Once people have sampled the beauty and charm of Thailand, they return again and again. Some say it is a life-changing experience and one definitely not to miss. We are proud to introduce Phuket as a new destination at On The Beach, and hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Thailand has become Asia's primary holiday destination. With over eleven million visitors flying into the country each year, most are searching for their dream tropical beach paradise or personal adventure.
Hedonistic Phuket is Thailand's largest and most popular island, as colourful as it is cosmopolitan and one of the worlds' most famous dream destinations. Blessed with tropical rainforest, miles of clean sandy beaches all surrounded by the warm waters of the Andaman Sea, not to mention the varied nightlife. It has something to offer everyone.
There are plenty of choices of resort and any hotel you could imagine from budget to top-end for the visiting celebrities. There are plenty of things to do on the beaches, learn to dive around the beautiful coral reefs, try sea-kayaking, parascending or snorkelling and because Phuket's Western coast has tidal waves, you can try your hand at surfing or windsurfing. And don't forget to grab a Singha beer after a relaxing but strangely brutal Thai massage and enjoy the amazing sunsets on the Western beaches.
Phuket's beaches are ideal for families as the kids (and older 'kids') will have great fun in the waves, just remember to play safely and check for any red flag warnings on the beaches. The recovery from the 2004 Boxing day tsunami is virtually complete and the beaches have made a triumphant return to miles of clean white sand.
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Things to do
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Phuket is generally very hot, particularly between March and May. The monsoon season runs from June to October, when the climate is still hot and humid with torrential rains. The best time for travelling is November to February (cool season), although the southern islands are best from June to September.
The jungle areas can be humid, but the beaches tend to be dry heat in peak months (Dec to April). So you can sip a beach cocktail on Christmas Day or take a romantic snorkel together on Valentine's Day with almost guaranteed sunshine.
Things To Do on Phuket Holidays
Although we doubt you would ever be tired of lazing on the beach in Phuket, there are plenty of other activities to enhance your holiday, with various excursions available to surrounding smaller islands.
Obviously the stunning beaches are the largest attraction to Phuket and you can certainly while away your time enjoying the sea, sand and surf. But if you fancy a change there are plenty of other activities to try:
For family fun head to Phuket Fantasea (Kamala Beach, Katha) which is a theme park with rides as well as some colourful dance performances.
Experiencing a traditional Thai massage is a must, a mix between massage, yoga and wrestling! They manipulate muscles you never knew you had. However, they all offer more relaxing 'oil' or 'after-sun' massage. Alternatively choose to pamper yourself with a beach-side manicure or pedicure.
There are some amazing dive sites around Phuket's coral reefs with plenty of dive schools and resorts to choose from, Any skill level can enjoy diving, from beginners to PADI certified.
Thai Boxing is a national sport and you will be offered flyers to go see the almost nightly bouts, if thatï¿½s your cup of tea.
Hone your cookery skills by enrolling on a Thai cookery course and wowing your friends back home.
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Phuket for the Thai New Year in mid-April (called Songkhran) you will witness the world's biggest water fight and be expected to join in - prepare for a soaking.
For a quieter day out try a trip to the longest beach, Hat Mai Khao near the North Western tip of Phuket. Sea turtles lay their eggs between November and February each year, (don't touch the turtles or their eggs) includes a visitors centre with toilets, showers and picnic tables.
Head for Phuket town for bargain shopping, this is where the 'real shops' aimed at the locals are, rather than for the tourists. Although many towns sport their own markets, with Patong being a touristy highlight.
There have been a number of movies set in Thailand. You can visit James Bond island from 'The Man with the Golden Gun' or grab a boat from Phuket town to Phi Phi Ley, literally 'The Beach' and as beautiful as the movie suggests. If you manage to spend any time near Bangkok you can walk across the famous Bridge over the River Kwai.
Present day Thai society is the result of centuries of cultural interchange, particularly with China and India, but more recently with the West. Rather than shaking hands, a Thai will be greeted with closed hands and a slight bow of the head. This is called the Wai. Thai's often use it as a form of thank you.
You will see amazing shrine-like images of the Royal family virtually everywhere, they are treated with almost religious reverence so this needs to be respected, never make a derogatory comment about the King or the Royal family.
Although general informal dress is widely acceptable, beachwear should be confined to the beach, men should wear T-Shirts when walking around resorts and topless sunbathing is frowned upon. When dealing with any authorities always make an effort to smarten yourself up.
As for Thai religion, the vast majority adhere to Buddhism (Theravada form), 5% are Muslim and there are Christian and Hindu minorities. A large Buddha sits on top of the hill above Karon and Kata beaches.
Phuket's nightlife has something for everyone depending on your idea for a good night out. From intimate romantic restaurants with amazing sea views, to family meals at your resort restaurant to Patong's neon-lit beach clubs with banging music, to the infamous girlie bars (not quite Bangkok, but still not for the faint hearted).
Stick to local beers and spirits for the cheapest prices, anything imported is more costly. A bottle of wine can set you back a shocking amount in a good restaurant, if you insist on wine you may be better off buying by the glass in a mid range bar.
The food is also excellent and sticking to the Thai menu's is always cheaper, but depending on your taste you may find some dishes include too many chillies, but never as hot as your average British curry. There is widely available international cuisine, but you may need to look around for a dish to your personal taste.
Getting around: Experience a Thai tuk tuk ride at least once, but make sure you haggle the price. Then stick to metered taxi's and insist that the driver actually turns the meter on, it can be a fraction of a pre-agreed price.
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