Welcome to Phuket Thailand. this tropical paradise Island is renowned for its beautiful beaches and clear waters. It provides easy access to other islands providing great sites for water activities or simply soaking up the magnificent scenery. Phuket also provides plently of quality accommodation and you'll find everything you will need right here.
Phuket, a large island in the Indian Ocean, is 867 kms. from Bangkok. It is the only island having provincial status, and was a regional headquarters as well, with a rich and colorful
Known as the Pearl of the Andaman, it derived much of its former glory and its enormous wealth from tin production, which in Phuket dates back over 500 year. Today, Phuket is the major tourist attraction of Thailand. The surrounding waters contain much varied marine life, and the town is notable for its Sino-Portuguese architecture. It is a very attractive island
for sightseeing, with lovely seashores and forested hillsides. Its population of 1.6 million people ranks sixth among all provinces. Approximately 1.75 million Rai of the area is forest land. The main occupation here is rice farming. The average per capita income is 14,343 baht.
Location and Boundaries
Phuket is an island connected by bridges to southern Thailand's Andaman Sea coast, in the Indian Ocean, lying between 7'45" and 8'15" north latitude, and from 98'15" to 98'40" west longitude on the map. Phuket, Thailand's largest islands, is surrounded by 32 smaller islands that form part of the same administration, with a total area of 570 square kilometers. Measured at its widest point, Phuket is 21.3 kilometers; at its longest, 48.7 kilometers. it is bounded thus :
North Lies The Pak Prah strait, spanned by two bridges running side-by-side,
the older Sarasin Bridge, and the newer Thao Thep Krasatri Bridge.
South Is the Andaman Sea.
East Is Phang-nga Bay (In the jurisdiction mainly of Phang-nga Province).
West Is The Andaman Sea.
About 70 percent of Phuket is mountainous; a western range runs from north to south from which smaller branches derive. The highest peak is Mai Tha Sip Song, or Twelve Canes, at 529 meters, which lies within the boundaries of Tambon Patong, Kathu District. The remaining 30 percent of the island, mainly in the center and south, is formed by low plains. Streams include the Khlong Bang Yai, Tha Jin, Khlong Tha Rua, and Khlong Bang Rong, none of which is large.
Phuket's weather conditions are dominated by monsoon winds that blow year round. It is therefore always warm and humid. There are two distinct seasons, rainy and dry. The rainy season begins in May and lasts till October, during which the monsoon blows from the southwest.
The dry season is from November through April, when the monsoon comes from the northeast. Highest average temperatures, at 33.4 degree Celsius, prevail during March. Lowest averages occur in January, when nightly lows dip to 22 degree Celsius.
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-importance 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. Prawn farming has largly taken over the east and south coasts. Pearl farming is also important. Phuket's fishing port is at all time 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 range 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.
Official population as of December, 1998, was 231,206. This figure numbers those who are registered as living in Phuket. Phuket' s attraction as a center of economic activity has resulted in many living on the island whose registration is elsewhere. The total population of Phuket varies considerably depending on the time of year, through it is never less than the figure given above.
The island is divided into three districts, Thalang in the north, Kathu in the west, and Muang in the south. Thailand's system of government relies upon a strong central authority, thus the Provincial Governor is a civil servant appointed by the Interior Ministry in Bangkok, as are the Nai Amphoe, or District Chief. The cities of Phuket and Patong have their own city governments, with elected city councils, the leading members of which serve as mayor. There are also elected provincial, district, and sub-district, or Tambon councils. The local constabulary is part of the Interior Ministry.
Phuket Island has a long recorderd history, and remains dating back to A.D. 1025 indicate that the island's present day name derives in meaning from the Tamil manikram, or crystal mountain.
For most of history, however, it was known as Junk Ceylon, which, with variations, is the name found on old maps. The name is thought to have its roots in Ptolemy's Geographia, written by the Alexandrian geographer in the Third Century A.D. He mentioned that in making a trip from Souwannapum to the Malay Peninsula it was neccesary to pass the cape of Jang Si Lang
Phuket was a way station on the route between India and China where seafarers stopped to shelter. The island appears to have been part of the Shivite empire (called in Thai the Tam Porn Ling) that established itself on the Malay Peninsula during the first Millenium A.D. Later, as Muang Takua-Talang, it was part of the Srivichai and Siri Tahm empires. Governed as the eleventh in a constellation of twelve cities, Phuket's emblem, by which it was known to others in those largely pre-literate times, was the dog.
