1. Kite surf at Chalong Bay
If you’re not one to sit around and sunbathe, head to Chalong Bay, one of Phuket’s best kitesurfing destinations. The best Phuket weather for the sport is the rainy season, from around April to October, when the cooling tropical storms bring strong winds. A popular kitesurfing school and rental shop is Kite Zone, which runs courses at Chalong Bay and Naiyang Beach. Stay at the beachfront Friendship Beach Resort and Atanjai Wellness Centre (rooms from round Dh129) which has a pool, 24-hour gym, spa and free WiFi. To get up-to-date wind forecasts check the Windguru site here. Location: Friendship Beach, Chalong Bay, in the south of Puket
2. Take a Thai cookery class
Learn to cook a mean Thai green curry at the Phuket Thai Cookery School. For 2,900THB (Dh310) per person you’ll get a free shuttle from your hotel to a local market to buy your ingredients for the day’s lesson, as well as a day’s cooking tutorial where you’ll be shown how to cook traditional Thai savory and sweet dishes. There’s a different menu on offer each day of the week so we recommend you read up on the options here before signing up to make sure you learn to cook your favorites! Location: Phuket Thai Cookery School, 39/4 Thepatan Road, Rassada, Muang, Phuket, 83000, Thailand
3. Book a luxury hotel stay
You can often experience some serious five-star luxury in hotels in Phuket for fewer dirhams than you can in the UAE (if you needed an excuse for another holiday!). The Banyan Tree Phuket is only 25 minutes from Phuket airport so you can be there within around 8 hours of leaving Dubai! One of the beauties of this resort is it offers you the chance to do lots of Phuket activities without the stress of having to organize them yourself; cycling, kayak tours, trekking and yoga sessions are all on the list of hotel-organized activities. It also offers a free shuttle and lagoon boat across to nearby sites, including the 500-year-old Wat Phra Nang Sang temple. All rooms have free WiFi, television and an outdoor area with a private swimming pool or jet tub. Prices start at around Dh1,180 a night. Location: 33, 33/27 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Amphur Talang, Choeng Thale, 83110
4. Muay Thai bootcamp
You can take your pick of Muay Thai camps in Phuket, all of them popular with tourists from abroad and from within Thailand. Tiger Muay Thai is probably the most well known and offers training packages lasting a week, a month or three months, as well as day passes or single classes. Prices for a week-long Muay Thai training bootcamp start at around 3,300THB (Dh350), not including food or accommodation. The centre also offers airport pick-ups from 850THB (Dh91) for up to two people. Stay at the nearby The One Cozy Vacation Residence from around Dh161 a night, or at Happy Cottage for around Dh112 a night. Location: 7/35 Soi Ta-ied Tambon Chalong, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83100, Thailand
5. Big Buddha
Despite the sheer size of Phuket, you can see this 45 meter-high Buddhist statue from half the island. Built in 2007, the site is popular with tourists but is still one of the top things to do in Phuket; its plateau offers great views of the bay at Kata and the Karon beach. More than 90% of the population in Thailand is Buddhist, which goes some way to explaining why the country spent around 100 million THB (Dh10.7 million) on the Big Buddha. Location: Around 1km north west of Chalong Circle
6. Phang Nga Bay
This shallow bay is home to Ko Tapu (better known as James Bond Island after its cameo in the 1974 movie The Man with the Golden Gun) and 41 other islands. It’s in the Strait of Malacca between Phuket and southern tip of mainland Thailand. Because of its marine and plant life the Bay is a protected Ramsar Site which means it must be preserved and looked after. Almost every tour operator in Phuket will offer trips to the Bay, with some only lasting a few hours and including the main sites (usually James Bond Island and Koh Panyee, a floating fishing village), while others incorporate some snorkeling or kayaking. Ask around and find a trip and price point that suits you (and always read the reviews before you book).
7. Visit a spa
The Six Senses Yao Noi resort sets the bar for luxury spas. It’s located in the stunning Phang Nga Bay between Phuket and Krabi islands. If you’re flying into Phuket airport the hotel will arrange car and boat transfers so you needn’t bother yourself with the details of how to get there. Once there, enjoy incredible views of the Bay from the Hilltop Reserve which opens for lunches and Thai dinners, or from the infinity pool. The Six Senses Spa Village itself is higher into the hillside and parts of it are modeled on a traditional northern Thai village house. You can book in for a one-off treatment – all the usuals are available – or for a three-day de-stress package, or if you’re feeling especially healthy, a four-and-a-half-hour detox package that costs 15,500THB (Dh1,650). After a day’s activity (or detoxing!) we recommend you relax at The Den, a very stylish but chilled-out bar with wonderful views of the bay and surrounded by elevated lily ponds.
Location: 56 Moo 5 Amphur Koh Yao, Yao Noi, Ban Nong Thale, 82160, Thailand
8. Patong Beach
This is the busiest but not necessarily the best beach in Phuket so one to avoid if you want a rest-and-relaxation sort of vacation. The town is home to most of the island’s famous GoGo bars, the majority of which are on Soi Bangla (Bangla Road). Read up on the bar rules before you go though and make sure you know what you’re paying for if you pay a door fee.
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*Published April 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.