Travel Thailand Phuket Province.
          Phuket is well known as the biggest island  of Thailand located on the west coast of the southern region. The island covers an area of about 543 square kilometers which is nearly the same size of Singapore. The longest part from north to south is 47.8 kilometres and the widest part from east to south is 21.3 kilometres. Currently.Phuket is one province of Thailand that has separated into 3 amphoes; Muang, Thalang and Kratu.
          The northern border of Phuket is next to Phang Nga that is linked to the mainland by Sarasin and Thao Thep Krasat Tri Bridge. The other 3 sides are encycled by Andaman Sea.
         The hot and humid climate of Phuket can be divided into 2 seasons, summer from December-Aprill and rainy season occurs during May-November.
          Phuket is located 862 kilometres from Bangkok. Its land is famous as the Pearl of the Andaman Sea. Because of its beautiful sandy beaches, clear crystal water and islands. Thus, Phuket is known worldwide as an important tourist point.
           The slogan of Phuket is. The Pearl of the Andaman Sea. Paradise of the South. Golden sandy beach, the two heroines and Luang Pho Cham.
Getting to know Phuket
                Phuket, an area of 550 square kilometres or 212 square miles, is Thailand's largest island. lt lies in the Andaman Sea just off the coast of Phang Nga province.Joined to the mainland by a wide causeway, in the last quarter of century, it has developed into the most beautiful and best appointed beach resort not just in Thailand, but in the whole of Southeast Asia.
           According to an old record in the log book of mariners of the 16  century Phuket today had its name  as "Jungceylon", or that of the native people called "Cha Lang" which derived to be "Tha Lang"
          ln centuries past, Phuket was an important trading post on the east­ern shore of the Bay of Bengal, han­dling shipping and dealing with sailors from the Arab and Malay worlds, lndia, Burma, China and, of course, Siam.By the 16th  century, the island was also well known to Europeans, as first Portuguese and Dutch, then English and French sailed to its fabled shores. The island enjoyed an unprecedented surge in wealth when tin was found

 










  

