Stunning endless beaches, tropical sunshine and a vibrant nightlife attract visitors to Phuket; but Thailand’s largest island has much more to offer with dense forests, colonial mansions, temples and wats providing insights into its long history as an important station on the Indo-Chinese trade routes.
With high temperatures throughout the year, the island’s tropical climate is perfect for sun lovers. In April and May, the temperatures typically rise to 34 degrees, while the monsoon season runs from May to October. The “cool” season, considered to be from November to February, is many people’s favourite time to visit.
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Andaman Sea’, Phuket island is in the far south west of Thailand approximately an hour and a quarter’s flight from the country’s capital of Bangkok. The Sarasin and Thepkasattri Bridges on the island’s northern-most tip also provide road access to the Thai mainland, including the nearby Natai Beach and the stunning Phang Nga coastline.
With around 35 beaches, from the rugged rocky coves of the east coast to the endless white sands of the west coast, Phuket is a sun lover’s paradise. From deserted beaches, accessible only by boat in high season, to ‘always on’ resort beaches, the island caters for every type of holiday maker.
For discerning visitors the island offers an impressive choice of leisure amenities including amazing seas and coastlines for cruising and diving with four marinas and superb sailing yachts; several world-class golf courses; trendy boutiques and shopping complexes; luxurious spas and, of course, high class international and local cuisine with lively bars and nightclubs. Equally, the island has a reliable infrastructure including international hospitals.
Easily accessible through Phuket International Airport, the island has regular direct flights to Hong Kong, Singapore and many major Asian cities; as well as scheduled and charter flights to Europe, the Middle East, Australia, China and Russia. These global air links make the island one of the world’s top tourist destinations for singles, couples and families alike.
Whether you want a break to chill out, a fun family holiday or a lively party atmosphere; Phuket offers it all in a tropical paradise.
In the Phang Nga district of mainland Thailand just north of Phuket, near its connection with the Sarasin Bridge; Natai Beach is a 2 kilometre stretch of quiet and pristine beach with a reasonable choice of good restaurants and spa resorts. This area of Phang Nga includes some breathtaking scenery with cascading waterfalls, deep limestone caves and dense rainforests; offshore, stunning rock outcrops made famous in the James Bond movies provide an awesome backdrop for canoeists and sailors alike.
Situated off Phuket Island, approximately 25 min from Phuket International Airport, Natai Beach is a short drive away from the Thai Muang and Blue Canyon golf courses, and the Yacht Haven Marina.
On the west coast, Layan Beach is at the northern end of Bangtao Beach approximately 20 minutes drive south of the international airport. Sheltered partially by the offshore island of Koh Kala the sea is calmer than some parts of the western seaboard.
The beach is one of the most peaceful on the island, with the crystal clear sea lapping onto soft white sandy beaches bordered by coconut palms and pine trees. Less well known than other beaches, Layan is often deserted although there are still access points with car parking, refreshments and beach massages available.
Over six kilometres of white sand makes this a popular destination for families, tourists and locals alike. The beach is wide enough that it rarely feels crowded while there are still a range of watersports such as waterskiing, windsurfing and paragliding available for more active visitors.
The Laguna Phuket complexes with its world class golf course and award winning Banyan Tree Spa, are in the centre of the beach. The northern end, running into Layan Beach, is still largely undeveloped although the recently opened Nikki Beach Club provides some added glamour to the area. With seven resorts and over thirty restaurants and bars within three kilometres, Laguna Phuket provides a wonderful variety of leisure and entertainment activities.
Surin is the island’s most glamorous spot, a haunt for celebrities and the rich and famous from around the world. The area is home to many luxury villa estates, stylish clubs, chic shops and galleries as well as upmarket resorts including the Aman Resort and the Twinpalms, well-known for its luxury spa treatments and Sunday brunch.
Surin is situated between Bangtao and Kamala beaches on the west coast, with its bright white sand and crystal turquoise sea. Although developed, as many of the hotels and resorts are set back from the seafront, the beach still has an open and comfortable feel, perfect for relaxing and day dreaming. Beach life includes the Catch Beach Club with its exciting parties and beach BBQs, its daytime dining and exotic sunset cocktails, as well as its boutique for chic tropical attire and accessories.
Accessible by a steep path from the road between Kamala and Surin, Laem Singh’s small beach is extremely popular, less for its beautiful sand and shallow clear sea than for its tree lined setting which conjures up dreams of the perfect picture postcard tropical setting.
If Kamala was once a fishing village, its long beach now attracts many families and visitors looking for a more relaxed and chilled out resort destination than Patong. The area combines the natural beauty of the island with the friendly and relaxed nature of its people. In the north of Kamala, Phuket Fantasea offers extravagant nightly stage shows inspired by Thailand’s rich and exotic heritage that will delight young and old.
While traditional markets, small shops and restaurants line the streets of the town, the south of Kamala is home to 5-star hotels including the Andara Resort and Phuket Hyatt Regency, the excellent Silk restaurant and the bar Vanilla Sky. Along the stunning coastal road that runs on the promontory known as the Millionaires' Mile there are some of the most luxurious private villas of the island.
Patong is halfway down the island's wonderful west coast, with its fabulous sandy beaches and truly stunning sunsets.
Patong is lively by day and night with bars, clubs and restaurants vying for attention; each offering its own version of the Phuket party atmosphere. By day, beach bars service sun worshippers with cool drinks and a wide range of snacks, in the evenings Patong has every style of local and national cuisine available, from smart restaurants to the sights and smells of sizzling local food on street stalls.
Near the southern end of Phuket, Kata Yai and its neighbour Kata Noi are two of the island’s most popular beaches. Kata Yai is the larger of the two areas with a wide variety of hotels, resorts, bar, restaurants and clubs - lively but less intense than places like Patong.
Kata Noi is a few minutes’ drive over the hill from Kata Yai; a quieter and smaller version of its northern neighbour it shares similar soft white sands and clear seas. In the low season, the area is popular with surfers attracted by the rising waves and strong currents. Nearby, the Kata Viewpoint provides stunning views across the district and its wonderful beaches.
Eight kilometres south of Phuket Town in the south east of the island, the peninsular is home to several quiet and less developed beaches. The Chalong Bay provides one of the island’s safest anchorages making it home to yachts, dive operators and speed boats for locals and visitors alike. On the west of the cape, Khao Khat beach has a few beach restaurants for visitors to its peaceful bay; while at the southern tip are the Phuket Aquarium and the hidden beach of Ao Yon.
Recent developments of luxury villas and condominiums on the cape provide privacy in keeping with the area’s quiet charm. Offshore to the south is the pretty island of Koh Lon while in the east are the popular Phi Phi islands and Krabi.
Still known as Phuket Town by locals, Phuket City is wonderful for explorers.
Early morning processions of monks, daily open air markets, excellent restaurants with fresh local produce, and lively bars and clubs provide something to fill all times of the visitor’s day.
Originally the key trading centre, the Old Town’s architecture reflects its rich heritage with fascinating winding streets, grand colonial buildings and stunning temples. The city reflects the rich and colourful blend of East and West which has shaped the island and its people.
Located on the east coast, north of Phuket Town, this peninsula is home to luxurious villas in prestigious estates such as The Bay and The Cape where the designer Philippe Starck and Jean-Michel Gathy have created stunning properties.
Ideally situated for exploring the magnificent islands of the Phang Nga Bay, Cape Yamu is fifteen minutes away from the Boat Lagoon Marina and the Royal Phuket Marina. For golf lovers, the Mission Hills golf course is just at fifteen kilometers.