Phuket Guide

Phuket Guide

Phuket Island

Located around 890km from Thailand’s capital city Bangkok, the island of Phuket is situated on the edge of the Andaman Sea off the west coast of southern Thailand. At 550 sq km, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and covers approximately the same land area as Singapore. The origins of the word “Phuket” are thought to be derived from the Malay word “Bukit” which means mountain or hill. The fact that Phuket looks like a mountain when viewed from a distance is believed to have been what earned the island its distinctive name.

Phuket is separated from mainland Thailand by the Chong Pak Phra channel at its most northerly point, where a causeway and the Sarasin bridge link the island to the mainland. A multitude of smaller islets surround Phuket, adding an additional 70 sq km to the province’s total land area.

Phuket's largely uninhabited interiors boast wild terrain consisting mainly mountains and tropical jungle, interspersed with and rubber, coconut and palm plantations. The lowland area of the island is also home to the Khao Phra Thaeo, a large area of protected rainforest. A couple of Phuket’s high peaks exceed 500m, the tallest of which belongs to Mai Tao Sipsong which measures 529m in height.

Phuket Accomodation

Rocky coves and jagged headlands are interspersed with stretches of soft sand all along Phuket’s western shore, which is therefore home to the island’s most attractive beaches. Only a handful of sandy beaches are situated on the island’s eastern shore, which is comprised chiefly of limestone shoals and mangrove forest. The horizon is peppered with limestone islets, many of which are popular locations for snorkelling and diving as a wide variety of colourful marine life can be found in the waters that surround them.

Phuket’s inhabitants include native Thais who journeyed to the island from the mainland, as wells ethnic Chinese and Malays whose families settled on Phuket more than a century ago. The island is also home to the Chao Ley or “Sea Gypsies”, known to be the earliest ethic group to have settled on the island.

Thai Buddhists comprise 71 percent of Phuket’s population, into which the Chinese proportion of the population is almost completely absorbed. According to some estimates, the ethnically Chinese proportion of Phuket’s population is somewhere around 35 percent. Malays make up 24 percent of the island’s residents with the remainder being the native Chao Ley.

The population of Phuket resides chiefly in the vicinities of Phuket Town and Patong Beach, resulting in a roughly even spread of local population from east to west. Unsurprisingly, tourism is a key driver for Phuket’s economy, with over three million visitors arriving on the island each year to make the most of the island's natural beauty and the multitude of tourist attractions.

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