Hedonistic Phuket seduces honeymooners, heiresses, surfer babes and middle-aged men trying to score with a smooth blend of ostentation and seediness. Thailand’s largest and most popular island, Phuket is as colourful as it is cosmopolitan and one of the world’s most famous dream destinations. Phuket (poo-get) boasts some lush inland vistas, including a few remote swathes of rainforest on Ko Yao, but the island really comes into its own along its western shoreline, where hunter-green foliage meets the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea.
The mile upon sandy mile of coastline boasts tons of water sports, delectable restaurants and decadent resorts. In fact, travellers named four of Phuket’s hotels among the world’s best in a recent magazine poll. Heavily developed, Phuket can, at times, feel a little like Bangkok-on-Sea, a Costa del Farang. Top-end resorts in Karon bear testament to the hegemony of the holiday buck, package tourists dramatically outnumber independent travellers in Hat Surin, and if you stick to the well-worn highways, quiet corners are few and far between.
But if you can do without the beer halls and girlie bars of Patong, Phuket’s uber-resort, there’s a whole other island to discover. Whether it’s swanky resorts of the Laguna complex, the relaxed and less developed beach of Nai Han, or the night markets of old Phuket Town, Phuket has something to satisfy every appetite. Just don’t forget your Speedos.
Laem Singh Beach