Beach Vacations to Phuket, Thailand

Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Karon Beach, Phuket, Thaliand (Kok Leng Yeo/Flickr)

Phuket Beach Travel Tips

  • The western coast of Phuket, fronting the Andaman Sea, has the best beaches in the area.
  • Phuket's dry season lasts from mid-November to mid-March, while its rainy monsoon season lasts from May to November.
  • Relatively mild February is when Phuket's overpriced and crowded winter high season slowly draws to an end, making it the best month to visit.
  • Songtaews, the big colorful buses, also called "baht buses," travel only from Phuket Town to the beaches, but not between the beaches themselves. To do that, you need to hire a motorcycle cab, called a tuk-tuk.

For over three decades, Phuket (poo-get) has remained one of the major reasons for travelers to head to Thailand. This island, the largest in the country, dangles off Thailand's southwestern coast with the bright Andaman Sea lapping at its incredibly white, sand beaches. Beyond its obvious recreational beauty, Phuket offers so much for so many different types of travelers: Its national parks are a jungle of wonderfully colorful flora and fauna, its reefs and islands boast some of the best diving in the world, its unique seafood cuisine is heralded, it's a major yachting hub for Southeast Asia, it has a rich history of rubber plantations and tin mining, and it has some of the most pumping nightlife this side of Bangkok. Despite the devastating tsunami on December 26, 2004, Phuket has rebuilt and retains its status as the crown jewel of Thailand.

To be sure, many of Phuket's impossibly picturesque beaches (found mainly on the island's west and south coasts) now house major resorts, but somehow the island's beauty still stands up to its overwhelming numbers of Australian, European, and American tourists. Granted, the tourist center of Patong Beach can be a bit crass at times, but where else can you see Thai lady boy transvestites splashing in the waves in total social acceptance? Once a backpacker backwater, Phuket is now a little pricey and accented with luxury hotels that routinely rank among the world's best—the island was home to the first Aman property in the world, the deluxe Amanpuri. But take one of the Phang Nga Bay Chinese Junk Cruises or a scuba day trip to the Phi Phi Islands or Koh Pu (Crab Island) to become immersed in the region's unadulterated beauty. Heck, there's even some tranquil beach areas such as Nai Harn that retain their charm despite their tourist infrastructure. And bustling downtown Phuket City displays some fine Sino-Portuguese architecture. Few other spots in Southeast Asia present so much in such a tidy and gorgeous package.

Published: 7 Jul 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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