— words by Gary Walsh

There is a yin and yang to Phuket, Thailand’s most popular beach destination. On the west coast, the endless string of gorgeous white sand beaches is swept by rhythmic waves rolling in from the Andaman Sea. 

In the east, the beaches are miserly, barely worthy of the name, and sometimes pushed into the sea by mangrove forests until the tide goes out and the sand flats extend to the horizon. It makes for gentle swimming and glorious sunrises.

In between is a landscape of mountains, rivers and lush tropical forests, as well as a surprising Sino-Portuguese heritage that reaches its zenith at delightful Phuket Town.

Phuket offers a beach holiday that is much more than an excuse to laze on the sand, surf or swim. There is architectural beauty and cultural diversity rare in this part of the world, with experiences as varied as the simple pleasures of mesmerising sunsets and the eye-popping realities of Patong’s naughty-and-nice nightlife.

And Phuket is a jumping off point for the dazzling karst limestone regions of Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi, where you’ll discover the imprint of James Bond and Leonardo Di Caprio.