Phuket formerly known as Tha-Laang or Talang, or Junk Ceylon in Western sources, a distortion of the Malay...
Phuket formerly known as Tha-Laang or Talang, or Junk Ceylon in Western sources, a distortion of the Malay Tanjung Salang, i.e. "Cape Salang" is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighbouring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phang Nga and Krabi, but as Phuket is an island there are no land boundaries.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, approximately the size of Singapore. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. The region has an area of approximately 570sqm and it’s made up of 1 large and 39 small islands. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign trader’s ship logs. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.
Phuket was known as Bukit, Junk Ceylon, or Muang Talang, in the variety of reason. Bukit is the name that derives in meaning from the Tamil manikram, or Crystal Mountain. Junk Ceylon is the name that found on the old maps (Ptolemy's Geographical, written by the Alexandrian geographer in the Third Century A.D.) and Muang Talang is called since the part of the Srivichai and Siri Tahmarach empires. It was first called Monton Phuket in Rama V’s reign.
Phuket is a town with a long history. In centuries past, Phuket was an important trading post on the eastern shore of the bay of Bengal, handing shipping and dealing with sailors from the Arab and Malay worlds, India, Burma, China and, of course, Siam. By the 16th century, the island was also well-know to Europeans, as first Portuguese and Dutch, then English and French sailed to its fabled shore. The island enjoyed an unprecedented surge in wealth when tin was found to be available in large quantities in the nearby shadows. Ambitious, hardworking miner and business flocked to the island from the province of south China (the 19th century), adding a considerable Chinese element to the island’s already mixed population.
The most important historic event is the story of two heroines: Thao Thep Kasatri (Kunying Jan) and Thao Sri Sunthon(Kunying Mook) that people in Phuket were assembled led by the two heroines to fight with the Burmese that come to attack them. After a month’s siege the Burmese were forced to depart on 13 March, 1785. Kunying Jan and her sister were credited with the successful defense. In recognition King Rama I bestowed upon Kunying Jan the honorific Thao Thep Kasatri, a title of nobility usually reserved for royalty, by which she is known today. Her sister (Kunying Mook) became Thao Sri Sunthon. \
As with most of Thailand, the majority of the population is Buddhist, but there is a significant number of Muslims (30%) in Phuket, mainly descendants of the island's original sea-dwelling people. Among the Muslims, many are of Malay descent.People of Chinese ancestry make up an even larger populace, many of whom having descended from tin miners who migrated to Phuket during the 19th century.
Events and Festivals
• Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon Fair is held on March 13 every year to commemorate the two great heroines who rallied the Thalang people to repel Burmese invaders.
• Vegetarian Festival is held on the first day of the 9th lunar month (end Sept or early October). Phuket islanders of Chinese ancestry commit themselves to a 9-day vegetarian diet, a form of purification believed to help make the forthcoming year “trouble-free”. The festival is marked by several ascetic displays, including fire-walking and ascending sharp-bladed ladders.
• Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is held in December. The kata beach resort hosts international yachtsmen, largely from neighbouring countries who compete in the kata beach area for royal trophies.
• Laguna Phuket Triathlon is held in each December. The triathlon (a 1,800 - metre swim, a 5.5 -kilometre bike race and a 12-kilometre run and a 6 –kilometre fun run) attracts many athletes from all over the world.
• Phuket Travel Fair, starting from November 1, is usually called the Patong Carnival, from the place where celebrations occur. Colourful parades, sports events, and a beauty competition for foreign tourists are major activities.
• Chao Le (Sea Gypsy) Boat floating festival falls during the middle of the sixth and eleventh lunar months yearly. The sea gypsy villages at Rawai and Sapam hold their ceremonies on the 13th; Ko Si-re celebrates on the 14th; and Laem La (east of the bridge on Phuket’s northern tip) on the 15th. Ceremonies, which centre around the setting adrift of small boats similar to the Thai festival of Loi Krathong, are held at night and their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck.
