Phuket

Phuket

Located approximately 862 kilometers south of Bangkok is Phuket, Thailand”s largest island, which is often dubbed as the , or the pearl of the south. Its natural resources- rocky peninsular, limestone cliffs, white powdery beaches, tranquil broad bays and tropical in-land forests contribute to making it the South”s wealthiest, busiest, most visited and most popular island and province.


Nestled in the tropical zone off the west coast of the southern part of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean, the province covers an area of approximately 543 square kilometers (excluding small islets). It is estimated that Phuket Province covers an area of approximately 590 square kilometers if its 39 other small islands are included. The islands total length, from north to south, is estimated at 48.7 kilometers and approximately 21.3 kilometers wide.

Phuket
borders on Phang-nga Province to the north. The other 3 sides are encircled by the Andaman Sea the place where many of the best diving sites are located. The island is connected to Phang-nga Province by Sarasin Bridge and Thep Krasattri Bridge.

Staying on the island is easy, as there are only two seasons in a year – the rainy season (May to October) and the hot season (November to April). Visitors are not recommended to travel to Phuket between September and October as they are the wettest months. The best period for a visit, is from November to February, when it is possible to see the clear blue sky, feel the fresh sea breeze and marvel at the crystal clear water while lying on powdery, palm-fringed beaches. Average temperatures ranges between 23°C and 33°C.

Phuket‘s topology is exceptional with 70 percent of its area covered with mountains which stretch from north to south and the remaining 30 percent being plains located in the central and eastern parts of the island. The island does not have any major rivers except for a total of 9 brooks and creeks.

Phuket is divided into 3 administrative counties namely Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Thalang and Amphoe Kathu.

Phuket has a lot more to offer its visitors other than its natural heritage sea, sand, sky, beach, forest, and world renowned diving sites. Sino-Portuguese architecture casts its spell delighting travelers to the city, while Phuket-style hospitality has never failed to impress visitors from all walks of life. In addition, accommodations ranging from world-class resorts to tropical-style bungalows have warmly catered to the different needs of travelers. For seafood lovers, there is a lot more to sample than just Phuket”s famous lobster. Altogether, these characteristics have made Phuket a truly unique destination.

History of Phuket
Most geologists believe that the area known as Phuket today was once a cape that extended into the Andaman Sea. Geographical formations gradually changed the capes location, finally detaching it from the mainland.

A famous Greek philosopher, Claudius Ptolemy, was the first person who mentioned the cape in his book written in the year 157. The cape was locally referred to as Jung Ceylon, which was located between latitudes 6 N and 8 N (the present site of Phuket Island). Natives called the place Cha Lang, which evolved to Tha Lang the name of the main town to the north of the island.

As a perfect stopover sheltering traders from monsoons, Jung Ceylon welcomed merchants from India, Persia, Arabia, Burma, China and also Siam. During the 16th century, the island was also a popular trading port for tin with Portuguese, Dutch, English and French traders flocking to the island. This contributed to making the development of mining so unprecedented. Chinese businessmen and miners later migrated to Phuket and soon enjoyed thriving business wealth.

Apart from serving as a meeting point for traders from Europe, Central Asia and China, Phuket also attracted ambitious immigrants, especially those from Portugal and China, to work in the tin mines. With its colorful history, visitors admire the Sino-Portuguese style architecture in the city especially those buildings located along the Thalang and Yaowarat Roads.

Thalang town was surrounded by Burmese troops who invaded the coastal area in 1785. It was under the leadership of Chan, the widow of the governor, and her sister, Muk, who united local residents and successfully fought and drove the invaders out of Phuket. It took over 30 days for the defending troops of Phuket, under the command of Chan and Muk, to claim their victory. As a result of such heroic deeds, noble titles were granted to Chan and Muk as Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon respectively. To honor them, a monument was established at Tha Ruea Intersection, 12 kilometers to the north of Phuket City in 1966. They are still highly respected by Phuket residents even today.

However, 24 years later, the Burmese succeeded in seizing Thalang causing many local residents to flee to Phang-nga and Krabi. In 1825, some of them returned to re-establish a town and established a rice farming community. On the other hand, the area to the south of the island (Phuket City today) was developed and became a tin trading center.

