Phuket, Thailand Travel - Guides
Whether looking for culture immersion or a romantic getaway, Thailand has it. Throughout Thailand there are so many choices for travel activities, tours, lodging (popular hotels, villa stays and vacation rentals), and big & small cruises that travel in Thailand promises to be an unforgettable travel experience. You can build your personal trip planning itinerary online and choose to explore the area on your own or take our travel theme tours that make it easy to experience travel as you like it.
Thailand Guide - to help with your travel planning, find valuable details on the area including local activities & attractions, recommended restaurants, favorite shopping areas, walking tours, suggested itineraries and events.
About 867km (539 miles) SW from Bangkok
The name "Phuket" is derived from the Malay word "Bukit" (meaning hill); true to the name, lush, green hills dominate much of the island's interior. There are still some rubber plantations and relics of the island's tin mining operations remaining. Most folks head south for the beaches; Phuket's are some of the best in Thailand. The best way to see the island is by taking an (albeit utterly hair-raising) drive around the cliff roads, a totally touristy "elephant safari" into the jungle, or opt for an unforgettable sea kayak tour with John Grey, whose guided trips visit incredible offshore caves and limestone hongs.
In dry season, Phuket is at its best: you'll get long sandy beaches, warm water, and excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. It also boasts some of the best seafood in Thailand. Sure, its prices are more than a tad overblown, but for well-heeled fun-seekers who want to be at the heart of the action, Phuket is a fabulous choice.
Phuket does, however, have a downside: Tracts of hideous overdevelopment have spawned unsightly concrete bunkers patronized by budget tour groups from Asia, Russia, and Europe. Areas like Patong, with its seedy commercial strip and sleazy nightlife, can be a bit much for families or single women travelers in search of tranquillity, but with the arrival of a swish shopping mall, JungCeylon, and the new adjoining Millennium Phuket Resort, plus upmarket diners such as Brit super chef Keith Floyd's Brasserie and the classy venue Indochine, things are at last, looking up.
If escape at no cost is what you need, Phuket has heaps of elegant resorts designed for tropical solitude; a good number, such as the Banyan Tree, offer private villas and pools. Evason Phuket even offers a honeymoon villa on its own island, Koh Bon. Expect superlative facilities with levels of service beyond those in Europe. But with prices here way above those even in Bangkok, it's not ideal for those on a tight budget. If you need to keep costs down, consider the Eastern Gulf islands or lesser known atolls in Phang Nga Bay, or go south to more reasonable Trang.
Even after 4 years, the impact of the 2004 tsunami, which struck a devastating blow to the resorts along Thailand's west coast, including Phuket, and across the now up and coming region of Khao Lak, cannot be glossed over. Today, most resorts are back to full capacity; many in fact used the disaster as an opportunity to renovate and upgrade. Khao Lak is fast becoming the "next" Phuket, whereas Phi Phi is still struggling to go upmarket. A One-Two-GO air crash in September 2007 was equally tragic; at the same time, it has resulted in authorities reviewing and improving weather alerts at the airport. While some may feel put off about visiting this region, tourism is still the mainstay of the economy. Without support from travelers, Thais in this region simply have no chance to get back on their feet.
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