to your liking? Many restaurants in the resort towns such as Patong, will have a mix of Thai and ‘western’ food. Chinese dishes are readily available at the many restaurants in the resorts and there are a fair number of Indian and Arabic places catering to those particular types of cuisine.
Night Food Market
Kan-Eang Seafood Restaurant
The Royal Kitchen
Silk Restaurant & Bar
All the resorts from Surin to Chalong Bay have a beach front road packed with cafés and simple eating places. Some are part of a hotel; some are just simple cafés on the roadside. Too numerous to mention, just have a stroll and see what appeals to your taste buds!
The Circle Coffee Boutique
Equally, the bars of Patong run into the hundreds. The main bar areas are gathered around Bang La Square and Bang La Road. The road is traffic-free in the evening so you can wander along without the worries of the motorbikes. Off Bang La Road are some “Soi’, which are lanes, but again without traffic. In these Sois, such as Soi Eric, Soi Cayote, Soi Gonzo and Soi Easy there are even more bars. Names change rapidly, as do the owners and the staff, but to name a few anyway.
Karon Sunshine Guesthouse, Bar & Restaurant
Thailand has excellent shopping, both modern malls with all the regular brands, as well as plenty of traditional crafts. The Central Festival in Phuket Town is the biggest shopping centre and has 300 shops, with branded goods, Thai crafts and electronics. Situated on the outskirts of Phuket Town, you will more than likely need a tuk tuk or taxi to get there.
For traditional Thai crafts, there is an organisation which is government supported called One Tambon, One Product. The idea is to encourage rural and tribal people from the villages to produce traditional goods and take the benefits directly. The store is located at the south end of Patong, behind the Holiday Inn Hotel. All the resorts have a night market, but the biggest is in Patong. The vendors begin to set up their stalls around 6.30 pm and then they are open for business until about 11 pm. All the best bargains are here: clothes, sports equipment, watches, souvenirs, luggage and some of the best replicas you can find.
Ceramics of Phuket
Ban Boran Textiles
Central Festival Phuket
Karon Thai Herbs
Phuket International Airport
Phuket International Airport is situated north of the island, so apart from the luxury hotels around this area, it’s likely you will need to get to the mid-island resorts of Patong, Karon and Kata. By taxi the trip to Surin will take about 30 minutes, to Patong about 40 min, Karon and Kata beaches around 50 minutes. The bus to Phuket Town takes one hour.
The airport itself is easy to get through and is small enough to make luggage collection quick and simple. The good news is that there are regular flights into Phuket from Bangkok alone and three of these operators are ‘no frills’ airlines. Phuket is also accessible internationally from and to Hong Kong, Singapore, Incheon (S. Korea) and Kuala Lumpur. It’s also possible to island hop from Koh Samui to Phuket using Bangkok Airways.
Having arrived, there are a number of ways of reaching your resort location. Needless to say, there are plenty of people outside the terminal building offering to help – at a price, of course.
Metered taxis are available, but there are not too many of them around. They are to the right as you come out of the arrivals building, at the far end.
To the left as you come out of arrivals, there are 8 seated mini vans which will take you to your hotel, but of course you have to stop at everyone else’s hotel as well.
There is also an Airport Bus but only goes to Phuket Town Bus Terminal. It does stop on the way but not at any of the coastal resorts. Journey time is one hour from the airport to Phuket Town.
Phone: +66 76 351 166
The most widely used ‘taxis’ are bright red tuk tuks. These are not the 4 seated variety as in Bangkok but hold about 6-8 people. Unlike the meter taxi, arrange a price before getting in.
There are public buses, which are bright blue, with open sides. There aren’t any real schedules, but if you see one and want to get on, just wave – there are no official bus stops.
Car and motorbike rental and driving in Phuket
Traffic in Thailand is on the left side and all the major car rental companies have offices at the airport. An international driving license is required. There are enterprising companies immediately outside the arrivals hall with cards offering cars at cheaper rates. Jeeps are also available, make sure you see the car before paying, some have been around for a while.
When driving in Thailand, beware of motorbikes overtaking on the inside and /or on bends. Drive a little slower and keep an eye on the wing mirrors.
There are larger chain pharmacies such as Boots (Central Festival) and Watsons. Individual pharmacies are in most resorts in the main shopping areas.
Post offices are open from 8.30 am until 4.30 pm, but make sure your post is there by 3.30 pm, otherwise it waits until the next day. The main post office in Patong is on Beach Road and in Phuket Town is at Montri Road. There are post outlets in many of the major stores and supermarkets. Look for counters with the names of courier companies listed – you can still send with the Thai post service from these counters.
Country code: + 66
Area code: 076
Remember that an area code is needed even if you are within that city. So, if a call is made from Patong to Phuket, the prefix 076 is still required.
220V, 50 Hz. The general socket is a flat two pin, but there are some Thai appliances that have a third round pin. Many hotels, especially the older ones, have only the two pin socket so bringing an adapter is recommended.