When Phuket was elevated to a town in 1850, it attracted more immigrants from Thalang and nearby communities. In 1894, Phuket was promoted to be a Monthon administrative unit under the supervision of the central administrative body (located in Bangkok).

In 1902, Phraya Ratsada Korsimbi, a Sino-Thai businessman who contributed to developing the modern city of Phuket was appointed Governor of Phuket. He also helped to improve the welfare of local residents and set up the market system in the countryside. In 1916, Phuket became a province.

The tin mining industry has gradually failed to generate economic growth in Phuket, especially after 1985 when the price of tin fell by half. However, with its natural resources, Phuket later emerged as a tourist destination with great potential. This polished pearl of the Andaman is truly a destination that provides visitors with memorable experiences.

The islands long history has shaped the distinctive Phuket of the present with its diverse ethnic groups, culture, architectural influence, and fine cuisine. With approximately 35 percent of the population being comprised of Thai-Muslims, it is possible to see an equal number of Wats (Thai temples) located next to Mosques.

Beaches & Ports

Rawai Beach
An old local port, it is from here that long-tail boats depart for nearby islands such as Ko He, Ko Racha Yai, Ko Mai Thon, Ko Lon, etc. The chartered price depends on the distance.

Ao Chalong
The largest port of Phuket that has all kinds of boats, including cruisers of tour companies which organize package tours to other islands.

Ao Makham

Located near Phanwa Cape, the port is only for cruisers and container ships.
Boat Lagoon Port (Ao Sapam) The port is for traveling boats of tour companies.


Sports

diving/snorkelling
The waters off Phuket and the surrounding islands provide world-renowned diving/snorkelling. Numerous dive companies operate in Phuket, offering PADI certified courses, day dives and live-aboard excursions. Phuket is famed as one of the world”s better dive areas, so take advantage, get wet and go diving or snorkel above! Fins, masks and snorkels can be rented on a daily basis from shops and hotels all over the island. For further information visit this site for diving in Phuket

Fishing
fishing tours are arranged daily, usually with early morning departures and late afternoon returns. Red snappers, rainbow runners, sailfish and other fish are game. The tag and release system many other countries follow is not yet practiced in Thailand. Due to the ever-decreasing fish in the area, it is left to your discretion as to what you do with your catch. Visit this site for further information about deep sea fishing in Phuket

golf courses
The golf courses of Phuket are of international standard. Each one has its own particular challenges and scenic splendour that only Phuket can offer. Courses are at the following venues: Phuket Country Club, Laguna Phuket Golf Club, Blue Canyon Country Club, Loch Palm Country Club, Mission Hills and Thai Muang Golf Course. Please visit this site for further information about Phuket golf courses.

Kayaking
is a wonderful way to explore the beautiful waters and islands around Phuket. Paddle through sea-caves and along mangrove lined estuaries teeming with wildlife. There are a number of kayaking companies scattered all over the island. Visit this site for further information about Kayaking in Phuket. Sea Adventures (Roy): 01 370 3199 / 01 970 8664. Sea Canoe: 076 212 252. John Gray’s Sea Canoe: 076 254 505 /01 894 2369.


Sailing

is another enjoyable way to explore the beautiful waters around Phuket. The island is a cruising haven, offering charters on a variety of vessels from luxury motor cruisers and sailing yachts to classic junks. You can hire a captain or, if you’re experienced, be your own captain. For further information about sailing rentals, contact Thai Marine and Leisure 076 239 111 Email: info@thaimarine.com or Sunsail,076 239 057, Email: sunthai@phket.loxinfo.co.th

Swimming
can be enjoyed all year round and is generally safe from November to about April/May. Warning: Strong undertow currents can be hazardous during the rainy season (June-October).

Thai Boxing
For those keen on martial arts, a visit to the Muay Thai (Thai boxing) Gym in Rawai is a must. Fitness enthusiasts will find several gymnasiums around the island or in the larger hotels. Visit this site for further information about Muay Thai in Phuket.

Water skiing
is offered at some beaches as well as a few resorts on a half-hour or hourly basis. Cable water skiing is a relatively new sport, requiring a bit of nerve. Cable water skiing can be found in Kathu, along the Kathu waterfall road. Tel:076 202 525

Windsurfing
is available at some beaches. Boards may be rented by the hour, half-day, full day or weekly. Tuition from expert Thai teachers is free.

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