Phuket has two main seasons: the dry season, from November to May,
and the wet season, from May to November. During the dry season, the monsoon
winds are from the northeast and are blocked by the mainland, giving us
clear skies and calm seas. This is when most tourists come and hotel rates
are highest. The busiest months are December and January. During the wet
season, the monsoon winds are from the southwest, meaning that they bring
choppy sea conditions and leave the west-facing beaches subject to surf and
dangerous rip currents. However, prices for accommodations are lower, and
there are fewer crowds.
Most people fly. There are frequent daily shuttle flights between
Bangkok and Phuket and direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul,
Singapore, and Sydney. It is also possible to come over land, by bus, but
the journey is long (12 hours from Bangkok) and tedious.
The citizens of most western countries enjoy visa waivers, so that when
you fly in you are automatically granted a 30-day visitor’s visa. For longer
stays or for citizens of countries not on the waiver list, it’s necessary to
contact the nearest Thai embassy to get a visa before traveling. For details,
Thailand Immigration website.
Phuket is not within a malaria-risk area, so if you are
coming only to the island, you will not need to take any preventative
measures. For specific information, see the
CDC website for travel to Thailand.
Phuket is relatively safe. Violent crimes against foreign
visitors are rare. You should follow normal safety precautions as you would
at home. One of the biggest risks to visitors is motor vehicle accidents,
particularly motorbike crashes. We do not recommend renting a motorbike
unless you are an experienced rider. (This is no place to learn.) Women
should take care not to be found alone in dark, isolated areas, particularly
if they have been drinking.
Credit cards are widely accepted, but be aware that this
is a region of widespread credit card fraud. Confine your credit card
purchases to major expenses such as hotel bills, dive trips, and the like.
The easiest way to get cash is to use an ATM card. Bring more than one ATM
account card if you can, in case you have a problem with one of them. Also
there are usually daily withdrawal limits, and you may want more cash than
you can get from one card. You can also bring travelers’ cheques, but they
are sometimes hard to cash.
If you are doing daytrip diving, it’s usually most
convenient to stay in the southern end of the island. Dive operations offer
pickup service from the major resort areas.
Metered taxis are available at the airport. Just exit the
building, turn right, and walk to the end of the walkway. There you will
find a taxi kiosk. You can expect to pay around USD $20-25 for a ride to
the main west coast beach towns. Limo services are also available at the
airport, but these are somewhat more expensive. Hotels generally offer
airport transfers as well. If you request this service, a driver will be at
the airport with your name on a card. Prices vary from one hotel to the next.
Renting a fully-insured car is one inexpensive option,
if you’d like the freedom to explore. If you just want an occasional ride,
hop in a tuk tuk (a tiny, open-sided truck). These tend to be quite
expensive given the distance traveled, so make sure to check the rate sheet
that should be posted at area where the tuk tuk drivers line up to wait for
You will have no trouble finding food that appeals to you.
Thai food is delicious, but if you find it too highly spiced, just ask for a
mild version and the chef will provide it. If you prefer food from other
countries, there are countless options from all over the world, including
Indian, Western, Chinese, Japanese, etc.
The voltage is 220-240, at 50 cycles.
Standard plugs are the two flat parallel prong type.
Most outlets also have a slot for a round ground pin.
It is excellent. Phuket has two world-class international
hospitals. For minor issues, there are clinics with English-speaking doctors
in all main tourist areas.
Routine tipping, such as at restaurants and for taxis,
is not practiced. At a restaurant, simply round up the bill and leave the
change. For special services, a tip is appropriate and appreciated.
All sorts of things! You can take in the nightlife in
Patong; go shopping at the tourist markets, visit the pewter factory or a
jewelry workshop; you can go hiking in a national park and visit the gibbons
at their sanctuary; you can spend a day at a spa; you can go sea kayaking or
on a cruise around the nearby islands; you can take a walking tour of Old
Phuket; you can rent a car and drive around to see the sights… the
possibilities are countless. In addition, at certain times of year, such as
Chinese New Year, Songkran (Thai New Year), and during the Vegetarian
Festival, there are special events on the island. For details of what’s
going on on the island when you plan to be here, check the
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) website.