Phuket City



Phuket, Thailand's largest island (360 sq mi/930 sq km—about the size of Singapore), is known as the pearl of the Andaman Sea. The island of Phuket (pronounced poo-KET) is linked to the mainland by Sarasin Bridge and is home to the capital, Phuket Town, and several beach resorts, the most famous of which is Patong.

People seeing Phuket for the first time will be impressed with the island's beauty and the opulence of some of the hotels and resorts, but may be perhaps rather shocked by the uncontrolled development of some areas. However, the island has some excellent restaurants, and there are still plenty of beaches for snorkeling and other watersports.

However, certain areas—such as Patong—clearly suffer from overdevelopment and crowds of holidaymakers. The heaving beachfront town serves as a startling example of the negative effects of tourism. Strolling down the crowded main street with its Western-style pubs and restaurants, never-ending array of cheap tourist junk for sale and many drunken louts with young bar-girls on their arms, you could be at any down-market beach resort in the world. Much of this is the result of tourism authorities trying to increase visitors to the Land of Smiles and spending massive amounts of money promoting the country in markets such as Russia.

Such effects of overdevelopment are also being felt in other once-idyllic spots on the island. The local authorities' failure to curb the growth of tourism also has led to many serious environmental problems. The island regularly suffers from a water shortage, the dumping of raw sewage into the sea spoils more and more beaches, and the overfished waters no longer provide good catches. The building of resorts and condominiums on cleared hillsides has caused water runoff problems, and landslides are common during the rainy season.

Despite having been badly affected by the tsunami in December 2004, Phuket quickly rebuilt, and the island attracts hordes of tourists once again.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing beach holiday with a little spa indulgence or an action-packed break of diving and sailing, Phuket has it all.

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