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Home > Thailand Hotels > Phuket Hotels > Phuket Insider Travel Tips


Phuket Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations

     

Discount Hotels in Phuket : Patong Beach, Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Bang Tao Beach, Cape Panwa, Kamala Beach, Nai Harn Beach, Nai Yang Beach, Rawai Beach, Phuket Town, Phuket Outer Islands, Koh Racha, Nai Thorn Beach, Surin Beach

 

 

 

PHUKET, Pearl of the Andaman

The shimmering sea that meets the west coast of Thailand is known as the Andaman Sea. Along this remote tropical coastline is an island, linked to the mainland by a four-lane bridge, and to the world, by an international airport. It is not a large island, nor is it small-it's Phuket, it's perfect! Opaque and lustrous are the interior hills of verdant jungle. The glistening periphery of creamy white-sand beaches lends further credence to this idyllic model known as the "Pearl of the Andaman".

The amazing Phuket beaches and wonderful scenery in the area attracts more and more visitors. Phuket rapidly has grown into what is is today as the richest province in Thailand, second only to Bangkok offering abundant Phuket nightlife, incredible Phuket diving locations and of course the beautiful Phuket beaches. Find out everything you need to know when you are planning a Phuket holiday with Wired Destinations' Phuket Travel Info, Phuket Insider Travel Tips and Phuket Travel Tips.

Aoyanui
Aoyanui

Long ago, the island, like so many in the region, was a haven for wandering sea gypsies. The southern shores and some of the eastern off-lying islets are now home to these nomadic people of yore. Though their way of life has undergone considerable change, their colourful history is preserved and reflected in the style and ornate designs decorating their watercraft, and in their continued love for harvesting the sea. This era was followed by a wave of Chinese immigrant workers bent on exploiting the tin reserves that were discovered in the area. Rubber tree plantations soon sprung up. Industry on the island was geared for lucrative returns. Then, with world demand and reserves in decline, the tin mining that once marked the major source of commercial activity here was replaced by a burgeoning tourist industry. Not exactly overnight mind you, but slowly and deliberately. At first by word of mouth, as news spread along the backpacker grapevine. Then, when it was no longer a secret and mainstream tourists came seeking the near-mythic beach life propagated by the intrepid travellers, the Thai government organised and assisted local concerns in providing infrastructure. Today, thanks to a pro-active Tourism Association, the well heeled are landing in unprecedented numbers to avail themselves of 5-star Phuket hotels and accommodations. Oh! And the backpackers are still coming.

Night Life
Night Life

So what's all the fuss about? Why does the baggage carousel continue to overflow with all manner of trendy designer luggage and over-stuffed backpacks? Phuket packs a lot of fun and recreation into 550 square kilometres, that's why. The island delivers; there is something for everyone. You want it; we got it! Some 'fat cats' prefer to wallow in the local luxury, pampered and pleased, utterly at ease in style and comfort. Meanwhile, those young and extreme individualists (sporting 'dreads', natty 'tats', or half a dozen 'piercings') are here to creep the scene before drifting off to some remote and 'cool' beach to 'chill'. For the vast majority of visitors, however, Phuket presents a plethora of pleasing, if not downright amusing, pastimes. The northern end of the island is a zone representative of the way Phuket used to be with long stretches of windswept and lonely beaches and rural landscapes. The central portion of the island might be characterized as a leisure zone, where golf courses, national parks, marinas and luxury Phuket hotel resort complexes predominate. The southern and most populous end, from Phuket City in the east, infamous Patong in the west, and right on down to the cape, is the fun zone. This is where amusement, diversity and astonishment join forces to create some of those unexpected, yet memorable moments crucial to the success of every vacation. Rest assured, no matter where your choose to unpack your bags, everything on the island is easily accessible with the longest travel time between the greatest distance being no more than an hour and most often, only about twenty minutes.

