Phuket promises to turn every holiday into a real adventure. The island was known in the 18th century for its rich tin deposits, it is now a real tourist magnet. White, palm-fringed beaches, crystal blue sea and breathtaking island scenery attract people from all over the world.
Koh Phuket is the largest island in the south of Thailand with an area of 542 m². With its approximately 390,000 inhabitants, it lies in the Andaman Sea in the middle of the Indian Ocean. On a length of about 50 km and a width of 21 km, visitors will discover fascinating flora and fauna. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is approximately 890 km away and can be easily reached from the island’s own airport in just over an hour’s flight. Another popular destination in the Andaman Sea is Khao Lak in Phang Nga Province, about 60 km away. The island of Phuket and its smaller neighbor islands together form the same named province Phuket and is thus the only island region of Thailand, which holds a provincial status. The province of Phuket is bordered on the north by Krabi province and on the east by Phangnga province, and is divided into three districts: Thalang, Katu and Muang. The Andaman Sea forms a so-called edge sea of the Indian Ocean and enchants with its unique underwater world. Especially in the west of Phuket lie the most beautiful beaches of the island, therefore, the tourism focuses largely on the western and the southeastern island side. It is not for nothing that Phuket’s magic is called the Pearl of the Andaman Sea.
The climate in Phuket is determined by the monsoon winds and can be divided into three different seasons during the year: cold, hot and rainy. In the months of April to October, the country is warmer than the Indian Ocean and the colder sea air brings a lot of rain and moisture. It’s the other way around from November to April. The air over the ocean is warmer than the land mass, providing warmer and drier weather. From these climatic conditions, the weather for Phuket can predict quite well. From November to February is the colder season and ends the rainy season. Now is the optimal travel time.
What is described here as cold is actually a pleasantly hot weather that promises a perfect dream vacation on Ko Phuket and its beaches. From March to May, the hot season is closing. Temperatures climb in some places up to 35 ° C and higher. Due to the warm and humid air, however, these temperatures can become uncomfortable or, in the case of adverse health conditions, can severely challenge the cardiovascular system. From April and May the rain is pouring over the island. The wettest months are May, September and October. During this time, it can come to long-lasting rains. A holiday on Phuket in these three months is not recommended.
On the other hand, in June, July and August it can look quite different again. Between the rains, the cloud cover tears up again and again and ensures a pleasant, not too hot climate. Tourists can benefit from lower off-season rates during this time. The rainy season on Phuket is not completely lost.
Tip: Who dares, wins – at least sometimes. The low season on Phuket covers the months of May to October, when the island is rainy season. If you do not necessarily plan a beach vacation, you can benefit from the lower prices.
The fauna and flora on Phuket was decimated at the time of tin mining and extensive agricultural use. Today, the steadily increasing tourist traffic on Phuket naturally has clearly visible effects on the flora and fauna. So today only 7% of the island is covered with original rainforest. In the national parks of the island gibbons and macaques in the jungle cavort in addition to deer and wild boars. The larger land animals such as leopards, tigers and free-living elephants are now looking in vain on the island. The underwater world has a greater biodiversity. The mostly warm Andaman Sea impresses with its fascinating islands and reefs, which are home to anemones and corals. While diving, you can admire a colorful variety of marine life. Skates, leopard sharks and turtles make their tracks through the ocean. Most of the beaches on Phuket invite you to snorkel and enjoy the view of a magical world under water, without having to dive into the depths.
Note: The underwater world is a fragile ecosystem that needs to be treated responsibly. Therefore, the motto is “reputation is better than touching”
Phuket has only been known to tourists since the 1980s, and the island can look back on a long and exciting history. For the first time, Phuket is mentioned in the history books around 1200. Where the name Phuket comes from is still not clear. Most likely, however, Phuket is derived from the Malay word “Bukit” for hills. Officially, the name Bhuket was spelled out under the reign of the Thai king Rama V. before Bhuket became Phuket in 1967. In 1785, the Burmese army, which occupied Thailand, advanced to Phuket. The news that the Burmese wanted to take the people of Phuket to Burma to use as slaves there, made the rounds quickly. This calamity could ultimately be averted through the use of sisters Kunying Jan and Mook.
