The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has an office in Phuket Town at 191 Thalang Rd. (tel. 07621-2213), but, in general, hotel concierge or independent tour desks offer more up-to-date information. There are lots of free maps on offer (all are full of advertisements); for driving around the island, pick up the very detailed Map of Phuket (Periplus Editions) at bookstores. Restaurants and hotel lobbies are good places to pick up any of a number of free local publications: Phuket Food-Shopping-Entertainment is packed with dining suggestions and ads for many of the island's activities; What's On South has some useful information on Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, and Krabi; and there a few fun local magazines for sale. Also look out for the useful Art & Culture South and Old Phuket Treasure Map.
If you are on Phuket around October/November, don't miss the Vegetarian Festival. The name is misleading -- it is not about Animal Rights or being health conscious, but a Thai-Chinese tradition on Phuket (and now celebrated widely throughout southern Thailand) that corresponds with the Buddhist Lent. For 9 days, not only do devotees refrain from meat consumption, but many also submit to violent public acts of self-mutilation through piercing their bodies with long skewers or swords, and often walking over hot coals. The festival began as an act of penance to the spirits to help early inhabitants ward off malaria, but these days, the rituals are more for young men to prove themselves and for gaining merit and good luck. Early-morning processions follow through the streets of Phuket Town and major temples around the island, with onlookers clad in white for the occasion. During this time you can also feast on terrific vegetarian buffets at many restaurants on the island. Visit www.phuketvegetarian.com for exact dates and more info.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.