Many of those who go to Phuket island in Thailand are there for a holiday, but Phuket is becoming increasingly popular as a place to buy a vacation home or even to settle down as a permanent resident.
For anyone whose job allows them to work remotely, Phuket is an attractive proposition. In fact, the island has become an extremely popular home for IT professionals, who only need a laptop and an internet connection to get on with their work. Thailand is welcoming to foreigners, and visas are relatively easy to obtain, especially for those who are able to demonstrate a source of income.
With its warm climate and stunning beaches, it is like a little slice of heaven for any Americans or Europeans who are accustomed to suffering icy cold winters at home.
But what else makes Phuket so special?
The Land of Smiles
Thailand is called The Land of Smiles, and you literally see that on the faces of the Thai people. They have a deserved reputation for being very polite and courteous, and they are always smiling. They are also extremely welcoming to foreigners, no matter where you are from.
The Thais place a great deal of emphasis on hospitality and take enormous pride in the quality of service they provide. This is not just a simple requirement of their job, as it would be with an overly polite American server trying to earn a better tip. Instead, it is engrained within their culture, which is why the Thai people are so easy to get along with.
Thai food, with its distinctive flavors and exotic fragrances, is famous around the world. Compared with other Asian food Thai cuisine is unique, and in Phuket some “national” dishes can even have a distinct regional style, which makes them different to the same dish elsewhere in Thailand.
Most people are familiar with popular dishes such as Tom Yum Goong (a spicy prawn soup), Pad Thai (a tasty noodle dish), or Som Tam (shredded green papaya salad).
With many dishes, it obviously helps if you like chilies and garlic in your food, but most menus are so diverse that you will always find something for everyone.
From green (or red) curries and an array of healthy (but spicy) salads to rice and noodle dishes, soups, stir-fries and a delectable assortment of desserts, everyone will find their favorite (or new favorite) dish in Thailand.
International Dining – Home Away From Home
Just because you are in Thailand, it doesn’t mean your only choice is Thai food. Phuket also has an abundance of international restaurants catering to all tastes. In fact, it is hard to find a country whose cuisine is not represented in Phuket.
While international restaurants are found all over the island, you will find more the closer you get to the west coast beaches and major tourist areas.
Shopping in Phuket – Also a Bit Like Home
Not only can you dine out on all the food you miss from home, but the supermarkets are generally stocked full of products (and even brands) that you may not expect to find in Southeast Asia.
Retail shopping in Phuket is can also be considered world-class. The island now has two amazing shopping malls, Jung Ceylon and Central Festival and Floresta. From the high street to the high end you can find virtually any clothing, cosmetic or accessories that you need.
But if you don’t like modern, and if you haven’t come to Thailand to buy the same products you can get at home, there are also a number of smaller local retail malls featuring Thai products and local designs.
Phuket also has a number of traditional markets, where you can buy clothes, local handicrafts, and of course food. These are always entertaining, and the street food stalls offer up a variety and quality of the food which may surprise you.
Places to Stay – Hotels, Condos, and Villas
Accommodation in Phuket is second to none. For holidaymakers, Phuket has fabulous choices to fit anyone’s specific taste and budget.
These range from 5-star resorts run by some of the world’s most celebrated hotel chains to private villas and luxury condominiums to boutique hotels and budget accommodation. When it comes to accommodation, Phuket can definitely accommodate you!
For those seeking a more permanent home, Phuket has a great rental market with a huge array of condos and villas to choose from if renting for the long term.
A Buoyant Property Market
If you want to put down roots in Phuket, then you may also consider buying property in Phuket. Many people who come to the island decide to purchase condos or villas, either to live in or as an investment property. Because of the ever-increasing tourist numbers, it is a great place to achieve consistent returns on rentals to holidaymakers.
The real estate market has remained extremely buoyant for many years and is expected to continue its steady growth in the years ahead.
If you like to get out for a little fun every now and then, Patong is probably the place to go.
This is where you will find the most vibrant nightlife on the island, especially on the infamous Bangla Road. Bangla comes alive every evening, with locals and tourists of all ages having a great time and enjoying the atmosphere. The Go-Go bars here are famous, but there are also nightclubs, bars, Irish pubs, and restaurants.
But that is not to say that Patong is the only place in Phuket where you can have some fun. There are dozens of smaller pockets of nightlife dotted around the island, mostly in other tourist areas.
Even if you live in Phuket, you will still want to get out every now and then to do some sightseeing. There is so much to do and see in Phuket, and new attractions are opening up all the time.
The array of attractions in Phuket range from beautiful viewpoints and jungle walks to water parks and all manner of entertainment.
The Big Buddha overlooking Chalong is one of the must-see sights in Phuket. The statue itself is 45m high and is the centerpiece of a fully functioning Thai Buddhist temple. The entire ambiance – the grandeur of the Buddha statue, the peace and tranquility of the temple, and the views across Chalong Bay – are better experienced than described.
Another popular attraction is the Phuket FantaSea. This Thai cultural theme park offers numerous attractions and live shows, and is extremely popular with tourists.
If you have kids then a day out at either Splash Jungle Water Park in Mai Khao or the new Blue Tree Water Park in Cherng Talay is great fun. Both have rides (and of course slides), and even the adults have been known to join in the fun!
Scuba Diving in Phuket
If you are a diver then you will love Phuket. Phuket is gaining a reputation as a top diving center, and there are a number of PADI-certified dive operators on the island who can cater to any skill level. Whether you are a complete beginner or have advanced certification, their excursions and/or training can be tailored accordingly.
Discovering Other Provinces Around Phuket
Phuket is surrounded by dozens of smaller islands that are just waiting to be explored. Probably one of the most famous is James Bond Island at Phang Nga, so-called because as it was featured in the film The Man with the Golden Gun. It is unmistakable in appearance and there are plenty of boat excursions you can take to Khao Phing Kan (to use its proper name).
The islands can also be reached by speedboat, and many of these islands (and their surrounding seas) are known for their abundance of marine wildlife. Fishing, diving and snorkeling tours can be arranged for either an individual or a group.
Krabi Province is only a couple of hours away by car (or by ferry across the same bay). Krabi has a more laid-back vibe than Phuket and is great for a day trip or weekend. You can enjoy the beach, the waterfalls and jungle walks, or just kick back and enjoy the views of the bay.
Whatever your passion or pleasure, Phuket has something for everyone. Whether you want to indulge in water sports, take in an island tour or simply relax on one of Phuket’s breathtaking beaches, Phuket is ready to be explored. And with its tourist-friendly weather and climate, Phuket is accessible all year round.