Phuket Island is located in the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) 7 degrees north of the Equator, just off the west coast of Southern Thailand. The island is linked at its northern point to Phang Nga province, and on the Thai mainland by the Sarasin Bridge. Bangkok is approximately 900 km north by road and about 1 hour by air. Singapore is approximately 1600 km to the south by road and just over 1 1/2 hours by air.
Phuket is the largest island, but the second smallest province of Thailand. With an area of 539 Sq. Km. the main island is about the same size as Singapore. Several smaller offshore islands increase the total area to 570 Sq. Km. Almost 80 percent of the island is mountainous, with almost 50 percent still forested (jungle) and a further 25 percent under rubber plantation.
Phuket Located approximately 862 kilometers south of Bangkok is Phuket, Thailand’s Largest island, which is often dubbed as the pearl of the Andaman, or the pearl of the South, Its natural resources- rocky peninsular, limestone cliffs, white powdery beaches, tranquil broad bays and tropical in-land forests contribute to making it the South’s wealthiest, busiest, most visited and most popular island and province.
Nestled in the tropical zone off the west coast of the southern part of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean, the province covers an area of approximately 543 square kilometers (excluding small islets). It is estimated that Phuket Province covers an area of approximately 590 square kilometers if its 39 other small island are included at 48.7 kilometers and approximately 21.3 kilometers wide.
Phuket is well known for the high standards of its resort hotels, as well as by its wide range of restaurants, shops, sports activities and dynamic nightlife. Five golf courses, including the tough Blue Canyon course, where the Johnny Walker Classic has been played, and two full-service marinas can be found on the island.
Offshore are many highly rated dive locations and some of the world's most scenic and safe sailing waters. More recently, Phuket has become a favored spot for vacation and retirement homes with some exciting developments springing up on the island ranging from expansive, luxury villas in private estates for the world's jet setters to more modest but comfortable housing sub-divisions and condominiums.
With frequent direct international air connections, the island is also attracting more companies and professionals that find the environment conducive to doing business. An excellent communications network allows them to keep in touch with their overseas contacts. The island is being promoted as a new IT community by the Thai government which will attract inward investment and improve local technology infrastructure. An international school, British College, and several first class hospitals have been opened to cater the needs of this growing residential market.
Population The last official census showed about 250,000 people living in Phuket. Since this figure only includes those registered as resident in Phuket and there is a significant (semi permanent) work force form other provinces of Thailand as well as many semi resident foreigners not to mention up to 75,000 visitors at any one time, it is likely that a more realistic figure would be in the range of 500,000.
Languages and Religions The official language is standard Thai, but a local south Thai dialect is widely spoken and the large indigenous Chinese minority still makes limited use of Hokien and other Chinese dialects. 75 percent of the islanders are Buddhist (this includes the Chinese Buddhists), 22 percent Muslim and 3 percent Christian. There are 30 main Buddhist temples, 34 Mosques and 2 churches.
Economy Since the early 1980's the tourist business has been Phuket's chief source of income. Hotels, restaurants, tour companies, and souvenir shops are much in evidence on the West Coast, However, while once all-important tin mining has ceased, tourism is by no means the island's only activity. Agriculture remains important to a large number of people, and covers by far the most part of the island. Principal crops are rubber, coconuts, cashews, and pineapples, Pineapples, Prawn farming has largely taken over the east and south coasts. Pearl farming is also important. Phuket's fishing port is at all times filled, and processing of marine products, mainly fish, makes a significant contribution to the economy.
With so many healthy industries supplying income, construction has become a major factor in employment. This ranges from massive public works projects, large office buildings and hotels, and housing estates with hundreds of units, down to single family homes, apartments and additions.
Phuket Wonderful Islands Phi Phi Island: This island group is one of the loveliest to be found anywhere, and makes a fine day-trip destination out of Phuket. The beauty of the two Phi Phi islands has made them world famous. But fame and easy access (Phi Phi is only a 45 minute jaunt from Phuket) staying the evening at one of the island’s many bungalow is recommended, if you want to enjoy the tranquility of the island in the early morning and evening
James Bond Island: This famous landmark first found its way onto the international map trough its starring role in the James Bond movie. The entire area surrounding this island with its signature rocky pinnacle is indeed spectacular, but most of the tours bus visitors up the main highway for an hour on the same well-worn itinerary. An integral part of that tour is lunch at Koh Pannyi
Koh Pannyi: (Sea Gypsy Island) this is a remarkable village, the whole of it built out over water on stilts and with a giant rock monolith guarding its rear. At lunch time, up to 3,000 tourists on the James Bond Island tours are brought in to eat and shop for handicrafts. As soon as the tourists leave, the community closes up its restaurants and trinket shops and transforms itself from a tourist trap into a quiet community of fishermen.
Keaw Island: A fine beach, natural surroundings, and coral are on this little island 3 kms. From Rawai, south of Phrom Thep, there is also giant Buddha Statue. The island is 15 minutes by chartered boat from Rawai
Lon Island: This large, mountainous island is only 20 minutes by regular passenger boat from Chalong Bay, in the south of Phuket. The mainly Muslim inhabitants engage in fishing, rubber and coconut planting. There is a long stretch of beach on the northeast coast.
Coral Island: or Hey Island This Island off Phuket’s south coast s so well knew for its coral reef that is often referred to simply as Coral Island. In addition to the splendid reefs there are two find beaches on the north and west. Koh Hey is part of a marine preserve, but accommodations, restaurants, various water sports and diving are all available, Boats leave from Rawai and Chalong Package tours are also available.
Sire Island: separated from the mainland of Phuket by the Khlong Tha Chin, a shallow mangrove swamp, this twenty square kilometer island is connected by a causeway to the city. Wat Ko sire, on the hill, has a large reclining Buddha and provides fine views of the surroundings. Phuket’s largest settlement of Sea Gipsies, or Chao Ley, is on Ko Sire at Leam Tuk-kae. Swimming is nit present because of the muddy bottom. There are some popular seafood restaurants on the eastern shore.
Raya or Racha Islands: two Islands running roughly Northeast to Southeast off Phuket’s southern coast. Raya Yai Island and Raya Noi Island Clean sandy beach and crystal clear waters attract day trippers from Phuket.
Phuket Marinas &Golf Courses Phuket is a paradise and haven for those who enjoy yachting, boating, golfing and a myriad of other sports. For those who love the sea, there are already several marinas and plans for marinas at Chalong Bay, Koh Sirey and Patong.
Since the Thai government scrapped the excise tax and customs duty on imported boats it has made keeping or buying a boat in Phuket a viable and attractive proposition.
For golfers on The tropical island of Phuket is Thailand's premier holiday destination and is home to some of the finest courses in Asia including the Blue Canyun Country Club, a championship course which has hosted the Johnnie Walker Classic and the Honda Classic tournaments. Mission Hills Golf Resort a Jack Nicklaus designed course with stunning views across the Andaman Sea, Laguna Phuket Golf Club, host of the 2009 Singha Thailand Open and the spectacular Red Mountain Golf Club, voted amongst the top 3 best new courses in Asia in 2007.