With its 576 square kilometers it is just a bit smaller than Singapore, but it is the country’s largest island. History dates back more than 40.000 years ago, but it gets really interesting after the 17th century with the arrival of European and Chinese traders. Bird-nests, tin, pearls and ambergris were highly priced goods that fetched high prices, but unfortunately attracted pirates as well.
In 1785 the Burmese showed some keen interest in Phuket and decided to invade. The Thai army was fighting elsewhere and this meant that the island was undefended. The local population was not impressed by the Burmese invaders and under the leadership of two sisters, Mook and Chan, they repelled the attack. At the same time, a British merchant of the East India Company, Capt. Francis Light, wanted to make Phuket one of the Strait Settlements.
After he received a firm “no” from the newly established government in Bangkok, he decided to move to Penang instead. From that moment on, Phuket’s history is a story of tin, rubber and tourism.