Phuket’s considerable size and indented shoreline comprises some thirty strands, many unspoilt and a far cry from the neon-lit sands of Patong. The west coast dishes out spectacular sunsets and the likes of Bang Tao, a four-mile arc of silky sands, and the celebrity-roamed beaches of Surin and Pansea, trimmed with coconut palms. Another gem is Freedom Beach, a little harder to reach but well worth the effort for its white sands and lush jungle. Meanwhile, striking Mai Khao showcases virtually seven miles of crunchy, golden shores just made for beachcombing. Other notable beaches include Nai Thon, Kata, Karon, Kamala and Nai Harn in the south of Phuket, yachts bobbing in the bay.
Phuket is a famed diving centre, offering gin-clear seas, healthy reefs, a profusion of marine-life and sites for all levels. The best spots are found off smaller, neighbouring islands, though Phuket’s west coast itself offers some alluring shallows; Kata, Freedom Beach and Bang Tao are just a few of these spots. Highly recommended sites further afield - though easily reached by scenic boat trip - include Anemone Reef and Shark Reef (where meek leopard sharks swim in large numbers), King Cruiser Wreck, Koh Dok Mai’s superb wall dive, the famous Phi Phi Islands, and Richelieu Rock in the Surin Islands National Park, considered Thailand’s top diving site.
Phuket is dotted with beautifully decorated Buddhist temples (known as wats) and sacred Chinese shrines. The famed Big Buddha is an island landmark, clearly visible for miles around from its hilltop location between Kata and Chalong. Get up close to this colossal monument and enjoy sweeping, stunning panoramic views across the island. Wat Chalong is another mesmerizing temple, featuring pagodas and intricate décor with countless reflections radiating from hundreds of pieces of tiny glass. In Phuket Town stands the large, golden sitting Buddha at Wat Khao Rang, as well as the Chinese Jui Tui Shrine, one of the most revered centres in Phuket.
Phuket’s nightlife offers everything from showy go-go bars and street performers, to thatched beer shacks and glamorous beach clubs. Patong has gained a somewhat notorious reputation and is an epicentre of revelry – most visitors are intrigued to catch a glimpse of this thriving party zone, packed with every kind of bar, nightclub and show imaginable. Perhaps the biggest and most extravagant stage show is Phuket FantaSea, showcasing an exotic storyline that blends fantasy with tradition, acted out by a cast of hundreds, performing elephants and jaw-dropping acrobatics. Another popular venue is Siam Niramit, a visually spectacular enactment combining songs, dances and martial arts.
British Airways and Thai Airways from London Heathrow to Bangkok. Etihad Airways from London Heathrow and Manchester (via Abu Dhabi). Flights with Emirates (via Dubai) from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow are also available. Onward connections from Bangkok to Phuket are available.
London Heathrow to Bangkok, 11 hours 15 minutes.
Onward connecting flight from Bangkok to Phuket City: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.