It isn’t easy to scoop Thailand up and package it in a neat little box. From the pumping disco scene on the beaches of Phuket to full moon parties on far flung islands, little pieces of paradise south of Phi Phi, and high-end resorts strung along the east – Thailand has a different taste of paradise for all. Those setting sail and seeking warm waters, shady bamboo groves, and scenes straight out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach, can cast a glance across our guide for navigating the coconut sugar waters of Thailand.
Where to Go
Start in Phuket to get a taste of Thailand’s craziness, there may be throngs of tourists here to soak up the 30-degree heat, but with the calm sanctuary of your own yacht and the freedom to touch down at neighboring islands you can find your own string of green and gold gems. Kayaking the sea caves of Phang Nga Bay is a must for anyone craving limestone cliffs and lagoons.
Bond lovers will fall hard for the chance to plunge into the emerald waters of Khao Phing Kan. The island featured in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. The famous rock pinnacle with its mysterious caves are fascinating to see. While in the area, take the tender to Koh Panyee, a traditional fishing village on stilts.
If you are feeling the need to be pampered surrounded by heavenly frangipani spas, then Koh Yao Noi is an island brimming with high end resorts. Head to the Six Senses for butterfly gardens, Zen Garden Spa, and to splash in the infinity pool.
Sail south to Phi Phi Leh, whose shimmering closed off lagoon was the feature star in The Beach. This National Park is utterly uninhabited, expect for the guards who patrol to protect the verdant bloom of flora and fauna. The iced white beach, dense jungle, and bright coral coordinate to be exactly the reason people choose Thailand as a place to see paradise.
Where to Dine
Everyone will rave about Blue Elephant in Phuket, and for good reason. With ten restaurants across the globe, while in Rome – you may as well sample the fine flavors on home turf. Each dish invites diners on a journey through the history of Thai cuisine, melding old techniques with bright fresh flavors, like sea bass soaked in lime.
If you are tired of Thai flavors, then Phuket is also home to one of the best Italians this far east of Italy. Acqua is super slick and modern, with a wonderfully extensive wine list, and a beautiful degustation menu that calls on sous vide octopus salad, Parmesan fondue with black truffle, and suckling pig with saffron and violette potatoes. Dress to impress and be sure to make reservations.
Where to Play
You will find one of the best beach bars on the honey white sands of Koh Phangan – surreptitiously named The Flip Flop Pharmacy. Those seeking respite from the raucous spring break style parties will breathe a sigh of delight at the stripped back floors, shaded pavilion, lanterns and cocktails that accompany the laid-back beat from the DJ deck.
Back in Phuket and those wanting to sip something cold and strong with rooftop views can find their pleasure at Sri Panwa. The Baba Pool Club offers elegant views across the Andaman Sea. The Pina Colada’s are tall and pretty and the sunken seats around the pool are perfect for drying off after a dip.