During the Sukothai Period Phuket was associated with Takua Pa in what is now Phang-nga Province, another area with vast tin reserves. The Dutch established a trading post during the Ayuthaya Period in the 16th Cent. The island's northern and central regions then were governed by the Thais, and the southern and western parts were given over to the tin trade,aconcession in the hands of foreigners.
After Ayuthaya was sacked by the Burmese in 1767 there was a short interregnum in Thailand, ended by King Taksin, who drove out the Burmese and re-unified the country. The Burmese, however, were anxious to return to the offensive. They outfitted a fleet to raid the southern provinces, and carry off the populations to slavery in Burma.
This led to Phuket's most memorable hitoric event. A passing sea captain, Francis Light, sent word that the Burmese were en route to attack. Forces in Phuket were assembled led by the two heroines, Kunying Jan, wife of Phuket's recently deceased governer, and her sister Mook, After a month's siege the Burmese were forced to depart on 13 March, 1785. Kunying Jan and her sister were credited with the successful defense.
In recognition King Rama I bestowed upon Kunying Jan the honorific Thao Thep Kasatri, a title of nobility usually reserved for royalty, by which she is known today. Her sister became Thao Sri Sunthon.
During the Nineteenth Century Chinese immigrants arrived in such numbers to work for the tin mines that the ethnic character of the island's interior became predominantly Chinese, while the coastal settlements remained populated chiefly by Muslim fishermen.
In Rama V's reign, Phuket became the administrative center of a group of tin mining provinces called Monton Phuket, and in 1933, with the change in government from absolute monarchy to a parliamentary system, the island was established as a province by itself.
The Heroines Monument was erected in the middle of the city opposite Thalang National Museum on Highway 402.
After the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya, then the capital of Siam, in 1767, King Taksin drove out the Burmese and re-unified the country. The Burmese were bad losers, and outfitted a fleet to attack the southern provinces and carry off the populations to slavery in Burma. The Monument honors Kunying Jan and her sister Mook who were credited with the organizing the successful defense of Phuket Island against the Burmese invaders. This became Phuket's most unforgettable historic event.
To acknowledge their bravery and leadership, King Rama I conferred on Kunying Jan the honorific apellation Thao Thep Kasatri - a title of nobility usually reserved for royalty, and her sister became Thao Sri Suntorn.
Travel There & Moving Around
Visitors to Thailand who hold valid passports or travelling documents issued by any country included in an officially issued list of eligible countries, are permitted one-month visa-free visits. If planning a longer stay, a Tourist Visa valid for 60 days must be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. Visa extensions can be applied for at the Immigration Department in Bangkok or in Phuket.
Several carriers now fly directly to Phuket's International Airport from locations abroad, making a stopover in Bangkok unnecessary. Particularly in the high tourist season, flights come directly from all over Asia, Australia and Europe. It is still the trend for many tourists to come through Bangkok however, catching domestic flights via Thai Airways, which run regularly through the day, 7 days a week. Flight schedules can be found on the Thai Airways web page or by Tel: (02) 628 2000 (Bangkok office); or (076) 211 195 (Phuket office).
Bangkok Airways offers a daily 25-minute flight to and from Koh Samui on the other side of the peninsula. This is a popular option for those wanting to take in all of Thailand's beautiful beaches.
If travelling from (or to) Krabi, Air Andaman has recently begun operating daily flights between Phuket and Krabi, with schedules dependent on the season and weather conditions. They also operate a Phuket-Surat Thani flight daily - handy for those who want to take the train from Bangkok and complete the last leg by air (See Train Info below). Call the Air Andaman Phuket Office: 076-351374, 351375; or Krabi Office: 075-691495 for details.
