About Phuket – Phuket is Thailand’s largest island at 48km in length and 21km at its widest. Phuket sits in Southern Thailand, on the west-facing Andaman Sea coastline, suspended from the southern tip of Phang Nga Province by a pair of short but substantial road bridges. There are another 32 smaller islands off its coast, many of them popular destinations, like Phuket, for travellers, families and couples alike. The next nearest province to Phuket is Krabi, to the east, across Phang Nga Bay.
Something not many people know about Phuket is that it is quite hilly. There are a few peaks above 500m, the highest being Mai Tao Sipsong at 529m. Many of these peaks are covered in lush jungle. The lowlands consist of rice paddies, plantations of rubber, pineapple and coconut, as well as the only significant area of rainforest remaining on the island, which is now protected as Khao Phra Thaeo Park.
The most beautiful beaches are found on the West coast, separated by rocky coves and headlands. This region is what Phuket is best known for without a doubt. However, there are a wide variety of beaches spanning the whole of Phuket, where you can easily spend many lazy days chilling in the hot sunshine, cocktail in hand. Without a doubt, this is one thing everyone loves about Phuket.
The most popular (and overcrowded) tourist area on Phuket is Patong Beach on the central west coast, perhaps owing to the easy access to its wide and long beach. Most of Phuket’s nightlife and its shopping is in Patong, and the area has become increasingly developed. Patong means “the forest filled with banana leaves” in Thai.
South of Patong lies Karon Beach, Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach. Around the southern tip of the island you will find Nai Harn Beach and Rawai. To the north of Patong are Kamala Beach, Surin Beach, and Bang Tao Beach. These areas are generally much less developed than Patong. To the southeast is Bon Island and to the south are several coral islands. The Similan Islands lie to the northwest, and the Phi Phi Islands to the southeast.
Since the 1980s, the sandy beaches on the west coast of the island have been developed as tourist destinations, with Patong, Karon, and Kata being the most popular.
Since the 2004 tsunami, all damaged buildings and attractions have been restored. Phuket is being intensely developed, with many new hotels, apartments, and houses under construction. In July 2005, Phuket was voted one of the world’s top 5 retirement destinations. There are thousands of expatriates living on Phuket, many of them retirees. Whether you are planning a swanky, luxurious holiday to Phuket, passing through during your backpacking tour or looking to stay longer term on the island, Phuket has something for everyone.