For the real Thailand, travel to Phuket. Consisting of Phuket Island and a number of smaller islands, this Thai province is more relaxed and frenetic than some others that cater for the tourist crowd. That’s not to say that it doesn’t draw the usual backpackers and beachgoers, but that it’s easier to get away and have a more authentic experience. Thai culture is stronger here and the cultural mix, developed over centuries gives this area a unique feel. If you are drawn to Thailand, Phuket should be at the top of your list.
When to go
The best time to visit Thailand is during the dry season, between November and May. You may skip the crowds by travelling slightly before or slightly after these times.
Where to go
Phuket is all about relaxation. Kick back on the bright white sands with a cocktail. Tour the local markets, trying delicious street food or picking up local handicrafts. Visit Wat Chalong, the island’s most important and most beautiful Buddhist temple. Climb up to see the statue of the Big Buddha and admire the amazing reviews. Go diving and get up close to fish and coral.
Food & Drink
Thai cuisine is world famous for its unique combination of sweet and sour tastes. Pork, chicken and seafood feature heavily, with rice and noodles the staples. Fresh herbs and garnishes such as coriander and lemongrass often accompany dishes and curries are eaten for most meals. To taste the authentic Phuket, we recommend Suay (50/2 Takuapa Rd, Talat Nuea) for its welcoming hosts and zesty, fresh salad, while Blue Elephant (96 Krabi Road, Tambon Talad Neua) is heaven for seafood lovers, set in the old governor’s residence.
Phuket has its share of raucous nightclubs and backpacker bars, but for the more discerning traveller, there are some local gems. Catch Beach Club (Surin Beach Road, Cherngtalay) is a little slice of the French Riveria transplanted to a Phuket beach with cool cocktails and chic interiors. Baba Nest is a sophisticated rooftop bar where you can lounge on a cushion with a drink as the sun sets before you.
Where to stay
Paresa Phuket is a five-star hotel constituting a number of luxury villas. Visitors can relax and unwind in the superb spa facilities and have a range of choices when it comes to dining - amongst them the Diavolo Italian restaurant, Talung Thai and even a cooking school. In-suite dining is available and a luxury car service on call to take you anywhere you need to be.
How to get there
Thai, Qatar, Emirates and a range of other airlines fly to Phuket via Bangkok daily.