Phuket, Thailand - Stein Travel
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Phuket

In the Andaman Sea off Thailand's west coast, the holiday hub of Phuket, or the 'Pearl of the South' as it has become known, is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin Bridge. Thailand's largest island, Phuket is incredibly diverse with rocky and sandy beaches, tall cliffs, forests, waterfalls and temples.

Phuket caters to all, with a variety of holiday resorts offering accommodation from backpackers and simple guesthouses to modern luxury hotels, though the beachfront bungalows on unspoilt stretches of white sand are rarer now than they used to be. There are numerous activities in or near Phuket to enjoy on holiday, including mountain biking, bungy jumping and golf. It is even possible to go elephant trekking. A variety of tours offer day trips to the cliffs of nearby Phang Nga Bay, Koh Phi Phi, and the beaches and islands around Krabi. There is plenty to do on the island, whatever your budget, and several offshore islands are good for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Phuket has a huge variety of goods and shopping establishments, from markets and street stalls to department stores and specialist shops, and a range of restaurants from Thai seafood to Indian and Western cuisine. Phuket also has its own airport, making it easy to get to and from Bangkok, and although the island hosts thousands of tourists in peak season, its sheer size allows visitors to escape from the madding crowds. Patong Beach is the island's most famous and developed beach resort, offering a wide choice of holiday activities, dining options and nightlife. It is situated nine miles (15km) from Phuket City.

Information & Facts

Language

Thai is the official language, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

Money

The unit of currency is the Baht (THB), which is divided into 100 satang. Currency can be exchanged at the airport, banks, hotels and bureaux de change. Banks are open Monday to Friday. ATMs are available in most cities and tourist resorts. Most large hotels and shops accept travellers cheques, but a better rate will be given at banks. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels and larger businesses.

Night Life

Patong Beach is known for its pulsing nightlife, reigning supreme on Phuket island. The hub of the action is along Bangla Road where hundreds of go-go bars, girlie bars, pubs and nightclubs and discos pump out loud music and provide all manner of night time entertainment. At the top end of Bangla Road are several side-by-side establishments to party into the early hours. Paradise Complex is Patong's gay area, with more than 50 bars, karaokes, restaurants and discos.

In Patong you'll find the famous 'ladyboys' (or katoeys) of Thailand, transvestites that are often more feminine, slimmer, and sexier than Thai women. While katoeys working in bars are notoriously friendly, remember that they are working and will expect drinks, gifts, and/or money for their time.

If the seedy clubbing scene isn't what you're looking for, many hotels in Phuket stage Thai dance shows. Sphinx stages cabaret dinner shows, and Simon Cabaret does the same in drag. The Phuket Fantasea is even more of a spectacle, with trapeze artists, pyrotechnics, and elephants parading around the stage. Many restaurants and markets also stay open until 11pm, enhancing the festive atmosphere.

Time

GMT +7.

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