Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and it is situated in Andaman Sea, near South Thailand. It is very attractive to tourists from all over the world. Last year more than 3 million tourists visited the island.
One of the old names of the enchanting island Phuket is Tamil Manikiram which translated means "Crystal Mountain". It is relatively large in size â 570 km2, along with its surrounding islands. The island is connected to Thailand by two bridges. 70% of its territory is covered by mountains and the highest peak is Mai Thao Sip Song which is 529km high. In the dry season, which begins in November and lasts until April, the monsoon winds blow from north-east and in the wet season - in the opposite direction.
There are different theories about who were the first settlers of Phuket. According to some people, these were the local gypsies. The legend says that ''they will stay here until the food ends''. Another opinion is that the first settlers were Indians - colonizers, who arrived on the island in the 1st century AD. Most of the inhabitants of the island are Thais. In the central regions of Phuket live the Chinese people that came in XIX century to dig in the local mines. The European people stepped for the first time on the island in the XVI century. From 1933 Phuket receives administrative independence. Most of the people who live here are Buddhists; the Chinese are mostly Taoists and Mahayana Buddhists. A small percent of the population professes Islam.
The local people deal mainly with agriculture - growing rubber trees, coconut palms, pineapples, mangoes, papaya and cashews. Another traditional occupation for them is fishing. Thanks to the shrimp farms, thousands of tourists try the local specialty - shrimp with spicy-sour sauce.
People who live in Phuket speak Thai language and a Malay dialect. Most of the foreigners who come here do not know that the Thai language is tonic, i.e. the increase or decrease of the tone changes the meaning of the word.
Major tourist towns are located on the opposite sides of the island - Phuket Town has 63,000 inhabitants and is located on the east side and Patong is on the west side. The tourist center is in Patong - there are world-class hotels and nightclubs. People who like antiques can enter the restored Chinese houses or the colonial buildings in Portuguese style. Sport lovers can ride a bicycle and play golf. Walking with elephants, lying on the white sandy beaches and enjoying the mineral pools are for lazy people.
Bang Pae waterfall is a wonderful landmark (people usually gather on its cape at sunset). In the museum of mussels, you will see the collected mussel fossils which are more than 280 million years old. In the zoo of Phuket people can be pictured with a tiger. The park with the butterflies and the aquarium also attracts thousands of visitors. The brave tourists can jump into the sea from the bungee tower.