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Phuket is the largest island in Thailand. It is located in the Andaman Sea, just off the southwest coast. The island is 48 km long, 21 km at its widest point and connected by a bridge to the mainland.
The best sandy beaches are on Phuket’s west coast. Patong, Kata and Karon beaches are the most well-known but can get crowded during peak season. The beaches and resorts north or south of these central areas are more peaceful. Click here for a more detailed guide to Phuket’s best beaches.
The gay scene on Phuket island is located in the west coast town of Patong. Dozens of gay venues including Hotels, Restaurants, Saunas & Spas, Bars & Clubs are concentrated in and around the Paradise Complex. There is a well-established gay section at Patong Beach, just in front of La Flora hotel.
The week-long Phuket Gay Pride Festival takes place every year in April, attracting thousands of visitors.
The vast majority of tourists arrive by plane. Phuket International Airport, located towards the north end of the Island, is served by direct ﬂights from many countries as well as ﬂights from Bangkok and other regional Thai cities.
It is possible to travel from Bangkok, Malaysia or even Singapore by bus, car or train. Train passengers get off at Surat Thani province and make the last leg to Phuket by road. It is also possible to visit Phuket by cruise ship.
Taxis are popular option although, unlike in Bangkok, the fare is not cheap. The average fare from the airport to Patong is 600-700 baht. The fare is the rate displayed on the meter plus an airport fee of 100 baht. The journey time from the airport to Patong is around 40 minutes. Some taxi drivers may want to charge a ﬂat rate. You may need to queue for a metered taxi.
An more comfortable ‘upmarket’ taxi option that can cost up to 1,000 baht (inc airport fee), but usually available immediately (no queuing).
A door-to-door shared commute. These minibuses leave after they ﬁll up and drop passengers off along the way – so journey times will be longer.
This is a great way to explore Phuket as there are many scenic roads. Car hire is not particularly expensive, but driving standards in Thailand are pretty poor so drive defensively and watch out for motorcyclists.
Municipal Airport Bus
Operates daily 6:30-21:30, every hour, to Phuket town (but not to the west coast) and takes about one hour. Not a particularly helpful option.
Phuket is a large island so you need some form of transport to get around. Public transport is limited so taxis or tuk-tuks are the only practical means. Some hotels offer shuttle bus services to Patong.
Phuket has two types of taxi. A “tuk-tuk” has no meter, so always agree on a price beforehand and bargain hard. Tuk-tuks are good for short trips around town that should not cost more than 40-50 baht. Many tuk-tuk drivers will try to charge excessive rates. Just say no and find another.
Metered taxis are a much better option for longer journeys. They are safer and more comfortable than tuk-tuks but not easy to find on the street. Ask your hotel reception to phone for a taxi.
By car or motorbike
Car rental costs from 1,000-1,200 baht per day. There are several rental companies in and around the airport. Driving standards in Thailand are generally very poor. We recommend taking full insurance coverage and drive defensively. By law you must have your driving licence with you when driving.
Motorcycle and scooter rentals start at around 200 baht per day. However, riding a motorcycle is very dangerous and best avoided.
Phuket has one of the highest traffic accident rates in Thailand and 90% involve motorcycles! Remember, motorcycle rental NEVER includes any third party insurance. If you are involved in a accident or injury or damage the motorcycle YOU will be liable. If you are a westerner then you are at extra risk as you are seen as more capable of paying.
You are required by law to wear a helmet. This law is frequently ignored by Thais. Traffic police are more likely to stop westerners for not wearing a helmet as they are more likely to have the cash to pay the fine.
Longtail boats are a great way to do a bit of island hopping. Prices can be negotiated and should be around 500 baht per hour or no more than 1,800-2,000 baht per day.
By ‘songthaew’ or bus
There are few full-size buses. Most routes are operated with ‘songthaews’ (essentially a converted pickup truck). The fare is from 25 baht and up, and there are no set stops. Songthaews pick up and drop off as requested.
There are no “cross-beach” connections, so traveling from Surin to Patong (15 minutes by taxi) requires an hour long detour via Phuket town. Some drivers may try to charge tourists an excessive fee.
If you wish to stay near the Patong gay beach and the Paradise Complex gay nightlife scene, we have some suggestions for Phuket Hotels in Patong.
Most gay visitors to Phuket come with a premeditated intent to spend most of their holiday soaking up the sun. But if your body can be dragged from its natural beach habitat, it will discover a great range of leisure activities on and around Phuket island.
Khao Sok National Park
Thailand’s premier rainforest reserve that has more than 48 species of mammals including wild elephants, tiger and leopards.
Phi Phi Islands
Made famous by the movie “The Beach” and now rather overdeveloped. However, Phi Phi islands are still a majestic sight to see and makes for an interesting day-trip excursion.
The islands around Phuket offer some of the best diving spots in Southeast Asia. Of particular note is the nearby Similan Islands where visibility can reach over 30 meters and leopard sharks and dolphins are a common sight. There are a number of PADI-certified diving schools on the island that provide instruction and organise excursions.
Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay stretches out from the east coast of Phuket Island to Krabi. This bay is home to gigantic rock mountains rising from the sea – the most famous of which is called James Bond Island. Spectacular sights that are well worth a day trip to see.
Temperatures in Phuket are usually 28ºC-32ºC all year. It’s the amount of rainfall that changes.
Peak season (and driest) is from early December until mid-April (after the “SongKran” – Thai New Year celebrations).
April and May are usually the hottest months, with some days seeing rainfall. June to October is the rainy season. November and early December can see slightly cooler temperatures and a mix of sunny and rainy days.
For recommendations on places to eat, click here to go to our Phuket Restaurants page.
On many beaches you will find jet-ski and parasailing operations. Sections of the beach are allocated to these operators. Be very careful not to swim in these zones as virtually all jet-ski rental customers are very inexperienced drivers.
Renting a jet ski or parasailing is a very risky. There is a good chance your operator will not be insured. If you do decide to rent a jet-ski get someone to take photos of the jet-ski before you leave. The slightest damage to the jet-ski will result in hefty extra fees. If you don’t pay, the operator will threaten to call the police. We’ve seen this happen.
A useful number to remember is 1155 – the Tourist Police.
Phuket is connected to the mainland by a bridge over a narrow waterway at the northern tip of the island. Immediately north lies a stretch of more than 30 miles of uncrowded, sandy beaches. In recent years, a number of newresorts have opened, but the area remains largely undiscovered by mass tourism.
If the quality of the beach is more important than access to a gay nightlife, then you might want to consider this area. Here are some hotel suggestions:
Between May and October, you can swim and sunbathe on one of Cyprus’ gay beaches.
These islands are located around 15 km from the mainland, halfway between Phuket and Krabi. Koh Yao Noi is one of the least developed islands in the area, with mountains in the centre and beaches on both sides. The beach on the east is great for swimming and snorkelling. You can take day-trip excursions from Phuket, but there are some great resorts if you’d like to stay a little longer. For more information and hotel recommendations, click here.
Phi Phi Islands are a stunning archipelago in the Andaman Sea that belong to Krabi province. These islands are a popular tourist destination, with diving & snorkeling sights, sandy beaches and plenty of things to see and do.
A day trip from Phuket is possible, although we recommend staying a night or two at one of the many resorts on Phi Phi. Click here to search all hotels on Phi Phi Island.
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