Pearl of the Andaman
Phuket, nicknamed the Pearl of the Andaman, is Thailand's biggest island, connected to the west coast of the mainland by a series of bridges. It's big on scenery, with wooded hills, plenty of tropical greenery and a halo of white-sand beaches.
The longest of Phuket's beaches is Mai Khao, which unravels along the coast for 11 kilometres. A good portion of the beach sits within a national park, so it's beautifully undeveloped and edged with pine and palm trees. Bang Tao, the second-longest beach, is still relatively quiet, but offers up more in the way of restaurants, bars and chic beach clubs.
Other standout beaches include Karon, a wide curve of powdery sand, and Kata, one of the prettiest spots in Phuket.
If you fancy a late night, make your way to Patong – its main street, Bangla Road, is lined with neon bars and nightclubs.
Flight time from the UK to Thailand is approximately 11 hours 30 minutes.
Transfer time from Phuket airport to Phuket is approximately 15 minutes.
Thailand has a tropical climate, which means it’s hot and humid for most of the year. Rainy months vary depending on where you are in Thailand: in south-western areas like Phuket, the monsoon season starts around April and finishes in October, while south-east destinations like Koh Samui see more rain between September and December (there’s still plenty of sunshine between showers, though). The hottest months are March to June, although humidity is high and average temperatures can push 40°C. Wait until after the rainy season if you prefer slightly cooler temperatures – between December and February, averages stick to the high 20s and early 30s.
British passport holders do not require a visa for stays of up to 30 days.
Tipping is not expected in Thailand, although most hotels and restaurants will include a 10% service charge.
The official language of Thailand is Thai. English is widely spoken too.