Kunying Jan was the wife of the governor of Phuket. When British sea captain James Light sent a message to the governor in Phuket saying that the Burmese were on their way to Phuket with about 3,000 men, the news fell to Kunying Jan because her husband had died shortly before. Without further ado, the sisters mobilized the inhabitants of Phuket to oppose the Burmese people. Because of the lack of men, she ordered that women should disguise themselves as soldiers. But not only men were scarce, but also weapons. Therefore, simple sticks had to serve as weapons. The Burmese occupied position near the beach of Bang Tao. After about a month, however, they had to give up their siege because of a famine and the imminent death of the soldiers and pull off untried things. For their courage and heroism, the sisters were awarded a title of nobility and a statue was erected.
Note: The hero statue is unmissable on the way to the airport. If you approach the statue of the two sisters attentively, you can see how the Thai people send a greeting in their direction.
This should not be Burma’s only attempt to conquer Phuket. Between 1809 and 1812, the Burmese army tried three more times. In doing so, parts of Phuket, especially in what is now Thalang District, were destroyed and only with the help of incoming support from Bangkok could the attacks be averted. Phuket acquired by the cultivation of rubber and the mining of tin a not inconsiderable wealth in which other nations wanted to enrich. Only when Burma came under British rule did the attacks cease.
The original population of Phuket make up three distinct tribes: the Moken, the Moklen and the Urak Lawoi. All three tribes sailed the sea around the coasts and bays of Phuket as sea nomads. The indigenous peoples or Chao Le, as they are called in the Thai language, live mainly on boats or, in settlements built on stilts. Some of them move from bay to bay and feed on what the sea holds for them. The Moken tribe is still the only survivor today who maintains a nomadic lifestyle. The other tribes have now settled on the coast of Phuket. Their exact origins are still unknown and still pose a mystery to many scientists. Some stilt settlements are considered an attraction and can be visited by tourists. The increase in tourism, however, also brings disadvantages and changes the original cultures bit by bit or has already completely pushed them back in some places on the Thai coast. For a long time the Sea Peoples lived without money and their livelihoods were based solely on their outstanding skills as fishermen. Tourism has opened new ways for nomads to make a living. Tours of their settlements and photos with locals also changed the image of their huts, many of which are now equipped with running water and electricity. However, most of their livelihoods they still deny by fishing or pearl diving. Most sea nomads are followers of animism. The religion of animism is based on an all-soulness, which means not only humans and animals, but also other objects from nature are regarded as animated and therefore deserve a certain reverence for the treatment.
Tip: A visit to a stilt settlement offers an exciting insight into the world of sea nomads. In Rawai, Saphan Bay or on the island of Sire you can immerse yourself in the life of the Moklen and Urak Lawoi for a few hours.
For a long time, Phuket was a nation of fishermen, until large deposits of tin on Phuket were discovered between the 14th and 18th centuries, and tin mining was brought to the fore. The tin wealth attracted numerous other nations, such as Europeans and Arabs to the island. Many Chinese migrants settled in Phuket to work in the tin mines. Koh Phuket is located very conveniently between India and China, so that the trade in tin flourished quickly and helped the island to its wealth. In the 18th century, tin mining was placed under a royal monopoly to limit access to valuable mineral resources by other countries. Since Phuket did not have infinite tin resources, the tin mining soon played only a minor role in the overall economy, but laid the foundation for the prosperity of Phuket.
With the discovery of tin on Phuket, the number of Chinese immigrants rose sharply. The Chinese brought not only their labor, but also their traditions and knowledge to Phuket. Many young Chinese men married Thai women and the cultures gradually mixed. After the depletion of tin supplies, the Chinese, now rooted in Phuket, focused on trade and, as merchants, contributed significantly to the development of cities such as Phuket Town.
