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Phuket is one of the region's economic powerhouses—millions of tourists visit the island every year, enjoying the many delights that are offered in this established resort island. The 2004 tsunami dented the progress of building and development for a few years, however everything is back on track, and all signs of the disaster have disappeared. Phuket is once again a modern, vibrant island with an ever-increasing number of visitors each year. If you've never been to Phuket, you will likely love it; returning visitors will find a new island that eagerly greets its next wave of tourism.
Koh Phuket is linked to the mainland by a causeway, and the rest of the world by an international airport. Its indented coastline and hilly interior make the island seem larger than its 48-km (30-mi) length and 21-km (13-mi) breadth. Before tourism, Koh Phuket was already making fortunes out of tin mining and rubber plantations. Then backpackers discovered Koh Phuket in the early 1970s. Word quickly spread about its white, sandy beaches and cliff-sheltered coves, its plunging waterfalls and impressive mountains, its cloudless days and fiery sunsets.
This love of Phuket has brought serious problems. Entrepreneurs built massive resorts, first at Patong, then spreading out around the island. Before the tsunami there was no easy way to navigate the island, which was plagued by horrendous traffic and overdevelopment. Some would say Phuket was being loved to death. Now, post-tsunami development, we are seeing some of the same overdevelopment, albeit in a more moderate way.
Even though it may seem like every other business here is a tour operator or dive shop or tailor or jeep rental or pub, there's still a lot to love about the island. The beaches are beautiful, and this is a top destination for snorkeling and diving (with more than 180 registered dive shops). The island offers some of the most exclusive resorts and spas in the world, yet the food, drink, and accommodations are cheap compared to most visitors' home countries (though Phuket is quite expensive by Thai standards). And direct flights to the island make this a very convenient getaway.
When planning your trip, keep in mind that the monsoon season runs from May to October, and swimming on the west side of the coast is not advisable during this time, as the current can be dangerous.
This section starts with Phuket Town, the hub of the island, and is organized counterclockwise from there. It's best to pick one or two choice spots and stick with them. The frazzling travel between destinations can very well undo any relaxation you enjoyed the previous day.
Koh Phuket at a Glance
- Allamanda Laguna Phuket
- Amanpuri Resort
- Banyan Tree Phuket
- Bundarika Villa
- Fantasy Hill Bungalows
- Holiday Inn
- Impiana Phuket Cabana
- In On the Beach
- J. W. Marriott Resort & Spa
- Kata Noi Bay Inn
- Kata Thani Phuket Beach Resort
Elsewhere in Phuket and the Andaman Coast
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