Phuket Island, Thailand: One of the World’s Best Island Vacations

Most people visit Phuket for the beaches and because it is one of those must-see tropical islands. For those who can get away from the usual tourist traps and cross the island, they can take a look at what the island had to offer before the growth of the tourism industry.

At the island’s main crossroads, Ban Tha Rua, stand bronze statues of Khunying Jan and his sister Mook, celebrating their heroic and successful resistance to the Burmese invasion in 1785. In Phuket Town, the ornate Chinese wats of Jui Tai and Put Jaw are testament to the island’s economic history. Tin was once the main source of wealth on the island, and beginning in the 16th century, Hakka Chinese businessmen and their workforces came to the island to exploit the mines.

When the price of tin fell, the island switched its primary production to rubber and pineapple plantations and then, in the mid-1970s, turned its attention to maximizing the possibilities provided by an endless stream of tourists.

Between the headlands, particularly on the west coast of Phuket, are the sandy beaches that border the Andaman Sea against the backdrop of the unexplored hinterland of densely forested mountains. Chief among these beaches is Patong, the eternally busy repository for much of Phuket’s hustle and bustle. This is where hawkers hawk, touts tout and kathoey ladyboys lure beer-soaked tourists in Soi Bangla’s bars.

In the 2004 tsunami, many hotel developments in Patong suffered badly, although Hat Kamala, slightly to the north, bore the brunt.

If the pace of life in Patong is taking its toll, if the prospect of another karaoke night seems too demanding, there are plenty of alternatives. After all, Phuket is a fairly large island, almost the size of Singapore, in fact, so your options aren’t restricted.

To find the quieter beaches, head to the northern tip of the island, where Phuket’s largest beach, Hat Mai Khao, remains relatively unspoiled and less crowded. Just around the corner from the southern tip of the island is Rawai Beach, which (by virtue of its location on the east coast) offers fabulous sunset views.

Away from the water and ribbon developments, visitors will find inland national parks and reserves, along with rubber and pineapple plantations. If the mind calms down in this peaceful environment, the body can also enjoy its own vacation during the nine-day vegetarian festival held every October at the end of the cool season in Phuket, a true detox for the body, mind and the spirit.

Among Phuket’s myriad delights is the fabulous local cuisine. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous and seek out the eating houses where the locals dine in mass. This is a sure sign that the food is good and cheap. The experience alone is enough to satisfy you, but the quality of the meals will draw you back again and again.

Relax and enjoy this piece of paradise, an island so rich in offerings and yet so peaceful and rejuvenating. Speedboat day trips to Phi Phi Island are highly recommended. See James Bond Island and the location where the Hollywood movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed. It’s a wonderful day on the water and a visual delight.

For a wonderful vacation that won’t break the bank, the island of Phuket, Thailand has to be one of the most alluring destinations on the planet. Arrive, relax, enjoy and experience…

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