From the airport, travel to locations around the island can be undertaken by taxi or hired minivan, unless your hotel has arranged transfer for you. For a rough guide: a trip to Patong in a shared minivan will cost approximately 100 Baht. If hiring a taxi, expect to pay up to 600Baht. The trip to Patong takes approximately 40 minutes.
If travelling from (or to) Krabi, Air Andaman has recently begun operating daily flights between Phuket and Krabi, with schedules dependent on the season and weather conditions. They also operate a Phuket-Surat Thani flight daily - handy for those who want to take the train from Bangkok and complete the last leg by air (See Train Info below). As of March 25th, 2001, there will also be flights from Bangkok to Phuket via Chumporn and return. Call the Air Andaman Phuket Office: 076-351374, 351375; or Krabi Office: 075-691495 for details.
Train lovers can travel from Hualomphong Station in Bangkok to Surathani Province, and catch a bus from there to Phuket. Travel to Surathani by train takes approximately 12 hours, with various classes of seating available ranging in price from 187 Baht to 1040 Baht. Train schedules for the State Railway of Thailand can be found by contacting Tel: (02) 220 4334. Advance tickets are available at all principal stations or the Bangkok Advance Booking Office. Tel. (02) 225-0300 ext 5200-3. For bus timetable and information contact the Surathani Bus Terminal on 077-200031-3
Overland by Road
From Bangkok the journey to Phuket can be undertaken by bus - a trip that takes about 14 hours. Daily services leave from the Southern Bus Terminal in Thonburi, and there are many private services available from almost any travel agent and hotel tour desk in the city. For information on bus timetables contact the Southern Bus Terminal on Boromratchchonnani Rd, Bangkok, Tel: (662) 435-1200, 434-7192. Most services will bring you directly to the Phuket Bus Terminal in Phuket Town, from where you can take a local bus to most beaches on the island, or a taxi truck or Tuk Tuk.
If you want to go your own way, drive down to Phuket in a hire car - the road system is good and well sign-posted. Travel on Route 4 from Bangkok to the south, passing through Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi and Prachuap-Khirikan, At Chumphon go right to Ranong where you must head south through Kraburi and Kapoe Districts to Phang-nga Province. In Phang-nga the road passes through Kuraburi, Takuapa, and Thai Muang Districts before reaching the town of Kok Kloy. From here cross the Sarasin Bridge to Phuket Island. Head down the main highway and follow the signs to your destination beach.
There are many car hire firms in Bangkok, including international rental companies such as Hertz, Budget and Avis, which offer full insurance. An international driving license is required.
Cruise and cargo ships come to Phuket from abroad. Contact your travel agent for information about the many different ships that stop at Phuket. For private vessels entering Phuket waters, there are regulations that should be observed which include that all vessels must report upon entry to:
Phuket Port Control Center
2nd Floor Phuket Fishing Lodge Hotel
52/2 Moo 9 Tambon (Sub District) Chalong
Amphoe Muang, Phuket,
Latitude 7o 49' 0" N, Longitude 98o 22' 0" E,
Tel. and Fax. 66 76 381614.
Once here, getting around Phuket is case of either doing it the easy way, or doing it the adventurous way. If staying in one of the island's epicenters like Patong or Kata, getting around is a breeze. Most hotels are within close proximity to the beach, entertainment, restaurants, shopping and activity centres, which makes getting round on foot the best option. In less populated spots, or if you want to explore locations around the island, you have the choice of having your hotel arrange transport in the form of a taxi, hirecar or tuk-tuk, or taking the local transportation.
For trips of any duration at any time of day, a tuk tuk or small taxi truck is often the most efficient. State your destination and agree on the price before setting off! A trip within a beach area or town shouldn't cost more than 50 Baht, but for trips further afield, anything up to 400 Baht can be expected - depending on the distance, the weather and your bargaining skills!
If heading off to other beaches and sites during the day, you also have the option of a local songthaew or bus.
The local buses (painted bright blue for easy recognition) will have their destination written in English on the outside of the bus and run regularly between the hours of 7.00 am and 6.00pm. There are no designated bus stops, which means you have to flag them down in the middle of the street.
