Known as the ‘Pearl of Thailand’ (because of its shape) the island is 21 kilometers at its widest point and 48 kilometers long. Its footprint is so vast that it is the only island in Thailand to have been given its own provincial status. It covers a total land area of around 550 square kilometers, making it about the same physical size as the Asian country of Singapore.
Back in the mid-16th century, and way before any influx of tourism, the province was most heavily focused on tin production. It became so prosperous in that era that it was one of the first places in all of Thailand to develop paved roads and being to have cars in around 1910.
Nowadays, the island is a tourist paradise with outstanding national parks, long sandy beaches, snorkeling, diving, boating, sailing, and various other modern water sports and outdoor activities. Not to mention its many five star hotels, restaurants, and relaxing spas.
Some of Phuket’s original coconut groves and rubber plantations though can still be seen dotted around the island and, once away from the more developed coastal areas, the island still has lots of other natural beauty.
Also of interest is the old Phuket Town, which is located at the center of the island and was the original center of commerce on the island before it became a tourist destination. Personally, I really enjoy what old Phuket town has to offer. Many great little markets, cafes, and restaurants like in other parts of Thailand. I particularly like what is known as the old Portuguese quarter where all the old buildings are fashioned in early 1900 Portuguese style architecture. The area has quite a charm to it and remodeling of any of the exterior architecture of the buildings is strictly permitted as the area is now classified as a national cultural preservation area.
One of the most popular places to watch the island’s beautiful sunsets is a coastal vantage point called Phrom Thep Cape, which is a rocky piece of headland than juts out into the sea at the far south west edge of the island. Over the years it has become one of the island’s best-known locations upon a hill at the southernmost tip of the island.
Phrom Thep also has a lighthouse that contains historical maritime relics and offers great views over the east and southeast of the island. From that vantage point you can also see the shapes of the Phi Phi Islands, Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi in the distance. Next to the lighthouse is also a Buddhist shrine surrounded by hundreds of elephants statues and carvings in all sizes and colors.
All in all, a visit to Phuket is nothing short of spectacular!