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Phuket Info

Visas: Most visitors can stay for 30 days without a visa
Time: UTC plus seven hours
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz
Weights & measures: Metric with local variations
Currency: Baht (1 US$ = approx. 40 Baht)
Business Hours: 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday. Banking hours are from 8.30am - 3.30pm.
Photography: All wellknown brands and types of film as well as film processing are available.
Post Office: Open from 8am - 4.30pm. Important mail should be sent by EMS (Express Mail Service).
Telephone: International calls can be made from post offices, hotels and some travel agents. For calling out of Thailand dial: 001 + country code + area code + phone number.
Email: Many internet cafes are located on the island especially in tourist areas.

Phuket is Thailand's largest island and lies in the Andaman Sea off the country's south-western coast. The island is connected to the Thai mainland by a bridge, but has retained a distinct culture fused from Chinese and Portuguese influences combining with the culture of the sea-gypsy people. The island's terrain varies from rocky beaches and long, broad sweeps of sand to limestone cliffs and forested hills. It has great beaches, tropical vegetation and a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. The main resorts include Patong, Karon and Kata, but even more beautiful beaches are scattered all around the island. Roads radiate from Phuket Town, in the south-east of the island, making it a good base for exploring. Don't ignore the island's interior which has rice paddies, plantations of rubber and cashew nut, cacao, pineapple and coconut, as well as Phuket's last slice of rainforest.

There are almost every hour flights to Phuket from Bangkok and return. First-class air-con buses take about 14 hours to reach the island from the capital. Local transport includes local open style bus, tuk-tuk (Thai taxi), and motorcycle taxis. Motorcycles and jeeps can also be hired by the day. We recommend to hire no motorbikes as there is no insurance for it. You might end up with injuries and on top of that you still have to pay all damages in full.

Phuket has a two season tropical climate. The rainy season runs from April to November and the hot from December to March. The prevailing winds are from the south west during the rainy season and from the east during the hot season. These sea breezes cool and stabilize the climate, making Phuket much cooler than Bangkok. Outside of a few weeks in November, average daytime temperatures rarely move outside the 30 to 35 Celsius range. Average rainfall is 1,600 mm (62 inches) per year

The best overall time for visiting Phuket is between November and February - during these months it rains least and is not too hot. The peak tourist months are December and January - the water is calm and clear, many people at the beaches and every evening is party time at most of the typical night life streets. If you are looking for the least crowded months for relaxed and quiet holidays then come in May, June and September. The water is wild and it might rain more often but strolling down a beach at this time of year without seeing other people has its own intimacy.

New Year, Songkran, is celebrated in mid-April by paying respects to monks and elders by sprinkling water over their hands, and generally tossing a lot of water at other people just for fun. Expect to be totally wet for 1-2 days unless you want to party-poop in your hotel room. At this particular day it is also not recommended to drive around in your own rental car. Local families and groups sitting on the back of pick-up trucks enjoying this day with an unlimited water supply to be tossed at opposite cars causing a huge traffic jam. The Vegetarian Festival, during which Chinese Buddhists eat only vegetarian food, runs for nine days from late-September to early-October. Merit-making processions are the most visible expression of this festival, but there are also ceremonies at Chinese temples. During the Loi Krathong Festival, held after the rainy season (usually in November), candle-lit floats are cast into waterways to bring good fortune for the coming year. Many locals dress up in beautiful traditional Thai costumes, a true feast for the eye.

Banks or legal moneychangers offer the best rates. For buying baht, US dollars are the most readily acceptable currency, though travellers' cheques get a better rate than cash. Credit cards are becoming increasingly acceptable in quality shops, hotels and restaurants. Visa is the most useful, followed by MasterCard. ATMs which accept Visa and other credit cards are easily found and many exchange booths will give you a cash advance on your credit card.

Tipping is not customary in Thailand, although Thais are getting used to the idea in upmarket hotels. Bargaining is common practice in markets and tourist shops, and when catching non-metered taxis. Treat it as a form of social discourse rather than a matter of life and death.

Arts & Culture
Monarchy and religion are the two sacred cows in Thailand. Thais are tolerant of most behaviour, as long as it doesn't insult one of these. Buddhism is the dominant religion, and orange-robed monks and gold, marble and stone Buddhas are common sights. The prevalent form of Buddhism practised is the Theravada school, which emphasises the potential of the individual to attain nirvana without the aid of saints or gurus. Make sure you are suitably dressed when visiting a temple - no shorts or singlets. There are 30 main Buddhist temples, 34 Mosques and 2 churches in Phuket.

Thai is a complicated language with its own unique alphabet, but it's fun to try at least a few words. The main complication with Thai is that it is tonal: the same word could be pronounced with a rising, falling, high, low or level tone and could theoretically have five meanings!

Thai art, principally sculpture and architecture, is divided into a number of historical styles beginning with Mon (6th-13thC), Khmer (7th-13th C), Peninsular (until 14th C), Lan Na (13th-14th C), Sukhothai (13th-15th C), Lopburi (10th-13th C), Suphanburi-Sangkhlaburi (13th-15th C), Ayuthaya A (1350-1488), Ayuthaya B (1488-1630), Ayuthaya C (1630-1767) and Ratanakosin (19th C to present). Classical Thai music and theatrical dance are also popular artistic forms.

Thai cuisine is pungent and spicy, seasoned with heaps of garlic and chillies and a characteristic mix of lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander. Galanga root, basil, ground peanuts, tamarind juice, ginger and coconut milk are other common additions. Fish sauce or shrimp paste are mainstays of Thai dishes, and of course rice is eaten with most meals. Main dishes include hot and sour fish ragout, green and red curries, various soups and noodle dishes. Thai food is served with a variety of condiments and dipping sauces. Snacks and appetisers include fried peanuts, chicken, chopped ginger, peppers and slices of lime. There is an incredible variety of fruit available, either fresh or juiced. Sugar-cane juice and, for something stronger, rice whisky are favourite local tipples.

Phuket Island is located in the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) 7 degrees north of the equator, just off the west coast of Southern Thailand. The island is linked at it’s northern point to Phang Nga province, on the Thai mainland by the Sarasin Bridge. Bangkok is approximately 900 km north by road and about 1 hour by air. Singapore is approximately 1600 km to the south by road and just over 1 1/2 hours by air. Phuket is the largest island, but the second smallest province of Thailand. With an area of 539 Sq. Km. the main island is about the same size as Singapore. Several smaller offshore islands increase the total area to 570 Sq. Km. Almost 80 percent of the island is mountainous, with almost 50 percent still forested (jungle) and a further 25 percent under rubber plantation.

The last official census showed about 250,000 people living in Phuket. Since this figure only includes those registered as resident in Phuket and there is a significant (semi permanent) work force form other provinces of Thailand as well as many semi resident foreigners not to mention up to 75,000 visitors at any one time, it is likely that a more realistic figure would be in the range of 500,000.

Commerce and Industry
Tin ore mining, marine products, rubber, coconut and pineapples have traditionally been the main products of Phuket. Tin was very significant until the early 1980’s and contributed significantly to the islands reputation as the wealthiest province outside Bangkok. The decline of tin (which may well start to grow again - with rising commodity prices) was largely replaced by Tourism. Annual tourist arrivals, under half a million in 1987, passed two million in 1994, three million in 1999 and looks set to hit 4,000,000 in 2002. Tourism is now far and away the islands most significant source of revenue.


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26/1 Menu Ngern Road, Patong Beach, 83150, Phuket.
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