In most populated areas, your best chance of catching a bus are to go to the main thoroughfare - sooner or later one will come along. In Patong, your best spot for flagging one down is along Phra Baramee Road outside the tourist police box. In Phuket town, head for the fresh markets on Ranong Road (opposite Thai airways office) where you will find Songtaews waiting to go to destinations all around the island. Standard cost for trips to/from Phuket Town to/from locations such as Patong, Surin and Kamala are approximately 15-20 Baht, and you shouldn't take one if you are in a hurry to get where you want to go.
Hire Cars and Motorbikes
Private cars, jeeps and small motorbikes can be hired from most major hotels, and from private dealers off the street. If you really want to explore, having your own vehicle is the best way to go. It's important to check that full insurance coverage is included and that you have the appropriate licenses at hand in case of accident. Note that motorcycle hire is extremely risky as insurance is usually not included - regardless of what you are told. You don't want to find yourself liable for damages and medical bills or worse. A Thai or an international car license is mandatory for the purposes of claiming successfully for insurance in case of accident with a vehicle.
For serious bike enthusiasts, the area around Patong offers lots to enjoy. Cruise out of the town on smooth roads that bank and curve around lush green mountains looking out over the Andaman Sea and visit some of the smaller areas outside the main tourist strip. There are bike shops in Patong that specialise in road cruisers and dirt bikes for those who want something more challenging than the traditional Honda Dream favoured by most tourists and locals alike. Check out the shops along Rat-U-Thit Road at Patong Beach. A word of warning - needless to say those who ride motorcycles should take extreme care when riding the roads in Thailand. Not only is there an extreme disregard for traffic regulations which leads to unexpected and dangerous behaviour on the roads, but during the rainy season, bike riders often come to grief when damp roads become slippery to ride on due to oil spill build-ups. It is therefore recommended that the inexperienced rider elect the safety of a standard vehicle as the means for enjoying touring around Kata, Patong and elsewhere on the island or just making confirmation booking at online booking (by budget)
During the day and night, groups of motorcyclists can be seen lurking on street corners or cruising the streets wearing coloured vests and trying to get your attention. These are the motorcycle taxi drivers who will take you anywhere around town for a fee. Again the price can vary depending on the distance you want to travel and your bargaining skills. Not the safest mode of transport but can be convenient.
Nai Yang Beach:
Located 30 km from Phuekt Town and reachable in a 5 Minutes car-ride from the Airport, Nai Yang Beach is still known as a quite sandy beach with excellent swimming conditions. Plenty of Casuarinas trees guaranty for a lot of shelter. The bay was declared as National Park, due to turtles digging their eggs during dry-season.
Located 24 km from Phuket Town or about 30 minutes car-ride from Patong Beach, you can find the oblong shaped and eight kilometers long Bangtao Beach. The Beach is well-known due to the Laguna Phuket Hotels and Resorts, five high class beach resorts. There is a golf course and a horse stable, as well as good shopping opportunities at the Laguna Phuket Complex.
Especially during December, this beach is famous for the best windsurf conditions around the whole island, several international windsurf and catamaran competitions where held at this resort. Excellent relaxation and sun-bathing at the beautiful white sand beach.
Surin Beach & Pansea Beach:
Both beaches are about 24 km distance from Phuket town or 30 minutes by cab from Patong Beach on the west coast of the island. A big car park and a lot of snack and souvenir shops shows you, that the beach is frequently visited by Thai-tourists.
Casuarinas trees giving shelter to those, wanting a change from the Palm-beaches found all over the island - from end of December until and of April excellent swimming conditions during good weather days.
Be aware: During the monsoon season or Thaiphoon storms, rip current may be present creating undertow conditions to the swimmer.
About 26 km from Phuket town or 20 minutes ride from Patong Beach. Kamala Beach is about 2 km in length and consists out of sand. At the southern end of the beach, there is a small Muslim village and at the northern side there are good picnic conditions. Phuket Fantasea, Phuket adventure theme park grant opening was in January 1999. It is worth a visit. Tickets can be booked in any travel agency on the Island. Phuket Fantasea provides Pick up service to make your evening most enjoyable.
