Phuket: A Slice Of Tropical Paradise

Phuket: A Slice Of Tropical Paradise

How do you describe Paradise? Sipping on a cool drink as the wind gently rocks your hammock. You gaze at the turquoise waves breaking on the unending beach and sigh your troubles away under the warm sun. Well, I describe Paradise in a single word: Phuket!

I was recently invited by Thailand Tourism in association with Neferrtiti Destination Weddings to visit Thailand as a travel blogger. When you vacation in Thailand at the ‘Pearl of the Andaman Sea’, the world really is your oyster. And, Phuket has everything from the perfect diving spots to snazzy clubs, from cosmopolitan shopping destinations to isolated havens for that perfect vacation or wedding!

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Places to Stay

Le Méridien Phuket Beach Resort

Located on Karon beach, Le Méridien Phuket has its own private pristine beach. Walking on the sand was like walking on a soft white cloud. Our first evening there, we sat at a table right on the beach and let the waves serenade us for a perfectly romantic sunset.

Early next morning after limbering up at the gym, I headed over to their steam room to loosen up all those stressed muscles. Breakfast was served at the spacious balcony attached to our room, which allows a stunning view of the ocean. Now, what’s a holiday without lazing your afternoon away in the pool and Le Méridien does not disappoint – nothing like a cool refreshing lap in their impressively large pool. As we strolled through the grounds later in the day, we stumbled on to the cutest little baby elephant called ‘Valentine’ and his mahout!

The hotel also has a wealth of dining options including international cuisines, Thai, Japanese and an Italian trattoria with an extensive buffet. I recommend booking a themed dinner buffet to enjoy dinner and a show. It is also ideally situated to head over to Patong, Phuket’s centre for nightlife and shopping.

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The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa

There’s nothing better than complete seclusion and immersion all at once. If I were to use one word to describe our stay at The Westin, it would be “Heavenly”! The view of the secluded beach skirting the resort in a lush tropical setting makes the perfect backdrop for a romantic dinner.

Siray Bay’s signature Heavenly® beds and relaxing bath are just what the doctor ordered. A morning at their spa rejuvenated not just my body, but my soul as well. We booked a couples massage in a serene treatment room that sported double beds and a whirlpool tub for two.

Later that day, with the uninterrupted views of the crystal blue Siray Bay on the horizon, we relaxed in the infinity pool and let ourselves float away. I especially recommend the bubble beds by the pools that make for a deliciously warm soak. We hardly left the resort at all! It was an experience out of time and space and we raise our glass to toast this iconic hotel.

The resort is an idyll for luxury travellers with access to a private beach, as well as minutes away from the buzz of culture and shopping.

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Trisara

Trisara is Phuket’s ultimate luxury resort known for its pool villas, exotic gardens and sophisticated dining experiences, perfect for a romantic getaway. It is the cream of the crop in terms of their embodiment of tropical luxury, spacious seclusion, and hillside panoramic ocean view. All villas and suites sport a private infinity pool that flows towards the Andaman Sea and makes for spectacular views of the sunset. Their 6-hand royale massage is a recommended once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree offers a level of luxury and pampering not experienced before. The rooms exude privacy and are tucked away in their own cozy corners. The Thai-inspired décor of the villas exude refinement and elegance. With a spectacular display of scenic lagoons and coconut groves, their golf course is set against the glorious backdrop of sea and mountains. A 3-kilometre long stretch of beach provides the perfect setting for that dream sunset wedding. Banyan Tree Phuket has rightly garnered the 8th spot in the Top 100 Resorts in the World.

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The Naka Island

For a truly private and intimate retreat, the Naka Island is a gem. It is far from the ubiquitous, marble-finished hotel, where you are no more than a room number. A private beach, a gorgeous two-tiered swimming pool, and three on-site restaurants are perfect for luxury travellers and hosting weddings. Due to the island’s protected location, you can actually swim in the sea. For those who want more activities, bicycles, jet-skies, kayaks and daily activities abound.

