Phuket – Facts
- Size: 576 km2
- Highest peak: 529 meter
- Number of permanent residents: 600 000
- Capital: Phuket City
As we already mentioned Phuket is a large sized island located near the mainland and the history books tells us that man’s history on this piece of land goes many thousands of years back. Thalang used to be one of Phuket’s official names and later on the place was often referred to as Junk Ceylon. It was the Portuguese explorer by the name Fernao Mendes Pinto who came up with that name and since then it was commonly used by westerners and can be seen on navigation maps from the mid 1500’s and onwards.
The name Phuket is rather new and could derive from the Malay word for hill. Another theory is that it is a combination of two Thai words: Phu and Ket - Mountain and Jewel. Both theories are logical explanations and no one really knows for sure.
The 2004 Tsunami
You remember the tsunami news around Christmas time 2004, right? Nobody could have missed this enormous tragedy that covered the newspaper’s front pages for weeks on end. Tens of thousands of people died, several thousands of them in Thailand and 250 only on Phuket. Most of the coastal areas were ruined although they were quickly rebuilt. It’s been over ten years since the catastrophe and there are practically no signs left of the destruction, more than in the memory of the people who were affected. For some holiday makers who lost loved ones in the tsunami it’s important to return to Phuket every now and then, but for others it’s an impossibility. Some wounds can never heal…
The tourism industry is huge on Phuket and the area around Patong Beach is where it’s as most intense. Patong lies on the island’s west coast. Most of the bustling nightlife that Phuket is so well known for takes place around Patong and even if it’s already an immensely popular place the number of visitors keeps increasing year by year. Other than Patong popular areas are nearby villages/beaches Karon and Kata.
Phuket as a holiday favourite started in the 1980’s. The fine sand, the coconut palm trees, the beautiful sea and the hospitable people made Phuket the very image of paradise. In 2005 Phuket was voted to be one of the world’s top 5 places to retire and truth be told, many European retirees are today permanent residents on Phuket.
Flora & fauna
Approximately 70 % of the land mass that make up Phuket consists of mountains. The mountain tops stretch all the way across the island, from north to south. The rest of the lands are plains where palm tree oil, rubber and forests are cultivated. There are 9 creeks on Phuket, but no rivers. The pretty sandy beaches are found on Phuket’s east coast - the western ones are mostly muddy.
In the north parts of Phuket, there is a National Park called Sirinat National Park. This beautiful area covers approximately 90 km2, so it’s pretty big. This is where the Sea Turtles come to lay their eggs.
Getting here and getting around
Getting to Phuket is easy, there is a big international airport on the island that connects with many countries around the world, not to mention Bangkok.
The most appreciated method to travel shorter destinations on Phuket is by Songthaew, or Tuk-Tuk as it is more commonly referred to. The Tuk-Tuks on Phuket are in very good condition and are slightly larger than the Tuk-Tuks in the rest of Thailand.
You can always hire a taxi, a car or a scooter to get around by your own accord. There is also a bus system that regulates comfortably and reliably.