The crystal clear waters of Kamala bay invites you for a good and safe swim or snorkeling, at a very colorful coral reef just a few meters away from the shore
Patong Beach is located 15 km from Phuket town on the west coast of Phuket Island. About 30 years ago, there wasn't much to do at Patong Beach. The villagers lived from fishing and were working on coconut plantations. The first backpackers came and discovered this remote paradise. Landlords built up, out of natural materials, the first bungalows-not much more than roofs out of palm-tree leaves and hang mocks or simple sleeping compartments. Nowadays Patong is one of Southeast Asia's most developed beach resorts, with enormous entertainment and hotel capacities. There is still the beautiful white sandy beach, where shelter is found under palm trees, but today with plenty of water sport activities and a bit more organized than it used to be in previous times.
Patong beach has a length of 3 kilometers and consists of white powdery sand. Patong is set in a oval bay, surrounded by lush green mountains.
Behind the beach promenade, hundreds of hotels and guesthouses, bars and restaurants, banks, shops and department stores will guarantee the tourist a pleasant stay.
Patong Beach is a public beach and umbrellas and beach chairs might be rented from private vendors for about 200 THB per day for a two persons set.
At the southern end of the beach closed to a small reef, there are Long Tail boats for rent, the captain will show you around the coastline for about 400 THB an hour or you even might hire it out for the whole day. Transfers to the next idyllic and much quieter Freedom Beach are also available here.
Freedom Beach and Emerald Bay:
This two pretty bays south-west of Patong, can be reached by Longtail boat from leaving in the south end of Patong Beach. The people like it for snorkeling and swimming in a more private atmosphere than at the larger beaches. This two bays may also be reached over a precipitous hill road. By feet you just need to cross the property of the Coral Beach Hotel and follow a small path down to the see.
is the synonym of the little beach, where the well-known Le Meridien Resort Phuket is located ( 10 minutes by car from Patong Beach). You can reach this beach by Long tail boat or taxi. The guards at the entrance won't let someone's not in the hotel living car in. You got to park and do the remaining way by foot. It is well worth to visit. Very nice sandy, powdery beach, relax under lovely umbrellas or stroll around at the shore of the crystal clear blue waters of the Andaman Sea.
karon beach is located 20 km south-west direction from Phuket town at the west-coast of Phuket. The 3 kilometer long, wide sandy Palm beach is scenic not very attractive. In the North the beach features a small very beautiful lagoon and abut on rock-formations.
There is also the beginning of the road leading over the hills to Relax Bay and to Patong Beach. On the other hand the wave surfers really gathering there together to get a ride on the up to 4 meter high waves, breaking over a shallow sand bar in front of the beach. Karon reef is approximately 18 meters deep and about 5 minutes snorkel swim away from the southern part of the beach - good for a afternoon dive. Catamarans and surfboards are there for rent and all year around there is a light breeze, making a ride on a surfboard quite enjoyable. Water-ski, Jet skis and Long tail boats are there for hire, too.
Karon Center is right behind the beach road after Karon Circle. There are a lot of guest houses and Hotels. Restaurants and Bars, Thai Massages and a small night market, makes the visitors stay in Karon most enjoyable. Most of the Hotels and Bungalow resorts are located at the beach road and spread out over this 4 km long beach resort. Karon Beach is a stay worth, for tourists who don't like the crowds of Patong Beach.
Be aware: During the monsoon season there are rip-currents present and special caution has to be taken regarding swimming.
approximately 17 kilometers away from Phuket Town, below Karon beach at the west-coast of Phuket Island. Kata beach is a beautiful sandy beach, much more quite than Patong or Karon. The ideal Beach for families, there are plenty of water sport activities, like sailing, swimming, water-skiing. Famous is the beach for its beautiful, snorkel and dive-able reef - the Kata reef. The reef is enclosed in small marker-buoys, so that your diving activity will not be disturbed by any boat traffic. Most of the dive shops are located in Kata beach and offering boat-trips to the major dive sites of Phuket. In Kata center is the night life and the most accommodations are located there. A lot of guesthouses, resorts and a small amount of shops are in Kata Beach. Also you might visit the Dino Park Mini Golf Course, located at Kata Hill, a creative Mini Golf Course in Dino Style, even with a volcano rising above the palm trees.
