Not only is Phuket Thailand’s biggest island in terms of size, it’s also got one of the biggest colour pallettes going, too. Dip into its bottle-green lagoons and swim with cobalt blue starfish at Paradise Beach, spot orange-robed monks at the Big Buddha temple and relax with a Chang beer on the beach as the sky is painted by a pink sunset. Talking of beaches, there are over 90 miles of coastline on offer in Phuket, so it’s fair to say you’ve got plenty to choose from. Soak up some rays on the unspoilt Kamala Beach if you’re after some peace and quiet, or head to Patong Beach if you like things a little livelier. Phuket also puts you in perfect daytripping distance of Koh Phi Phi and the Similan Islands.
Bangkok’s the world’s most visited city, and no trip is complete without ticking off the glittering Grand Palace. Built way back in the 18th century, it’s been home to a number of Thai kings, so there are tonnes of different styles of architecture to admire as you wander. Marvel at the Emerald Buddha, known as Wat Phra Kaew, carved from a single block of jade, and get some snaps by the ‘chedis’ – golden pagodas that replicate Angkor Wat. Don’t forget to take a trip to Chinatown on the way there, either. Experience the buzz of the city from the back of a tuk-tuk and make a stop at Yaowarat Road, AKA Chinatown. Tuck into a pick ‘n’ mix of freshly prepared dishes from steaming woks and banana leafs loaded with satay, before going for a wander in the nearby flower market.
There are roughly 200 islands that cling to the coast of Krabi, making it the perfect place to hop in a canoe and go exploring. Or, if you’d rather stick to dry land, see what all the fuss is about around southern Thailand’s beaches and sip coconuts on two of the big hitters – Kata Noi Beach and Ya Nui Beach. Fancy something more hush hush? Railay Beach is a hidden lagoon that can only be reached by boat, and offers up a handful of monkeys as well as some of the best climbing spots in the world. Meanwhile, over at enchanting Thung Teao Forest Natural park, hike through thick jungle, spot exotic birds and go for a swim in the Crystal Lagoon. Nights in Krabi are pretty special, too. Head to Krabi Town and rummage for take-me-homes in its two night markets or sit back and soak up the atmosphere with a beer or two.
Khao Lak pairs jungles with beaches to form the ultimate tropical paradise. Feel like Tomb Raider in Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park and swim beneath waterfalls, or stay dry and canoe between majestic limestone cliffs. Sound too much like hard work? Test your spice resistance at a cookery class and make your favourite Thai dishes, then turn up the heat in Ban Bor Dan’s mineral-packed hot springs. And, if you’re into nature, time your trip for the first week of March and watch turtles flipper their way from sand to sea at the Turtle Releasing Festival on Thai Muang Beach.
What better way to relax after some marathon market shopping than staying in Patong Merlin Hotel, which is right next door to the beach and has four swimming pools on offer.
The ROBINSON Club Khao Lak strikes the perfect active-unwind balance with plenty of pools, a busy sports schedule and a tranquil on-the-sand postcode.
Relaxing is easy at the JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort, a property right on the beach and home to the longest pool in South East Asia.
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