The immensely popular tourist destination, Phuket consists of an island located in the Andaman Sea off Thailand’s west coast. Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the South,’ Phuket whose name is derived from the Malay word ‘Bukit’ meaning hill, offers a landscape that features lush green hills, cliffs, forests, waterfalls and simmering golden-sand beaches, considered to be amongst the best in the world.
The island, which is served by its own international airport, offers a wide range of accommodation options that cater to all travel budgets. Phuket additionally offers plenty of attractions like temples and national parks, along with a whole host of active pursuits like swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, jungle trekking and more. The island also offers numerous dining, shopping, entertainment and nightlife options that help to make it one of the most coveted holiday destinations in the South East Asian region.
Best time to visit Phuket
Phuket is bestowed with a tropical monsoon climate, which keeps the island warm and humid all throughout the year. The hottest months in Phuket are generally thought to be April and May, when temperatures there routinely reach highs between 27° C to 36° C (80° F to 95° F). The best time to visit Phuket is generally believed to be between November and March. During this period the island is visited by the cool North East Monsoon winds, which help to bring temperatures down to a somewhat bearable 24° C to 32° C (75° F to 89° F).
Visas for Thailand
Citizens of 48 nations and one special administrative region, Hong Kong SAR do not need to acquire a visa to visit Thailand for tourism. Such visitors are permitted to stay in the Kingdom for a period of thirty days on each visit, provided their passports have a validity of at least six months, post the date of their entry into Thailand. Details of the visa requirements can be found on the website of the Thai ministry of foreign affairs by clicking in the following link:
Citizens of 28 countries and territories are eligible to apply for a visa on arrival in Thailand. These ‘visas on arrival ‘are typically issued for 15 days and are also subject to certain conditions like the applicant’s passport should be valid for at least six months after the date of entry into Thailand. The applicant should also be in possession of 10,000 baht (20,000 baht for a family) to cover his/her living expenses in Thailand and he/she should also hold a valid, fully paid, return ticket.
Getting to Phuket
Phuket is served by its modern Phuket International Airport, which is located on the northern half of the island, and is accessed via a forty-five minute drive from the touristy epicenter of Patong Beach.
The Phuket airport welcomes a wide array of full-service, budget and charter carriers like Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Tiger Airways, Jet Star and Silk Air, which connect Phuket to various domestic and international destinations.
The airport is further served by various modes of public transport like an airport shuttle bus service, metered taxis and a minibus network. Most resorts located on the island also offer an airport pickup for their guests for an additional fee.
Family-friendly hotels in Phuket
Phuket is a hedonistic, ‘fun in the sun’ destination, which is a major tourist hot spot. Phuket thus offers a huge variety of accommodation options that cater to all kinds of travel budgets and lodging preferences. Even though Phuket is known to have a sleazier side, the island is extremely popular with vacationing families and is accordingly equipped with various family-friendly resorts. Some of which are listed below: -
The Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa
The Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa is a huge hotel set amongst verdant environs on Phuket’s stunning Karon Beach. The hotel’s facilities include a fitness center, a putting green, five outdoor swimming pools, tennis and squash courts, a jogging track and a full-service spa and beauty salon. The hotel has 664 well-appointed guestrooms and suites, and offers a wide range of child-friendly amenities like a children’s club, a children’s menu at its restaurants, babysitting services and a children’s playground. The hotel also offers children’s DVDs for hire, which can be used in the DVD players supplied in the guestrooms. The Hilton offers family packages geared towards holidaying families and is equipped with cribs and high chairs, which can be requested at the time of booking.
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach
The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket is believed have the largest kid’s center (Play Zone) in Phuket. The resort is equipped with four outdoor swimming pools, a waterslide, a children’s pool, games rooms and a kids club. Other facilities at the hotel include a full service spa and a fitness facility. The hotel additionally hosts seven restaurants and offers Wireless Internet access in public areas for a fee. The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach is equipped with 364 air-conditioned guestrooms outfitted with amenities like minibars, safes, LCD TVs with satellite channels and wired, high-speed Internet access for a fee.
J.W. Marriot Phuket Resort & Spa
The J.W. Marriot Phuket Resort and Spa is located on Phuket’s stunning Mai Khao Beach. The resort offers excellent facilities for children with families like a kid’s club that has separate activities and areas for tweens and smaller children. The hotel is also equipped with facilities like three outdoor swimming pools with a connected children’s pool that features waterslides, and five restaurants, a deli, 24-hr room service, a full service spa, a fitness facility and more. The hotel is equipped with 252 rooms and 13 suites.
Family-friendly attractions in Phuket
Gorgeous white sand beaches and numerous water-based recreational activities are usually the focal point of a vacation in Phuket, but the island also offers various cultural attractions, which are definitely worth perusing.
The Thalang National Museum
The Thalang National Museum provides an insight into Phuket’s long history and hosts a permanent collection that features military exhibitions, artifacts related to the island’s Sea Gypsy culture, the Sukothai Kingdom, which existed here in the 9th century, tin mining exhibits and more. The museum is divided into various exhibition halls that cover the gamut of art, archaeology, history and culture.