Kata Noi Beach:
The approximately 1 kilometer long sandy beach, Located immediately south of Kata Beach around a rocky headland and a little cove is Kata Noi Beach. A few Hotels, the well-known Katathani Hotel, some restaurants, shops are there, to offer the client some resort atmosphere. Kata Noi Beach is surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation and ultra-green mountains. A fantastic place to step back from daily routine and city-life's stress.
is located 17 km from Phuket Town on the south-tip of Phuket Island. Especially frequently visited by Thai-Tourist. Rawai Beach offers a lot of small restaurants at the beachfront, shops and souvenir stores. There are Long tail and speed boats for hire, bringing you out to the offshore islands of Phuket like Raya Yai or Coral Island. Just a few Kilometer further up the mountain, you'll find this spectacular sunset - Viewpoint
Nai Harn Beach:
famous because of the annual Phuket King Cup. Fine clean sand and clear water make this one of Phuket's nicest beaches. Several little restaurants on the beach offer delicious Thai food.
Approximately 14 km away from Phuket Town. This bay is the major peer for the daytrip boats like dive-boats, deep-sea fishing, etc. There are no swimming possibilities, but nice and romantic seafood restaurants with excellent money/value relationships.
Thing To See & Do
Phuket's flourishing tourist industry has provided visitors to the island with much more than the enjoyment of some of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Thailand, green tropical jungles, delicious local food and a fascinating local culture to become acquainted with.
Phuket's flourishing tourist industry has provided visitors to the island with much more than the enjoyment of some of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Thailand, green tropical jungles, delicious local food and a fascinating local culture to become acquainted with. Nowadays it offers its visitors an extensive range of things to see and do to suit all ages, no matter your interest, mood or prevailing weather conditions.
Phuket Night Life
Patong Beach is the center of all tourist oriented nightlife on Phuket, Thailand. There, located within a radius of half a kilometer around Soi Bangla, are over 150 bars, pubs, discos and ago go bars. The pubs, bars and ago go bars of Patong Beach are the most popular nighttime destinations on the island. They give the town its unique flavor of a lively, fun place until long after the sun goes down.
Patong Beach features some great discos too. Two of them, the Banana Disco and the Shark Club, are also located at Soi Bangla. Another one, the Safari Pub, is on the hill towards Kata Beach.
Another option are the Thai-style "coffee shops" - nightclubs where ladies in fancy dresses take turns getting up to sing Thai songs while customers eat and drink and, occasionally, entice singers to join them at their tables. Later at night there are sometimes farcical skits on stage and other types of entertainment.
If you want to know more about the nightlife in Patong Beach, read more in the sections marked on the navigation bar to the left of the page.
Bars and Pubs
Lined up next to each other in long rows around Soi Bangla, the bars and pubs of Patong Beach are probably the most popular nighttime destination for most visitors.
Most of the bars are small and simple with stools or benches and some kind of roof. The music can be loud and often very mixed as each bar has its own stereo system. The volume of music can make conversation difficult but a fun time is to be had by all.
The atmosphere is easy and relaxed as it is very easy to take a seat in one of the many bars or pubs and enjoy people-watching as there is always a sea of human beings moving around you. In season Phuket is awash with people from many different countries and Patong Beach in particular becomes a very cosmopolitan place. People who finish a days diving, sunbathing or sightseeing enjoy congregating in these places to meet and party on into the night.
There is a wide variety of bar sports to play with any of your new found friends. Games such as banging a nail into a tree stump with a special hammer are quite popular and can get quite funny after a couple of beers. Connect Four, Backgammon or the Thai version of Ka Plunk are also in vogue. Some of the slightly larger bars have pool tables (for as cheap as THB 10) and dart boards, giving the opportunity do do something more than just drink.
A visit to the bars and pubs of Patong is for many the ritual by which they begin the nightly party.
