An Island called Phuket
Phuket Island lies off the southwest coast of Thailand. Voted the most popular resort island in Southeast Asia by Travel & Leisure and many other travel magazine readers, Phuket boasts numerous pristine sandy beaches, and a hilly interior covered in rich tropical vegetation, rubber and fruit plantations, and rice farms.
The island is blessed by a dream climate with temperatures averaging about 27 degrees Centigrade. It is a large island - comparable to Singapore - measuring in at about 550 square kilometres in size. It is connected to the mainland by two bridges at its northern tip.
The province to the north of Phuket is Phang Nga; and across Phang Nga Bay to the East is Krabi. Phuket is well known for the high standards of its resort hotels as well as its spectacular range of restaurants, shops, sports activities and rollicking nightlife. Seven golf courses, including the challenging Blue Canyon course where the Johnny Walker Classic has been played, and three full-service marinas can be found on the island.
Offshore are many highly rated dive locations, and some of the world's most scenic and idyllic sailing waters. More recently Phuket has become a favoured spot for vacation and retirement homes with many exciting developments all over the island. These range from expansive, luxury villas in private estates for the world's jet setters to more modest but comfortable housing sub-divisions and condominiums.
With frequent direct international air connections, Phuket is also attracting more multinational companies and professionals who find the environment conducive to doing business. An excellent communications network allows them to keep in touch with their overseas contacts as one would expect of any first-class location.
The island is being promoted as a new IT community by the Thai government, which will attract inward investment and improve local technology infrastructure even further. Several international schools, such as BIS College, and several first class hospitals have been opened to cater the needs of this growing international, residential market.
Bangkok is approximately 900 km north by road and about 1 hour only by air. Singapore is about 1600 km to the south by road and just over 1 1/2 hours by air.
Phuket has a two-season tropical climate, unlike the other areas of Thailand, which have three. The rainy season runs from April to November, and the hot (predominantly dry season) is from December to March. The prevailing winds are from the southwest during the rainy season and from the east during the hot season. These sea breezes cool and stabilize the climate, making Phuket much cooler than Bangkok. Outside of a few weeks in November, average daytime temperatures rarely move outside the 30 to 35 Celsius range. Average rainfall is 1,600 mm (62 inches) per year.
The Population of Phuket
The last official census showed about 500,000 people now living in Phuket. Since this figure only includes those registered as residents in Phuket, and there is a significant (semi-permanent) work force form other provinces of Thailand, as well as many semi-resident foreigners, not to mention up to 200,000 visitors at any one time, it is likely that a more realistic figure would be in the neighborhood of 750,000. In brief, Phuket is a diverse and fascinating melting pot, enhancing the tropical offerings with the music, food, and art of literally scores of subcultures.
Languages and Religions of southern Thailand
The official language, as throughout the Realm, is standard (central) Thai, but a local southern Thai dialect is widely spoken - and the large indigenous Chinese minorities still make limited use of Hokien and other Chinese dialects. 75 percent of the islanders are Buddhist (this includes the Chinese Buddhists), 22 percent Muslim and 3 percent Christian. There are 30 main Buddhist temples, 34 Mosques and 2 churches. Religious diversity has always been tolerated by the Thais, and Islam is especially prevalent in the South of the country.