Phuket, Thailand, is commonly referred to as the ‘Pearl of South’ and is the largest island in Thailand. Phuket Island runs 48 kilometers (34 miles) north to south and 21 kilometers (16 miles) east to west, an area of 810sqm with a population of 71,000. Phuket is broken by a chain of mountains and valleys mainly from a north-south range running down the west coast. This accounts for about 70% of the land area. The tallest peak, Mai Tao Sip Song (12 Cane Peak) is 529 meters. The other 30% of the island is flat land located mainly in the central and eastern portions of the island. Laying in the Andaman Sea off southern Thailand’s west coast, the island’s terrain is incredibly varied, with rocky headlands, long broad sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, forested hills, small estuaries, lagoons, and tropical vegetation of all kinds. Its large size has allowed microclimates to develop in different areas of the island.
The island offers many different looks and feels for you to discover and enjoy. Kata Beach with its spectacular tropical scenery compared with the stately cassurina trees that are found on Nai Yang Beach just a few kilometers north. The triple canopy rainforest of Khao Phra Thaeo National Park to the mud flats and mangrove swamps of Koh Siray. Limestone outcroppings line the east coast and solid granite boulders on the west. Phuket is truly a tropical wonderland and offers something for just about everyone.
Phuket was once ignominiously dubbed Junk Ceylon an English corruption of of the Malay 'Tanjung Salang' or Cape Salang.
Phuket Property Market
Only five per cent of Phuket island's coastline was seriously damaged by the tsunami and educated investors realised the tsunami was an unprecedented natural occurrence. Since last December 26, the property market has not suffered on Phuket. Property prices are stable and look forward to increasing, as expected, on par with recent trends - a rise of 100 per cent every three years, according to local property industry sources.
As a retiree or holiday investor, the price of Phuket real estate remains ever-attractive to southeast Asian and Western buyers who recognise the value for money and potential of a growing economy, combined with an International Airport that caters to direct flights from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia and Europe and incomparable coastal beauty and international lifestyle. Marina and golfing lifestyles together with international schools, shopping and business opportunities add to the broader buyer appeal.
Strong pound sterling and euro are making Phuket very affordable and excellent value for money. This together with the lifestyle, low living cost, international standard medical care and great investment opportunities, makes Phuket the top destination for long stay and retirement for the Europeans as well as Asian and Australian buyers.
There are over a hundred new residential developments taking place on the island offering a wide range of properties and facilities. There will be many luxurious marina and golf projects on both sides of the island and many projects are seeing good record sales.
The map shows the routes of the major highways on the island. Going from Patong to Phuket Town takes about twenty minutes, and in less than an hour you can reach just about any point on the island. The main roads on Phuket are generally in good condition and well marked with signs in both Thai and English. The mountainous terrain limits the number of roads that cross the island east to west so at times you will be taking a roundabout trip to your destination.
The warm balmy climate, the natural beauty of the island, and the winding mountain roads, all make Phuket a natural for cruising around on a motorbike. Motorbikes are the most common mode of transportation on the island. Motorbikes are also the most common cause of serious injury and death on the island. No statistics are available as to the number of motorbike injuries sustained by visitors to Phuket but the number is substantial. Insurance is not available on any rental motorbike. If it is damaged or stolen you will have to pay it’s for replacement plus any property damage or injuries caused to others. Phuket has and at times enforces a motorbike helmet law. The helmets available here are more for decoration then a serious safety device, but the fine for a driver without one is 500 baht.
Cars and jeeps can be rented at numerous locations around the island. A valid international driver’s license or a state license from one’s own country is all that is required. Rates begin at 700 baht per day with unlimited mileage. You pay for the gasoline. Most major hotels are serviced by Hertz and Avis car rental companies. The most expensive place to rent a car is at the airport. If a vehicle is rented at one location and dropped off at another, there is a usually a 200 baht charge. Private owners of jeeps parked along beach roads in Patong and Karen Beach charge 800-1000 baht per day not including gasoline. The price includes first class insurance which covers both parties.When renting a vehicle, be aware that you are liable for all damages to the vehicle, read the fine print. Make sure you car is insured for accidents caused by another party that then flees the scene of the accident. Virtually all of the areas of the island you are likely to visit are accessible with an ordinary 2-wheel drive vehicle.
The ubiquitous longtail boat is found wherever there is water in southern Thailand. The current version with the motor mounted on the back is just the latest modification on this ancient but quite seaworthy craft. Often called the workhorse of the Andaman Sea, longtails are used in to provide a number of marine services. While not as flashy or fast as modern speedboats, a voyage in a longtail boat is an interesting experience and a great way to take short sightseeing trips. The one serious disadvantage of the longtail is the almost complete lack of safety equipment such as lifejackets. Longtails are not advisable while traveling with small children or non-swimmers. Rental prices average 400 baht per hour for a short trip and up to 1000 baht for an entire day.
Provide what has to be the ultimate method for sightseeing and taking photographs of Phuket and the surrounding areas. Helicopter service is provided by two companies Southern Flying Group at Tel: 247-237/9 and Southern Helicopter Service Tel: 216-389. There are no scheduled flights at this time, so you must call and arrange for a charter.
Phuket and Tourism
Phuket Island, off the southwest coast of tropical Thailand, has become one of the world’s most exciting locations for a wonderful holiday. The numerous broad white sand beaches and central mountain range with tropical vegetation have made this island the place discerning sophisticated buyers of luxury homes have chosen as their destination for retirement or vacation.