A Go Go Bars
In Patong Beach, the heart of Phuket Night Life and Entertainment, there are many A Go Go Bars, most of them located around Soi Bangla.
If you are not familiar with A Go Go Bars from TV documentaries or Hollywood movies, here you find a short introduction into what a go gos are all about.
An ago go bar is a place, where you can watch Thai girls dancing to energetic music clothed in nothing more than a string bikini. These girls are not totally nude, as this is officially prohibited by Thai law.
The girls may interact with the customers during the time they are not dancing. They are not owned in any way by the bar and if they want to share their time with the guest, it is their decision to make. If you enjoy the company of a particular lady and would like her to accompany you perhaps to dinner or a disco, it is customary to pay the bar a small fee, since if she accompanies you, she is no longer assisting the bar by providing entertainment.
Anyway, if you have an open mind, visiting an ago go bar will surely give you a unique insight into this aspect of tourist entertainment.
After having had a fascinating dive in the Andaman Sea or after a night dancing in one of Patong's discos, a relaxing massage done by the soft hands of Thai girls will help to refresh and revive you. Thai traditional massage is one of the most famous recreational activities in Thailand (this should not be confused with Full Body Massage, offered in specialized massage parlors like Christins in Patong Beach).
Practiced for centuries and passed down verbally from one generation to the next, from teacher to student or from parent to child, traditional Thai massage has a long history.
The roots of this way of therapeutically healing and recreation go back to India. Jivaka Komabhacca, a doctor friend and contemporary of Buddha, is believed to be the founder of this practice over 2.500 years ago. The heavy Indian influence on the southeast Asian cultures including Thailand and the Malay peninsula, helped spread the knowledge about massage rapidly throughout the region. Ancient Chinese medical techniques, brought in by a large number of immigrants, had further influence on Thai massage.
At the time that Thai culture came to full flower under the kings of Ayutthaya, a large collection of medical texts about Thai massage and its techniques existed. But with the Burmese invasion of 1776, leading to the destruction of the capital, most of these scriptures were lost forever. What was left was carved in the Wat Poh in Bangkok in 1832 by order of King Rama III, who wanted to preserve this great tradition.
According to these inscriptions, the theoretical basis of Thai massage are energy lines, of which the major ten are called "Sen". Important acupressure points are located on these lines which run through the body and working on them will help to remove blockages of energy flow.
Therapeutic massage for treatment of specific conditions and diseases is also practiced in Thailand, but only by a small number of skilled practitioners. For a good experience of popular Thai massage, a massage girl from one of the many massage parlors all over Phuket or even one of the beach girls offering a massage for a few Baht will suffice.
Simon Cabaret and Transvestite Shows
Going to the cabaret on Phuket has a different meaning than almost anywhere else in the world. The island boasts extravagant cabaret shows with stunning costumes, bright lights, expensive sets and a unique feature, most of the performers are men dressed as women.
Transvestites and transgendered people are much more accepted in Thailand than in Western countries, perhaps because the Buddhist religion practiced in the region does not have texts or doctrines that are judgmental of different lifestyles. Whatever the reason, they can be often be seen on the streets and in everyday jobs where they are employed without persecution.
At the Simon Cabaret, famous well beyond Phuket, an all-male revue with the the utmost extravaganza can be experienced. Performers recreate a traditional Thai dance or lip-synch songs popular in countries around the world.
Besides the Simon Cabaret, the popularity of transvestite and transsexual cabaret performers has spread to most parts of Phuket. Many of Phuket's five star resorts featuring transvestite cabaret performers for special occasions and numerous other venues can be visited. Most well-known are the Andaman Queen Cabaret and shows at the Royal Paradise Complex.
Large department stores are located in Phuket Town and Patong, and a smaller one is in Thalang Town; they have a broad range of what is available in Thailand, both imported and domestic. Tailors' shops are everywhere ; labour costs are inexpensive so a handmade suit is an attractive purchase. Tailors supply the cloth, or you can select your own from one of the many cloth merchants on Thalang Rd., in Phuket Town.
