Country: Thailand
Currency: Baht (Baht)
Peak Season: December-January
Shoulder Season: November-December
Median Temperature: 27.90 C / 82.22 F
Main Languages: Thai, English, Mandarin
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, taxi, tuk-tuk, motorbike taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 3 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $100.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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Did the hustle and bustle of Bangkok get on your nerves already? Then it’s time you went to Phuket—beach paradise extraordinaire!

Phuket has been attracting the both tacky and otherwise polished beachgoers for ages due to its selection of white sandy beaches, ranging from the tranquil shores of Nai Han to the chaos and clamor at Patong Beach. It has, for the past decade, been showing signs of heavy urbanization, much like Bangkok—but that only goes to show how tourists all over the world love coming back to Phuket. You’ll want to visit the western side of the island since here is where all the fine beaches are found; if you’re looking for adventure, head on to the eastern coast, particularly the areas of Talang, Ao Por View Point, and Klong Mudong, where ATV, mountain bike and kayak runs are set to awaken your disposition.

And if heavily bent on finding the best shores and nightlife venues of the island—crowd control notwithstanding—your best bet is Patong Beach, followed by family-friendly Kata Beach and Paradise Beach. Unspoiled gems with little to moderate crowds include Panwa Beach, Laem Ka beach, and Nai Thon Beach, but don’t expect any nightlife and frivolity to follow suit once the sun sets. Phuket continues to garner international acclaim for its five-star hotels, partly due to the hospitality Bangkok is known for and also for the very affordable prices brought by fierce competition. Spend your summers and holidays in Phuket—you’ll be glad you did.

Packing List

  • Beachwear, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, accessories and tropical apparel; pack light on clothing and bring extra shopping bags—clothes are dirt cheap at Patong Beach and in other crowded places
  • Local currency and credit cards; foreign currencies like the dollar and euro are accepted, but to save time dealing with merchants who don’t have change, have them converted for Baht at the airport
  • A decent (waterproof) camera, plenty of film and batteries for beach candids; a GPS device or phone is necessary if you’re trekking the eastern/northern part of the island alone (or even with a group)
  • Essential medication and toiletries—pack the usual mosquito repellants, anti-histamine/loperamide tablets and toilet paper; bring bottled water if you’re not staying in a four- to five-star hotel
  • A few things to keep you preoccupied if you’re staying in the tranquil beaches: portable media, laptops, books; if planning to get a massage, bring extra towels and massage oils, despite their availability

Things to Do

  • Catching an all-out cultural presentation inside Phuket FantaSea located at the Kamala beachfront; witness elephants, acrobats and magicians and pyrotechnic artists don colorful costumes
  • Getting bedazzled by the flamboyant performances by cross-dressers inside Simon Cabaret; watch uncanny male performers strut their stuff by lip syncing and marching to the beat of popular songs
  • Seeing a confluence of ferocious creatures at Crocodile and Tiger World in Phuket Town; the farm also “raises” a few other creatures, including emus, gibbons (apes), parakeets, and a number of avian species
  • Astounding yourself with colors at the Phuket Butterfly Garden & Insect World; the farm breeds up to 8,000 butterflies each month—you’ll even see a cocoon section where (slow) metamorphoses occurs
  • Playing with the wily monkeys at Monkey Hill in Phuket Town; though most of the time friendly, take extra caution when with children, as even trained monkeys can sometimes get erratic and violent

DON'T

  • Be impatient—it is normal to experience long queues and occasional subpar service from many resorts in Phuket; tip generously for good service—wages are so-so in the island, so try to help the attendants
  • Be impatient—it is normal to experience long queues and occasional subpar service from many resorts in Phuket; tip generously for good service—wages are so-so in the island, so try to help the attendants
  • Touch the foreheads of Thais or embrace them for that matter—it is a considered rude and might get you looks from other people; a courteous “Thank you” and a tip is enough to evoke gratitude
  • Leave valuables dangling inside a three- to four-star hotel room, and don’t even bring any valuables at all if staying in a budget hotel; five-stars, on the other hand, offer maximum security for your belongings
  • Don’t talk rude about the King, the royal family, or the government—Thais are very protective of their country’s reputation; there have been cases of foreigners being beat up for their dissenting comments