Much of the charm of the island is its diverse culture. Over the centuries the island has attracted people from many cultures due to its location on the trade routes between India and China. The Portuguese had a substantial settlement on the island in the seventeenth century followed by a large migration of Chinese to work in the tin mines and rubber plantations. This combination of nationalities is responsible for the architecture in temples and shop houses that has become known as Sino-Portuguese.
Tourism was not a local industry until the island was featured in an early James Bond film which showcased the unsurpassed beaches, warm tropical sea and stunning limestone formations that are sprinkled around Phang Nga Bay. The Tourism industry has been affected by the Tsunami, however, recent accounts in the press of charter flights from Europe resuming in the high season, and reports from hotel operators that they are fully booked in the peak of the high season shows a good recovery of tourism on the island.
Thailand is becoming as easy as many other locations in the world. Communications and IT infrastructure in Thailand are among the best in South East Asia. Telephone (both landline and mobile) and Internet access within Thailand is of high quality and very cheap when compared with the same services in neighboring countries.
As with Thailand in general, the business infrastructure in Phuket is very good. Telephone and Internet systems are of high quality and are cost effective, making business easy to conduct from anywhere on the island. Phuket attracts business people who can work from home and stay connected to their offices anywhere in the world. Future plans include turning Phuket into an IT business hub for Central South East Asia.
The island has a rich variety of entertainment options. There is a lot of fun waiting for everyone from the world class Phuket FantaSea theme show to the late night entertainment of Patong, or a romantic moonlight stroll on the beach.
Restaurants featuring Thai and International cuisine as well as international franchise outlets offer inexpensive yet tasty foods. Large shopping centers provide all the foods, books, clothes and movie theaters found in major cities.
Phuket is also a great base for yachting, snorkeling, having an adventure on an elephant or just resting by the seaside. The island is an international playground unmatched in surrounding Southeast Asia.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has recently launched a Long Stay in Thailand campaign, attracting visitors including retirees, pensioners and those traveling to seek medical or health services. For more information visit the TAT website.
Golf in Phuket
Golf in Phuket is very enjoyable. The courses are well kept, the greens and fairways are healthy, the management insists on all players using a caddy, to pull your bag along, repair pitch marks and divots and if you are lucky, to read the occasional put. There a five main golf clubs on Phuket island, some designed by star golfers but all maintained to the highest level and accessible to all levels of player. The most famous is the Blue Canyon Country club near the international airport. Featuring two 18 hole courses, the Canyon course played host to the 1994 Jonnie Walker Classic, attended by many of the worlds top ranked players, including Tiger Woods. Other courses include:
Phuket Country Club
This course is not particularly easy but still very enjoyable. Hills, multiple ponds and lakes and lush green fairways characterize this spectacular course.
Visit Phuket Country Club
Banyan Tree/Laguna Golf Club
Right by the sea, but back-dropped by lush hillside, this flat course is stunningly picturesque and very forgiving. Voted Top Ten for Best Golf Resort in Asia , Best Clubhouse in Asia and Best Golf Courses in Thailand by readers of Asian Golf Monthly magazine, Laguna Phuket Golf Club is an 18-hole, par-71 resort course, designed by Max Wexler and David Abell, which challenges golfing enthusiasts of all abilities.
Visit Banyan Tree/Laguna Golf Club
Blue Canyon Country Club
A championship club with one of the finest club houses in the world. Rated by many as one of the best golf courses in Asia, this course has tested the finest golfers in the world, as it did in 1994 at the Jonnie Walker Classic.
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Thai Muang Beach Golf Club
Set up high with stunning panoramic views of the Andaman Sea and surrounding hillside. The only consequence, the wind, which will undoubtedly have a say in where your shots end up.
Visit Thai Muang Beach Golf Club
Loch Palm Golf Club
This is an 18 holes course par 72, 6,555 yards palm tree-lined beauty, recently completed major re-designs and multi-million dollar upgrades. The course is in great shape. It is a very good layout and one that is beginning to rival some of the best layouts on the island as the refurbishment matures. You are required to put your thinking cap on and keep perfect control of your game on this tightly routed layout.
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What they say about Phuket
Fortune, the top international business magazine, hails Phuket among the top five
"paradise places … where you can still live like a king on what you've saved".
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Allt om Resor , the Swedish Travel Magazine(no.10, 2005), the magazine readers decided in a recently voting that “ Thailand is the best charter destination in the world”.
"My group travel survey names Phuket 'Best travel destination'"
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In a survey conducted by MyGroup Travel, over 190,000 travellers were asked “Did the vacation meet your expectations?” The island resort of Phuket in Thailand was named the best travel destination this summer with a top score of 4,833 out of a scale of 1 to 5. In their responses, the 190,000 travellers awarded Phuket the highest score out of 34 other travel destinations.
Phuket also earned top score when the same respondents were asked whether they would return to the travel destination. Nine out of ten indicated that they would return to Phuket again.
Travellers with the Spies Travel Agency, the Danish travel operator, indicated that they were very satisfied with their holiday in the island resort of Phuket.
Since April 2005, more than 800 Spies travelers have visited the island and their evaluation of the destination is even more positive than before the tsunami hit Thailand.
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