to be available in large quantlties in the nearby shallows. Ambitious, hard­working miners and businessmen flocked to the island from the provinces of south China adding a considerable Chinese element to the island's already mixed population.
            Phuket is a town with a long his­tory, a traditional meeting place of the Thai and Malay worlds also influ­enced over the centuries by Portuguese, Dutch, French, British and especially Chinese contacts.
            The town has long acted as a magnet for ambitious immigrants, and none more so or for longer than the Portuguese and the Chinese. The former were the first Europeans to appear in the waters off the island, while the latter-and especially ethnic Chinese from Fujian province-flocked to the island in search of work as tin miners during the 19th  century. The effect of this cultural melange on Phuket's architecture is a distinctive Sino-Portuguese style which, fortu­nately, is still visible in some parts of the town.
             During the latter part of the 19 th century, the Sino-Thai businessman Rasada Korsimbi was appointed Governor of Phuket. Together with other wealthy Chinese settlers he supervised the construction of richly-decorated hybrid mansions and shop-houses, combining arched win­dows and doors with every style of supporting columns -Doric, lonic, Corinthian. lntricate European neo­classical and renaissance style stuc­co designs graced the facades of buildings which, on the inside, remained typical Chinese shop-hous­es.
             These buildings have more in common with the Straits Settlement architecture of Penang, Melaka and Singapore than with the nearby Thai mainland. The style also owes much to Xiamen -formerly known as Amoy -in Fujian province: tall shop-houses with an overhang resting on colon­naded pillars which provide the cov­ered side-walks known in Malaysia as "Five Foot Ways". ln Phuket the  best examples of Sino-Portuguese architecture are to be found along Thalang and Yaowarat Roads, espe­cially the fine Standard Chartered Bank building and the offices of Thai Airways. lt's not difficult to idle here in the quiet of the evening and to imagine oneself transported back to colonial Malaya or Singapore.
              A good place to start is at the Central Post Office. Walk west along Thalang Road, noting the Standard Chartered Bank building, turn south along Yaowarat Road to Fountain Circle, and then head west once more along Ranong Road, noting in particular the fine Thai Airways build­ing Within these traditional Sino-Portuguese houses, the f urnishings and overall atmosphere tend to be more "Straits Chinese" than European. After all, the Thai-Chinese inhabitants remained essentially cul­tural representatives of the Middle Kingdom, and this is still reflected today. The furnishings and atmos­phere within the thick walls are pre­cisely what the Chinese owners would feel most comfortable with.
             At the west end of Ranong Road, turn north along Patiphat Road, then east along historic Krabi Road to return to Thalang Road. lf you have the energy, then head north-east to Damrong Road where the Sala Phuket, or Government Offices are particularly distinguished .
            It was not until around 1975, however, that Phuket's potential for tourism was fully apprectated. Quite slmply, the island and especially the long west coast is idyllic. A sweep of warm, sandy beaches meet the turquoise Andaman Sea The shores are as palm and casuarina fringed as those of any tropical island in the world. Sunsets over the Andaman Sea are spectacularly beautiful. The sky is generally blue and sunny, the sea warm the seafood fresh, plenti­ful and delicious lt's no surprise, then, that over the past twenty years, Phuket has developed into an unfor­gettable tropical paradise destination. It's simply world-class, and although more expensive than any other resort in Thailand, it's still most reasonable by international standards, especially in view of the island's unparalleled beauty and excellent amenities.
The Melting Pot of Three Cultures
           Since the old days, Phuket has passed an era of being a prosper­ous ancient seaport to be the city of tin mining industry. Therefore, like a new free land, peoples from many different cultures have roots living together for hundreds of years The three principal cultures that influence Phuket's society are Thai, Chinese and Muslim, which today have devel­oped into a balanced way of life as a melting pot of various cultures. Annually, 80 percent of Phuket's res­idents will come to join the big cel­ebration of the Vegetarian Festival, which is considered as the biggest celebration on this lsland. Certainly that the Vegetarian Festival is the way of the Chinese. Furthermore, there are many Chinese Spirit Houses on the island; on the other hand, Wat Chalong, the big Buddhist temple is still given high respect both from Thais and Chinese here.
            As such, the mixture of the three cultures is reflected not only in the architectural style still visible in the old area of Phuket town but also can be seen and tasted by its cui­sine. Many menus of Phuket's food are unique, which one could find only in this island, even in the same southern region province. Phuket's way of food making and menu is special because of its mixture with the southern Thai and Hokkien Chinese style. For example, Kha Nom Chin (or Chinese white noodle) of Phuket will be served with various accessories, such as, a big plate of mixed fresh local vegetables call "Pak No", Ho Mok Phla (spicy fish in banana leaf package), Tod Mun Phla (fried fish in small round pieces) Phla Ching Chang (a kind of salted fried fish), boil eggs, Pa Thong Ko (fried flour in twin pieces), etc., while other provinces of the south will serve only Pak No. Moreover, various menus of Hokkien food are able to be tasted in Phuket both in the main course and desserts, e.g , Mhee Hun, Lo Ba (pork's gut soup), Mo Hong (Chinese pork soup similar to Pha Lo soup), O Tao (Hok Kian fried shell) etc. The popular dessert here such as, O El (a sweet jelly eaten with caramel and ice) etc.

