Early History Phuket
Located on trading routes between India and China, Phuket was subjected to foreign influences long before many other parts of Thailand. Ships would anchor in the safe harbours of Phuket and wait for the northeast monsoon winds which would allow them to proceed to India.
The interior jungle was inhabited by indigenous tribes until they were displaced in the 19th century by tin miners. The coastal areas were inhabited by Chao Leh, sea-gypsies who made their living through piracy and fishing for pearls. Although threatened by development, Chao Leh villages can still be found along the coast of Phuket and neighbouring islands.
Phuket first became part of a Thai state during the thirteenth century when Thai armies from Sukhothai wrestled control of the island from the Srivijaya Empire based in Sumatra.