Phuket is everyone’s idea of a a holiday destination. The capital town on an island province of the same name, it sits right in the middle of the island which in turn is nestled in the Andaman Sea to the south of the country. It is though, the island that gets more prominence than the town itself. When people refer to Phuket, they are talking about the island. The main island of Phuket is the biggest of all Thailand’s islands, though the province encompasses 32 other smaller islands.
The island is connected to the mainland by a road bridge. In days of old it earned its keep from tin mining and rubber plantations, but nowadays tourism has massively overtaken this. The name, amusingly mispronounced by Westerners, derives from a Malayan word for hill. It is about 500 miles south of the capital Bangkok.
Phuket was of course terribly affected by the Tsunami that hit the entire region on Boxing Day 2004. Many deaths were reported on the island and many more went unreported as up to a thousand unregistered Burmese workers were employed building the new beach resorts in the Khao Lak area.
Forests and plantations cover about 60% of the island, in the form of rubber and palm oil. The majority of the tourist industry is centred around the west coast where the best beaches are to be found. It is here that the tourist hot spot Patong Beach is found. Ironically the word Patong means “the forest filled with banana leaves”. It has been a long time since that fitted.
There are, though, many amazing places to find on the island. It is certainly worth hiring a motorbike, driving carefully and finding what is left of the old town the centre os the island.