 
       







  

Phuket's Beaches
               Phuket has some of the most ideal and breathtaking beaches in the world. The best known includes Patong which has developed a live­ly night-time scene. There are also more sedate beaches like Kata and Karon sharing Phuket's wonderful coastline with the Andaman Sea. There are only a few beaches on the island's eastern coast but more just beyond the southern tip of Cape Promthep, a famous spot on Rawai Beach for watching sunsets.
              Mai Khao Beach : Located in the Nai Yang National Park, Mai Khao Beach at the northern end of Phuket is the longest beach on the island. lt is a place full of peace and serenity Camping grounds are avail­able at various locations. The beach however shelves steeply, and is unsuitable for swimming.
            Mai Khao also serves as the egg-laying ground for sea turtles. Despite an increasing awareness of the necessity of protecting these rare species, the number of sea turtles have continued to fall in recent years. ln an attempt to keep these rare breeds alive there are annual efforts to protect the beach in the nesting season between November and February. And baby turtles are annually released back into the sea on April 13.
              Nai Yang Beach : Set in the national park and located to the south of Mai Khao, Nai Yang is a tranquil and isolated bay suitable for a picnic and swimming About a kilo-metre offshore there is a large coral reef for those veteran scuba or snorkel enthusiasts to appreciate the undersea world up close.
                Nai Thon Beach : Set on the rim of a quiet bay to the south of Nai Yang, Nai Thon Beach provides a private world for those day-trip­pers. Both ends of the beach are protected by granite outcrops, which shield the bay and provide homes for diverse marine flora and fauna. While the beach is always crowded with tourists one can escape into the other isolated realm on Hin Kruai Bay by walking south a few hundred metres.
              Continuing southwards, Bang Thao is another fine, casuarina-fringed beach with a crescent bay about eight kilometres in length The centre of the beach is dominated by the Laguna Phuket Complex. Bang Thao is perhaps more associated with sports than any other beaches on the island. The Phuket Laguna Triathlon is held here every December. Besides, the Phuket Laguna Riding Club offers horseback riding along the beach, Yachting is a favoured pastime of guests at the Phuket Laguna, too. The constant but fairly gentle breeze blows most of the time, making the waters of Bang Thao Bay also ideal for wind­surf ing.
             At the south of the beach, there is a small exclusive beach compris­ing about 250 metres of pristine white sandy beach called Pansea. One of the finest beaches on the island, Pansea is suitable for snorkelling over nearby coral reefs.
                Surin Beach : This beach lies a short distance north of Laem Singh from which it is separated by a small cape, Laem Mai Phai. Lined with casuarina trees, this beach far from the madding crowds of Patong is suitable for sunbathing. But it's not good for swimming because of its steeply sloping sand shelf, especial­ly during the Southwest Monsoon.
            There are several Muslim fishing communities with their attendant mosques along the west coast of the island, but perhaps the most attrac­tive and appealing is to be found at Bang Thao Village, just inland from Surin Beach. The local mosque, Matsayit Mukaram, is an elegant, whitewashed structure with lac­quered wooden doors.
                Laem Singh Beach : Hidden by steep hills from the road and from nearby Kamala, this small beach is accessible through a nar­row and fairly steep footpath. There is about two hundred metres of fine, white, powdery sand giving onto waters that offer some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving on the island. This beach is the superb par­adise for those who want to escape from the multitudes of hawkers, masseuses and water sports. 
                Kamala Beach
