Phuket Beaches

Phuket, Thailand | C.1933

Photo Credit: Alex Galmeanu

Pristine beaches, crystal-blue waters, and vaulted mountain ranges can be found throughout Phuket. A southern province in Thailand, the region also includes 32 coastal islands and Phuket Island, the largest island in the country. Now a popular tourist destination, Phuket was once on the major trading routes between India and China.

Throughout its history, maritime marauders ranging from Portuguese explorers to wayward pirates stepped foot on Phuket’s shores. Indigenous Thais lived along the mainland and islands for thousands of years before Portugues explorer Fernao Mendes Pinto arrived in Siam in 1545. His encounter led the Dutch, England and the French to visit the island for its rich resource of tin.

In the centuries to follow, the island experienced political unrest, reform, and eventual modernization. In 1785, Burma nearly attacked the region during the Nine Years War. Upon hearing of the possible attack, Than Phu Ying Chan and her sister Mook instructed the women of the island to dress as soldiers and take posts along the Thalang city walls. Perceiving a threat of defense, the Burmese retreated and the two women were regarded as heroines.

During the late 19th century, Phuket became Thailand’s center of tin production. Around that time King Chulalongkorn successfully modernized Siam, conducted social and government reforms and gained territory back from the British and French – effectively preventing Siam from colonization. In 1933, Phuket officially became a province.

Phuket remains a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities with its population and visitors continue to enjoy its many beaches and islands. In 2004, a major tsunami hit the west coast of Phuket, tragically claiming many lives. Today, little evidence of the physical damage remains and the region has since come together to bounce back.

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