Phi Phi Island
Phi Phi Island

The east coast of Phuket looks to hundreds of islands scattered over the waters of Phang-nga. Some are low-lying and rimmed with superb beaches leading to fine resort accommodations tucked under the palms. Others jut straight out of the sea, rising vertically to towering escarpments overlooking snug coves with no other access than by boat. High-speed water taxis, passenger ferries, and locally hired long-tail boats ply these waters delivering groups of people to these spectacular destinations. Some folks will spend the day snorkelling or diving magnificent coral formations. Others just want to soak up the sun on a deserted islet listening to the wavelets lapping the shore. Stalagmite and stalactite studded caves lure many a visitor to the darkest recesses of  Koh Pha-Ngan's monolithic limestone karsts. Other guided tours include sea-canoe expeditions along winding passages cut by the sea through solid rock. The eerie sensation of paddling through a narrow and, at times, low-ceiling rock tunnel with the only illumination being your headlamp, is soon displaced by the awesome sight at the end of the tunnel. As you emerge into a "room" (Hong in Thai) encircled by walls of rock and vegetation, open only to the sky above, you sense the strangeness of your surroundings through the lack of wind and muted silence. Beware the rising tide; it can cut-off your only escape. Incidentally, rock climbers and rock climbing schools seem to enjoy the challenges presented in the region. We'd be remiss if we were not to mention nearby Phi Phi Island, which continues to draw thousands to its shores. Like nesting seabirds, tourists flock to Phi Phi (pronounced Pee Pee) to revel in the concentrated beach community that thrives like a little city of hedonists. No cars, no trucks-brick or sand pathways meander through stalls, boutiques, and restaurants galore. Beach huts co-exist with beach palaces for the rich and famous. Reverberating bass booms well into the wee hours from almost every corner. Yet the mornings are gloriously quiet since most folks will not stir before 10 or 11 am.

Elephant Trekking
Elephant Trekking

Let's go back to Phuket and see what's shaking. Elephant rides into the foothills, jeep convoys on safari, bungee jumping, go carting, and (soon to be extinct) jet skiing will have you jiggling and giggling for sure. Speaking of jiggling and giggling. Check out a cabaret show featuring transvestites. Or maybe a live snake and cobra show-crocodiles too! For pugilist aficionados, Thai boxing is not restricted to fisticuffs, therefore feet, knees and elbows are employed as well. Boxing buffs can take in this unique martial art form at the boxing stadium in Saphan Hin or at some of the rings where staged performances are given for the benefit of tourists. If you're still in the mood for a few more giggles, better head over to Soi Bangla in Patong for a real 'eye-opener' on the local nightlife scene. Bars, clubs and neon throb and pulsate with the flow of the masses representing every nationality on the planet. But if you just want to relax and take it easy, massage of every sort is available on almost every corner. For the full body, mind and soul treatment, the island boasts some of Asia's best spas with therapies ranging from herbal applications to aromatic infusions. Shopping, shopping and more shopping greet you in a myriad of forms and locations. Handicrafts, gems and pearls, and designer goodies with real and unreal price tags await your scrutiny. Air-conditioned malls or sweaty street hawker stalls, it's up to you. Just remember: bargains are what you make them. Oh, and fear not, Phuket does have quiet places and excursions designed to allow the traveller a relaxing yet stimulating experience. Some of the eco-tourism operations propose outings that include hiking through the national parks or taking a riverboat to explore the mangrove estuaries and nature preserves.

It may come as a surprise, but Phuket receives quite a healthy number of tourists each year who come to take advantage of the premium health care facilities. Ultra modern hospitals staffed by highly trained professionals propose a host of body alterations and medical procedures at a fraction of the cost found in most western countries. Recuperating in a tropical paradise is an obvious and beneficial side effect. Dental clinics continue to open on a par with 7 Elevens catering to the ever increasing demand. The array of services offered range from tooth implants to laser teeth whitening and all at a cost that makes it hard to avoid. So if you're looking for a full-blown restoration or just a tune up, Phuket has you covered inside and out.

The island has become so popular, many repeat visitors are now buying land and constructing homes. In the past few years real estate prices have soared on the island. Multi-million dollar villas are perching along the west coast headlands and housing estate projects are springing up around man-made lakes and golf courses. Major arteries are undergoing full expansion. Plans are big and getting bigger. The government is considering a plan to establish Phuket as a free port zone. The Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) is working hard to make Phuket a major player in Southeast Asia. Various sites are under consideration for the soon to be constructed international convention centre. There is talk about creating a sports training facility to attract international athletes and professional teams to the area. Recently, import duties for pleasure boats have been dropped to zero as Phuket positions itself as the centre of recreational boating in Southeast Asia. The existing marinas are already atnear capacity so the completion of the Royal Phuket Marina complex (touted to be the largest in Southeast Asia) will be a most welcome addition indeed. Mega yachts are frequently calling into port and are staying longer each year suggesting it's only a matter of time before some of them make Phuket home. Overall, things are looking good for the Pearl of the Andaman, but you don't have to take our word for it, come and take a look for yourself.
 


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