: Just south of Laem Singh lies gorgeous Kamala Bay, a pretty relaxed beach suitable for swimming or soaking up a per­ fect tan. The water at the northern end of the beach is renowned for its clarity, an excellent spot for snorkel-ling and scuba diving to explore the abundant coral reefs. The centre of the beach is dominated by a peace­ful Muslim fishing viilage with its two small mosques near the southern end of this settlement lt's a good place to try delicious Muslim dishes.
                 Patong Beach : Patong is the most developed beach on Phuket. Yet only a brief twenty or so years ago, it was all but undiscovered. With small fishing communities on a long crescent beach A wide range of cafes, restaurants, shops, hotels, guesthouses, to banks, tour operators, and car rents are available, plus a wide range of water sport equipment such as jetskiing, and parasailing.
               Patong is also the centre of Phuket's increasingly swinging nightlife. This revolves around the main east-west road called Soi Bangla and its attendant lanes. Various styles of restaurants includ­ing Thai, French, ltalian, German, Japanese and Mexican are also well supplied.
                  Freedom Beach and Kalim Beach : For those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while, you can hire a long-tailed boat to isolated Freedom Beach, just around the headland of Laem Ko Sai Rot to the south. Alternatively, Kalim Beach, really just an extension of Patong to the north, is also rather quiet.
                 Karon Beach : South from Patong Beach lies the extensive sweep of Karon Beach with a cres­cent bay, small sand dunes, and white sandy beach lined with casua­rina and palm trees During the Southwest Monsoon which blows from May to October, Karon Beach can suffer from serious undertows, and warning flags are sometimes raised. The open nature of the bay also means that the waves are sometimes large enough for surfing, especially at the southern end of the beach where surfboards are avail­ able.
                Karon Noi or Relax Bay: ln a small bay nestling between the headlands of Laem Khak and Laem Mai Ngang is a tiny but delightful beach dubbed Karon Noi, also known as Relax Bay. Monopolized by the exclusive Le Meridien Hotel one can reach this beach by road from either Karon or Patong.
                Kata Beach : Kata Beach is subdivided into Kata Noi (Little Kata) to the south and Kata Yai (Big Kata) to the north. Kata Beach is also famous for snorkelling, as the waters remain comparatively shallow for about thirty metres offshore, making access to coral and tropical fish eas­ier than almost anywhere else on the island. Tourists can also take a boat to Ko Pu, a tiny uninhabited island with a thriving coral reef just off Laem Sai. 
             Both beaches are well Provided with cafes, restaurants, and accom­ modation. Just around the small headland and overlooking Kata Noi, there is the cliff-sided home of the noted Thai architect M.L Tri Devakul, who designed the Boathouse. Here there is an art gallery exhibiting and selling the works of local and inter­national artists. The Ban Kata Arts Festival is held here every February.
            At the southern end of Kata Yai stands the magnificent Boathouse, a Thai-styled hotel and restaurant com­plex which offers two-day Thai cook­ing classes on every Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 2 P.m.
                Nai Harn Beach : Close to the southern tip of the island, Nai Harn Beach can boast of its white sand and crystal-clear water Set back from the beach are two beautifully landscaped lagoons surrounded by rubber trees,bougainvillea and a whole host of other tropical flowering plants.
             Located in a spectacular setting at the northern end of Nai Harn Beach is the exclusive Phuket Yacht Club, a resort of an excellent place for dining and entertainment with first-class restaurants.
               Rawai Beach : Located on the east of Cape Promthep, Rawai went into decline during the 1980s-1990s as Patong and Kata were developed. Now the pendulum is swinging back somewhat as once pristine Patong Beach became so heavily developed that now Rawai seems both quieter and less commercialized. 
             Rawai is also a departure point for other offshore islands. At the north-eastern end of the beach is Hat Laem Kha where boats leave for such nearby islands as Ko Lon Ko Aew, and Ko Hae. At the southern end of the beach, Cape Promthep offers good, clear waters for snorkelling and diving.
 
