The southern Thai island of Phuket is all about beaches and a laid-back, tropical lifestyle as enjoyed by several million visitors a year and a good number of expat residents. Phuket can be anything you want it to be, from a hub for some of the world’s best nightlife to a peaceful haven surrounded by lush jungles, small villages, and friendly locals.
At Phuketgolf.net, we want to provide you with a comprehensive Phuket holiday guide for when you are visiting Phuket to play golf but want to explore the island at its stunning best. There is something magical about the way Phuket merges stunning natural abundance with a modern tourism scene with 5-star infrastructure and world-class holiday amenities. If you want to know more about the island, here is our comprehensive Phuket guide.
Phuket Holiday Guide Island Overview
The island is linked to the mainland by two bridges and divided into four main areas: Western Phuket, Southeastern Phuket, Interior Phuket, and Phang Nga Bay. Phuket town lies along the coastline of Interior Phuket, and the famous beach resort and party capital of Asia, Patong, is found in Western Phuket.
Southeastern Phuket boasts off-the-beaten-track beaches and Chalong Bay has an impressive yacht harbour and ferry port, while lovely Phang Nga Bay has soaring limestone cliffs, caves and tiny, traditional fishing villages. Interior Phuket, away from the crowds in town and unvisited by the vast majority of tourists, reveals pineapple and rubber plantations, mangrove forests, Phra Taew National Park and small Muslim communities.
Phuket Population Stats
It is the quest of this Phuket guide to give you some of the most in-depth information pertaining to the island. The population of Phuket province sits at around 525,000, with at least 115,000 residents of foreign extraction, including Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian workers and a good number of Westerners. The majority are Buddhist, with a significant number of Muslims of Malay descent, descendants of Chinese tin-mining migrants and Perenakans from Malacca and Penang. The Muslim community traces its origins to the original sea-dwelling gypsies who first came to the island.
As with many of Thailand’s islands, Phuket began as an agricultural and fishing settlement until its strategic position resulted in its rise as a major trading hub between China and India. Wealth was derived from its tin mines and rubber plantations and, in the late 17th century, French, Dutch and English traders all competed for the tin trade. Initially, a French East India Company ship left the island for Europe in September 1680, loaded with a full cargo of the metal.
Several years later, still looking to reduce English and Dutch influence on the island, the Siamese king named a French missionary, Brother Rene Charbonneau, as governor of Phuket, a position which he held until 1685 when the tin concession was officially granted to the French. Three years later, a revolution in Siam permanently dispatched the French and caused the concession to be revoked. The following year, a French expedition attempted unsuccessfully to recapture the island and restore French influence in Siam, thus ending any connection between Phuket and France.
Almost 100 years later, concurrent with their attacks on the mainland, Burmese forces arrived on Phuket, only to be met by a hurriedly assembled local militia organized by the wife and step-sister of the island’s recently deceased governor. After a month-long siege of the capital, the Burmese were forced to retreat, and the two women became heroines, still celebrated as such today. The tin industry continued under King Chulalongkorn, and Phuket became a province in 1933 after the constitutional monarchy was established and Siam became Thailand.
As with other southern beach regions, the beauty of the island was discovered by backpackers in the 1970s, with the tourism potential soon realized and acted upon. Over the last 40 years, as you can see with this Phuket guide, has developed into one of Asia’s most popular tropical destinations, with a huge choice of hotels, restaurants, tour offices and facilities. It’s also a major destination for holiday and retirement homes, with a large, well-established expat community.
Phuket Food & Dining
Restaurants and local eateries in the main tourist areas of Patong and Phuket town are surprisingly cosmopolitan, due to the setting up of Western restaurants by expats happy to cater to their fellow foreigners’ preferences. Local eateries serve all the Thai favourites, and seafood dishes are the most popular. Noodles are the staple here, rather than rice, and are served fried or boiled with chicken or pork, local herbs and a variety of spices and sauces. Upscale international food is found in many of the luxury hotels, and European cuisines such as Italian and French are represented in the major tourist areas. Street food, food courts in the malls and fast foods make sure no-one goes hungry day or night.
Phuket Transport (airport, trains etc)
Phuket Airport lies in the north of the island and is Thailand’s second largest arrivals hub after Bangkok. It’s a genuine international airport with direct flights to Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, the Middle East, and other Asian countries. Domestic flights run to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui, and charter flights serve several European destinations. Mini-buses, an airport bus, metered taxis, and limos provide ground transportation from the airport, and luxury long-distance VIP buses run from Bangkok to the island.
Phuket is a large island and has limited public transport, with taxis, songthaews, and tuk-tuks the only practical ways to get around unless you drive. Car hire or purchase is straightforward but expensive and driving on the island is an adventure due to local drivers’ lack of care. Driving habits are confined to ignoring the rules and keeping going, traffic lights are more often than not regarded as suggestions rather than orders and the winding, hilly roads in the interior add to the challenge. Even so, once you’re used to driving defensively, the entire island opens up and reveals all its treasures.
Phuket Weather and climate
If you are considering the best time of the year to visit the island, maybe we can help you with this Phuket guide. Phuket’s tropical monsoon climate makes it hot and humid all year round, whether it’s the dry season from November through April or the rainy season from May to October. Daytime temperatures stay around 32-36°C all year, with occasional spikes into the 40s’, and the monsoon rains are heavy from May through October. December through March see the sunniest and driest months and the most visitors as a result.
