Known as the Pearl of the Andaman, it derived much of its former glory and its enormous wealth from tin production, which in Phuket dates back over 500 year. Today, Phuket is the major tourist attraction of Thailand with hotels of all price ranges.
The surrounding waters contain much varied marine life, and the town is notable for its Sino-Portuguese architecture. It is a very attractive island for sightseeing, with lovely seashores and forested hillsides. Its population of 1.6 million people ranks sixth among all provinces. Approximately 1.75 million Rai of the area is forest land. The main occupation here is rice farming. The average per capita income is 14,343 Baht.
About 70 percent of Phuket is mountainous; a western range runs from north to south from which smaller branches derive. The highest peak is Mai Tha Sip Song, or Twelve Canes, at 529 meters, which lies within the boundaries of Tambon Patong, Kathu District. The remaining 30 percent of the island, mainly in the center and south, is formed by low plains. Streams include the Khlong Bang Yai, Tha Jin, Khlong Tha Rua, and Khlong Bang Rong, none of which is large.
Since the early 1980's the tourist business has been Phuket's chief source of income. Hotels, restaurants, tour companies, and souvenir shops are much in evidence on the west coast. However, while once all-importance tin mining has ceased, tourism is by no means the island's only activity. Agriculture remains important to a large number of people, and covers by far the most part of the island. Principal crops are rubber, coconuts, cashews, and pineapples.
Prawn farming has largely taken over the east and south coasts. Pearl farming is also important. Phuket's fishing port is at all time filled, and processing of marine products, mainly fish, makes a significant contribution to the economy. With so many healthy industries supplying income, construction has become a major factor in employment. This range from massive public works projects, large office buildings and hotels, and housing estates with hundreds of units, down to single family homes, apartments and additions.
Official population as of December, 1998, was 231,206. This figure numbers those who are registered as living in Phuket. Phuket' s attraction as a center of economic activity has resulted in many living on the island whose registration is elsewhere. The total population of Phuket varies considerably depending on the time of year, through it is never less than the figure given above.
The island is divided into three districts, Thalang in the north, Kathu in the west, and Muang in the south. Thailand's system of government relies upon a strong central authority, thus the Provincial Governor is a civil servant appointed by the Interior Ministry in Bangkok, as are the Nai Amphoe, or District Chief. The cities of Phuket and Patong have their own city governments, with elected city councils, the leading members of which serve as mayor. There are also elected provincial, district, and sub-district, or Tambon councils. The local constabulary is part of the Interior Ministry.
Phuket's weather conditions are dominated by monsoon winds that blow year round. It is therefore always warm and humid. There are two distinct seasons, rainy and dry. The rainy season begins in May and lasts till October, during which the monsoon blows from the southwest. The dry season is from November through April, when the monsoon comes from the northeast. Highest average temperatures, at 33.4 degree Celsius, prevail during March. Lowest averages occur in January, when nightly lows dip to 22 degree Celsius.
Phuket Island has a long recorded history, and remains dating back to A.D. 1025 indicate that the island's present day name derives in meaning from the Tamil manikram, or crystal mountain.
For most of history, however, it was known as Junk Ceylon, which, with variations, is the name found on old maps. The name is thought to have its roots in Ptolemy's Geographica, written by the Alexandrian geographer in the Third Century A.D. He mentioned that in making a trip from Souwannapum to the Malay Peninsula it was necessary to pass the cape of Jang Si Lang.
Phuket was a way station on the route between India and China where seafarers stopped to shelter. The island appears to have been part of the Shivite empire (called in Thai the Tam Porn Ling) that established itself on the Malay Peninsula during the first Millennium A.D. Later, as Muang Takua-Talang, it was part of the Srivichai and Siri Tahm empires. Governed as the eleventh in a constellation of twelve cities, Phuket's emblem, by which it was known to others in those largely pre-literate times, was the dog.
During the Sukothai Period Phuket was associated with Takua Pa in what is now Phang-nga Province, another area with vast tin reserves. The Dutch established a trading post during the Ayutthaya Period in the 16th Cent. The island's northern and central regions then were governed by the Thais, and the southern and western parts were given over to the tin trade, a concession in the hands of foreigners.
After Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese in 1767 there was a short interregnum in Thailand, ended by King Taksin, who drove out the Burmese and re-unified the country. The Burmese, however, were anxious to return to the offensive. They outfitted a fleet to raid the southern provinces, and carry off the populations to slavery in Burma.
This led to Phuket's most memorable historic event. A passing sea captain, Francis Light, sent word that the Burmese were en route to attack. Forces in Phuket were assembled led by the two heroines, Kunying Jan, wife of Phuket's recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook, After a month's siege the Burmese were forced to depart on 13 March, 1785. Kunying Jan and her sister were credited with the successful defense.
In recognition King Rama I bestowed upon Kunying Jan the honorific Thao Thep Kasatri, a title of nobility usually reserved for royalty, by which she is known today. Her sister became Thao Sri Sunthon.
During the Nineteenth Century Chinese immigrants arrived in such numbers to work for the tin mines that the ethnic character of the island's interior became predominantly Chinese, while the coastal settlements remained populated chiefly by Muslim fishermen.
In Rama V's reign, Phuket became the administrative center of a group of tin mining provinces called Monton Phuket, and in 1933, with the change in government from absolute monarchy to a parliamentary system, the island was established as a province by itself.
Radio, Television, Newspapers and Communications
Phuket is served by the full complement of Thai television channels and has seven radio stations. Several of these have English language broadcasts.
The Public Telecommunications Office of Phuket is on Phang-nga Rd., in Phuket Town. Operated by the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), direct dial and operator assisted calls can be made from there, and collect or reverse change calls when the need arises. Tel. (076) 216861.
Phuket is the center the scuba diving business. Popular locations for diving include Similan, Surin and Phi Phi islands. Instruction and equipment are available at the main beaches, with teachers of various nationalities. Beginner courses are inexpensive, so if you have never learned to scuba dive, Phuket is a great place to learn it.
The bays in Phuket contain many interesting coral reefs. Equipment can be rented from dive shops around the island. Easily accessible reefs are at Patong, Kata and Kamala beaches.
Swimming at some beaches during the monsoon season is not recommended. Look for posted signs and flags indicating conditions for safe swimming ; if the red flag is flying, do not go swimming in the ocean!
Most classes of boats - from kayaks to yachts are available for rent. Sailing trips are available for half-day, day and overnight trips as well as sunset cruises. Sailing courses for beginners and intermediate are offered by several sailing schools.
Deep Sea Fishing : Sea Canoeing
Many travel agents operate deep sea fishing tours with well equipped fishing boats. Consult a tour agent for details.
Touring the limestone caverns in Phang Nga Bay is an unforgettable experience. Inflatable canoes squeeze into the inner sea of the island. Day and Multi-Day tours are available. Tour packages include all transportation and lunch.
Phuket has top golf courses with service that makes it a worldwide center for golf lovers.
It 's easier than it looks. Anyone can enjoy himself on a mountain bike, which has gearing sufficient to take the mightiest incline.
Herbal Saunas and Thai Massage
are available in a variety of price ranges and levels of expertise. Spa packages are available at Karon Villa, Banyan Tree and Evason Phuket & Six Senses Spa
Thai Boxing : Thai Boxing
"Muay Thai" as it is called in Thai, strikes blows at and with every part of the body. The stadium is located at Saphan Hin in Phuket Town and bouts are held Friday nights.
Take aim with guns from small caliber to big bore and shot guns
Phuket Shooting Range at Chalong,
Paintball Play at war with guns that shoot paint instead of lead. Loads of fun.
Top Gun at Chalong,
Jump from the top of a 53 m crane toward a pond while connected to a long elastic bungee cord; very exhilarating. Note : This is not recommended for the aged, the infirm, or those with chronic heart problem. Located over the hill northeast of Patong at 61/3 Moo 6 on the road to Phuket Town.
Phuket Water Ski Cableways
An inland water skiing course on a man–made lake. Skiers are pulled round the oval track at speeds of up to 30 kph by overhead cables. Instruction is free for beginners. Located over the hill northeast of Patong.
Published At : http://phuket.sawadee.com/general.htm