              Ko Hae : Also known as Coral lsland, Ko Hae is about four kilome­tres southeast of Rawai Beach and can be reached bY boat from the pier at nearby Ao Chalong. lt's a fine spot for fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling and other associated water sports.
               Ko Lon : Ko Lon is easily reached from the Pier at Ao Chalong by ferry which departs between 8 and 9 a.m lt's also easy to charter a long-tailed boat to take you across privately. lt takes about twenty minutes to reach Ko Lon bYboat. The best tranquil and undis­ turbed beach lies on the northeast coast. Accommodation is available on the island too.
               Ko Mai Thon : Noted for its exotic corals Ko Mai Thon is also ideal for scuba diving and fishing lt is also an isolated place to get away from the water sports and beachside hawkers. There is only one Place to stay on the island, Maithon Resort.
               Ko Nakha Noi : Further to the north, about six kilometres off the small settlement at Po Bay Ko Nakha Noi is home to the Naga Pearl Farm, billed as the only South Sea pearl farm in the world open to the public all year round. Visitors can inspect the Pearl farm, learn about techniques of pearl cultivation and buy genuine cultured Pearls.

 
       




















 

Exploring Phuket Town
Phuket’s Temples
           Phuket isn't renowned for its temples, and certainly has nothing to match Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Nakhon Si Thammarat, but there are still a number of interesting and attractive temples that are worth vis­iting Thus, Wat Bang Niew on Phuket Road is a Chinese temple dedicated to the deities Siew, Hok and Lok who are responsible for Longevity, Wealth and Happiness. Wat Mongkol Nimit on Yaowarat Road is a large, Rattanakosin (Bangkok) style Thai temple dedicat­ed to Theravada Buddhism and has particularly finely carved doors. Finally, Wat Jui Tui on Ranong Road is another distinctively Chinese tem­ple which attracts a steady stream of devotees anxious to have their for­tunes read. 
           Just north of Thalang, on the outskirts of town to the east of Route 402, stands Wat Phra Tong, which means 'Temple of the Golden Buddha lmage' The image in ques­tion is largely buried, so that only the head and shoulders project above ground. Legend has it that the image was discovered when a young farm boy tied his buffalo to the Buddha's topknot not recogniz­ing its true nature. For this "sacri­lege" he fell dead, prompting his father to dig in the spot and uncov­er the upper part of the statue. Again according to legend, nobody has succeeded in uncovering any more of the sacred image, as all  those who have tried have fallen ill. The temple is much revered by the locals, and especially the Phuket Chinese community.
            One of Phuket's most historic temples and at over two hundred years old also one of its most ven­erable is Wat Phra Nang Sang. ln 1785, the Burmese invaded Phuket and the Battle of Thalang was sup­posedly fought within the grounds of the temple Legend has it that the Burmese were after a religious man­uscript containing the whereabouts of buried treasure. Fortunately they failed in their quest Apart from this manuscript, the temple also houses the world's three largest tin Buddha statues, dating from an era when tin was regarded as a semi-precious metal.
o
ther Attractions
           A good way to experience Phuket's SinoPortuguese architec­ture is to take a stroll around the old town.
          A good place to start is at the Central Post Office. Walk west along Thalang Road noting the Standard Chartered Bank building turn south along Yaowarat Road to Fountain Circle, and then head west once more along Ranong Road, noting in particular the fine Thai Airways build­ing Within these traditional Sino­  Portuguese houses, furnishings and overall atmosphere tend to be more "Straits Chinese" than European. After all, the Thai-Chinese inhabitants remained essentially cultural repre­sentatives of the Middle Kingdom, and this is still reflected today. The furnishings and atmosphere within the thick walls are precisely what the Chinese owners would feel most comfortable with.
             At the west end of Ranong Road, turn north along Patiphat Road, then east along historic Krabi Road to return to Thalang Road. lf you have the energy, then head northeast to Damrong Road where the Sala Phuket, or Government Offices are particularly distinguished.
             Just out of town, about three kilometres along the Highway 402 by-pass to Bang Khu, the Phuket Butterfly Garden and Aquarium is well worth a visit, particularly if you have children. The garden is home to many thousands of butterflies, as well as to a pond full of Chinese carp and a scorpion pit. The nearby aquarium is an excellent place to see coral and tropical fish without actually diving beneath the waves. There's a wide range of colourful reef dwelling smaller fish, as well as larger sharks and moray eels. Located right in the heart of down­town Phuket, southern Thailand's largest Crocodile Farm also contains an aquarium with many species of strange and colourful tropical fish taken from the waters around the island. ln addition to crocodiles, ani­mals on display include elephants, monkeys, reptiles and birds.
               Khao Rang or "Rang Hill", also sometimes called Phuket Hill, is a bluff rising to the northwest of Phuket Town behind the Phuket Hill Palace Hotel. Best approached by Khaw Sim Bu Road, the hill is crowned by a Public Fitness Park that provides fine views across the city and jungle below, as well as out to sea. There are three reasonable restaurants on the hill where it is possible to enjoy a cold drink as the sun goes down. On top of the hill stands a statue of Rasada Korsimbi Na Narong, Governor of Phuket between 1890 and 1909. 
             Just to the north of Rawai, on the road to Phuket Town, is the Phuket Shell Museum. This private collection of seashells primarily from the waters off Phuket and elsewhere in Thailand, also includes remarkable examples of seashells from else­where in the world. Drop by to see the world's largest golden pearl (140 karats), sections of sedimentary rock containing shell fossils that represent some of the world's earliest known life forms, and a gigantic shell weighing 250 kilograms. The dis­plays are logically ordered and well described in English as well as Thai.
           
