Ah, Phuket. If you’ve never been, it’s time to put it on the top of your list. It’s a tropical island holiday with a real difference. Sure, it has all the things you’d expect. A clear blue sea, white sand beaches lined with tropical palms and cocktails that cone with umbrellas in them…but what really sets this destination apart is the beautiful culture and food.
If your idea of a great holiday includes elephant rides, playing with a eight-week-old tiger cub, getting up close to wild monkeys on a dessert beach, zip lining 30 meters above the ground through a rain forest canopy, and kayaking through an underwater cave into a sunlit island paradise… Then Phuket is the place for you.
on the other hand, if you prefer quiet dinners in a classy restaurant overlooking a white sandy beach, laughing by the pool while the kids enjoy the water side nearby, taking a show at a theatre filled with Thai history and culture, or learning how to cook authentic Thai food while sipping on a chilled moctail, then Phuket is the place for you, too! On top of all the activities and natural sights are the ever-smiling Thai people, who are so warm and welcoming each day that it’s impossible to walk around without a huge smile yourself.
Where to go
Karon Beach is on the west coast, between Kata and Patong. A wide stretch of squeaky sand makes five-kilometre beach great for a sunset stroll. A cycle path runs its length too. Hotels and resorts are set back from the beach, so you don’t feel hemmed in by development. It’s a great spot to either luxuriate in your resort or find a spot to relax on the beach under a beach umbrella. Water sports include diving, snorkelling, sea kayaking, waterskiing, jet skinning and parasailing, but local operators are relatively few, so the water is rarely overcrowded.
There are just handful of bars and restaurant along the main road so this spot is fantastic for a relaxing break. But if the town feels too sleepy for you, you can rent a motorbike, hop on a tuk-tuk or catch the bus to go to Phuket town 20 kilometres.
What to do
- Flying hanuman, an elevated zipline jungle safari.
- Tiger Kingdom
- Elephants tracking island excursion
- Sea cave canoe
- James Bond island
- Kayaking around Panak island
- Cruise across Phang Nga Bay
- Phuket FantaSea- cultural theme park.
Where to stay
Novotel Phuket Karon beach resort & spa is a great option for any kind of traveller, because of its room types are located in their own private area. For example, if you’re on a romantic break, you won’t find yourself surrounded by families, and if you are there with kids, they can hang out with other littlies. Onsite, there are age-appropriate kids clubs, safe play ares and video-game area. Babysitting is available on request. The facilities are great too – the grounds are tropical, there’s a pool and fitness centre and even the standard rooms have rainforest shower heads. If you want to dine at the resort, there are two bars with light-snack options, as well as three restaurants including a poolside grill, for pizzas and more.
Swissotel resort Phuket, about 20 kilometres north of Patong, which is the main tourist hub I the region. The hotel itself is about 15yrs old, with the Swissotel taking over just two years ago. The resulting transformation has been tremendous, with many areas complete you renovated and focus on families now at the core of many of its decisions. Situated only 200 meters from Kamala beach, the Swissotel’s design centres on a huge saltwater pool, complete with water slide, volleyball net and swim-up bar. The suites run down both sides of this aqua heaven and contain one, two or three bedrooms. The restaurant also overlooking the pool, making it very easy for mum and dad to relax and enjoy lunch while watching the kids have a splash. With both western and Thai food on offer, even the fussiest eaters will find something to their liking, while the more adventures can enjoy a variety of traditional local dishes or even have a go at pulling on an apron and learning how to cook these themselves.
Jetstar flies direct to Phuket regularly from Sydney and Melbourne.