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Keemala

Nestled in lush woodlands, Keemala is an “enchanting evergreen wonderland”. The resort has an effortless luxury, unique and cool, not contrived or fake but holistic and natural. Each of their 4 uber-luxury villas is inspired by different ancient lifestyles. It offers the ultimate experience of rustic cum lavish. The spa treatment menu is vast and every treatment is performed perfectly, professionally using the very best in organic skin care ingredients. Watch as your love finds freedom in the beauty of island life.

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Destination wedding planner Mahendra G, owner of Neferrtiti Destination Weddings is an expert at working out the smallest of details to make sure his clients’ Big Day is a memorable one! ‘Neferrtiti’ as a destination wedding and event management company offers Wedding decor, Theme planning and Styling services in Thailand {at any of the above properties, and several other locations}, creating personalized celebrations with outstanding services and making destination weddings affordable!

Whether you envision your ceremony atop a cliff overlooking the ocean, surrounded by mountains, on a white-sand beach, within a blooming garden or on a boat in the centre of a lake; the options for destination wedding locations in Phuket are as limitless as your imagination!

 

Must See

Phang Nag Bay

We took a boat from the northern end of Phuket and enjoyed a whole day leisurely cruising through the emerald-green water. The dramatic islands and sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically our of the water are stunning. James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are two famous spots in this bay. If you’re up to the adventure, take a sea-kayak and escape the well-worn tourist hubs. It is a great way to explore the mysterious caves into the heart of islands such as Koh Panak and Koh Hong.

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Phuket Fantasea Show

The Phuket FantaSea Show is a Las Vegas-style Thai cultural show. Nine enthralling shows featuring magic, acrobatics, pyrotechnics, aerial performances, and special effects will leave you gasping. The twinkling lights at night make the place come alive like a magical kingdom. Just outside the amphitheatre, is a large shopping village that bursts with the joy and pomp of a carnival. As we settled into our seats after a sumptuous dinner at their 5-star gourmet restaurant, acrobats swung overhead and elephants danced in perfect timing to the music. Thailand’s myths, mysteries and magic came together seamlessly in a wondrous extravaganza. It was a night to remember!

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The Siam Niramit Cultural Show

It is a cultural extravaganza featuring songs, dance routines and traditional martial arts. We arrived early in the evening to enjoy the various surrounding attractions. The grounds sport traditional Thai-style houses, a floating market, souvenir shops and open-air performances. We purchased a bunch of bananas to feed the very friendly elephants. Try your hand at the carnival-style games and win stuffed animals. The Siam Niramit shouts fun for every member of the family

Wat Chalong Temple & Big Buddha

A trip to Thailand is never complete without visiting a Buddhist temple. Chalong Temple is the largest in Phuket. The walls and ceiling are beautifully decorated with paintings illustrating the life of the Buddha. As we breathed in the reverent atmosphere, we were graced by three floors of divine golden statues donated to the temple. Located near the Chalong area is the Big Buddha sitting 400m above sea level. It is a 45-metre tall white marble statue and the view just took my breath away.

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Phuket Viewpoints

Phromthep Cape is one of the most commanding sunset viewpoints in Phuket, overlooking the Rawai Beach. The best viewpoint is the balcony of the lighthouse towering over the landscape. It also houses interesting historical maritime artefacts. We sought to escape the crowds and visited the Panwa viewpoint. The magnificent panoramic 360-degree view of southern and eastern Phuket still pervades my dreams.

132zy Phromthep Cape - Windmill Viewpoint is located between Ya Nui and Nai Harn beaches in south Phuket.

