interesting facts about Phuket

7 Interesting Facts About Phuket

This tropical island in Thailand offers total beach bliss, complete with swaying palm trees, powdery white sand and bathwater-warm sea. It’s also rich with museums, shrines and historic mansions, as well as spicy (and oh-so-soulful) dishes. Planning on taking a trip or interested in learning more about this idyllic escape? From one of Thailand’s biggest Buddha’s to an eight-day vegetarian festival, here are a few interesting facts about Phuket.

Interesting facts about Phuket

1. Phuket is the largest island in Thailand

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and is only slightly smaller than Singapore. It measures 222 sq. miles (576 sq. km). It is both an island and a province. Although Phuket Island is the biggest Island in Phuket Province, there are 32 other smaller islands surrounding it.

Phuket things to do

2. Most of Phuket is covered in mountains

While most people think ‘beach’ when they think of Phuket, 70% of the land is actually mountainous. The mountains of Phuket form the southern end of the Phuket mountain range, which stretches for 270 miles (440 km) from the Kra Isthmus. Khaoi Mai Thao Sip Song (Twelve Canes) sits at the highest elevation, reaching 529 metres (1,726 ft) above sea level.

Plus, forests, rubber and palm oil plantations account for as much as 60% of the land.  In fact, Phuket’s rubber production contributes to the country’s reputation as the world’s largest producer of rubber.

interesting facts about Phuket

3. It hasn’t always been called Phuket

Phuket used to be called Jungceylon, a mispronunciation from the Malay language ‘Tanjung Salang’. The name dates back to 1511, when the town gained a reputation for its fertile lands and abundance of tin.

Now, most people associate the word with the Jungceylon Shopping Centre, an international shopping and leisure destination in Patong, Phuket. It’s home to more than 300 shops, ranging from fashion and leisure brands to lifestyle products and restaurants.

4. Phuket hosts a huge vegetarian festival every year

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a colourful annual event every October that lasts around eight days. It celebrates the Chinese community belief that pays respect to the nine emperor gods by practising abstinence from meat and other stimulants to promote a healthy and peaceful mind.

The festival is famous due to its comparatively extreme celebrations that see mediums perform gruesome and often humiliating tasks to invoke the gods. These usually start off with body piercing and firewalking and become more daring as the days go by. Thousands of visitors flock here every year. The festivals usually take place around the six Chinese temples in Phuket.

interesting facts about Phuket
Editorial credit: ommlett / Shutterstock.com

5. Phuket was one of the first places to introduce tsunami-detection buoys

The December 26 tsunami in 2004 devastated Phuket. Before that, there had been no major natural disasters in the region for generations. As a result, the local authorities put a real-time Tsunami warning system in place. Thailand positioned 22 U.S.-made tsunami-detection buoys across the Indian Ocean in 2006. The satellite-linked deep-sea buoy floats 620 miles offshore close to the halfway level between Thailand and Sri Lanka.

6. Phuket played a leading role in a James Bond movie

If you’ve seen the 1974 James Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun, starring Roger Moore and Christopher Lee, you’ll probably remember the striking limestone cliffs soaring from a bright green sea. Those cliffs are actually an island situated in Phang Nga Bay, known locally as Koh Tapu (nail island) due to its shape. Since the James Bond franchise, the island has unofficially been renamed James Bond Island. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year.

interesting facts about Phuket

7. Phuket is home to one of the biggest Buddhas in Thailand

The Big Buddha, which sits on the mountain top overlooking Chalong Bay, is one of Thailand’s biggest Buddhas – and in a country packed with them, that’s saying a lot. The white marble statue reaches 45 metres (147 ft) high and is also home to one of the island’s most famous temples.

It’s a relatively modern statue too. General Phijit Kulawanich, Privy Councilor, on May 22, 2002, laid the first foundation stone in 2002. Its official name is “Phraphutthamingmongkhol-akenagakhiri Buddha”, which translates as “Happiness on top of Naked Mountain”.

Allie D'Almo

Allie is a passionate traveller with a hearty interest in great food and stories. She likes to travel slowly, particularly to underrated and underloved places. She’s lived in Italy and is now based in London, where she spends most of her time either plotting her next trip or writing about her last one.

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