Discover Phuket, Thailand in our Asia Port Guide
Welcome to our Asia Cruise Guide: Phuket, Thailand. A favorite destination of backpackers and divers, Boomers and honeymooners alike, Phuket has mass appeal while being fairly niche in its offerings. This famous Thai island is known for its beaches, water activities, many beautiful resorts and fun little
Airport: Phuket International Airport (HKT)
High season: Nov-March
Phuket’s Great Romantic Resorts
Contrary to popular opinion, the island of Phuket is not particularly pretty in many places. You show up thinking it’s a jade-hued wonderland bordered by beaches and containing nothing but beautiful hotels… but in fact, the island’s mostly muddy fields and dusty villages. There’s also some downright sketchy nightlife (mostly in Patong). If you’re on a romantic Phuket getaway, don’t leave your surroundings to chance. Pick one of the many stunning, serene, and romantic retreats for which the island is known. Here are a few favorites:
Glossy, somewhat of a scene, but oh, so chic. This is the kind of see-and-be seen hotel where, if it was in your home city, you’d be flattered to go for dinner on a third date or special anniversary. If you’re lucky enough to claim Banyan Tree as your home on Phuket, you can spend your days lounging poolside in designer shades with the rest of the glossy posse, then “dress” for cocktails and dinner. The lounge is a great place to end the night—expensive, but with real ambience beyond that of a hotel bar.
Wherever you see an Aman resort, you’re assured of quality, and this is no exception. Traditional Thai pavilions and graceful villas are set amidst coconut palms, overlooking the Andaman Sea. Everyone, from the first-time traveler to the most jaded journeyer, falls under this hotel’s spell.
This boutique hotel may not have many guests in comparison to some properties, but that doesn’t mean it lacks for things to do. Far from it. The property offers everything from cooking classes to beach barbecues to yoga to golf packages at nearby Blue Canyon course. If you just feel like napping, do it on the beach—rated as one of Thailand’s cleanest—or by your own private pool, if you’ve splurged on a pool villa.
Four Great Phuket Day-Trips
When you come to Phuket, you get more than just the main island. A score of smaller islands and offshore attractions await, for the adventurous or those who just like to get away from the crowds.
Phi Phi Islands
Actually, you won’t get away from the crowds if you visit either of these two islands. They’re second only to Phuket itself in terms of regional tourism traffic. However, the water offshore remains pristine thanks to protected marine park status, and the islands are easy to reach, thanks to ferry service. Snorkeling, scuba diving and catch-and-release fishing are the three favorite water activities. The not-so-high sea cliffs lend themselves to rock climbing and even some cliff diving.
Boat out to these islands in the early AM and enjoy a full day of absolute relaxation on some of the most gorgeous beaches known to man. There are two of these islands, the larger Koh Kai Nog and the smaller, quieter Koh Kai Nai.
Phang Nga Bay
North of Phuket province, this shallow bay is a national marine park known for its many rare bird species, its proliferation of tiny limestone islands jutting out of the shallow bay, and the archaeological sites found in places habitable by humans. Some of the 40+ islands are just too small to be habitable—but ironically, one of the smallest is also the most famous, albeit with one-hit-wonder status. Bizarre-looking Ko Tapu island—taller than it is wide—is also known as James Bond Island, thanks to its star turn in Man with the Golden Gun.
Similan Islands National Park
This cluster of islands is one of the world’s best dive sites. Actually there are many individual sites scattered all around the nine granite islands, and experiences range from cave dives to muck dives (exotic—no kidding!) to relaxed and extremely underwater explorations of the East Side coral reefs.
Looking for a different type of adventure? Check out our South America Cruise Food Guide: Cuisines of Brazil – By Region