Phuket General Information
Some eight degrees north of the Equator, and well below the latitudes of destructive tropical storms, Phuket's balmy tropical climate is tempered by cool northeasterly breezes from November to March, and by fresh on-shore winds in summer months.
Time is + 7 hours ahead of GMT, 1 hour behind Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
Phuket is the natural base for exploring the Andaman Sea.
The Andaman Sea, separated from the Bay of Bengal by the Andaman-Nicobar Ridge, is part of the Indian Ocean. Thailand's Andaman coast extends for 870km from the Surin Islands on the northern border with Burma to Tarutao National Park on the southern border with Malaysia. Hundreds of islands are accessible to small craft from Phuket, many of them uninhabited, many of them forested and fringed with spectacular coral reefs. You often won't find even a footprint on the beach.
Two distinctively different varieties of island are found in the Andaman Sea, each of them scenically striking in its own way. Low-relief granite intrusions, which include the Surin and Similan islands, run in series roughly parallel to the more dramatic limestone islands. Island groups such as Koh Phi Phi have been shaped by a variety of forces from a massive limestone platform that was deposited 350 million to 450 million years ago.
Phuket Island itself is mainly granite, with low forested mountains and a series of fine white-sand beaches, mostly on the west coast. Much of the forest has been cleared, first for rubber plantations and then for tourism development. The one remaining significant stand of virgin rainforest is the Khao Phra Thaeo Park a protected national park area where you can take short treks or visit the waterfall.
Phang Nga and Krabi provinces, mainland and islands alike, have the same dramatic limestone ("karst") scenery of the Phi Phi Islands. Many different tours leave daily for Phang Nga, well worth a visit.
Khao Sok National Park, on the mainland just to the north of Phuket, has large areas of tropical forest, which have an amazing variety of plants and animals. Eco-tours have started in the last few years, offering the opportunity to experience the forest and get close to nature. Most operate in small groups to minimise any impact on the environment.