It is OK here - come. I was here Jan. 1 thru Jan. 15th 2005 and everyday you could see a difference (visitng friends who live there).
The Thai people are working incredibly hard and it shows. The recovery is unpresidented and fast. Kata and Karon were not as affected and everything is OPEN. Beach Road in Patong (Road that parallels the Beach) is basicly the only part affected (about the 1st block moving inland). However they are making such a fast recovery, here it is only 1 week after the Tsunami, 85% of the Hotels are up and running, there are shops and resturants open. It is amazing. There are even a lot of tourists still here. Updates are posted daily on www.phuket.com if you want to see pictures.
Fondest memory: The Weather.
Fondest memory: We arrived late at night, about 7pm. We took an airport transfer bus direct to our hotel in Kata. Well, actually, not direct, because they have to drop other passengers in other hotels, and also dropped by a travel agency, trying to sell us package. It took us about 1.5 hours to arrive at Kata Beach Resort.
Phuket is really an island of contrasts: some wonderful natural beauty especially the beaches but the heavy tourist areas such as Patong are not for everybody. Those areas are certainly not a genuine Thai cultural experience, they are overcrowded, and they are seedy, but many people flock there year after year so it must have wide appeal. I stayed in Kata Beach away from most of the hordes and enjoyed it. My view is that you should include Phuket and make your own assessment on it. If you are going on tours such as Phi Phi Island try to get information on when most of the tourist boats go there and avoid those times: it is hell!
Fondest memory: White sand, clear water, palm trees.
My favorite thing about getting around in Phkuet is that you can choose from dozens of little travel agencies for the best deal on tours. Dont stop at the first one. Hagle the price. Get the best deal of all. Its fun.
Fondest memory: Going to Coral Island with my girlfriend, after hiring the trip from a local fisherman at Rawai Beach.
Fondest memory: Kata Beach is great for couples. Many restaurants, diving operators, shops etc. This hotel have a kind of village feel which is great. Kata Beach also provides a lot of trees which can be very comforting when the midday sun is burning your socks out.
Winner of 'Best Attraction Award' by Thailand Tourism, Fantasea , the ultimate night time cultural theme park set on 140 acres next to Kamala Beach. It is not only showcases the charm and beauty of Thailand, but also enriches ancient Thai traditions with the wonder of cutting edge technology and special effects. (Official website)
Fondest memory: A must visit is the magnificent Palace of Elephant, a state-of-the-art theater with wonderful acoustics. Inside the palace, 'Fantasy of a Kingdom Show' is performed every day at 7 pm, whisking you through the Kingdom's region. Reservation recommended.
My first instinct was to change into a pair of beach shorts..and hit-you guessed it,the beach! Walking down the main Patong Road from the Holiday Inn(where we were at) to Soi Bangla,HAS to be just about the most entertaining experience ever! From Hindi songs (being sung to me-the Indian!) and souvenirs, to tuktuks, the sunset,the alternating Thai and Modjo music, streetside bars and tempting discounts..Patong Beach Road has it all!!
Fondest memory: Walking the longg beach stretch-getting my hair braided, and my navel tattoed, and my nails painted, the delicious barbequed wares and sub sandwiches,cold beers and water sports, live music and tantalising thai food!
Fondest memory: The Kata Beach Resort, Phuket is located directly on Kata beach and within walking distance to a variety of shops and restaurants. The large swimming pool has a jacuzzi and swim-up bar overlooking the sandy beach. All rooms are decorated in a modern Thai style with high levels of facilities and services. Ideal resort for those seeking rest and relaxation.
Sodium Sand Scrub. It helps to remove dead skin.
Fondest memory: Phuket has a two season sub-tropical climate. The rainy (low) season runs from April to November and the hot (high) season from December to March. Average daytime temperatures rarely move outside the 36º Celsius range.
Fondest memory: Phuket Island is Thailand's largest island and one of the popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia. It is also the wealthiest province in Thailand. With its spectacular beaches, clear blue waters, picturesque landscape, historical and culture sights as well as entertaining amenities.
Patong is rebuilt-and is nicer than before
Post tsunami finds Patong rebuilt - better and nicer than before.
You'll find live bands playing at some up-market night spots-something that was not available before the tsunami. More and more modern shops are coming up, and international brands have made their way to Patong, in some ways, crowding out the older tailor shops and smaller street stalls. Foreign workers from nearby Laos and Cambodia, even Sri Lanka are manning the clothing stalls-this is a sign of Phuket's prosperity.
Streets & pavements Walking is more of a pleasure with the tilling up of pavements. Pavements are more even & the long stretch beach front from Kalim beach to South Patong beach has been cleaned up.
Fondest memory: Old & New Phuket
I miss the old, more quiet Phuket, before the rebuilding took place. Yes, it was more disorganised and disorderly, but that was what made it special & quaint.
I have been visiting Phuket for more than 10 years now and the growth in the past few years has been at a tremendous pace. Certainly , it was laid back and the pace was slower, and people were friendlier. Now, there are not as many smiles, and shop keepers are barely interested to even call you into their stores.
Still, the new revived Phuket is endearing in its own way. It is alive, there is a buzz, and people actually live here all year round. It used to be that during the low season of April to October, the town would be practically devoid of people and quite dead because without the tourists, there weren't that many locals living here. Now, even during the low season, Phuket manages to attract some Asian tourists and a sprinkling of Australians and the odd British or two, or three.
The Europeans start to flood in around late November to January and the high season lasts till March/April.
I visit Phuket for three weeks in June 2009 and had a wonderful time.
In terms of food, look for the Red Onion Restaurant in Karon Beach (approx 4 km South of Patong) It is REALLY worth it!! A very decent local meal cost under Bt 300 with soda drinks. When I visit there in June 2009 and it was still very cheap compared to any place else. The only places that are expensive (especially restaurants)are places that cater specifically for Americans that refuse to leave their comfort zone.
Rent a Motor scooter and do not use the Taxis OR Tuk-Tuks unless very necessary (they are expensive!!) Towns are very close to each other and scooter hire should be no more that Bt 300 per day. Haggle! The longer you rent the scooter, the cheaper the rate per day. It is fun, you see a lot more and it helps you to cool down. A serious tip though: Wear the helmet. All the locals ride scooters without helmets and the authorities are in the process of enforcing a campaign to make the wearing of helmets compulsory. The police now target tourists and a Bt 300-500 spot fine is issued. I was caught not wearing my helmet. They also confiscate your driver's license till proof of payment at the police station (usually only a block away) is produced.
Worthwhile excursions are the day trips to Phi Phi island (from the movie The Beach and the James Bond Island). A good place to start looking for prices is in Karon Beach. There is a travel kiosk in front of the market. Ask for "Eddie" to give you the best deal. It is usually half the price advertised in the brochures.
Favorite thing: When in Phuket, enjoy a Thai massage. For 200 baht, it can't be beat... (I had one each and every day I was there...)