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre: Head northeast from the Heroines Monument at Thalang along Route 4027 towards the east coast of Bang Rong. After about 9 kilome­tres a well-signposted road leads west towards Bang Pae Falls. Here is the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, where gibbons recovered from captivity (often stolen from their mothers in infancy) are reintroduced to the wild, A donation of 1,000 Baht or about US $25 is enough to look after a gibbon for a year.
                 Kathu Waterfall: Kathu Waterfall is a pleasant location for a picnic and swimming among the mountains of the central district of Kathu. From the parking lot, cross over the bridge and ascend the steps to the lower falls some 250 metres up. To reach the higher falls, one hundred metres further up, climb the steps cut into the side of the hill. At the top are beautiful pools that during monsoon is the best season to view, but by the dry season, from March-May, they dwindle to a mere trickle.
                  Phuket National Museum, Tha Rua: An interesting collection of local artefacts, and spend an hour to learn about the history and culture of southern Thailand. The museum exhibits a striking collection of ancient remains and artefacts relat­ing to the history of Phuket and the surrounding provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi. The ethnic diversity of Phuket as a maritime crossroads is apparent in the exhibits on the 'sea gypsies' and many other people who have played a part in the history of Phuket. Stone implements and bones of prehistoric cave dwellers have been carefully reassembled. Other displays relate to life in old Phuket during the boom days of tin mining.
                Khao Phra Taeo Royal Wildlife Forest Reserve: The mountainous north of Phuket shelters Khao Phra Taeo, a reserve with more than two thousand hectares of tropical rainfor­est. There are some fine jungle hikes in this national park, along with waterfalls and rare wildlife.
            Head north along Thepkasatri Road to the southern outskirts of Thalang, then turn east along the road to Ton Sai Waterfall. These falls are naturally seen at their best dur­ing the rainy season (May to November).
             Among the unusual flora to be seen in the park is the Langkow or White Backed Palm, a fan-shaped leaf which is only found here and at Khao Sok National Park. Rare fauna include gibbons, slow loris, civets, langur, mouse deer and squirrels.
            Various trails lead east from Ton Sai Falls towards the park's three highest peaks, Khao Prathiu (384m), Khao Bang Pae (388m) and Khao Phara, the highest of all at 442m.
                Laem Promthep : No trip to Phuket would be complete without taking in the breathtaking panoramic vista from the southern tip of the island. The best time to visit is as the sun sets over the Andaman Sea.
             Laem Promthep means "Brahma's Cape", named from the Hindu cre­ator. Being a magnificent headland, southwest to the Andaman Sea is rocky Kaeo Yai lsland -a good snorkelling point .
             From time immemorial, Cape Promthep has been a prominent landmark for mariners approaching the island. Today, it is more famous as a viewpoint to watch the glowing golden ball of sunset.
            The view is particularly com­pelling for photographers, as the bay reflects images of coral reefs as the waves in changing hues wash upon the rocky boulders marking the shoreline.
              Close to the cape is a modern lighthouse with an elevated platform for sightseeing. Steps lead to the summit of the rocky hill which dom­inates the cape, offering a fine vista over the near perfect half-moon bay of Nai Harn Beach.

