There's a good reason why Phuket is among the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Compared to the urban metropolis that is Bangkok and the party island that is Pattaya, Phuket is undoubtedly one of, if not the country's ultimate paradise. There's just something about this tropical oasis of an island that draws people in and goes beyond the white sands and turquoise seas. Phuket has a certain magic that's all its own, one that resonated with a lot of travelers. Some even go so far as to relocate and start a new life here!
Even though Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand apart from the mainland, it still has a current population of only 449,389 residents. With the population this small, it's easy to think that the place is a tropical rural area with little to no urban areas around it. But that's not true! On the contrary, the city of Phuket is pretty urban on its own, complete with bustling districts and busy areas. Though it's not as developed as, say, Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, it still stands as one of the finest cities in the country.
Since Thailand is a tropical country, it only ever sees two seasons: wet and dry. And its dry season, from November to April, is the best time to go to Phuket. Complete with sunny and hot weather, you don't have to worry about storms and monsoons which are more common around May to October. And because of Thailand's location within Southeast Asia, the storms in Phuket can get pretty dangerous. If you go here during the dry season, however, you get sunshine all day long. Just make sure you can handle it because it can pretty hot here. Especially every April when the average temperature is around 34.0° C (93.2° F).
Phuket is one of Thailand's greatest paradises. Set on an island of its own, it's the archetypal tropical escape that's perfect for any holiday. And what's great about it is that the many neighborhoods in Phuket are just as dreamy! Take Phuket Town, for example, which is the island's capital. The district strikes the right balance between hustle and bustle and idyllic rural charms. Patong, on the other hand, is Phuket's main nightlife hub. During the day, you can rest and relax in your luxury home here, and at night, it's all about letting loose and having fun!
If you thought that the beaches in Phuket are the only worthwhile places to see here, then think again! True, this island's beautiful coastlines and white sandy shorelines are pretty magical, but there's more to Phuket than that! In fact, you can spend an entire day on the island without going to the beach and you still would've done a lot!
You can visit Old Phuket Town, for instance, and bask in its vintage glory. Or you can see the Big Buddha too, towering at 45 meters high! Of course, while you're at it, why not visit the other exciting and beautiful temples in Phuket too? You'll find each one has something unique to offer!
Now, you're probably wondering: “How much does it cost to stay in Phuket?” Well, let's just say that the living costs here aren't cheap. However, it's not as expensive as, say, Bangkok! Let's focus on rent, for instance. The common rental fees in a city are always a good way to see just how expensive it is there. And here in Phuket, the common rental fees here range from a minimum of ฿7,000.00 to a maximum of ฿50,000.00 a month. As for food, you can get by with just ฿2,423.81. That'll last you around one to two weeks tops!
Don't let Phuket's growing international community fool you! The overall culture and social customs here remain as local and as traditional as ever. You'd do well to follow the rules, both legal and social, here on the island. Heaven knows what sort of trouble you might get into if you don't!
For example, greeting people with a Wai goes a long way! It's the small bow with your hands put together. Also, Thai people still hold their royalty in very high regard. You must not, under any circumstance, disrespect their king. In fact, even folding their currency, which bears the image of the monarch, is considered disrespectful and even jail-worthy!
Although paddling a boat out to sea in Phuket seems like the ultimate tropical adventure, know that traveling by sea isn't the only way to get around here! As already mentioned, Phuket is actually a very urban city, so this also means that its public transport isn't lacking in any way. Apart from the aforementioned boats, kayaks, and ferries, you can also take the bus, ride a songthaew, hail a tuk-tuk, or get a cab! Not to mention you can also rely on transportation apps to get you to where you need to be!
Unbeknownst to many, Thailand is actually a top medical tourist destination in the world. So as far as healthcare is concerned in Phuket, you have very little to worry about! In fact, even the island has its own fair share of excellent hospitals and clinics. Bangkok Hospital Phuket, for instance, is known for its world-class heart center. While Dibuk Hospital has the best emergency care department around! All you need to worry about is whether you're insured or not! Legal residents of Thailand can get into the country's healthcare system while tourists visiting Phuket can only rely on private insurance.
Did you know that Phuket has its own local cuisine? There are certain dishes and delicacies that you can only find here on the island. As well as certain Thai food staples that Phuket prepares in such uniquely delectable ways. Going on a foodie trip here, especially with its many exciting hotspots, would totally be memorable!
If your taste buds are up for it, try the spicy and sour Tom Yum Goong dish! It's one that will certainly leave a lasting impression upon the first bite! Gaeng Keow Wan Gai, on the other hand, is a Thai food staple that makes use of all of Phuket's indelible local flavors. It's certainly a must-try!
If your trip falls on a Thai national holiday, it can make all the difference. The vibe and the energy of the island depend on what holiday the country is celebrating now. For instance, if it's the world-famous Songkran Festival (April 13 - 15), you can expect a huge party to be in full swing. People would be shooting water guns at each other while others will resort to throwing water balloons. Meanwhile, if it's Magha Puja (Every February) or the Chakri Memorial Day (April 6), you can expect a more solemn and quieter Phuket island.
Phuket is such a great destination that more and more people are choosing to relocate here. They don't even consider other places in Thailand like Bangkok, Koh Samui, or Pattaya anymore. There are those that have fallen head over heels for the island that they chose to call their new home.
However, as dreamy of a prospect as this may seem, reality will tell you that it's no easy feat. To be able to truly start a new life in Phuket, you'll need to learn a lot of new things, not to mention adjust to the way of life here. Perhaps, this relocation guide can show you the ropes!