Hedonistic Phuket seduces all comers with a smooth blend of ostentation and seediness. Thailand’s largest and most popular island, Phuket is as colourful as it is cosmopolitan and one of the world’s most famous dream destinations. Phuket boasts some lush inland vistas, including a few remote swathes of rainforest, but the island really comes into its own along its western shoreline, where hunter green foliage meets the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea. Mile upon sandy mile of coastline boasts tons of water sports, delectable restaurants and decadent resorts.
The cultural heart is in Old Phuket, the stomping ground of the Baba people who emerged along with the tin mining industry 100 years ago. Their legacy is a Sino-Portuguese treasure trove of mansions and shop houses, creaky teak shrines and local markets that unfurl alongside funky art galleries, hip restaurants,cafes and chic boutiques.
Recommended things to do & see
Our top picks for Phuket
Located at the tip of the cape, the 32 tanks display a varied collection of tropical fish and other marine life. Stroll through the tunnel to glimpse life beneath the surface.
This is a US$60 million 'cultural theme park' located just east of Hat Kamala. Despite the billing, there aren't any rides, but there is a show that takes the colour and pageantry of Thai dance and combines this with state-of-the-art light-and-sound techniques that rival anything found in Las Vegas (think 30 elephants). All of this takes place on a stage dominated by a full-scale replica of a Khmer temple. Kids especially will be captivated by the spectacle but it is over-the-top cheesy, and cameras are forbidden.
Jurassic Park meets minigolf at this bizarre park on the southern edge of Hat Karon. It’s a maze of caves, lagoons, leafy gardens, dinosaur statues and, of course, putting greens. Kids will dig it the most.
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