When I first went to Phuket a few years ago I thought it would be a cliche, I imagined that somewhere evvvvvveryone goes must be completely over-rated. But I was surprised to find it the opposite. Yes, there are areas on the island that have been pretty much ruined by overdevelopment, and in those areas the old sleezy man tourism industry is clearly alive and kicking, but if you stay in the right place and have a well researched to-do list you’ll find it a heavenly break – and generally not that expensive which is always a bonus! Read on for a few pics and tips.
We were recommended Surin Beach when we first went there a few years ago, and now I wouldn’t stay anywhere else. This time we stayed at Twin Palms and it was seriously magic. Your day goes like this: wake for an early morning swim, breakfast, massage on the beach, another swim and then a slow cocktail induced slide into the afternoon followed up by sunset at Catch. Repeat the next day.
Umbrellas on Surin Beach | Water melon pops by the pool.
I have a strange love of hotel breakfasts – something about allll that choice makes me weirdly happy. The one at the Twin Palms was the perfect incentive to get out of bed in the morning. Did I mention it was free flow champagne every day too? :-/
I love tropical Thai architecture with its gorgeous combined indoor and outdoor spaces, and our hotel had it down pat. | The view from our room was perfection.
Plotting what I can do to re-locate permanently to Phuket. These loungers have my name on them!
Sunset from Surin Beach | The breakfast chefs at Twin Palms have obviously heard of instagram.
Early mornings are the best time of day in Surin Beach.
Loved reading my book on the veranda of our room | Beach walks
Greetings from the breakfast table!
One morning I walked to Laem Sing which is a tiny beach just south of Surin, hidden away and undeveloped, you access it from the top of the hill before coming into Surin | Afternoon snacks (of which you have many when you’re on holidays).
The sea can be rough during low season when we went, and although I hear it’s glassy during high season, you then have to put up with the huge number of tourists and higher prices so I don’t mind risking it (just be careful!).
Swim at the beach. Swim at the pool. Repeat.
Phuket Town: The Old Town in Phuket is a gorgeous mix of Chinese (from the tin mining days) and Portuguese influences, and a half day spent wandering is the touch of culture every beach holiday needs. Walk the streets of Thalang Road, Krabi Road and Diduk Roads and all the laneways in between. Stop for a coffee or mango shake on Soi Romance, and then have dinner at either Raya or Ka Jok See.
Fabric shopping (you can’t keep me away!) | Gorgeous portuguese tiles.
Pretty pastels in Phuket Town
Raya restuarant in Phuket Town | Offerings on Soi Romance
I have a serious crush on the buildings in Phuket Town | Loved the genuinely vintage (rather than renovated fake vintage that’s everywhere now) of Raya in Phuket Town.
Sunset on the streets of Phuket Town
South of the Island Day Trip: Take the coast road down to the south of the island visiting Patong (for a touch of shopping in the markets – but trust me you’ll want to pull the rip cord within an hour or so), Kata Viewpoint, and then stopping for a swim and lunch at Nai Harn Bay. Top it off with sunset at either Promthep Cape or a drink at Baba Nest at Sri Panwa (pity the fool who’s driving!). Talk about a perfect day.
The beachside cafe at Nai Harn where we had delicious steamed fish with soy and ginger.
Keen for some shopping? The Market street in Patong and the adjoining Mall has some pretty Thai textiles and other bits and bobs (amongst all the tat!).
Nai Harn Bay
Palm Trees at Kata Beach
North/East of the Island Day Trip: The Eastern coast of Phuket is very different to the west coast and well worth a look. You’ll find lots of mangrove forests, small fishing villages and quiet bays. The first time we visited Phuket we visited Bang Rong (a tiny muslim village) and had lunch at one of the floating restaurants there (Chum Chon I think it was called), if you’re in the area the Gibbon project and Bang Pae Waterfall are also supposed to be great but we didn’t have enough time.
FYI we hired a car from these guys and it worked out pretty cheap – we dropped it off at airport when we flew out so it was super convenient. Next time we’ll make sure to have them waiting at the airport when we land.
Am I the only one who plans their holidays according to their meals? I’m guessing not. Here are a few notable ones I had.
- Koh Jok See – Come for the delicious food in an old chinese house and stay for out of this world music and dancing after hours.
- Raya – we fell in love hard with this no frills restaurant in an old sino-portuguese house in Phuket Town. The food was some of the best we had and the tiles and antiques were a histper’s wet dream! The roast duck salad is a must.
- There are a clutch of restaurants on the beach road before you get to Patong – Ban Rim Pa, Joe’s and a few others – all owned by the same people. You’ll pay over the odds here but it does have a pretty amazing view of the sunset.
- Oriental Spoon – the restaurant in the Twin Palms serves delicious thai food, we had the best Chicken Cashew of the trip here. they also have an amazing brunch on Sundays which is well worth a look.
- Catch – Great option for a sunset drink, and also good if you have eaten too much thai food and want a simple (chilli free) salad burger.
- Lims – Cute outdoor restaurant with a babbling brook, the food wasn’t as standout as a few others we visited but still quite good and the setting is nice.
- When in doubt just try a simple beachside restaurant, Thai food is usually pretty good. Just pick one that’s busy so you know it’s fresh!
This trip I also did a meditation course over a few days at Roseberry Wellness Centre who also run yoga retreats. Something nice to do if you want to feel you’ve achieved something more than just eating too many mangoes!
Loving all the glass bottles in Thailand | On our way home flying over the limestone cliffs of Phang Nga.