Phuket would have to be one of the most popular island destinations in Thailand for international visitors. By its size, Phuket can be compared with the land mass of Singapore, making it Thailand’s largest island, and is located off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. The island is not an isolated one, in fact it's connected to mainland Thailand by bridge.
Phuket has a rich history and formerly obtained its wealth through tin mining and rubber plantations. The island itself was situated on one of the major trading routes between China and India and is mentioned often in foreign ship logs of the Dutch, French, English and Portuguese traders. The region has now given over to its number one form of income, that of tourism.
The island is mountainous, featuring a mountain range along the west of the island from north to south. The mountains of Phuket form the southern end of the Phuket mountain range, extending over a distance of 440 kilometers or 273 miles from the Kra Isthmus. The highest elevation of the island is Mai Thao Sip Song, known as Twelve Canes which rises to 529 meters or 1,735 feet above sea level.
Phuket covers a total area of approximately 570 square kilometers or 328 miles, which includes a number of provinces on other islands and is approximately 862 kilometers or 536 miles south of Bangkok. It's been estimated if all its neighboring 39 small islands where to be included, Phuket Province would cover an area of approximately 590 square kilometers or 145,792 acres.
One of the most popular tourist areas on Phuket is Patong Beach situated on the central western coast, perhaps due to the easy access of its wide and long beach, nightlife and shopping. The main shopping precinct is located in Patong and the area has become increasingly developed over the years. A number of other popular beaches are located nearby including Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach, and around the southern tip of the island, Nai Harn Beach and Rawai.
To the north of Patong are Kamala Beach, Surin Beach and Bang Tao Beach. These areas are much less developed than Patong and sought out by individuals, families and other groups with a preference for more relaxed and less crowded party precinct of Patong.
There are many islands to the south east of Phuket including Bon Island, which is just a short boat trip away. Additionally, there are a number of coral islands situated to the south. The Similan Islands lie to the north west of Phuket and the world famous Phi Phi Islands (thanks to Leonardo Di Caprio's movie 'The Beach') to the south east. Islanders make the most of the tourist trade by catering to snorkelers and scuba divers amongst others.
Getting To Phuket By Air
Phuket International Airport is located in the north of the island and is Thailand’s second largest airline hub, second only to Bangkok. There are many flights to and from Bangkok daily together with direct flights to many other airports in the region, including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.