Phuket Family Attractions
Over the last few years, Phuket has tried hard to cultivate a family-friendly reputation by building and organizing a wide range of children’s attractions and fun things to do. Theme parks, go-kart racing tracks, a totally modernized aquarium, elephant rides, zip-lining through jungle tree-tops and the Splash Jungle water park. For older children, family scuba-diving, whitewater rafting, and thrilling ATV rides through jungles make for a great day out.
Phuket is a paradise holiday island that pretty much has something for everyone. From stunning beaches along the West coast to 5-star resorts, boutique shopping options, world-class golf courses, national parks and much more, let us help you to learn more and discover more with this comprehensive Phuket guide.
Now you know more about holidaying in Phuket, here are 3 of the best Phuket holiday attractions that will especially appeal to those of you visiting the island with your family. Check out these highly recommended attractions on the island:
Phuket Fantasea Theme Park
In many quarters, Phuket Fantasea Theme Park is one of the highest ranked and most-visited tourist attractions in Phuket. If you want to get up-close and personal with Thailand’s colorful culture and history, all in a purpose-built theme park setting, Phuket Fantasea is the one for you. This Las Vegas-style park has a large theater that is built like an ancient temple from Ayutthaya and is surrounded by lots of fairground rides, amusements, food stalls and shopping options. The shows itself really is spectacular, using the latest laser technology and lots of elaborate costumes and performances. It really is a special night of fun, located in Kamala.
Opening times: 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Telephone: 076 385 000
If you are having a family holiday in Phuket, one of the most educational experiences on the island is the awe-inspiring Phuket Aquarium. The only one of its kind in Phuket, the purpose-built center for aquatic delights is located in Cape Panwa and is also the home to the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC). With a stunning water tunnel that you can walk through, you can catch some of the most exotic marine life at first hand. From sharks, rays and all manner of tropical fish to amphibians and much more. If you are staying in Cape Panwa, Karon, Chalong, Kata or Phuket Town, you can be at the establishment in 20-minutes, although it will take a bit longer from Patong.
Location: Cape Panwa
Opening Hours: 8:30am to 4pm, seven days per week
Tel: +66 (0)76 391 126
Splash Jungle Water Park
Basking in a beachside location in the West Sands Resort at Mai Khao Beach in the north-west of Phuket, one of the coolest and most fun and family-friendly attractions in Phuket is the Splash Jungle Water Park. If you take your kids here, they will love you forever without realizing you came here because you wanted to try out some of the amazing water slides such as the 335-meter-long lazy river. The park has some top-notch, high-octane slides and flumes and also some smaller scale rides for the younger kids. Come and tackle hardcore slides such as Super Bowl and Boomerango, or relax in the wave pool. If you have young kids with you, you can wimp out for a little while in the Kid’s Aqua Play Pool. There is so much to see and do at Splash Jungle so make sure you do not miss this quality Phuket attraction.
Location: West Sands Resort, Mai Khao Beach
Opening Times: 10am to 6pm
Telephone: 076 372 111
Playing Golf in Phuket
Now you are more familiar with Phuket as a whole, it is time to find the best choice of golf courses Phuket has to offer. You can click here to see a full Phuket golf course guide, but please keep reading so we can give you an overview of playing golf on the island and the best courses to play.
There is a wide choice of course types, from forgiving beginner-type courses such as Phuket Country Club to the mid-range courses at Loch Palm, Mission Hills and Laguna Phuket. When seeking out the best courses on the island to test your skills and to say you have played the best, nothing can compare to Red Mountain GC in Kathu and the world-famous Canyon Course at Blue Canyon Country Club.
Red Mountain Golf Club
Located amidst a former tin-mine that harks back to the island’s glorious mining past, Red Mountain GC weaves its way through the stunning red mountainous and jungle terrain from which the course takes its name. Positioned in Kathu, the club is centrally located and easily reached from Patong in just a 10-minute drive.
The course is set over approximately 7,000 yards from the championship tees and has a par-72. Many golfers regard the course as the best in Phuket, although you would have to play here to make that statement. With beautiful fairways utilizing shade-tolerant Bermuda Hybrid grasses and very fast but true greens, alongside the world-class clubhouse facilities, Red Mountain lives up to all the hype and expectations from the newest championship course on the island.
Canyon Course @ Blue Canyon Country Club
For many years, the Canyon Course at the Blue Canyon Country Club has been known as one of the best courses in Thailand, never mind about in Phuket. Known for its breathtaking ravines and canyon holes, and also as the place where many professional tournaments have taken place, such as the Johnnie Walker Classic, the likes of Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Ernie Els and many more have graced its carpeted fairways.
If you want to walk in the footsteps of golfing greats, while at the same time experiencing this famous course, please click here to see more details.
We hope you enjoyed our Phuket holiday guide and that is can help you to find everything you need to experience one of the most stunning holiday destinations in the world. Although Phuket is the ultimate place to play holiday golf, it is important that you know more about the island and how to get the best from your holiday.
If you want to book a golf holiday in Phuket, please click here to get started.