Phuket is so rich in history and cultural diversity that it can be many different things to many different people. You can be a backpacker on a tight budget and still enjoy great food and affordable accommodation and activities, or you could be a well-heeled traveller looking for the most glamorous five-star resorts and spas in South-East Asia. Whatever kind of trip you crave, Phuket will promise you a whale of a time.
After decades of mass tourism with areas like Bangla Road in Patong that veered towards low-end girly bars, conserving the island’s colourful history and heritage is now high on the agenda. Many of the old townhouses and impressive Sino-Portuguese architecture are being conserved and transformed into hip cafes, sophisticated galleries and culture vulture hangouts.
And then there are the beaches. Like everything in Phuket, there is a wealth of choice. You can opt for laid back, rustic and remote on a nearby island like Kata Noi, or choose a cosmopolitan resort with cocktails and celebrity chefs.
The biggest and most bustling island in Thailand, Phuket has something for everyone. The best bet is to hail a songthaew (four-wheeled tuk tuk taxi) and explore!