Destination of the Week: Phuket
Phuket is Thailand’s biggest island and a destination that was tailor-made for fun in the sun. Coined the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket’s tropical forests, turquoise seas and smiling locals frame the tourist haven of Patong and it’s here you’ll find swanky resorts, rocking nightlife venues and endless opportunities for swimming, sunbaking and sun downers by the sea.
What to do
Famous the world over as a natural movie set, Phang Nga Bay is home to sheer limestone cliffs that jut out of the iridescent, emerald water. You can take a boat trip to James Bond Island and Koh Panyee, then paddle a canoe around, in and under the cliffs, which are home to bats and incredible rock formations.
On another boat trip, speed over turquoise ocean to the spectacular Phi Phi Island, surrounded by fortress like cliffs with a backdrop of lush jungle spilling onto the white sand beaches. When you’ve had enough sun for the day, visit Phuket Old Town for funky shops, colonial and Chinese architecture and excellent restaurants for cheap eats. Culture vultures will love the Big Buddha, on top of the Nakkerd Hills and Wat Chalong, which is one of Phuket’s most important temples.
On dusk, head to Patong Beach for seaside sun downers and seafood, before taking an after-dark stroll down infamous Bangla Road. Be ready for some interesting sights, including the fabulous lady boys, exotic dancers, iguanas and monkeys on show and street side bars open until the sun comes up again.
Where to stay
Accommodation in Phuket is an absolute delight, with all-inclusive hotels, gorgeous beachside villas, well-equipped hostels and family-friendly apartments. Choose to stay along Patong Beach if you want to be in the heart of the action, or a little out of town for rest, relaxation and only a short tuk tuk ride into town.
Banyan Tree Phuket (£££)
The Banyan Tree is one of Phuket’s most beautiful hotels, famous for its onsite spa. It’s close to Bang Tao Beach and you can enjoy tennis courts, a pool, luxurious spa treatments and, if you really want to splash out, villas with private plunge pools.
Holiday Inn Express Patong (££)
Located across the road from Patong Beach, the Holiday Inn Express is a great value hotel in just the right spot to enjoy all the action of the tourist strip. With an outdoor pool, Wi Fi, rooms with balconies, a breakfast venue and a bar, you’ll have everything you could ask for in tropical holiday accommodation.
Patong Backpacker Hostel (£)
Right in the heart of all the action, the Patong Backpacker Hostel is a great place to stay if you plan on visiting Bangla Road each night and hanging out on Patong Beach every day. There’s a music lounge, a TV room, internet access and a free use kitchen.
Where to eat
Thai food is famous throughout the world, but you haven’t tried it until you’ve been to the place of origin. Fresh produce, rich spices and glorious sauces create succulent dishes you simply won’t be able to get enough of. If Thai food isn’t your choice, never fear, international restaurants and takeaway venues are in ready supply.
Mom Tri’s Kitchen (£££)
Perched on the edge of the sea, overlooking Kata Noi Beach, Mom Tri’s kitchen is the romantic choice for fine dining. An award winning wine cellar compliments a menu that includes Kata Noi Crab Cake, Veal Cheek Stew and Pepper and Peach Soup.
As one of Patong’s longest standing restaurants, Savoey is popular with returning tourists. You’ll spot it via the neon lobster out the front and, once inside, you can feast on a huge choice of international and Asian cuisine, including steamed mussels with Thai herbs and deep fried fish in spicy and sour orange curry soup.
Patong Food Park (£)
Patong Food Park is made up of carts with local sellers and their fresh produce. No matter where you go in Patong, you’ll find food carts with everything from delicious mango juice to Nutella crepes. Exercise caution if the food cart looks unhygienic or if you’re purchasing anything with salad, ice or meat. However, other than that, enjoy the cheap eats on offer!