       














 

Festivals
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
             Phuket's most unique festival is the Vegetarian Festival, which takes place during the first nine days of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. This is usually in late September or October.
           The festival marks the commencement of 'Taoist Lent' when devout Sino-Thais abstain from eating all meat products ln Phuket, the festival activities are centred around five Chinese temples, with Wat Jui Tui on Ranong Road the most important followed by Bang Niew and Sui Boon Tong temples. Events are also celebrated at temples in the nearby towns of Kathu (where the festival originated) and Ban Tha Reua.
           The TAT office in Phuket prints a helpful schedule of events for the Vegetarian Festival each year. The festival also takes place in Trang, Krabi and various other southern Thai towns.
          The Vegetarian Festival involves various processions, temple offerings cul­tural performances and medium consultations, culminating with barely credible acts of self-mortification as devotees walk on hot coals, climb knife-blade lad­ders, pierce their skin with sharp objects and literally play with fire. Altars are set up along main streets offering nine tiny cups of tea, incense, fruit, candles and flowers to the nine emperor gods invoked by the festival.
             Those participating as mediums bring the nine deities to earth for the fes­tival by entering into a trance state and piercing their cheeks with all manner of objects -sharpened stakes, swords, spears and daggers.
            Local Chinese claim that the festival was started by a theatre troupe from Fujian that performed in Kathu about 175 years ago. The troupe was taken ill because the members had failed to propitiate the Nine Emperor Gods of Taoism. The nine day penance they subsequently performed is said to form the basis for today's Vegetarian Festival.
Turtle Releasing Fair
             Phuket is known as the land of turtle eggs "Chalamed" meaning green sea tur­tle. Previously during the egg-laying season of the sea turles, many turtles laid their eggs on all the beaches in Phuket. Most of the sea turtles found here are green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles but the rare turtle like leatherback tur­tle, which is seldomly seen could also be found here, too. At a time that col­lecting of turtle eggs could be done legally by paying tax to the government, Phuket was the province that earned the highest tax of this kind compared to other provinces. When the season came, the residents of Phuket would stroll on the beachfront to watch the turtles laying eggs This season was called "Turtle Walking Season", However, at present the environment of the beach and the sea has changed, more turtles are hunted for their flesh and eggs till they disappeared from the beaches. The only beach that turtles still come to lay their eggs is Mai Khao. Hence, sea turtle breeding activities have taken place and are released back to nature and the words 'turtle walking" has changed in meaning to seeing baby turtles walking their way to the sea. This turtle walk­ing practice has now become an annual fair, which is held yearly on 13 April on Mai Khao Beach within the Sirinart National Park. Besides releasing baby turtles into the sea, other actrvities are folk games, water sports and an exhi­bition on sea turtles.
Thao Sepkrasatri-Thao Sri Sunthorn Fair
           The fair is held on 13 March annually. Many activities are organized to commemorate and honour the historical heroic deeds in protection of Thalang City and Thailand from the enemy.
Seafood Festival
           This festival is organised in May to publicize Phuket's famous seafood and invite visitors to come to Phuket during the rainy season. Some features in this festival are a procession, sales of local products and seafood, exhibition on the life of the Sea Gypsies, beauty contest, and cultural performances.
Po To Festival
           It is a tradition of the residents of Chinese origin of Phuket The festival falls on the 7th Chinese lunar month or the 9th Thai one. The people would set up an ancestor-worshipping altar adorned with various offerings and turtle shaped cakes of various sizes made from flour and coloured red. The turtle is, for the Chinese, a symbol of longevity; hence, offering turtles to the ancestors is the extension of one's own life and is a form of great merit making.
Phuket Triathlon Festival
           This international event is organised at the scenic area of the Laguna Phuket in October. The sport events comprise of 1.8 kilometres of swimming, 55 kilometres of cycling and 12 kilometres of jogging.
Sea Gypsy Boat Floating Festival
            This tradition is observed during the 6th and 11th lunar months. The Sea Gypsies at Rawai Beach and Sapam Village float on the 13th day of the wax­ing moon However, another group living at Lha Cape does the same on the 15th day of the waxing moon This ritual is to get rid of bad luck similar to Loi Krathong of the Thais. The boat is made of a light wooden trunk (Zalacca wallichiana). People would clip their nails, hair and make a human doll and put it in the boat to float into the sea that symbolizes getting rid of bad luck. They would enjoy  a 'Rong Haeng" dance around the float before the floating.
Phuket Tourism Season Opening Festival
               
