The name 'Pearl of the South' doesn't really do Phuket justice.
Phuket is Thailand's largest island (810 sq km) and a province
in itself. lt is also Thailand's wealthiest province, and although
tourism is Its biggest source of income (along with tin, rubber
and cashews ),the island is still large enough to accommodate escapists
of nearly all budget levels.
Lying in the Andaman Sea Off Southern Thailand's west coast, the
island's terrain is incredibly varied, with rocky beaches, long,
broad, sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, forested hills and tropical
vegetation of a, kinds. Great seafood is available all Over the
island and several offshore islands are known for good snorkelling
and scuba diving.
Comparisons with KO Samui, off the east coast, as well as with other
Thai islands, are inevitable, of course. All in all there is more
to do in Phuket. There are more tourists in Phuket than on any other
island, but they are concentrated at certain beaches. The beaches
of Ko Samui, by contrast, are highly developed around the entire
perimeter of the island.
On the other hand, the general growth of commercialism along the
island's main roads detracts from the island's appeal - there seems
to be a snake farm, gaudy billboard, bungee-jumping operation, half-built
condo project, travel agency or tacky craft shop every 500in in
the southern half of the island. The island's beaches and relatively
unspoiled northern interior remain its main attractions, and the
provincial authorities as well as the business sector should do
more to recognise and support these attractions.
The geography of Phuket is more varied than any other island in
Thailand, and its large size has allowed microclimates to develop
in different areas of the island. Cheek out the whole island if
you have time. Don't ignore the interior of the island, which offers
rice paddies, plantations of rubber, cashew nut, cacao, pineapple
and coconut, as well as Phuket's last bit of island rainforest.
Phuket island is located in the tropical zone off the west coast
of the southern part of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and is connected
to Phang-nga province by Sarasin Bridge and Thep Krasattri Bridge.
It is 862 km. away from Bangkok by road and one hour and 20 minutes
Phuket is the largest island of Thailand but the second smallest
province in area (the smallest being Samut Songkhram). The main
island itself has an area of about 539 sq.km., about the same size
as Singapore. The total land area of the province, including 39
small nearby islets, is about 570 sq.km.
There are only two seasons in a year -- the rainy season from May
to October and the hot season from November to April. September
and October are the wettest months. The best period is from November
through February. But whatever the season, there is always a breeze
blowing. The average temperatures range between 23°C and 33°C.
70% of the area are mountains stretching from north to south, while
the other 30% are plains, mainly in the central and and eastern
parts of the island.
There is no important river but a total of 9 brooks and creeks.
The west coast are stretches of white sandy beaches which are major
Total 278,480 (end 2003). They consist of Thai-Buddhist, 71%; Muslim
25%; and Chao Le (Sea Gypsy) 4%. The majority of population live
in Phuket town and at Patong Beach.
The only island province of the country, Phuket is divided into
3 administrative units called amphoe (county) -- Amphoe Muang, Thalang
Central Thai is the official language and used in business and tourism
areas. People in general use southern Thai dialect, which sounds
more succinct and is spoken faster than the central Thai. English
is understood in tourist areas.
The most important products of Phuket are marine products, latex,
rubber, fuel oil and frozen fish.