Other industries Phukets are in the rubber cultivation on large plantations. Around 1900, the first rubber tree was planted on Phuket. What maybe hardly anyone knows – Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of natural rubber. About 3.9 million tons of rubber are produced annually. However, rubber farming competes with tourism as the second strongest economic sector in Phuket. The large, wide plantations must in some places make room for the development of accommodation for tourists. The same applies to the agricultural cultivation of cashew, pineapple or coconuts.
Another important cornerstone of Phuket’s economy is fishing. Due to the high demand for fish, however, there is gradually overfishing of waters by large companies, which poses major problems, especially for local fishermen.
Note: Phuket is considered the most expensive province in Thailand besides Bangkok. Certainly you can find cheap accommodation or restaurants. Generally, however, the price standard on Phuket is not comparable to that in the rest of Thailand.
Over the centuries, a melting pot of different nations and religions has sprung up in Phuket. In addition to the Chinese, who had immigrated with the tin at the latest, also many Thailians live on the island, who have moved from the mainland. Another group is the Malays, who mainly work as fishermen on the coast of Phuket or on rubber plantations.
In the 1980s, tourism began to develop in Phuket. First came the backpackers and adventure tourists, who discovered the deserted beaches for themselves. With its breathtaking flora and fauna, the white beaches under coconut palms and the crystal blue sea, Phuket attracts millions of holidaymakers every year. This of course means that tourist hotspots like Patang are relatively busy. But not all cities and beaches are overcrowded on Phuket touristy. There are still many lonely beaches to discover on Phuket.
The predominant religion in Phuket is the so-called Theravada Buddhism, nearly 95% of the Thais are followers of Buddhism. In Phuket, about 78% of the island population is Buddhist. Buddhism is a religion that is reflected in its philosophy in everyday life and architecture. For this reason, Buddhist temples are not only a tourist attraction, but are also actively used by the locals on Phuket for offerings and prayers. The second largest religious group is formed by the Islamists, who are largely made up of Malay inhabitants of Phuket. The peace-loving religion of Buddhism allows the coexistence of the various religions on the island, which has so far been able to manage without bloody conflicts and conflicts in its history.
Phuket offers visitors a variety of cultural attractions that are closely linked to the traditions of its inhabitants. So you can greet the new year on Phuket three times. On the one hand, the regular New Year’s Day on January 1st, then the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated between the beginning of January and the middle of February, and the Thai New Year in the middle of April. In general, festivals of all kinds are celebrated on Phuket on many occasions. A particularly bizarre highlight in the island’s event calendar is certainly the Vegetarian Festival, which is celebrated for a few days in October. During the festival, parades and processions take place around the Chinese temples. Street stalls with vegetarian food line the paths. The Vegetarian Festival dates back to the 19th century. A Chinese acting troupe became seriously ill when they wanted to play for Chinese tin miners. Thanks to a vegetarian diet and the worship of their deities, the group quickly revived and the indigenous people of Phuket took over the ritual. During the Vegetarian Festival, it’s all about the Mah Song who sacrifice their bodies to ensure well-being for all in the community. Visitors to the festival will witness the chosen people drilling iron bars through their cheeks, going over glowing coals, or otherwise accepting injuries and mutilations.
Tip: The Vegetarian Festival is one of the most famous and most visited festivals in Phuket. If you are on the island at the time of the festival, you should not miss one of the many parades. But beware, the sight of the Mah Song is not for the faint of heart.
Thais are considered the friendliest people in the world. Not for nothing is Thailand called the “Land of Smiles”. But the smile has different meanings, which are not always easy to see through, especially for Europeans. The smile can be a means to defuse a conflict or to give more weight to a request. It is also used to signal to your counterpart that a mistake made is immediately forgiven and is a contentious matter off the table. Although the history of Phuket has a number of influences, including China and Malaysia, emphasis is still placed on Thai
Tip: let yourself be infected by the friendliness. With a smile you not only get to your destination faster, it also makes it easier to get there.