The Monument of the Two Heroines
The monument of the Two Heroines is located near the Thalang National Museum. This monument was erected to commemorate two local women and sisters, Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthorn, who helped to repel the Burmese invasion in the 18th century. The monument is much venerated by the locals who come here to make offerings.
Temples of Phuket
Wat Chalong is the most famous and most visited temple in Phuket. This temple is located on Chaofa West Road, about 8km (5 miles) south of Phuket Town and is dedicated to two monks who helped assist in the tin miners rebellion in 1876. The temple complex is adorned with colorful paintings, statues and hosts historical relics, like a splinter of a bone believed to have belonged to Buddha.
The temple is equipped with an oven-like structure on its grounds. This structure is used as a site for setting off firecrackers. Devotees usually set off firecrackers at the temple when they believe that their prayers have been answered, this oven-like structure ensures that the firecrackers are set off in a safe environment.
Yet another important temple on the island is Wat Phra Thong, which is located south of Phuket International Airport. It is believed that this temple was built on a buried image of Buddha, which despite several attempts cannot be unearthed.
Visitors to any of Phuket’s 29 Buddhist temples should take care not to sport revealing clothing and be prepared to take off their shoes at the door.
The Phuket Big Buddha
The Phuket Big Buddha is one of Phuket’s most important attractions. This huge marble statue, known as ‘Prahputtamingmongkol Eaknakakeeree,’ was built as an homage to the Thai King. It stands 45 meters tall and 25 meters wide, and is located on the top of Nakkerd Hil. The site of the Big Buddha offers gorgeous 360-degree views of Phuket Island.
Family-friendly activities in Phuket
Indulge in Phuket’s many beachfront watersports
Phuket is renowned for its many white-sand beaches. Patong beach (the most commercial and developed of all of Phuket’s beaches), Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Surin Beach, and Mai Khao beach are just some of the popular beaches on the island. Phuket’s beaches offer a plethora of water-based activities suitable for all ages like parasailing, windsurfing, hobie- cat riding, banana boat rides, kayaking, kite boarding, fishing, snorkeling and more. The Phuket Laguna Riding Club, which is located on the island’s Bangtao Beach, also offers opportunities for horse riding on a Phuket holiday.
Take a day trip to the Phi Phi islands
The gorgeous Phi Phi islands, located close to Phuket, have featured in numerous Hollywood movies and consist of two main landmasses; Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The islands feature unusual rock formations, spun sugar sand beaches and azure waters that team with marine life. The islands are easily accessed via a 45-minute speedboat ride or 90-minute ferry ride from Phuket.
Visit the Sirinath National Marine Park
The Sirinath National Marine Park is located in the North West corner of the island and encompasses 90 sq km of protected terrain (both sea and land). The park offers a peaceful respite from Phuket’s tourist hordes, and is equipped with the island’s largest coral reef in shallow waters conducive for swimming. The park also offers lodging facilities. The Sirinat National Park is a renowned nesting spot for the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. These famed turtles usually visit the park between the months of November and February for nesting.
Visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is located at the Bang Pae waterfall in the northeast corner of the island. Gibbons are small primates, native to South East Asia; unfortunately many of these animals are mistreated and exploited in Phuket. The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project rescues these primates, and houses them in a sanctuary where they are then cared for. Guided tours of the facility are offered and admission is free. A visit to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is bound to be a hit with your kids.
Visit the Phuket Aquarium
The Phuket Aquarium is located at the site of the Phuket Marine Biological Center. The center is a site of conservation that seeks to educate the public about preserving the rich marine life that surrounds Phuket. The aquarium offers numerous displays of marine creatures like razor fish, stonefish, eels, shrimp, sharks, rays, groupers and more. The aquarium is also equipped with an outdoor nature trail that features green sea turtles and baby hawksbills.
Spend some time at the Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World
The fascinating Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World features more than 6000 free-flying butterflies that hail from forty species from all over Thailand. These gorgeous butterflies are housed in a large, enclosed garden and can be viewed at extremely close quarters.
Marvel at enthralling displays of the Phuket Sea Shell Museum
The Phuket Sea Shell Museum is touted to be the largest shell museum in the world. This museum offers displays of unique and beautiful shells like Giant Clams, the large Golden Pearls, fossils, left-handed shells, Silt Shells and Indian Chanks. The Phuket Sea Shell Museum is another must-do attraction in Phuket.
Emergency contacts for Phuket
Emergency call center (Police, Fire, Ambulance – 191
Police – 191
Fire Brigade – 199
Ambulance – 1554
Tourism Police (English, French, and German spoken) – 1155
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) – 1672
National Disaster Warning Centre -1860
Foreign Embassies in Thailand
United States Embassy, Bangkok: +66 (0)2 205 4000
British Embassy, Bangkok: +66 (0)2 305 8333
Canadian Embassy, Bangkok: +66 (0)2 636 0540
Australian Embassy, Bangkok: +66 (0)2 344 6300
South African Embassy, Bangkok: + 66 (0)2 659 2900
Honorary Consul of Ireland, Bangkok: +66 (0)2 632 6720
New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok (also responsible for Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar): +66 (0)2 254 2530