“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Valentine Miller
Located in the Andaman Sea on Thailand’s south west coast, Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, with a landmass roughly the size of Singapore. As both an island and a province, Phuket’s main source of income derives from its thriving tourism industry, but it was the region’s roots in tin mining that first put it on the map back in the 16th century. Now, the island also drums up a large portion of its revenue through the manufacturing of rubber, fishing, pineapples, cashew nuts and palm oil.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Phuket has been settled since about 100BC. For thousands of years, Indian, Chinese, Thai and European trading vessels have sailed the Andaman Sea, using the breath-taking shores of Phuket as their main port of call for restocking provisions and carrying out repairs. The island’s population is approximately 95 percent Buddhist, and has long been renowned for being one of the friendliest and most accepting places on the planet.
But as globalisation erupts, thrusting opportunity into every corner of the world, there are two other crucial factors that assert Phuket’s position as one of the world’s most desirable locations: the rising standard of its education and facilities, and the outstanding quality of life the region has to offer.
Figures from 2013 show that expats make up more than 21 percent of Phuket’s permanent population, and more than 100,000 foreign residents have already chosen to make the island their home – so what exactly is it that makes the island so enticing to families across the globe?
The Sarasin Bridge (built in 1967 to replace the ferry, which was then the only connection to the mainland) connects Phuket to neighbouring Phang Nga. After its construction, the shores of Phuket were openly accessible, and the world at last discovered the shining ‘Pearl of the Andaman’.
The island is home to 36 stunning white sand beaches, accompanied by a rich tropical climate and mesmerising sunsets. Phuket’s most popular beaches include Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala and Bangtao, all of which lie on the island’s west coast. Drifting away from the coastline and into the heart of the island, Phuket’s jungle environs hum with wildlife and tumbling crystalline waterfalls, making it an area of some of the most extraordinary natural beauty that the cosmos has to offer.
The island boasts a large international airport, with direct flights to many Chinese cities via airlines such as Thai Airways, Air Asia and Nok Air. Phuket’s convenient location paired with its exemplary travel links mean it has fast become a Thai gateway to the Western world, and therefore the ideal location for families seeking that peaceful slice of paradise with the benefit of global mobility.
According to a poll operated by TripAdvisor, the leading global travel site, Phuket is the second most visited destination for Chinese tourists, following close behind Hong Kong. According to The Economist, in 2013, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection announced that 74 Chinese cities were to monitor and report levels of multiple pollutants, including PM 2.5, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone. Asia’s modern industrial revolution has had an extremely damaging effect on the quality of air, making pristine and pollution-free places like Phuket increasingly attractive.
Another reason ‘Paradise Island’ has become such an alluring destination is the affordable cost of living. For $555 USD a month, or 20,000 Thai Baht, a family can rent a three-bed property in Phuket Town, complete with air con, cable TV and a sensational view. For just over double the price, a family can rent multi-room, furnished accommodation in an up-market location by the beach.
A delicious meal of pad Thai and iced coffee from the lunchtime menu in Phuket’s business district will cost you 100 baht, which amounts to $2.80. The same menu in Beijing will set you back 59 yuan, or $9.16. One month of internet for a property in Phuket comes to 600 baht, or $16.64, compared to 118 yuan in Beijing, which amounts to $18.33. The cost of one litre of fuel in Phuket is 34 baht, amounting to $0.94 – the same amount will set you back 7 yuan, or $1.09 when purchased in Beijing. The difference may not seem like much, but when you consider the total annual expenditure for the average family of four, a few pennies here and there summates to a lot in the long-run.
Mainland China has recognised Phuket for hundreds of years, and it is increasingly recognising the high-quality education the island has to offer. As the modern world seeps its way into Phuket’s standards of living, the region reaps the benefits of increased mobility and a globalised perspective.
Asia is internationally renowned for the quality and intensity of its education, and is arguably considered among the best the world has to offer. But in recent years, the growing prestige of schools such as British International School, Phuket, with its 20-year history and renowned sports academies, has boosted the island’s reputation as an attractive international study location.
British International School, Phuket (BISP) is a co-educational day and boarding school, established in 1996 with an English-based curriculum. It is the oldest international school in Phuket, favoured by parents for its high-quality educational provision, and loved by children for its inclusive atmosphere and ‘Hogwartian’ appearance, based on the class boarding schools found in the United Kingdom.
The school has gained a global reputation for its world-class facilities, including 12 football pitches, two swimming pools (one Olympic sized), a multi-purpose 300-seat auditorium, onsite trapeze, outstanding day and full boarding facilities, a brand new Golf Short Game Centre built on campus, and full-sized Ice Arena due to open in 2016, and renowned annual Summer School programme, which attracts children from around the world.
It is these facilities, plus the school’s safe and clean environment with zero pollution, top-class education, and 44 acres that the students are free to roam that makes schools such as the British International School, Phuket, home to the world’s happiest pupils and parents.
Learn more about the British International School, Phuket and why Phuket is the perfect study destination on the BISP website, and keep up to date with the school via Facebook and Twitter. Watch videos about the school on their Vimeo channel, or photos on the Instagram account.