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This Island Favorite Has So Much Going for It

If you think that Phuket is just for beaches, think again.

Koh Pah, Phang-Nga

Koh Pah, Phang-Nga. Courtesy of TAT

Apr 15, 2022

FOR THOSE OF US LIVING IN THAILAND, it’s easy to take Phuket for granted. We love the killer sunsets on drop-dead gorgeous beaches but there is so much more that Thailand’s biggest island has to offer. Explore the island’s history, enjoy local delicacies and world class cuisine, and connect with locals. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or looking for quality time with family, Phuket is for you.

Exploring Old Town

Phuket Thaihua Museum
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Phuket Thaihua Museum, courtesy of Phuket Thaihua Museum; “dry” rice porridge, courtesy of Go Benz; Fluffy Japanese cheesecake and Yuzu+Cold brew coffee, courtesy of DAY & NIGHT of Phuket (2).

One of Phuket’s hottest attractions is actually one of its oldest. Old Town Phuket is a collection of run down and renovated shophouses that form the perfect backdrop for street art and selfies. Many of these Sino-Portuguese structures now house new-fangled retro cafés that sit alongside traditional traders who have been around for generations. History buffs will love learning about the Chinese heritage of the island at the Phuket Thaihua Museum.

One of the newcomers to this historic neighborhood is Day and Night of Phuket, where we recharged our batteries over yuzu soda and fluffy fluffy Japanese cheesecake. You can also have coffees, cocktails or full meals, but we were saving room for an old-school eatery that is short on decor but long on atmosphere and great food. 50-year-old Michelin-rated Go Benz is a Phuket classic, known for khao tom haeng “dry” rice porridge that is first boiled then drained. Traditionalists top it with boiled pork offal, but these days every table orders a plate (or two) of the signature crispy pork belly.

Community Living

Baan Bang Rong Community. Courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand

Baan Bang Rong gives you the opportunity to live like a local, for a few hours or a few days. This is a fishing village, but you can also learn the secrets of tapping rubber trees, harvesting coconuts high above your head, picking pineapples, machete in hand or painting batik. You can also cook or just feast on southern faves like distinctive sataw, or stink beans, used in salads, stir fries or condiments. 

Treasures of the Sea

Courtesy of Intara Farm (2)

At sustainable Intara Farm, you can learn about pearl farming, discover local seafood like painted spiny lobster, kayak through the mangrove, help repopulate depleted wildlife, make natural dyes and enjoy the fruits of the sea in the restaurant.

Splish-Splash

Living Arts Gallery
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Super Fly, courtesy of Blue Tree Phuket; Courtesy of Andamanda Phuket; Living Arts Gallery, photo by Vincent Vichit-Vadakan

If you’re looking for a day out with the whole family, head straight for Blue Tree Phuket. With activities from water slides to cliff jumping, activities on water and land abound. And don’t miss the contemporary arts and crafts at the Living Arts Gallery, also located on site. 

When it opens in May 2022, the Andamanda Phuket will offer a 10,000-square-meter surfing wave pool, five water slide zones from extreme to kid-friendly as well as swim-up bars and floating restaurants.

The Unseen Beach

Koh Pah, Phang-Nga
Koh Pah, Phang-Nga. Courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand

Finally, if you’re looking for that one-of-a-kind beach, check out Koh Pah in neighboring Phang Nga. After a ground transfer to Khao Lak, a private boat will take you to “rag” Island, which gets its name because it is just a scrap of pristine beach in the middle of the sea. In fact at high tide, it is little more than three sand dunes of fine white sand.

Deliciousness

The Michelin inspectors were right to single out Peang Prai for excellent southern dishes like nga poo, fragrantly spiced crab meat cooked in banana leaves. Casual and cosmopolitan Mrs B. Bar and Table offers delicious food and a relaxed atmosphere. Look for grilled meats on a mix-and-match menu that has something for everyone. If you’re looking for classic French cuisine, Chef Yannick Hollenstein delivers the goods at L’arôme by the Sea. His smoked fondue with an onsen egg is a revelation and he works wonders with local ingredients like Phuket lobster. The latest addition the island’s dining scene is Samut and its all seafood tasting menu that turns Thai classics like khao yum (rice salad) and pla meuk nam dum (squid in squid ink) on their heads. 

Resting Your Head

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Courtesy of Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket; Courtesy of Homa; Courtesy of Akoya Star Lounge; Courtesy of The Nature; Courtesy of V Villas Phuket

Laguna Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket is now offering add-ons that include tooling around the island in a BMW series 5 or surfing on eco-friendly Lampuga jet boards. At stylishly affordable The Nature, you’ll find pools everywhere, a rooftop bar and a spa. Brand new Homa offers a co-working space and a rooftop infinity pool in a purpose-built structure that prides itself on being respectful of the environment. V Villas Phuket will spoil you rotten in one of its oh-so-exclusive 19 pool villas with 24-hour butler service and the Akoya Star Lounge, a destination of its own.

Travel Safe

Phuket was the first province in Thailand to roll out the SHA and SHA Plus labels, guaranteeing visitors that establishments strictly adhere to health and safety standards and have ensured that all their staff are vaccinated. Any travelers entering Thailand can opt for the Sandbox scheme that allows them to stay in Phuket or other destinations for five days or more before traveling around the rest of the country. 

TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND

TAT Head Quarter:  +66 2250 5500
TAT Call Center: 1672

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