Phuket, Thailand Travel Guide and Things to Do: Nine Highlights


THE SINGLE BEACH

Anyone who can’t find their dream beach in Phuket is probably allergic to sand. The west coast of the island has a 50 kilometer coastline stretching north to Mai Khao (White Wood) beach, a seemingly endless strand of shade trees, barefoot and beach resorts quality. It is also a national park and an area of ​​sea turtles. See phuket.net

THE OLD TOWN

Phuket, Thailand - February 08, 2014: People walking on Thalang Road at Phuket Old Town Festival on February 08, 2014 in Phuket, Thailand satapr2phuket phuket thailand One & OnlyÂÂ;  text by John Borthwick cr: iStock (reuse permitted, no syndication)

Photo: iStock

Phuket Old Town reminds us that history happened here, that Phuket Island was not always a tourist sandbox. Its 19th-century Sino-Portuguese boutique houses live on today as shops, restaurants and teahouses. Stroll along the Thalang Road walking street and explore a temple or two, a bar, a spa, everything. See whatsoninphuket.com

THE MORE CUP OF COFFEE

At the corner of Thalang and Yaowarad roads in the old town, you will find Old Phuket Cafe. For 50 years it was the Great Hand Tailors shop, but the next generation of the family has taken it both retro, with classic and antique Chinese decor, and contemporary with great coffee, drinks and food . See whatsoninphuket.com

THE UNIQUE MUSEUM

In northern Phuket, visit the beautifully restored 1936 Chinese Art Deco mansion, Baan Ah-Jor House (Great-Grandparents’ House). Now a private, non-profit museum, the three-story house was built by a mining businessman and lovingly restored by his descendants, revealing the lifestyle of a wealthy Thai-Chinese family from the 1930s. Don’t miss his excellent restaurant, Red Table. See baanarjor.com

THE SINGLE TEMPLE

Wat Chalong in Phuket, Thailand satapr2phuket phuket thailand One & OnlyÂÂ;  text by John Borthwick cr: iStock (reuse permitted, no syndication)

Photo: iStock

The 19th century Wat Chalong, Phuket’s largest and most visited temple, features a 60m ‘chedi’ tower housing a bone fragment believed to be from the Buddha. Large murals depict his life story as Thai devotees attach offerings of tiny gold leaf to the many statues. Tip: Visit early in the day and dress conservatively. See renown-travel.com

THE SINGLE CITY

Love it or leave it. Patong, Phuket’s party epicenter is packed with shops, restaurants and hotels. Just inland from its long, beautiful beach is Bangla Road, a strip of neon-lit bars (in)famous for its lively nightlife. After that comes a serious commercial area with big malls like Central Patong and Jungceylon. See phuket.net

THE ONLY ATTRACTION

A serious reassessment of the treatment of elephants in Thailand has led to the shelving of rides, “trunk painting” and similar tourist stunts. ‘Look, don’t touch’ is the ethos of Phuket Elephant Sanctuary Park where, from a 500m elevated walkway, you can watch 12 rescued elephants as they roam, feed and bathe. See phuketelephantsanctuary.org

THE ONLY EXCURSION

Phuket Marine National Park in the far north is an escape from the island’s sometimes over-the-top success. And also the home of its best, least known thrill. Kayaking along the water-dappled paths of the Thachatchai mangrove forest is an interlude in time. Reinforced mangrove roots line the canals and water crows watch you pass. See thailandnationalparks.com

THE ONLY HOTEL

Perched on an exclusive peninsula overlooking the sublime bay of Phang Nga, Como Point Yamu is one of the most beautiful resorts on the island. The balcony views that stretch from sunrise to sunset, along with the cuisine and decor that reflect Phuket’s early Peranakan culture, make for a very majestic pleasure dome. See comohotels.com

ONE MORE THING

Phuket is your stepping stone to Phang Nga Bay where limestone islands rise like sleeping sea monsters – creation myths portray them as a herd of elephants captured by the rising tide. Explore this marvelous Jurassic car park and visit its twin islands of Koh Yao to extend your stay in Phuket. See phuket101.net

The writer was a guest of Como (comohotels.com) and Melia (melia.com) hotels and Thai Airways (thaiairways.com).

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