Phuket Pictures Guide, Thailand
Beach Holidays in Phuket
Phuket is the largest of Thailand’s islands and the country’s most popular sand and sea destination, though much of it is tourism of the package kind. The beaches are largely similar, mostly with soft sand, clear warm water enclosed in pretty bays. Patong is the largest and busiest, attached to the lively but brash, noisy and unattractive town of Patong.
South of Patong are a handful of beaches that cater to up-market tourists while beaches in the north of Phuket become increasingly less crowded and offer less facilities the further away from Patong they get but are popular with seekers of quiet, good value beach holidays. Sand, however becomes coarser and waves more brutal.
Beware swimming when beaches have red flags flying which often happens in or near the rainy/summer season. Patong and Karon beaches are especially susceptible. There is a real danger of drowning from tide rips (strong currents), with an average of one tourist drowning a month in summertime.
Kamala beach, next place north of Patong on Phuket Island. Photo by Gossipguy.
The bad news:
• the numbers of visitors on the beach/in the streets of the main towns in high seasons is unsettling if you’re in search of a tropical paradise, or possibly exciting if you want loud noise, friendly girls and lots of beer. But remember, Phuket does offer a good selection of alternatives, see below.
• chunky waves can make relaxed ‘floating after a few beers’ bathing a bit of a challenge early in the season. Wait for them to calm down or learn to dive under them – which is quite good exercise as it happens…
• some beaches are colonised early by package people
• there is little shade other than pay-parasols
• Patong town is becoming increasingly sleazy, overdeveloped and not so cheap.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival, also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, is held between beginning and mid October. Photo by binder donedat.
During this popular festival male religious devotees – usually of Thai-Chinese extraction – pierce their bodies in multiple locations with pins, knives, sharp sticks or whatever comes to hand, without the benefit of anaesthetics. Alternatively they slash/cut themselves widely. Bloody hell!
Khao Lak beach cottages, Phuket.
This is not a cheap region by Thai standards. Backpackers on a tight budget or travellers seeking a quieter life would fare better on other islands such as Ko Lanta or Koh Samet, but up-market travellers looking for a life of pampered luxury can’t go wrong with 5 star hotels in Phuket where exotic style and delicacy are a national trait, servitude an honour and exquisite cuisine an everyday experience. I have a dream. . .
A small motorcycle is a great way to travel Phuket but beware gravel rash, it can seriously hamper your sea bathing (though it does help the healing process in small doses! ).
All motorised tourists in Thailand – bikes and cars – are required to carry an International Drivers’ License on their person and it is also advisable to carry a copy of your passport information page and Thai visa.
Motorbike drivers and their passengers are required by law to wear helmets. A recent survey revealed that around a third of all bike passengers do not wear helmets.
The payment for breaking helmet laws depends on the officer issuing the fine, which side of the bed he got out of that morning, the season, the attitude of the biker and much more…
Thai police pay a lot of attention to foreigners driving bikes without helmets while turning a blind eye to locals doing the same thing.
It’s possible that they are concerned about farang hurting themselves but more likely that on-the-spot fines are paid fairly easily by visitors who are unlikely to argue, whereas extracting a few hundred baht from a local would be heavy going.
Fines for drunk driving in Thailand are heavy and may increase during holiday seasons.