Silk and Silk products
Thai silk, which found its way into world markets after World War II, is hand-reeled, hand-woven and hand-printed and thus has a natural uneven look and coarser texture giving it is uniqueness which has made it well-known all over Thailand. Today colorfast dyes and improved looms have been introduced for higher standards of production, but traditional hand-weaving techniques still preserve the unique luster that makes Thai silk different from any other.
For centuries the northeast has been the traditional home of silk weaving, and craftsmen in provinces like Khorat, Surin, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen continue to produce some of the finest examples.
Northern Thailand, particularly in the Chiang Mai area, is also an old weaving center. Among the silk products for which it is noted is 'Pha Yok', or brocade, richly patterned with designs in gold or silver thread. Besides being used for men and women's clothing, curtains, and upholstery. Thai silk in both solid colors and prints is employed for a wide range or souvenir items like cushions, jewel-boxes, evening bags and notebook covers.
Gems and Jewelry
Precious stones have been mined in Thailand for centuries. They are in great variety, namely rubies, sapphires, topazes, zircons, jades, etc. Among these are the 'Siamese rubies' which have world reputation for their beauty.
Chanthaburi, Trat and Kanchanaburi provinces are the important homes for coloured stones. As Thai cutters have now become highly skilled and have great reputation for quality workmanship, together with the abundance of locally mined gems, Bangkok is then made one of the world leading gem markets at the present time.
5Thai woodcarft, especially wood carving, is world famous for its craftsmanship together with is intricate and elaborate designs.
In the Chiang Mai area, hundreds of artisans produce carved figures of all kinds and in all sizes, ornate picture and mirror frames, intricately designed boxes, salad bowls, trays, wall plaques and numerous other creations. Some pieces are gilded and decorated with glass-mosaics to enhance their appeal. Wood carving skills are also used in the making of fine furniture both traditional and contemporary.
From the oyster comes the pearl, one of nature's most prized gifts. In the Andaman Sea, thriving oyster beds give birth to a wide variety of these beautiful gems.
Around Naka Noi Island, just off the east coast of Phuket, rare South Sea pearls are cultured.
Visit one of the most famous pearl cultivation farms in the world and find out the secrets of oysters and how they create pearls. Take one of the Pearl Island Tours' day trips by comfortable cruiser, and you may find you go home with a little something extra.
Telecommunications / Internet
Most hotels can provide telephone and fax services. Public phones are not the greatest choice for making long distance or overseas calls - easier to make your calls from one of the many business centres that offer this service or do it from your hotel.
Most overseas mobile phones can be used here by purchasing a local SIM card, which costs less than 900 Baht. Otherwise, check with the service provider in your home country about international roaming before you leave. It's also possible to buy a mobile phone in Phuket for as little as 2,000 Baht and use a pay-as-you-go service such as One-2-Call or DPrompt.
Mobile phone stands - Long distance or overseas calls can also be made for a fixed price per 5 minutes from roadside stands often set up outside convenience stores. Local calls can easily be made from public phones but you will need to check whether it's a card or coin phone. Telephone cards are available from various places such as 7-Eleven, some stationery stores, the Post Office and telephone authority offices.
Internet cafes are located in all the main tourist areas and offer reasonable rates. You can also check your email in the telecommunications office in Phuket town. Many hotels have an Internet service, but it can be expensive. There are a few wi-fi hotspots on the island, including Starbucks in Patong and The Books in Phuket town.
Phuket Postal Services
Post Office locations:
Phuket Town, main Post Office on Montri Road, just north of Phang Nga Rd.
Patong - Rat-U-Thit Road, next to the Patong Palace Hotel at the northern end of Patong. Smaller branches also along the main roads in Karon, Chalong and Kamala.
Opening hours: 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday-Friday. 9am-noon Saturday.
Urgent or important items can be sent by EMS services. Private couriers like DHL are also available. You can send postcards and regular size letters from the reception at most major hotels around the island.
Important Phone Numbers
1699 or 076 214 368
076 254 425 /210 935
076 254 421
076 340 444, 342 633
Phuket International Hospital
076 249 400
Hyperbaric Services Thailand
076 342 518/9; 09 871 2335
076 211 105
076 391 174
Tours & Travel
081 737 0860
076 212 108