Visas: Most visitors can stay for
30 days without a visa
Time: UTC plus seven hours
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz
Weights & measures: Metric with
Currency: Baht (1 US$ = approx. 40
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 +
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
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
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
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
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.