Hotels in Phuket
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Phuket - The Pearl of the Andaman Sea
Around 30 miles in length, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and the country’s second most-visited destination after Pattaya. Despite the 2004 tsunami and the development upsurge in its wake, Phuket’s 30+ sandy beaches retain their magical allure. Along its western shores, exclusive resorts hug the rugged coastline, twinkling to life at night. Hedonistic haven Patong continues to draw crowds with its notorious party strip and the arrival of many wallet-friendly hotels. In the south, island-capital Phuket City has a thriving historic heart and is the gateway to Ko Phi Phi with ferries leaving from colourful and chaotic Rassada Pier.
A City Full of Surprises
Phuket City makes for a fascinating tour by foot, moped or tuk tuk. In its historic heart, colonial mansions, traditional Chinese-style shophouses and Sino-Portuguese properties mingle. Phuket City’s thriving restaurant scene offers travellers all manner of culinary adventures. English menus and talented local chefs are a given, while street-food vendors offer a fast fix at every turn. Souvenir-hunters delight in the dark antique shops, quirky gift-shops and small galleries. Known also as a destination for day-spas, Thai cookery schools and Buddhist retreats, there really is something for everyone. For panoramic views over Phuket City, visitors climb, cycle or take a tuk tuk up to the viewpoint and restaurant on Monkey Hill. At the very walkable city’s outer limits, the climate-controlled Central Festival Mall is where locals and tourists alike gather to cool down when the late-summer humidity becomes unbearable.
Take the Temple Trail
Phuket Island’s main districts have their own distinct cultural flavours. South-west coastal district Kathu is home to the 45m-high Big Buddha and the impeccably maintained Wat Karon temple complex which hosts a colourful bi-weekly night market. In northern district Thalang, visitors flock to see the half-buried Temple of the Golden Buddha, or the Thalang National Museum and the Heroines Monument, which mark the defeat of Burmese invaders back in the 18th century. Phuket City has several shrines to visit including the atmospheric Shrine of the Serene Light. The city’s historic architecture also includes a museum dedicated to the stamps of South East Asia, and another celebrating Phuket’s long trade-relationship with the Chinese. Further south, in the Chalong district, salmon-pink Wat Chalong has 36 golden Buddhas in various states of repose. Chalong Rum is Phuket’s only distillery and offers 30-minute tasting tours. Also in the south, Rawai is the home of the bohemian Phuket Art Village.
Living the Island Life
This super-sized Andaman island makes it impossible for visitors to stay indoors, with a zoo and a butterfly farm, three national parks and several world-class diving sites within easy reach. A few miles from Phuket’s shores, underwater enthusiasts can explore the abundant marine life at Koh Racha Yai, Shark Point and King Cruiser Wreck. In the far north, and just 15 minutes from the airport, Sirinat National Park offers pristine beaches and a wildlife reserve with sea turtles. In the east, Khao Phra Thaeo National Park is home to gibbons, Malayan sun bears, flying foxes, mouse deer and other fantastic beasts. Dotted around the coastline, raised viewpoints allow for envy-inducing selfies, the finest of those being the Phromthep Cape Peninsula at the island’s southernmost point, which offers sublime sunset views and a strange ¬¬crab-shaped lighthouse, while nearby Siray Island has a long-established Sea-Gypsy community.©
Ain’t no Party like a Patong Party
Follow the general flow to find yourself shoulder-deep in vice-fuelled nightlife along neon-lit Bangla Road, where you’ll stumble into strip joints, massage parlours and karaoke bars brimming with beautiful hostesses attempting to bewitch tourists of their baht. Watch Thailand’s best boxers competing at the Bangla Road Stadium or explore the night markets near Jungceylon Shopping Plaza and marvel at some quality counterfeit goods. Try a spicy papaya salad in a backstreet restaurant and prepare to be hooked for life. Take a bayside nightcap on the balmy terrace of a promenade pub, or step inside to find talented cover bands and wildly dancing tourists. Pay a party tuk tuk to whisk you back to your hotel and enjoy blaring dance music and flashing disco lights en route. Recover on the spotless sands of Patong’s 2.2-mile beach and find your stamina for the inevitably long night ahead.
Where to stay – Phuket’s West Coast
Though many independent travellers fall for the lesser-visited districts in the south and east of Phuket, most package-tours focus on the west coast, where many of the island’s most striking beaches have evolved into small but vibrant seaside communities. Here, beach shacks and diving schools rub shoulders with luxurious spa resorts. Resort towns Karon, Kata, Nai Yang and Kamala are popular destinations for travellers in search of down time. On the northwest coast, seven-mile-long beach Mai Khao in Sirinat National Park offers several four-star spa resorts and the Splash Jungle Water Park. This area is a popular choice with families and those who need a hotel close to the airport. From here, travellers can reach the terminal buildings in 15 minutes and most resorts offer shuttles.
Price rangefrom NZ$8to NZ$16,265
- Hotels in Patong Beach 1430 Hotels from NZ$10
- Hotels in Karon Beach 349 Hotels from NZ$13
- Hotels in Kata Beach 252 Hotels from NZ$16
- Hotels in Cape Panwa (Phuket) 535 Hotels from NZ$12
- Hotels in Phuket-Town 3674 Hotels from NZ$8
- Hotels in Kamala Beach 269 Hotels from NZ$24
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