Phuket is Thailand's largest island, and one of its oldest international tourist resorts. In 2007, more than 5 Million people visited the 543 square-kilometer island. It's no wonder that the island's rather small airport is Thailand's second-busiest.
With so many visitors, it should be no surprise that there are plenty of shops and tour organizers catering to diving travelers. Indeed, one of Thailand's largest dive supplies shops is based on Phuket.
Some people choose to stay on Phuket, to take advantage of the wide range of hotels, resorts, restaurants and other activities that the island offers. You can reach several good dive sites on day trips from Phuket, but many of the best sites are better done as a liveaboard. To get more information about what there is to see and do on Phuket, see the Thailand for Visitors Phuket travel guide.
The best way to get to Phuket is to fly there. The only other realistic option is by bus, which takes in excess of 12 hours from Bangkok. The train completely by-passes the Andaman coast, so it is not really an option.
Several airlines, including budget carriers, connect Bangkok to Phuket. Some of the full service airlines fly to Phuket from other parts of Thailand, such as Samui and Chiang Mai. For complete information on Phuket airport, including links to all the airlines servicing it, see our companion Asia Airports Guide.
Chalong Pier is near the southern tip of Phuket, in a large bay protected by Koh Lon island. Most liveaboard boats depart from here, as well as day-trip boats and ferries to other islands (except Phi-Phi). The pier is at least 30 to 45 minutes from the airport. Most of the main beach resort areas are closer.
Hotels & Resorts
There are hundreds of places to stay on Phuket, from tourist-class hotels, to luxury resorts. Our partners have a large selection of Phuket accommodations, at the best prices, on the web. See below for a selections of what's currently on offer.
Phuket Dive Shops
There are dozens of dive shops, schools and tour operators to choose from in Phuket. Here's a small list of a few that we've heard good things about.
- Warm Water Divers
- Full service shop in Patong Beach. Offers complete PADI training, day trips and liveaboards.
- Oceanic Divecenter
- Operates liveaboards to all the major sites in the area. Seem to have a well-stocked shop and PADI training center in the Kata/Karon area.
- Dive Supply
- Appears to be Thailand's largest chain of diving supplies stores. They're headquartered in Phuket.