Sunday, December 4, 2011

PHUKET

(includes Rawai)

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
White Box Restaurant – 245/7 Prabaramee Road; 011-66-76-346-271; whiteboxrestaurant.com; trendy upstairs bar with sweeping ocean views through floor-to-ceiling windows; try spicy Tom Yum martini (chili, galangal, kaffir lime, lemon grass, and vodka).



BEACHES
Bang Tao
Kamala – Kamala Beach Road; hit hard by Tsunami but recovered substantially.
Layan.
Mai Khao – part of Sirinat National Park, along Phuket’s northwestern shore; undisturbed.
Nai Harn – has Thai temple sitting directly behind it; fairly undeveloped.
Natai.
Pansea.



DIVES
Boonsung – up coast by short drive.
King Cruiser – car ferry sunk in 1997; now flourishing artificial reef.
Koh Bida Islands – couple hours cruise away; trip there will take you by Koh Phi Phi limestone karsts immortalized in Beach.
Siam Bay Underwater Statues – off southern coast; giant, coral-encrusted elephant & yak statues; placed after 2004 tsunami.
Similan Islands – best reached by live-aboard; huge, horseshoe-shaped rock that forms natural shelter for fish, seahorses & harlequin shrimp.
Richelieu Rock – uninhabited islands surrounded by calm, pristine waters; manta rays off Koh Bon, just north of islands.



HOTELS
Aleenta Resort & Spa – 3 Lardprao Soi 95 (Phangnga); 011-66-76-580-333; aleenta.com; 30-villa resort in Phang Nga where nearly deserted Natai Beach is central focus; some suites right on beach and come with tropical gardens, outdoor showers, and floor-to-ceiling retractable windows that open onto private infinity pools; 8 duplex suites have double-height ceilings while 2 villas are outfitted as spa residences for hotel guests; excellent food; January-February best months; ask for any of 4 pool suites that face Andaman Sea.
Amanpuri – 118/1 Moo. 3 Srisoonthorn Road (Chengthalay, Pansea Beach); 011-66-76-324-333 or 800-477-9180; amanresorts.com/amanpuri/home.aspx‎; ocean views; beautiful beach; former coconut plantation.
Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa – Phuket Layan; 011-66-76-317-200; phuket-layan.anantara.com; tropical sanctuary in tranquil bay setting on Phuket’s western coast; opens onto private stretch of Layan Beach, soft white sands lapped by Andaman Sea; 30 rooms & suites, as well as 47 pool villas in 7 styles.
Andara – 15 Moo 6 (Kamala Beach); 011-66-76-338-777; andaraphuket.com; massive 3-6 bedroom private villas; although great hillside views, bit of hike to beach.
Banyan Tree – 33, 33/27 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road (Amphur Talang, Cherngtalay); 011-66-76-324-374; banyantree.com/en/phuket; surrounded by gardens and water courts; on Bang Tao Bay; Thai village architecture.
Indigo Pearl – Nai Yang Beach; 011-66-76-327-006; indigo-pearl.com; modern and unexpectedly funky; lush landscaping with encircling lagoons creates sense of exclusivity; have to cross street to get to public beach; January-February is best time to go; 2-story Bensley Suite has private pool and sauna.
Mom Tri’s Villa Royale Phuket – 12 Kata Noi Road, Kata Noi Beach; 011-66-76-333-568; villaroyalephuket.com; boutique resort with 35 sumptuous, Thai-style suites.
Paresa Resort – 49 Moo 6, Layi-Nakalay Road (Kamala); 011-66-76-302-000; paresaresort.com; lovely.
Phuket Pavilions – 31/1 Moo 6 (Cherngtalay); 011-66-76-317-600; thepavilionsresorts.com/phuket-home; hushed resort overlooking Bang Tao and Layan beaches; 21 spacious, hillside, 1-bedroom villas with kitchens; big infinity pool; secluded; driest months are January-February; Villas 15-20 have best sea views.
Phulay Bay (Krabi) – 111 Mood 3 (Nongthalay); 011-66-75-628-111; phulay-bay.com; huge villas with huge beds; note that beach at low tide looks muddy; stunning rock formation views.
Regent Phuket – 101 Cherng Talay Road (Cherng Talay, Talang); 011-66-76-304-539; theregentphuket.com.
Regent Phuket Cape Panwa – 84 Moo 8, Sakdidej Road (T. Vichit, Muang); 011-66-2-653-0555; regenthotels.com.
SALA Phuket Resort & Spa – 333 Moo 3, Mai Khao; 011-66-76-338-888; salaresorts.com/phuket/default-en.html‎; serene hideaway, to north; 79 rooms and villas, most with private pools.
Six Senses Yao Noi – 56 Moo 5 (Tambol Koh Yao Noi); 011-66-76-418-500; sixsenses.com/resorts/yao-noi/destination; secluded on island; quite rustic; great restaurant.
Trisara – 60/1 Moo 6, Srisoonthorn Road (Cherngtalay); 011-66-76-310-100; trisara.com; quiet on gorgeous, semi-private beach; note that entry-level rooms are tiny; all rooms with private pool and ocean view.



RESTAURANTS
Mom Tri’s Boathouse Regatta – 63/302 Moo 2, Thepkasattri Road; 011-66-76-360-855; momtriphuket.com; breezy boardwalk spot on Royal Phuket Marina; try lobster ravioli with morel mushroom veloute or curried fried rice with seafood, pineapple, and cashews.
Reserve – 56 Moo 5 (Tambol Koh Yao Noi, at Six Senses Yao Noi); 011-66-76-418-500; sixsenses.com; great restaurant on hilltop with lovely views.
White Box Restaurant – 245/7 Prabaramee Road; 011-66-76-346-271; whiteboxrestaurant.com; ocean views through floor-to-ceiling windows and on elegant terrace; foodie favorite.



SERVICES
Elephant Rides – Bang Pae Safari, 12/3 Moo 5, T. Srisoonthorn Road; 011-66-76-311-163; phukettoday.com/bangpaesafari.
Thailand Aggressor – 209 Hudson Trace (Augusta, Georgia); 706-993-2531 or 800-348-2628; aggressor.com/thailand.php; live-aboard dive accommodations that are luxurious and perfect for dive vacations.



SHOPPING
Love Art Studio – Art Village, 88 Moo 1, Viset Road (Rawai); 011-66-8-9471-5653; theloveartstudio.com; art.
Red Gallery – Art Village, 88 Moo 1, Viset Road (Rawai); 011-66-8-7890-3722; phuketredgallery.com; artist Somrak Maneemai's paintings.
Tawan Ook Art Gallery – Art Village, 88 Moo 1, Viset Road (Rawai); 011-66-8-1956-5872; art.



SIGHTS & SITES
Bang Pae Waterfall – at Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary; open for swimming.
Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary – Amphoe Thalang; 011-66-76-30-4100; phuket.com/island/parks.htm; only remaining virgin rainforest on island; visit Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (gibbonproject.org).
Mount Nagakerd – Karon sub-district, Muang District (follow red-and-white signs from Chalong); mingmongkolphuket.com; see Phraphutthamingmongkhol-akenagakhiri Buddha, enormous (147' high), white jade marble-covered statue; magnificent Andaman Sea views.
Ong Sim Phai Road – night food market.

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