Phuket was initially a tin mining island, with sprawling rubber plantations as the two main industries driving the islands economy, both of which have been overtaken by tourism. Phuket is known as the “Pearl of the Andaman Sea” and as the largest island in Thailand it hosts over 40 beaches and over 30 islets making it well suited for this title and a perfect tourist paradise.
The one downside to Phuket is that there are few public transport options. With that in mind it is best to pick accommodation in the area that you most want to explore.
Despite all that Phuket has to offer it is most commonly known for Patong Beach, its infamous party scene and sex tourism. As a result, many don’t get to take advantage of all that Phuket has to offer. However, Phuket is more than just Patong and parties. Here are the 5 Ps of Phuket you should consider as you plan your trip.
Joined to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge and stretching down 48 kilometers in length to Promthep Cape; pristine beaches, plush plantations and picturesque rainforest hillsides make up much of this 21 kilometer wide island. With over 40 beaches to choose from, there is a beach for everyone. For anyone looking to get away from the hype of Patong there is Kata, Kata Noi, Kamala and Karon beaches just a stone’s throw away. These beaches offer a quieter, more family friendly environment, and are not too far from the action should you want to experience a more tranquil beach experience while being close enough to the party scene. Further south you can focus more on the views from Windmill/ Sunset view point, Promthep Cape and Cape Panwa or visit some of the more picturesque beaches like Ao Sane and Nai Harn.
Whether you are looking for a luxury getaway or working on a shoestring budget, with some planning Phuket has something to meet your needs. There are accommodation options to fit every budget; from beachside bungalows, countless hostels and backpacking options to global chain hotels, sprawling beach resorts, boutique hotels, luxury pool villas, and even the hillside luxury birds nests suites of Keemala; Phuket has it all. The hardest part is deciding where to stay and what sites and activities you want to be close to.
Phad Thai (also spelt pad Thai) is probably Thailand’s most famous dish. It is made with soaked dried rice noodles, which are stir-fried with eggs, firm tofu, and is flavored with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, palm sugar, garlic, shallots and red chili. It is served with spring onion, lime wedges and often topped with roasted chopped peanuts. While phad Thai is delicious and easy to find at most street food stalls, don’t fall into the ways of most tourists who only eat phad Thai during their trip to Thailand.
Food in Thailand is all about balance of the five flavours: spicy, sweet, salty, bitter, and sour, but all of this depends on who is cooking, who they are cooking for and what the occasion is, making Thai cuisine an exciting and often pleasurable experience. Phuket cuisine makes use of local herbs such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal (a ginger-like root) and fats, oils and dairy were substituted with coconut oil and milk, giving Thai dishes a distinctive taste. Some great dishes to try are stir fried meat with basil, fish with tamarind sauce, hot and sour seafood soup (tom yum), stir fried chicken with cashew nuts (gai phad med mamuang), spicy papaya salad (som tum), and mango sticky rice.
Before you dig into your glorious food, don’t forget to say grace or give thanks to Phracêā (God). Like with most of Thailand, the majority of the population is Buddhist. As a result, Phuket, like most of Thailand is adorned with intricately detailed Buddhist temples whose roofs are styled with symbolic gable ends known as lamyong. These serpentine adornments perfectly frame the picturesque blue skies, or rolling thundering storm clouds, both guaranteed to leave you in awe. One of the most beautiful of Phuket’s over 30 temples is Wat Chalong which also happens to be the biggest and most visited temple on the island. It is a sacred place, requiring visitors to adopt a conservative dress code and remove their shoes when entering the shrines. A visit to Wat Chalong can be a wonderful opportunity to observe Buddhist culture and Thai Temple architecture. Not too far from Wat Chalong sits the 45 metre high white Burmese marble Phuket Big Buddha , which although still under construction, is worth the visit as the completed statue itself is quite grand and the site offers some great views of the island.
The majority of Phuket’s local population are descendants of Peranakan Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago in the 16th and 17th century. Many who now call Phuket their home came from various areas across Thailand, making it truly a mixing pot of locals and foreigners from far and wide. The people of Phuket hold the islands history in high esteem and commemorate the two heroine sisters Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon who helped protect the province from Burmese invasion and are at the center of the islands crest and island monument.
Generally you can expect authentic hospitality, especially in Phuket where people are attuned to tourists. This does not warrant you to let your guard down fully and think that all have good intentions because you could still be a target of overpricing or a scam.