Confession: I’m a bit of a Phuket addict. Somehow, I always end up back on the sunny Thai island—sometimes 4-5x a year— despite my best efforts to boycott it or stay away (only because I should really see new places). It’s close, cheap and easy to get to from Hong Kong, not to mention the amazing food, massage, weather and hotels!
After about ~10 trips to Phuket, here are my absolute favourite things:
Wicked Diving – Not exactly in Phuket but an hour north in Khao Lak. I did a liveaboard in January 2017 in the Similan Islands and it was very well-organised. I loved how they made an effort to be sustainable, including hosting talks on saving sharks, not serving seafood on the boat and making sure all soaps used were ocean-friendly.
BTW, did you know that all the sunscreen that people slather on before entering the ocean just slips right off, and coats the corals they come in contact with? Please opt for ocean-friendly sunscreen, and/or apply it at least 20-30 mins before you go into the water!
Nudi Tours – Great company offering day trips to Phi Phi Island and Phang Nga Bay, including James Bond Island. It’s a bit on the pricier side but having smaller groups on speedboats is worth every penny. They provide snorkeling gear and the guides are great. Note: If you’re unlucky with the weather (ie. it rains), there’s not much they (or anyone) can do to make things better.
Phuket Cleanse – An amazing place to get fit, eat clean and make really great friends while doing so! I’ve been to Phuket Cleanse twice, once in December 2013 and once in January 2017, and I can’t wait to go back. Most people are returning guests who come back at least once a year. The daily schedule is packed with morning hikes, hot yoga, muay thai, normal yoga, raw food meals/cooking classes, inspirational talks and meditations, making it an all-you-can-eat/do wellness buffet. Many activities take place outside of the resort so it’s a good chance to see more of Phuket too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Nana Bowls – Created by Phil Anthony M, an inspirational coach and TEDx speaker whom I met at Phuket Cleanse, Nana Bowls are protein-packed smoothie bowls with staying power. Unlike other smoothie bowls that can be mostly ice or juice, they are dairy, gluten, sugar and soy-free, not to mention vegan-friendly too. They can be found at various cafes across the island, and of course, at Phuket Cleanse.
Amatara Wellness Resort – one of my favourite and most memorable stays in Phuket. It’s located in Cape Panwa, the very south-eastern point of the island, but it has 270-degree views of the ocean. If you stay in one of the ocean facing pool villas, you’ll get to see one of the most beautiful sunrises in the world(!) That said, staying on the cape side is quite meh and not really worth it. The hotel has since rebranded itself into a wellness resort, but I’ve yet to visit again.
Santhiya Koh Yao Yai – a quaint but luxurious little island hotel just 20 minutes away from Phuket by speedboat. It’s owned by a family that makes teak wood, so the hotel has 30 teak wood pool villas and 60 other rooms—the hotel shuttles that run up and down the resort are also in teak wood. The infinity pools are amazing, food is great and live bands play in the evenings. The place has a magical feel that’s quite romantic and intimate.
The Slate – super close to the airport, which is a plus when most other hotels are at least a 40-minute ride away. Really nice pools inside of the resort, and has a good spa (with tree units). The only downside is that the food is just OK.
Raya Restaurant – Best crab curry EVER! You get a bowl of yellow curry with big chunks of deshelled crab inside, which you spoon over little piles of thin rice noodles. There are tons of other delicious traditional Thai dishes there to choose from too.
That’s it for now…to be continued 😉