:: PHUKET

Phuket is Thailand 's largest island, approximately the size of Singapore. Phuket nestles in balmy Andaman Sea waters on Thailand 's Indian Ocean coastline 862 kilometres south of Bangkok.

Phuket formerly derives its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colourful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign trader's ship logs.

The Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traded with Phuket. Other visitors were less friendly. Phuket's most famous monument is the memorial statue of the heroines Thao Thepkasattri and Thao Sisunthon, who rallied islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders.


Phuket is blessed with magnificent coves and bays, powdery, palm-fringed white beaches, sparkling island-dotted seas, sincerely hospitable people, superb accommodations and seafood, delightful turn-of-the-century Sino-Portuguese architecture; numerous sporting and leisure opportunities; a lush tropical landscape - all of which combine to create a delightful ambience for truly memorable holidays.

CLIMATE

Phuket has two major seasons: the Rains Season from May through October, and the Hot Season from November through April. There are many sunny days throughout the Rains Season: showers customarily last little more than 2 or 3 hours. September is the wettest month. The best months are November through February. Average temperatures range between 22 and 34 degrees Celsius.

:: Attractions

Phuket and nearby islands have superb scuba diving grounds. A number of dive shops offer modern equipment rentals and internationally certified lessons for beginners. One-day dives cost as little as 3,000 Baht, but the more popular trips are five-day liveaboard diving excursions to the outer islands, like the Similan Islands of Phangnga Province, home of the most beautiful and colourful soft corals in the world. Visibility is often more than 100 feet and the water temperature doesn't really require a wetsuit.

Phuket is best known for its beautiful beaches. During the peak season of November-January, European visitors migrate to these sandy shores to bath in the sun and play in the surf. Most are situated on the western side of the island and are great for swimming and windsurfing. Patong is the most popular beach, teeming with all kinds of accommodations and activity, day and night. Its southern neighbor is Karon, a long, quiet beach lined with palms and evergreens, and the white sandy beaches of Kata, a stark contrast to Patong. The east has small islets ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing.

Wat Chai Tararam, or Wat Chalong, is the most popular temple in Phuket. Built in 1837, a recent additon to the temple is a 61.4-meter high chedi containing the Phra Borom Sareerikatat relic, a piece of Buddha's bones brought over from Sri Lanka. Combining the architectural styles from the Southern, Central and Northeastern Thailand, the chedi is the first in this region to house this holy relic.

The Phuket Fantasea is a cultural theme park, the first kind ever, providing an immersion into Thai culture with fulfilled, elaborate magical and illusion shows. They also offer a dinner buffet in a cavernous dining hall. It is located on Kamala Beach.

Game fishing trips are organized year-round with abundant tunas, barracudas, merlins, sailfish, and even sharks inhabiting the waters off Phuket. A favorite destination for most anglers is the nearby Racha Island where every trip is bound to reel in a big catch.

See turtles laying eggs and watch baby turtles being released back into the sea during the Songkran Festivals (April 13-15) at Nai Yang Beach, an area filled with government regulated bungalows.

Catch the most breath-taking sunsets at Phromthep Cape, Phuket's southernmost point. Be sure to get there early or else fight your way through throngs of tourists that converge at the cape daily.

Be enchanted by the mystery surrounding the solid gold Buddha statue half buried in the grounds of Wat Phra Thong. Legend has it that in the 18 th century, an invading Burmese army tried unsuccessfully to unearth it and was driven away by a swarm of hornets. The revered statue has remained so ever since.

View the spacious colonial-style residences built in the late 19 th century by tin and rubber barons and distinctive shophouses with shaded walkways in the heart of Phuket Town. The town was founded by Chinese and Malaysian merchants and the Sino-Portuguese architecture still retain influences from both cultures, as evident by the Government House, Phuket's oldest public structure.

Various forest mammals, reptiles and over 100 bird species live harmoniously together at the Khao Phra Thaew Forest Park near Thalong District, significant for preserving the last of Phuket's primary rainforest. Within the park are 2 spectacular waterfalls, Ton Sai and Bang Pae. See gibbons swinging in trees, the result of The Gibbon Rehabilitation Center in reintroducing domesticated gibbons into the forest to fend for them.

 
 
 
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