Thailand - Getting to know Phuket
There have been one or two challengers for the title of Thailand’s premier beachside retreat in the years since Phuket first began to seduce visitors, but the country’s largest island remains a heavy-hitter. Gorgeous and very well equipped, Phuket caters effortlessly to everyone from families to the pleasure-seekers drawn to what are without doubt some of the country's finest luxury hotels and most romantic retreats.
There’s much more to Phuket than simply being home to some of Thailand’s finest beaches, although that is praise enough given there’s no shortage of shorelines with the ‘wow’ factor around these parts. It’s an island of forest-clad hills, coconut and rubber farms, verdant rice fields, wildlife parks and world-class golf courses. And that’s before we even mention the seriously fine restaurants, excellent entertainment, superb water sports and opportunities for a spot of light adventure.
What to do on Phuket
- Phuket doesn’t just do beaches - it does them in varying guises, vibes and styles. So, whether you want to throw open the doors straight onto golden sands, or find ‘desert island’ seclusion, this island has just about every base covered. If you’re looking for laid back and uncrowded head to Kata Noi or Nai Harn; Surin Beach has an upscale, luxury vibe and the calm, shallow waters of Kamala beach are perfect for families.
- Spend a morning with the resident elephants of Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, the first ethical elephant centre in Phuket. The sanctuary is essentially a retirement camp for elephants that have been working in the country’s logging and tourism industries. Elephant care and conservation are at the heart of its ethos: you’ll join the herd, walking with, rather than riding on, the elephants in their natural forest habitat. It’s a unique opportunity to experience and learn about these amazing animals up close.
- Go to town. With its Sino Portuguese mansions, Buddhist temples, Chinese shrines and beautifully preserved ‘shop-houses’, Phuket Town is well worth exploring. It’s especially interesting after sunset, when a selection of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and boutiques provide a nice alternative to resort life.
Beaches beyond Phuket.
- KOH PHI PHI. There’s plenty to do on Phuket, but it would be a shame not explore its neighbours. Ko Phi Phi is undoubtedly the best known of these, and it’s an extremely beautiful island, even amongst such an array of good-looking neighbours! Limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, white sand beaches and miles of trackless forest make Phi Phi a superb option for a day visit, however we would recommend staying a few nights to experience the island once all the day-trippers have left.
- KHAO LAK. Head in a northerly direction from Phuket, following the Andaman coast for around two hours and you’ll find yourself in Khao Lak. Whilst the town itself is unremarkable, the seemingly endless, white-sand beach is dotted with numerous hotels that will appeal to both families and couples alike. It’s also the access point to the stunning Similan Islands which boast some of the best dive sites in the country.
- KOH YAO NOI. Lying 45-minutes by boat off the coast of Phuket, the sleepy island of Koh Yao Noi is largely undeveloped with just a handful of boutique resorts located on its peaceful, picture-postcard shores. Away from the beach, roads are, unsurprisingly, quiet, making cycling an excellent way of exploring the island, and the forested interior is dotted with walking trails offering the opportunity for immersion in nature and monkey sightings. Our favourite place to stay is Six Senses Yao Noi. Think ultra-private villas, your own butler, mouth-watering food and bags of pampering. There’s every chance you won’t want to leave!
select another destination