On this trip my first port of call was Phuket, an island located in the Andaman Sea off Southern Thailand. I arrived here to enjoy some time out on this alluring and vibrant destination. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is here that an unbeatable collection silky soft and white palm-lined beaches are to be had and where excellent snorkelling, dining and world-class luxury resorts are on offer every day. I arrived to clear sunny skies and cooling sea breezes; it was sheer paradise.
This beautiful island has been one of Asia’s most popular beach destinations. Whether one is a world-class diver or just has a wont to spend time at a tropical getaway, Phuket is the place to be. Amazing scenery, striking tropical sunsets and warm blue sea await and promise to deliver some unforgettable holiday moments. There is always something to do both on and off the island. The range of activities and places to visit is remarkable for such a small island. Even for those who like shopping Phuket offers a variety of shopping venues from night markets and local shops to western style department stores and upmarket specialist shops.
I stayed at the Amanpuri, a resort tucked away on the west coast of Phuket within a secluded coconut plantation from where stunning views over the turquoise sweep of the Andaman Sea are to be had. This is the first of the Aman resorts to be opened and it pioneered the concept of small luxurious resorts that feature modern facilities and service with local design aspects and a careful blending with the natural surrounds.
Amanpuri offers 40 Thai-styled pavilions and 32 private villas. Each of the pavilions features a king-size bed, an oversized bathroom, spacious dressing areas and an outdoors sala with sun deck and dining terrace. Several types of pavilion are on offer here, a pool pavilion, garden pool pavilion and ocean pavilion, each of which has their own private pool.
While in Phuket, I visited Phang Nga Bay because of its distinctive feature of sheer limestone cliffs that jut vertically out of the emerald-green waters. Two of the most iconic spots in this bay worth seeing are James Bond Island (Khao Phing Kan) and Koh Panyee. I found that the best way to enjoy the fantastic scenery here is to take a one-day boat trip from the northern end of Phuket. This is a rewarding cruse through dramatic limestone islands where one can stop and enjoy quiet beaches or paddle through limestone caves of cathedral proportions where stalagmites and stalactites stand or hang like sentinels over nature’s majestic subterranean beauty. Being paddled through bays and around islands and limestone caves allows one to enjoy the sights without exertion.
Phuket abounds with beach clubs, some of which number amongst the best anywhere. One that stands out for me is
the Baba Nest. From the deck here one is treated to a 360-degree view of Phuket and the Andaman Sea. This venue sits on the highest point of the island’s southeastern peninsula and is set on a large deck with an Infinity pool surrounding its elevated site thus creating the sensation that one is floating between sky and sea. Here one can enjoy four course meals, cocktails, magnificent views and more cocktails through the magic of a tropical sunset.
Phuket’s surrounding islands provide some of the best spots for snorkelling as the water is clear and usually calm allowing views of amazing colour bursts – compliments of the prolific marine life. The best time for snorkelling is between November and April when the sea is at it most placid. Ko Racha Yai is one of the more popular snorkelling spots because of its proximity to Phuket and its rich marine life.