Even for people who visit frequently, Phuket is one of the must-see parts of any trip to the Southeast Asian nation of Thailand. That’s because Phuket offers a travel adventure that can’t be experienced anywhere else.
From its white sand beaches surrounded by tropical jungle and sheer face cliffs, to the exotic nightlife of Phuket Town, to the dense jungle interior where wild animals and breathtaking waterfalls make every foray unique, Phuket is unlike anywhere else in the world.
Still, there are things about Phuket that you normally can’t understand by reading a travel guide or watching a video. Phuket is fun, exciting, and fascinating. But it also comes with some downsides that probably won’t keep you away, but there are a few things you need to know about before planning your visit.
Here, then, are five important things any traveler to Phuket needs to know before booking their adventure vacation.
Phuket Is Hot … Really Hot
All year round, the temperature in Phuket is higher than most other places in Thailand. That’s mostly due to its geographic location which places it closer to the equator.
The hottest time of the year is from March until early May, when the temperature can soar well above 100 degrees F. Locals consider Phuket’s cooler season to be from November to February, but for people not from the area, it’s actually still quite warm.
Yet despite its heat, Phuket also gets a lot of rain, especially in the evenings. The monsoon season runs from May to October. Overall, the weather in Phuket is essentially the same as what you might find in Florida: Very hot in the summer, warmer than everywhere else in the winter.
Generally, the heat’s not a problem even for the most temperature sensitive tourist. Most hotel and resort accommodations feature open air lanais that offer respite from direct sunlight, as well as a cool and refreshing island breeze. And the most popular restaurants, stores, and night spots are air conditioned
Phuket Is Part of Thailand But it’s Not Really Thai
The type of traditional Thai culture you will find in Bangkok and other places up north aren’t really found in Phuket. That’s probably because for many centuries, the island has been something of a place for castaways and outsiders to find a welcoming society where they are free to be themselves.
That type of multi-cultural society still exists in Phuket. While there are many Thai people in Phuket, you are just as likely to find Thai-Chinese, ethnic Malaysians, and even sea gypsies who use their island as a temporary port of call.
In the rural areas of Phuket, most of the population is actually Muslim. Once you get outside the main town, people speak with a rare Southern dialect that is difficult even for native Thai people to understand.
In the main town, you will find a large number of Sino-Thai millennials and other young people who seek to replicate the type of cosmopolitan urbanism found in Bangkok and other large Asian cities, yet with a provincial twist that is all its own.
In other words, the culture in Phuket is weird. But it’s a cool kind of weird that most visitors are drawn to.
Crime Is Up in Phuket … But It’s Still Safer than Most Places
Up until a decade or two ago, Phuket used to be a place where only people in the know would visit. Backpackers, sophisticated world travelers, and various and sundry wanderers would make their way to the island for some seclusion.
Today, Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Thailand. And while that has brought bigger and better hotels, more dining options, and a plethora of things to do and see, it also has brought more criminals seeking to prey on the tourist trade.
Like anywhere else, visitors to Phuket should keep their wits around them and be wary of people seeking to befriend them or trick them into gambling, which is illegal in Thailand. While a lot of people are delighted by the sight of ladyboys and other flamboyant residents of the island, be careful because these distractions are often designed to aid pickpockets.
Don’t Drink the Water
The tap water in Phuket is not treated the way water is in Western countries. While it may not make you sick, some people have complained of diarrhea, nausea and other symptoms after drinking Phuket water.
Play it safe and only drink bottled water during your stay.
Some of the tourist attractions in Phuket rely on the exploitation of animals. Avoid giving your business to those who would offer to have your picture taken with baby animals, for example. These animals usually are taken after their mothers were killed by poachers. Supporting this type of business only makes it more likely that it will continue.
Phuket Video Guide
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The Ultimate Phuket Travel Guide 2020