• Fried or Boiled Noodle Dishes , usually with pork or chicken, are available at many noodle shops in the town such as Mi Ton Pho, Mi Sapam, Mi Ao Ke, Mi Hun Pa Chang, and etc.
• Khanom Chin, a version of noodles taken at breakfast, usually served with a spicy curry sauce and fresh vegetables.
• Nam Phrik Kung Siap is a mixture of dried chili and smoked shrimps taken with various fresh vegetables.
• Cashew nuts and pineapples are rarely grown in Phuket but are available all year round. The nuts are available dried, fried or coated.
November to March
Hat Patong, Phuket Aquarium, Hat Karon, Kata Beach, Coral Island, Kata Noi, Cape Panwa, Phuket FantaSea, Laem Singh, Thalang National Museum, Wat Chalong
Hat Patong: This Beach is the most developed, most vibrant, most visited of Phuket that never fails to impress visitors. Located approximately 15 kilometers from the city, the beach has a wide range of accommodations and shopping arcades, and provides magnificent leisure activities and energetic night-time entertainment. It is a picture perfect postcard view of a 3-kilometer long white sandy beach that is perfect for swimming, lazing, and enjoying challenging water sports such as jet skiing, windsurfing snorkeling, sailing, and parasailing.
In addition, Patong offers gastronomical delights for seafood lovers. There are plenty of good restaurants located along the beach.
Phuket Aquarium: Phuket Aquarium is part of the internationally renowned Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC), located on the southernmost tip of Cape Panwa on Phuket Island. It is surrounded by breathtaking scenic bays and islands and is the perfect destination for a family excursion.
Enter the aquarium and find yourself in an amazing underwater world with over 150 different species from freshwater and marine habitats, most of them local species from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. The aquarium`s interactive displays take you on an environmental journey through rivers, lakes and precious, endangered coral reefs, mangroves and estuaries. All information is provided in Thai and English and includes both common names and interesting facts about the animals.
Hat Karon: The second largest of Phuket's tourist beaches, some 20 kilometres from town. Large resort complexes line the road behind of the shoreline, but the long, broad beach itself has no development. The sand is very white, and squeaks audibly when walked upon. There are plenty of restaurants and tourist stores right across the street from the beach. The southern point has a fine coral reef stretching toward Kata and Bu Island. There is also its sister beach Karon Noi.
Kata Beach: The pleasant bay of Kata, just a few minutes south of Karon Beach, entices and charms many visitors with its white sands and clear waters.
Very popular with families, Kata is an all round favourite due to its spectacular palm-lined beach, great restaurants, lively but not raucous nightlife and varied accommodation options - all close to the beach. From May to October surfers flock to catch Kata's waves and from November to April the beach is alive with sunseekers.
Kata is split into two focal areas: Kata Centre, which is at the northern end close to Karon and Kata South, home to several resorts.
Coral Island: Coral Island, known locally as Koh Hae, is a beautiful getaway destination located nine kilometres southeast of Phuket. The island features two main beaches, Long Beach and Banana Beach.
It's not called Coral Island for nothing; the snorkeling off Banana Beach is thrilling and if you go out far enough from Long Beach you will also have a lot to discover, at its impressive coral reef. Coral Island is close to Koh Lone, a large island near Chalong.
Kata Noi: This cosy little bay is found at the end of a dead-end road, just a few minutes' drive over the hill from Kata beach. There's not much to do in Kata Noi apart from admiring the wonderful scenery, which is precisely the point of coming here.
Relax, take a walk along the soft sands, snorkel or swim. It's long been a popular spot for surfers in the monsoon season of May to October, though swimming can be dangerous during this period. The popular Kata Viewpoint, offering a stunning vista across the three bays of Karon, Kata and Kata Noi, is only a 5-minute drive along a winding road towards Nai Harn.