This event is organised on 1 November at Patong Beach to welcome the new tourism season. Some features in the festival are offering alms to monks in the morning, water sports competition, and a beauty contest of internation­al tourists.
King’s Cup Regatta
            This was organized for the first time in 1987 AD to honour His Majesty the King on his 50th Birthday Anniversary. Since then, the event has been organ­ised annually on the King's Royal Birthday. There are sailboats from many coun­tries participating in the competition at Nai Harn Beach for the Royal Cup.
 

 
       



 

Suggested route:
By Car
 
            There are 2 routes to reach Phang Nga and Phuket The first one starts from Bangkok using Thonburi-Pakthor via Phetchaburi Prachuap Khiri- Khan Chumphon, Kraburi dis­trict, Muang district, Kaper district of Ranong then Kuraburi district, Takua Pa district, Muang district, Ta Kua Thung district, Ban Kokkloi in Phang Nga covering a distance of 788 kilo-metres. lf one’s journey passes Thepkrasatri Bridge or Salasin Bridge then the distance is 862 kilometres.
           The second route is following the first one until Chumphon province, then take Highway No. 41 to Punpin district in Surat Thani and continue with Highway No.401 until reaching Ban Takhun Then turn to Highway No. 415 at Phang Guan Nua village, follow this route until reaching Kokloi This route has fewer curves and turns compared to the first one.
Buy Bus
           The government enterprise Transportation Company Limited operates daily buses between Bangkok-Phuket  and Bangkok-Phang Nga The buses leave from the Southern Bus Terminal on Borom Ratchoni Road (Pinklao Nakhon Chaisri) Kilometer No. 3. The buses are of VIP Air-conditioned Standard 1 and standard 2 and Non Air-conditioned ones. For VIP and Air-conditioned Standard 1 Tel: 0-2435-1200, 0­-2435-1199. For ordinary non air-conditioned and Air-conditioned Standard 2 buses Tel: 0-­2435-11 95.
Private Joint Bus Companies
Phuket Central Tour Company Tel 0-2435-5019 and Phuket Tour Company Tel : 0-2435-5018.
By Train

            There are no direct lines to these  province; however if one wants to travel part­ly by train to Phang Nga and Phuket then go from Bangkok to Surat Thani station (Punpin district) and continue by bus or by taxi . For more detailed information, please contact the Travel Services Section State Railway of Thailand Tel: 0-2223-7010, 0-2223­-7020.
By Plane
Thai Airways (Public) Company Limited has many flights between Bangkok and Phuket and 2 daily flights . Phuket Air has one flight each between Bangkok-Phuket on Friday-Monday Tel. 0-2679-8395-6.
Means of Transportation within the Province
          Phuket has three-wheeled motor vehicles (tukluk) in the city area. Tourists may rent them to go wherever they need to with a fare on a negotiation basis depending on the dis­tance. There are also minibuses (songtaew) and regular public bus stands at the Spring roundabout close to the fresh food market on Ranong Road operating to beaches and other destinations.