 

Must Do

Yacht Charter

To add to our amazing paradisiacal trip to Phuket, we chartered a yacht for the ultimate luxury experience. As we cruised amongst the majestic islands and dined on 5-star cuisine, what more could the heart want? The saloon and cabins offered comfort and sophistication unrivalled by any other resort or hotel. It was like being on our personal cruise ship with complete privacy and a great crew to pamper us all the way! For couples looking at a romantic getaway, this is the perfect dream vacation or honeymoon.

Trip to Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi islands are postcard picturesque. The turquoise waters are clear right off the jetty and you can see a melee of colourful damselfish race in for a mouthful of bread. There’s something for everyone on the various islands — snorkelling, fishing, kayaking, cliff jumping and monkey feeding.

We rented a private long tail boat and cruised through the tranquil waters taking in the breathtaking beaches and rock formations. The islands host great diving and shark spotting opportunities with magnificent coral reefs teeming with rich marine life. You could also ride in a seaplane and experience it at a whole new level. Ask for the co-pilot’s seat and go crazy with your camera for some stunning and unique views.

Phi Phi is also famous for its nightlife and what better to unwind after a day of swimming with the sharks. Add to it, the stylish restaurants that offer fresh seafood and local as well as international cuisine by the finest chefs, our experience of the islands rounded out with a bang!

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Diving Trip

Phuket is rated among the top ten diving destinations in the world. The most popular dive sites include Phi Phi islands, King Cruiser wreck, Racha Yai and Shark Point. The best diving is off the east coast where the current allows a gentle drift dive. The sloping rocky face is covered with amazing hard corals and the water is rich with large schools of tropical fish. Swim with the docile Leopard Sharks through colourful coral gardens and limestone rocks.

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Khao Lak Day Trip

Escape the city and crowds as you surround yourself with the lush landscape of the Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park. Taste the local pineapple produce as you admire the beauty of the quaint plantation and countryside. Continue to the Monkey Cave temple and watch the Jungle Book come alive as the monkeys swing and jump. Take an elephant ride and get a new viewpoint on the rich biodiversity of the National Park. Float on a bamboo raft down the river and visit the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre.

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Soi Bangla Nightlife in Patong

It is a 400 metre festival of neon lights, outdoor bars and live music. Street performances are also a common sight most nights. Head to the beach end of Bangla Road that starts from Soi Freedom. Most of the bars here have their own unique atmosphere and style, and house the more notable establishments such as the Aussie Bar and VIP Room Patong. The main action is on Soi Seadragon featuring the famous Suzy Wong’s A Go Go, Crow’s Nest and the Scandinavian Bar.

 

Where to Shop

Old Phuket Town

The historical heart of Phuket, on each side and in the middle of Thalang Road, you’ll find printed fabrics, electronics, accessories and food. The Phuket Walking Street and weekend market are fantastic attractions for some of the best shopping in Thailand. Discover local handicraft, souvenir shops, and traditional medicines at the open-air market.

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Jungceylon Shopping Mall, Patong

The shopping complex is replete with upper-end department stores, branded goods and great entertainment venues. You can buy anything from a Kashmiri rug to perfumes, cosmetics, toys, and even get a facial massage after all the shopping. It certainly is a wonderful destination for shopping and dining enthusiasts. There are also a host of restaurants serving Thai, European, Korean, Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Patong OTOP Shopping Paradise

The OTOP market displays locally made and marketed products, encouraging village handicrafts. It is a great place to purchase traditional items, silk garments, cotton products, pottery, fashion accessories and household items. There’s very little of the hard sell used by Soi Bangla traders, which makes for a relaxed and unhurried shopping experience. Also along the well-lit alleyways you’ll find several restaurants, cafes, mobile food carts, and even a designated whiskey shop.

Local Markets

The local market is always a good place to get a slice of the local life. The local market in Kathu is one of the biggest markets on the island. Stop off at the local Chinese shrine and then walk through the streets as you soak in the smells and tastes. The Karon Temple Market is another one of those hidden gems. Jump at the chance to sample local foods in the open or under a sprawling, colourful roof of ropes and plastic.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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