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Phuket

Located off Thailand's west coast in the clear, jade coloured Andaman Sea, Phuket is the largest island in Thailand. One of the first places for beach tourism to develop in Southeast Asia it has a well-established infrastructure with excellent connections by road and air to the rest of the country. There is a dizzying choice of luxury hotels and resorts and wonderful restaurants, together with two stunning marinas with glamorous yachts that are available for charter (there is no better way to explore the evocative limestone karst islands on the east coast!). Parts of the island have become busy and built up especially around the towns of Patong and Phuket, however the bulk of the island is still surprisingly quiet with plenty of idyllic wide golden sand beaches, dramatic views and tranquil turquoise waters.

The region is naturally a haven for divers, offering colourful coral reefs, bountiful marine life and ranking consistently among the top ten scuba diving destinations in the world. Its proximity to other smaller Andaman Islands like Koh Phi Phi and the Similan archipelago means that diving day trips are also an option, meaning you can explore the underwater life of other renowned diving spots from Phuket with ease.  For those who prefer animal sightings above sea level, northern Phuket is home to numerous parks and wildlife sanctuaries where visitors can spend time with elephants or catch a glimpse of rarer creatures, like the native slow loris.

Evenings in Phuket offer bountiful opportunities for revelry, from the fast-paced and hedonistic nightlife scene in Patong to the high-end restaurants that cater to those looking for something more relaxed. Night markets give you the chance to try some of Thailand’s renowned street food, from the traditional Pad Thai to steamed dumplings and sweet dessert roti; whilst giving you an opportunity to shop outside of the midday heat.

For days spent away from the beaches, we recommend a visit to the provincial capital of Phuket Town to see the local quirky shops and the unique mix of Sino-Portuguese architecture. Opportunities to find more authentic local souvenirs to take home are plentiful here, and its sleepiness makes a peaceful change to the buzz of beachside resort towns. Hikers will also enjoy climbing to the island’s viewpoints – stunning views reward those who make it up.

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