Thailand still has social hierarchies that may seem a little strange to Europeans at first sight. The same applies, albeit in a diluted form, to Phuket. These are reflected above all in the tone of conversation among each other or in the use of different greeting forms depending on social status. Family and traditions are capitalized on Phuket as well as in Thailand. So it is not uncommon that different generations live under one roof.
For Thais, one of the most important cornerstones of social interaction is the truth of the face, not only of one’s own but also of one’s counterpart. Thais try to avoid conflicts and not to embarrass themselves and others. Tourists on Phuket should therefore follow some rules!
Since the 1980s, tourism is booming on the island in the Andaman Sea. Phuket and its sparsely populated neighboring islands filled the dreams of all those seeking an adventure in solitude. The number of tourists increased year by year and the insider tip Phuket has become a tourist hotspot. In 2016, over 30 million people spent their holidays in Phuket. That’s hardly surprising with its variety of activities. Phuket offers the right holiday experience for everyone.
Even today, backpackers on Koh Phuket are still attracted, the connection is good and Southeast Asia remains on top of the list of the most popular backpacker destinations. The unique island landscape around Phuket also enchants millions of divers every year. The neighboring islands of Kho Phi Phi or the Similan Islands are considered one of the most breathtaking dive destinations in the world.
Phuket is not just a dream island for active vacationers. On the beautiful beaches along the west coast or in the southeast you can spend relaxing hours on the beach under palm trees.
Still quite unknown is the “health tourism”. The hospitals in Phuket meet modern standards and most local doctors speak excellent English. Many people use this to get a cheap treatment.
The best time to visit Phuket is between the end of November and March. The time is dry, not too hot and the temperatures are especially good for Europeans. From April to May the temperatures rise significantly. The rainy season from May to the end of October is the official off season on Phuket. The prices for accommodation and meals decrease significantly. Many tourist activities and restaurants are closed, some national parks are closed. Nevertheless, one should not exclude a holiday on Phuket during the rainy season from the outset. The rainy season does not mean that it keeps pouring out of buckets for months on end. Rainy days alternate with days without rain.
Note: Depending on your preference, the off-season can provide a relaxed holiday feeling. However, many tourist attractions have closed and some national parks are closed. It is worthwhile to inform yourself in advance
If you want to spend a beach and beach holiday in Phuket, the rainy season avoids better. As the wind blows over time from the sea to the island, it can lead to a higher swell and a more restless sea. Dangerous currents can put careless bathing tourists in mortal danger. Therefore, and not only in the rainy season, it is essential to observe and obey the warnings.
Getting to Phuket is easy by plane, as the island has its own modern airport. Both Thai domestic and international airlines land here. Some German airlines also offer direct flights to Phuket. The most popular routes are via Bangkok or stopover in the United Arab Emirates. Phuket is connected to the Thai mainland by a bridge. This allows tourists to easily travel on the most common means of transport in Phuket. Buses regularly shuttle back and forth between the provinces and the capital, Phuket Town.
The surrounding islands are approached either by speed or longtail boats or by a passenger ferry. Regular shipping links, for example, Phuket with Koh Phi Phi or Ao Nang in the neighboring province of Krabi. Anyone who has booked an island tour during his stay on Phuket, which is usually picked up by the provider conveniently at the hotel and then transfers with a ship to the respective island. The islands are also well connected with each other, so island hopping is definitely possible. However, a train to Phuket looking for in vain.
