Thailand's only island province is connected to the mainland by the Thep Krasettree Causeway. Known as the "Pearl of Thailand," Phuket offers pristine beaches, lush vegetation, traditional villages and seascapes of huge limestone pillars that rise above the turquoise waters of Phang Nga Bay. With a land area of 215 square miles, Phuket Island is Thailand's largest island and about the same size as Singapore. Arab and Indian navigators have called here since the end of the 9th century, while the first Europeans arrived in the 16th century.
Apart from tourism, much of the province's wealth derives from tin production, which started back in the 1500s. In fact, this industry generated much wealth enabling Phuket Town to have the first paved roads and cars in all of Thailand. Even today, Phuket remains the center of tin production in the country, with rubber, coconut and seafood adding to the island's prosperity. Much of the revenue is reinvested to further develop Phuket.
With a culture all its own, Phuket combines Chinese and Portuguese influences with that of the indigenous ocean-going people. Phuket Town is the island's capital located in the southeast. It was built in the mid-1800s to replace the earlier capital of Thalang, which was destroyed by the Burmese in 1800. The architecture features the attractive Sino-Portuguese style, which is reflected in the spacious residences built by wealthy Chinese tin barons as testimony to their success.
The majority of visitors come here because of the glorious beaches, especially those on the west coast. Patong Beach is about a 45-minute drive from the port and offers a wide selection of watersports. Although the influx of tourists each year exceeds the local population by far, the island seems big enough to absorb the large numbers and at the same time maintain a semblance of tradition and great charm. In fact, Phuket still casts its spell on all that come to its shores.
Please Note: For your convenience, shore excursions offered for this port of call are available to reserve in advance at www.silversea.com, unless otherwise noted in the description. The deadline to reserve these tours is seven days prior to the start of your cruise, after which they will be available for purchase on board, unless otherwise noted in the description.
Going Ashore in Phuket
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Port of Phuket. It is a 20-minute drive to Phuket Town. Taxis are usually available at the pier. Rates are relatively expensive and should be negotiated. We suggest writing down the agreed price to avoid any dispute.
In Phuket town, boutiques and markets are centered around Robinson and Ocean Time Square Mall. Best shopping at Patong beach is at Jungceylon Shopping Complex. Good buys include Thai silk, cotton fabric and cultured pearls. The Native Handicraft Center offers a wide range of local handicrafts. Additional shopping is available at the new Wang Thalang shopping complex. Bargaining is expected at markets; better shops have fixed prices. The local currency is the baht.
The fine reputation of Phuket's seafood is beginning to rival the beaches. Fresh crabs, giant prawns, lobsters and crayfish are prepared in a variety of delicious dishes. Choose from gourmet renditions to something simple but equally delectable, such as fish wrapped in banana leaves and steamed over hot coconut shells, or khow pat, the Thai national dish.
The areas of Kata, Karon and Patong feature excellent beaches. Patong is best known for its nightlife and souvenir shops, while Kata and Karon boast superior resorts and restaurants.
Phuket temples represent both religion and culture. Wat Chalong is famous for grand pagoda and statues of ex-abbots. Big Buddha atop the hill is one of Phuket important landmarks.
Marine Research Center and Aquarium
The aquarium's exhibits are interesting examples of Phuket's marine life and its environment.
Thalang National Museum
The small museum's exhibits provide insight into Phuket's past and culture. A majority of the exhibits refer to the history of Phuket's tin industry.
Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Park
About 16 miles from Phuket Town, the park is a remnant of the island's natural forest ecosystem. A large variety of animals, including wild boars and monkeys, lives in this natural habitat.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board.