Phuket – her hotels, thrills, hills, beaches and forests.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island (about 543 square kilometres) with a population of approximately 350,000, though this can double temporarily during the tourist high season. The main town and administrative centre is Phuket City and the major tourist and accommodation focus is Patong Beach on the west coast.
The climate is classed as tropical monsoon. The year is split between the hot season which runs from November through April and the rainy season, from May to October. The term ‘rainy’ is a bit misleading. There are many days during this time when the sun shines and if it does rain, it’s often only a shower which lasts for an hour or so. Many people who live in Phuket welcome this period when temperatures are lower – in the range of 23°C to 26°C. By the same token, showers can occur in the hot season so Phuket remains green and fertile the year round. During this season temperatures are in the range of 28°C to 33°C.
Two thirds of Phuket is hilly (locals call them mountains); indeed, our own hotel is located on a hillside just outside Patong, away from the main accommodation centres.
From higher elevations visitors can marvel at endless vistas of lush greenery framed by sandy beaches, cerulean waters and at day’s end, magnificent sunsets paint the skies in breathtaking, vivid highlights. Several areas of outstanding beauty on Phuket have been designated national parks with no developments or hotels, to be enjoyed in perpetuity.
Close to Phuket’s shores are countless small islands with sandy beaches, coral reefs, hidden coves, mangroves and luxuriant forests. A few sport hotel developments but most are occupied only by small fishing communities or are completely uninhabited. This has made Phuket a magnet for divers and cruising matelots.
Truly, when Nature created Phuket she showered gifts upon the island. However, the pleasures of the flesh are also catered for. Patong, besides boasting a three-kilometre long beach, has a vibrant night life which runs from charming to raunchy with all the stops in between. Cordon bleu restaurants rub shoulders with inexpensive food stalls and familiar international fast-food franchises. Local markets sell a huge range of products and local handicraft goods at giveaway prices but there are also enticing megastores offering world famous brands with price tags which are a fraction of those in the European High Streets.
The choice of accommodation is eclectic. Luxury beach hotels are available but bungalow developments for the thrifty are also a feature of Patong and surrounding areas. Of course, you get what you pay for.