The beaches on Phuket are among the most beautiful in the world. White sandy beaches, secluded bays and palm trees as far as the eye can see. The most famous beach is the Patong Beach on the west coast of Phuket. On a length of 2.5 km, the tourists from the surrounding hotels romp here. Patong is known not only for its magical beach, but also for its nightlife. Another highlight among the beaches is the Kata Beach in the southwest. Picturesquely surrounded by a cape on two sides, it captivates its visitors with a breathtaking view of the crystal blue sea. Next to Patong, the beach in Kata is one of the most popular beaches in Phuket. On both beaches you have the opportunity to spend your holidays in a hotel near the beach.
The traffic on Phuket is not for everyone. With the rising numbers of tourists, the traffic has risen rapidly and with it, unfortunately, the injured and dead. The infrastructure is not keeping pace with the multitude of cars, buses, mopeds and trucks. Numerous accidents due to a mixture of poor road conditions, aggressive driving style and sometimes alcohol and drugs make road traffic a nightmare in some places. If you do not feel confident driving on the island, you can use one of the many taxis, TukTuks or private transport services. However, you should definitely negotiate the price in advance so that there is no nasty surprise afterwards and you face an aggressive taxi driver who wants to collect a completely overpriced price. Public transport is sparsely populated on Phuket and the further you get from the airport, the harder you will find it. Here it helps to ask more exactly where the nearest stop is.
The official language in Phuket is Thai, but many Phuket people speak English very well. The national currency is baht and 1 dollar equals about 30 baht.
A visa is not necessary for tourists from Germany, Austria or Switzerland for a holiday of up to four weeks. A residence permit of 30 days will be issued automatically upon arrival. The first 30 days can be extended for a one-time fee for another four weeks. A short departure and return to a neighboring country to get a renewed residence permit for thirty days is no longer allowed. If you already know in advance that you would like to spend more than a month on Phuket, then a tourist visa worth 180 days with the possibility of multiple entries. However, the 180-day validity does not mean a residence permit for the same time. With the tourist visa you have the possibility of a 60-day stay on Phuket and a one-time extension of 30 days. But then you have to leave for a neighboring country and come back to Thailand to get another residency permit for 60 days.
Note: The Thai consulates are happy to provide information on the respective visa requirements. A required visa is also issued there. In Germany, there are Thai consulates in Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Munich and Essen.
A visit to Phuket is generally considered very safe. However, the province is facing problems with the now mafia-like structures of the taxi and TukTuk drivers, who outdo each other with extremely high prices, and the corrupt police, which is not always a help.
When on holiday in Phuket, you should absolutely indulge in the local cuisine and discover the culinary variety of impressive flavors and fresh fruits and vegetables. Those who have a choice are spoiled for choice. Small food stalls on the roadside, restaurants or mobile kitchens invite you on a culinary journey through the light and low-fat Thai cuisine. The Thai cuisine is spicy, who has a more sensitive palate, should say so when ordering. Many restaurants have now adapted to the tastes of their holiday guests and serve dishes adapted to the more sensitive palates.
Tip: If you would like to eat, you should take a closer look at the menu or sit down to a small kitchen stall.
The food in restaurants are usually served in bite-sized pieces and eaten either with a spoon or chopsticks.
The fruit buffet on Phuket is rich. In addition to mango, durian and lychees, there are also some lesser-known delicacies such as java apples (different colored, bell-shaped fruit) or mangosteen (pleasant sour, purple fruit) on offer. The range of restaurants on Phuket goes from fine dining to the fast open air kitchen on the street corner. Many restaurants have now adapted to the countries of origin of tourists, so you do not necessarily have to do without a schnitzel on Phuket. However, Thai food traditionally relies more on poultry and seafood than on other meats. The vegetables are gently cooked so that all healthy ingredients are preserved during cooking.
Phuket, the pearl in the Andaman Sea, is rightly one of the most popular travel destinations. Does the island offer so much for its visitors. Beautiful beaches, deserted islands, delicious cuisine and countless activities. Almost too much for just a holiday. Therefore, most tourists come back to Phuket several times in their lives and who can blame them?
Thoughtful thoughts to your inbox