Relaxation in Phuket, Thailand can be had by indulging both in rest and action. Snag Phuket resort discounts and hotel deals to discover that this premier beach 3km destination can invigorate in contrasting ways. The key is to alternate visits to quiet towns and beaches with party-themed jaunts over a weekend. The place is teeming with awe-inspiring sights and boasts locals with a hankering for food, art, and revelry, so there is every kind of fun to join.
Follow this itinerary to ensure that you’ll get to experience all the flavors that Phuket offers.
Friday at around 4 PM
When you get here, head straight to the beach town of Kamala. Successfully recovered from the tsunami a few years back, Kamala features quaint cottages that pepper the hillside and bars that line the beach. Welcome yourself to Phuket with a crepe-like roti, filled with egg and fruit, and glazed with condensed milk. Walk along Kamala’s wide sandy beach to reenergize.
If you have money to burn, set it aflame at Pansea Beach to end the day. Pansea is a small, secluded beach that, although runs for only 250 meters, has fine white sand that glistens in the light. The rock formations on either end frame the beach into a dreamy, postcard vision. Expensive hotels like Amanpuri have made Pansea exclusive for guests. A second option is the miles of untouched golden sand at the deserted Mai Khao Beach, which is part of Sirinat National Park along Phuket’s northwestern coast.
Wherever your jump-off point may be come Saturday, spend the morning at a leisurely pace. Start off with a visit to the laid-back village of Rawai, near the island’s southern tip. An enclave for local bohemian artists, Rawai features small studios and galleries. The must-sees among these include the Love Art Studio and Red Gallery at the Art Village on Viset Road. At the latter, the artist Somrak Maneemai will show whimsically dreamy (but a bit trippy) paintings. Before you leave, grab a Chang beer in one of the Volkswagen minibus bars and party at midday with locals and expats.
Lunch with Buddha or the elephants
Climb at the top of Mount Nagakerd, which is now home to the newly completed white jade marble-covered Buddha. Enjoy magnificent views of the Andaman Sea from here. As an alternative, you can head to Bang Pae, 22 km from Phuket town, and join elephant trekking excursions. The trek usually lasts 30 minutes, and it passes through shallow streams and groves of rubber trees. A half-hour trek costs THB 900 per person. After either trip, take a dip in the Bang Pae waterfalls located in the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.
Muay Thai action
Thailand’s so-called national sport of Muay Thai is brutal, but if you catch the ceremonial prefight dances, you’ll see that it is more than violent entertainment. An authentic place to watch Muay Thai at is Suwit Stadium. It is also a gym, so you can witness hardcore training sessions every now and then.
Saturday night party
Sample the night food market at Phuket town’s Ong Sim Phai Road near the Robinson Department Store. Delicious Thai and Chinese dishes you should try include spicy papaya salad, barbecued pork buns, curries, and grilled fish balls. Whole meals, plus 2 bottles of beer, won’t cost you more than THB 200.