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Phuket Tourism And Travel Guide
23.3° C / 74° F
December to March
4 to 5 Days
Phuket International Airport (37.2 kms)
Phun Phin (200 kms)
A rain-forested island surrounded by mountains and the sea of Andaman, Phuket Town has some of Thailand’s best vistas to offer. The town developed in the 19th Century during the tin mining boom and became home to many Chinese immigrants. The town itself is a mix of both worlds, many cultures and needless to say, paradise for the tourists. With its best attractions including shopping, water sports and the stunning views, Phuket is best visited in its so-called ‘winters.’
How to Reach
The best way to reach Phuket is by air. With the second busiest airport in Thailand, Phuket has connectivity to major domestic as well as International destinations. You can also take the road, by bus or by car. Buses are cheaper and come in many price ranges depending on them being AC or non-AC, while hiring a car can be costlier.
What we suggest you avoid is the train, because there is no direct rail connectivity to Phuket. You will have to get down at Phun Phun station en route from Bangkok to Singapore. And even then, its a 5 hour road journey from there to Phuket Town.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Phuket Town is its so-called ‘winter’ months from December to March. So-called, because it is really not cold but pleasant, with only breezes of the Northeastern rain winds. The summers are very hot, humid and sultry. Definitely avoidable, unless you want some off-tourist time and peace. Also, if you wish to witness the famous Songkran Festival and the Thai New Year, April is the time.
Monsoons here stretch from mid-May to October. The wettest months are May, September and October. While rains are heavy, they are not continuous.
Things to Do
Phuket Town is more than just the fable of white sands and crystal clear seas. The culture of the town throbs with a rich history while amalgamating the contemporary in style. One can go barhopping as easily as one visits the Chinese temples or takes a walk down the old town for its stunning Sino-colonial buildings.
Take a cultural walk down the streets of Old Town, once the historical center of Phuket. The walk takes you through time and into an era where mansions were grand, people simple and lifestyles slow. There are some very well preserved shop houses, sino-colonial mansions and monasteries (both Buddhist and Chinese) that are beautiful. By day if this district is a cultural and business hub then by night it’s a hang out.
Street shopping is great fun at The Weekend market or the Talad Tai Rot on Saturdays and Sundays. This can be a catharsis as you meet so many vendors, see things from stolen wares to antiques, jewelry to used and new clothes with first copy brands. Bargaining your way through the locals and chatting them up about the town is not even an iota of what the fun at this place can be.
Phuket and its nearby islands have a range of water activities to offer, from snorkeling to parasailing, diving to surfing. For those who are not into such adventures, it is still fun to watch people being flown up high into the sky by a motor boat, as they go smaller and smaller like kites.
Sightseeing is another one of the pleasures of Phuket Town. The second highest summit of the town, Khao Rang is just the place to climb up and enjoy a leisurely picnic. There is a golden sitting Buddha statue, said to be the first statue of Buddha ever made in Phuket in a temple on this hillock. It is worth visiting this and paying your respects.
There are museums like Siam Niramit, the Trickeye museum and the Upside Down house to feed the curious souls. They also double up as great photo-op places.
Phuket Town is known for its Thai and Chinese delicacies, its generous use of coconut and coconut milk in preparations, as well as the vast fauna of seafood caught live. People enjoy scouring the streets for steaming dim sums, satays, noodle broths, live ice cream and coloured cakes (also called pastry). Since Thailand also has a major Indian influence when it comes to culinary, there is no dearth of the usual South Indian fare like idli, dosa, uttapam as well as kebabs.
For the carnivorous at heart, this is paradise. You get to choose your own live sea food and have it made fresh in front of you at the live counters on most beaches. Fried insects are another delicacy for those who can stomach it.
When around the beach, no tourist skips the fresh tender coconut water, worth 40-60 baht. They are larger and fleshier than the ones we are used to seeing elsewhere.
Memories & Souvenirs
Most tourists take back a ton of souvenirs from tank tops saying ‘I lost my heart in Phuket’ to fridge magnets, first copies of branded bags to swim suits.
A ton of photo opportunities at the various museums, turnings of Old Town streets and white beaches make for one enviable album. But the most important take-away is the feel of the town, making you nostalgic of its salty smells and cobbled streets long after you have gone back home and to work.