The Scoop: Phuket
If tropical sunsets and warm blue oceans are on your next holiday list, Phuket may be the island of your dreams. As the largest island in Thailand, Phuket is one of Asia’s most popular beach destinations with an average year-round temperature of 32 degrees, palm-lined beaches and great value accommodation and dining options.
Apart from the famous nightlife of Patong Beach, Phuket has something for everyone, from world-class diving in the Andaman Sea to eco forest adventures and championship golf courses. The warmth of the locals is legendary in ‘The Land of Smiles’ and the vibrant atmosphere of fun follows you wherever you go.
When to go
You can visit Phuket year-round. High humidity means that it has a tropical feel, so you'll never feel cold (aside from the odd overzealous use of air-conditioning). The peak season runs from November to February, when it is typically drier and there is more sun. Outside these months, you tend to get more cloud and occasional heavy showers. Personally I love travelling out of season, as everything is cheaper and the tropical thunderstorms are fun! July and August are a great time to visit.
What to do
The opportunities for adventure are endless in Phuket. Featured in movies and famous for James Bond Island, Phang Nga Bay is a must-see, with its sheer limestone cliffs jutting from emerald green water. You can take a cruise or canoe trips around the islands to explore pirate caves and hidden grottos. Speedboat trips to outer islands are popular in Phuket, especially to the beach-fronted jungle that is Phi Phi Island.
Phuket is a shopper’s paradise with markets on every corner, however, visit Old Phuket Town to find funky new stores among the quaint colonial and Chinese architecture. Catch a Tuk Tuk to see the views from the 45m high Big Buddha, visit the Wat Chalong and Phuket Temples and check out the Simon Cabaret Show before strolling down Bangla Road to take in the weird and wonderful sights.
Where to stay
There are hundreds of accommodation options in Phuket and many of them are amazing value for money, considering the beachside locations and premier facilities. From 5-star luxury villas to cheap and cheerful hostels, you’ll be sure to find your own perfect little slice of paradise for your Thailand holiday.
Banyan Tree (£££)
As one of Phuket’s finest 5-star hotels, the Banyan Tree is a favourite among regular visitors for its villas with private pools. Lush grounds, surrounded by saltwater lakes, palms and flowering blooms, house a fitness pavilion, golf course, pools, tennis courts, a library, a gallery and world-famous spa. Guests enjoy beach service from attentive staff and yoga classes are offered each morning on the beach.
Arinara Bangtao Resort (££)
Arinara Bangtao Resort is located just steps from Bangtao Beach. The Resort’s rooms surround a huge outdoor pool and guests can sample Thai cuisine at the onsite Rimnahm Restaurant. The rooms and suites are fitted with floor to ceiling glass doors and all have private balconies, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV’s and seating areas.
White Patong (£)
Located 5 minutes walk from Patong Beach, all the nightlife of Bangla Road and Jungceylon Mall, the White Patong Hotel is in the perfect spot for anyone wanting to be smack bang in the middle of the action. All rooms are fully air-conditioned and equipped with cable TV’s, personal safes and minibars. The ground floor restaurant serves Thai and international cuisine, as well as breakfast.
Where to eat
Thai food is renowned the world over for its distinctive flavours and delicious ingredients. In Phuket, there’s such a wide variety of local dishes and international fare in restaurants, noodle bars, street stalls, resorts and cafes, that its impossible to resist the spicy smells and colourful menus. Phuket is especially famous for seafood and fresh, local produce.
Breeze at Cape Yamu (£££)
The award-winning Breeze restaurant boasts views over Cape Yamu and Phuket Town in the distance. The modern, inventive cuisine features only the freshest ingredients and the menu is ever-changing to make the most of the best produce on offer. There’s a 12-label wine list and the elegant décor blends with the magnificent outdoor setting.
Famous for all-day breakfasts including Rajistani scrambled eggs and omelettes stuffed with chicken and peas, Ella’s is a funky bar and bistro in Patong, on the ground floor of a small guesthouse. At lunch and dinner, they fire up the grill for barbecues that include pork ribs and fish. They take their coffee seriously and have an extensive cocktail menu for afternoon drinks with live music throughout the week.
Thai Taco (£)
The famous Thai Taco is located in the middle of Patong Beach and offers quesadillas, corn chips and salsa, fried rice, Thai dishes, burgers, hotdogs, fries and seafood at cheap prices in an unbeatable setting. They even sell their own Thai Taco T-shirts and fans take photos of themselves wearing them in different places around the world.
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