The island, which is about the same size as Singapore, has everything from ancient relics to modern golf course to zoos. There is something to please any type of adventure seeker. There are crowd’s filled beaches, or secluded romantic coves. Festivals and regattas practically jammed the calendar.
Phuket was cruelly hit by the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. Despite the deaths and destruction it did not take the island long to fight back the tears and grief and rebuild the broken bits of this holiday paradise. Although so many had suffered it was hard to find someone complaining. The attitude was: Things will get better. And they did.
The island got a minor jolt early in 2004 when a major travel publication dubbed it one of the world’s ugliest tourist destinations. In true Thai style, local officials – including the governor – did not dispute the claim, but vowed to make changes. The good news was that Chiang Mai got good marks in the same poll.
But it wasn’t long before numerous very not-ugly resorts began opening. Some of them far exceeded our affordable-luxury theme. By 2005 the new resorts that were opened included the very expensive and exclusive Trisara on the northwest side of the island, and the world-class The Racha resort, technically within the province of Phuket but located on an island to the south. More affordable range was the TwinPalms, which opened at Surin Beach, and the Crowne Plaza, which replaced an older hotel on Karon Beach. Arahmas, another top quality boutique resort, now adorn the Nai Yang beach.
First time visitor to Phuket need to know that:
First, it never gets cold. Temperatures never hit below 22 degrees Celsius and never exceed 34. There are two significant seasons – the rainy one from May through October (September is the wettest month) and the warmer season from November through April. There are lots of sunny days during the rainy season and the showers are normally quite short. However, monsoons are not unknown. The best months to visit – and the high season for hotel rates – are November through February.
Monthly crime figures issued by Phuket police usually put gambling as the top transgression, followed by being an illegal immigrant and involvement with drugs coming in third place.
Visitors to Thailand should be prepared to be address as “Kuhn”. Kuhn is a wonderful word and the polite way to address any Thai. It means Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss. If you’re Jackson, you become Kuhn Jackson and the wife is Kuhn Christine, if her name is Christine.
As you reach the village of Kata Noi you have the choice of following the coast along Kata Beach or cutting off the corner. In the triangle that is created by the shortcut lie the massive Club Med complex and the smaller Kata Beach Hotel.
Once you pass The Boathouse, is a favourite place to stay, and the very inexpensive Kata Sun Hotel, with large rooms at small prices, the road takes you up over the mountain ridge. The Viewing Point is called Atop. This is the place for views, obviously. You can look down at the beaches of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon and ahead towards Nai Harn beach. The picturesque island in front of you is Ko Pu Island.
You can then drive down to Nai Harn beach and make your way out to Phromthep Cape, the island’s southernmost point. This is the perfect, and most popular, place to view the sunset.
You may want to linger a little longer after the sun has gone down to avoid the substantial traffic that heads back towards town.
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