Asia Port Guide: Phuket, Thailand

Discover Phuket, Thailand in our Asia Port Guide

Asia Cruise Guide  Phuket, Thailand
Asia Cruise Guide: Phuket, Thailand

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 daytrips to smaller, less developed islands in Phuket Province. There’s nightlife in Patong resort area, eco-adventures at Sirinat National Park, and great scuba diving in the waters off the nearby Similan Islands. And of course, everywhere you go, there’s mouthwatering, spicy, curried and  coconutty Thai food. Definitely venture outside of your hotel to dine, as a variety of pleasant, pretty local places offer great food and service for a fraction of what the hotels charge.

Airport: Phuket International Airport (HKT)

High season: Nov-March

Currency: Baht

Phuket’s Great Romantic Resorts

Asia Cruise Guide  Phuket, Thailand, Anantara Layan Phuket Resort
Anantara Layan Phuket Resort

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:

Banyan Tree

Asia Cruise Guide Phuket, Thailand, Banyan Tree Phuket
Banyan Tree Phuket

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.

Amanpuri

Asia Cruise Guide  Phuket, Thailand, Amanpuri
Amanpuri

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.

Aleenta Phuket

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

Asia Cruise Guide  Phuket, Phi Phi Islands
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.

Koh Kai

Asia Cruise Guide  Phuket, Koh Kai
Koh Kai

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

Asia Cruise Guide: Phuket, Phang Nga Bay
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

Asia Cruise Guide: Phuket, Similan Islands National Park
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

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