Cape Panwa: The Cape Panwa Hotel and Spa embodies tropical luxury in one of the world’s most desirable destinations. Tucked away in a quiet corner of southeast Phuket, the hotel is renowned for its excellent service, stylish rooms and exclusive beach. Blending superbly with the natural beauty of the area, the hotel is comprised of tastefully decorated, sea facing superior, triple and family rooms as well as our brand new Jacuzzi suites and sea-view pool villas.
A part of the Cape Hotel Group, Thailand's premier luxury chain of Hotels and Serviced Apartments, the Cape Panwa Hotel and Spa is a little part of Paradise.
Phuket FantaSea: Inspired by Thailand's rich and exotic heritage, Phuket FantaSea not only showcases the charm and beauty of Thailand, but also enriches ancient Thai traditions with the wonder of cutting edge technology and special effects.
The result is a stunning 140-acre theme complex, packed with a multitude of activities and entertainment: a Carnival village with games, handicrafts and shopping; a 4,000 seat theme restaurant offering a grand buffet of Thai and international cuisines; and a breath-taking Las Vegas-style theatrical show, where state-of-the-art technology and special effects enhance the grace and beauty of Thailand's Myths, Mysteries and Magic in a wondrous extravaganza certain to delight the whole family.
Laem Singh:Laem Singh Beach is one of Phuket's most beautiful beaches and hides on the west coast between Kamala and Surin beaches. 'Laem' is Thai for 'cape' and this 150 meters beach is indeed situated under a steep promontory, nestled in a hidden bay surrounded by palm trees and dotted with giant boulders, it has a feeling of secret beach.
Because of its limited size, Laem Singh gets crowded during the high season but is pleasantly busy during low season sunny days.
Thalang National museum: Thalang National museum is the National Museum of Phuket Province. At the beginning of the Bangkok period, early 1790's, phuket was an important factor in the protection of Thailand's independency from the invading Burmese, two Thai heroines, repulsed the Burmese Army from Thai territory. The place where the Thai Army withheld the Burmese was at the city of Thalang on the Island of Phuket. It is from this historic event that the museum takes its name of Thalang National Museum. In 1985, on the occastion of the 200th anniversary of the Thalang War, Phuket Province, with the cooperation of the Fine Arts Department, established the Thalnag National Museum.
Wat Chalong: Wat Chalong is Phuket’s most important Buddhist temple and is the biggest and most ornate of Phuket’s 29 Buddhist monasteries. The architecture is typical of wats found throughout Thailand. Wat Chalong is associated with the revered monks, Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang, both of whom were famous for there work in herbal medicine and tending to the injured. During the tin miners’ rebellion of 1876 they mobilized aid for the injured on both sides. They also mediated in the rebellion, bringing the warring parties together to resolve their dispute. Statues honoring them stand in the sermon hall (viharn). Many Thais come here to be blessed by the monks and receive a good luck charm in the form of a string tied around the wrist, which they believe protects them from injury and illness. Many local Thais and Asian tourists will set off fire crackers and ask for the lucky lottery numbers, and have their fortune told. Just inside the main hall on the floor before the image are two cans of what looks like shaved bamboo chopsticks.
Domestic airlines operate several flights daily between Bangkok and Phuket. Some flights go to Phuket via Samui Island with a 40-minute stopover. Check with your travel agent for more details or see Useful Calls for phone numbers of domestic airlines.
Air-conditioned and non air-con buses leave Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal for Phuket several times daily. The trip by air-con bus, normally leaving in the evening, takes about 12 hours.
From Bangkok, take Highway No.4 (Phetchakasem Road) through Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Phang-nga, then cross the Thep Krasattri Bridge or Sarasin Bridge to Phuket Island. The total distance is 862 kilometres.
There is no direct train service to Phuket. Travellers by train must get off at Phun Phin railway station in Surat Thani and continue by regular bus to Phuket.
Metropole Hotel, Royal Phuket City Hotel, The Taste Phuket, Sino House, Phuket Merlin Hotel, Phuket Island Pavilion, Romeplace Hotel, Summer Breeze Inn, The Sunny Point Hotel