Perhaps the region’s most popular beach destination, this island – the largest in Thailand – offers plenty of fun within its varied terrain.
Its watersports activities are top-notch, befitting an island with some of the world’s finest beaches. Patong Beach is perhaps the island’s most popular tourist haunt, owing to its easily-accessible beachfront, raucous nightlife, and cheap shopping. (Patong is also the first stop for tourists seeking, er, earthier pleasures: Bangla Road in particular is known for its go-go bars.)
The influx of tourists has meant greater development for the island, and more activities as well: you can play golf at the island’s world-class golfing facilities, watch a muay thai (kickboxing) match; ride elephants; or enjoy a fine meal at one of the island’s many restaurants. While progress seems to be a fact of life for Phuket’s immediate future, some corners of the island are still blissfully underdeveloped; if you want to see less people and less development, head on down to quieter beaches like Laem Ka or Naithon.
Phuket is best visited from November to February – the weather cooperates to give you stunning blue skies and clear waters. From May to October, the monsoon season means daily rain and dangerously strong currents. The island is accessible through its own airport, the second-largest hub in Thailand.
To get started on your Phuket adventure, you can check our list of Phuket’s most popular beaches. You can also consult Jamie Monk’s Phuket blog, seen from the point of view of a farang (foreigner) who arrived and never left.