Phuket is one of Thailand’s most famous & well established tourist centres. It is a large island, around 50km from north to south, and can almost be considered part of the mainland as it is connected by bridge.
The island is fairly mountainous, with numerous white sand beaches, some of them extremely busy and others fairly quiet & un-spoilt.
The dive industry in Phuket is very well established and there are literally hundreds of dive shops to choose from. Many run a combination of Liveaboard trips to the Similans & beyond, plus local day trips to sites around Phi Phi & Phuket.
There is a well-connected international airport on the island, with flights to destinations in Asia & Europe. The airport is in the north of the island, while most of the tourist facilities are in the south. While the island is busy, it has excellent roads, so getting from the airport to the resorts is no problem.
The island can also be reached by passenger ferry from Ko Phi Phi (40km) & Ko Lanta (70km). There are also land connections north to Bangkok & Khao Lak and south to Krabi & Ko Lanta.
There is a huge range of accommodation options in Phuket, from budget hotels to luxury resorts & spas. Most of the accommodation is centred around the main beaches of Patong, Kata & Karon, but there are places to stay all around the island.
There are numerous other activities aside from diving in Phuket. There are many beaches to explore, plus vibrant nightlife & great restaurants. It is a great place for shopping, with numerous malls selling Thai & western goods. There are many watersports available and even a zoo for kids.
Khao Lak lies north of Phuket on Thailand's Andaman Coast. It is the closest jumping off point for Liveaboards to the Similan & Surin Islands. It is named after a nearby mountain and the surrounding area is a great place for nature lovers.
There are many well established & professional dive centres in Khao Lak, meeting the demand for liveaboard trips to the Similans, which is considered by many to be Thailand's top diving spot and sites across the border in Burma. In addition to Liveaboards, dive operators also run day trips to the Similans and a few local sites.
Khao Lak is around 100km north of Phuket, which has an international airport. Buses make daily trips to and from the area from Phuket, as well as Phang Nga.
There is a wide range of accommodation options in Khao Lak, from cheap hotels & bungalows to luxury resorts. Most are spread out along the main road which follows the Andaman coastline.
Aside from diving, the Khao Lak area is rich in natural beauty and is on the edge of a national park, with nature trails to waterfalls & caves. There are also some nice beaches and also some beautiful Buddhist temples to visit.