The largest and most popular of the Thai Islands has as many different personalities as it has beaches — and that’s quite a few! Pay no heed to those who say Phuket is past its prime: there are pockets of paradise here to compete with anywhere in the world.
Google Phuket and you’ll soon find that this desert-island idyll par excellence is no stranger to mass tourism, but that doesn’t mean you should give it a miss. You wouldn’t avoid France just because you don’t like Paris — so why avoid Thailand’s biggest island when there’s so much palm-fringed beauty to go around?
Your experience of Phuket will depend entirely on where you choose to stay. Phuket has 36 different beaches — ranging from pearly white to rich gold — all fringed with casuarina trees and lapped by the Andaman Sea. The southwest coast is the most developed, but you still can find a sense of isolation at the wonderfully calm Nai Harn Beach, secluded Cape Panwa, Coconut Island or northern Mai Khao. If you’re after a little more action, there’s chilled-out, village-like Sirinat, family-friendly Kamala and Karon, and trendy restaurants and a party vibe on Kata and Kata Noi (though without the excesses of notorious Patong Beach). Finally, there’s Phuket Town, lined with Sino-colonial mansions and shophouses, and with a rich culture shaped by centuries of trade with Peranakan, Dutch and English merchant ships.
Whatever your style, one thing’s for certain: you won’t find better accommodation anywhere. The options are staggering — particularly at the swankier end — so discover Michelin-standard food, world-class spa treatments, and barefoot luxury tucked away from the crowds. The tropical climate, soft sand, and calm seas teeming with colourful sea life come free.