Destination: Thailand: Phuket
Phuket has panache. It is undoubtedly Thailand at its most tinsel-y: billionaires and beach bunnies, shiny white yachts and sunset-colored cocktails. Fizzing and popping with all-singing, all-dancing, sparkling new hotels and deeply chic villas, the Phuket of 2008 has come a long way to shake off its dreadlocked-backpacker image. The languorous ladyboys and frantic full-moon parties remain very much part of the scene, but this island’s more glamorous, more grown-up side is quickly coming into its own. The savvy traveler looking for sun, sea, sand and sleep need look no further. Private infinity pools dot every hillside, and perfect palm-fringed beaches hug the coastline’s every curve.
If you steer clear of Phuket Town, indeed any of the areas overpopulated by tourists, you’ll discover what lies beneath the island’s glossy surface. Phuket is bold and brash, but it is also beautiful. Jurassic limestone cliffs plunge dramatically into the bluest of blue seas, and a jungly green rain forest covers the hills like a carpet. The key to appreciating this stunning island is to find those beaches untouched by neon lights and day trippers and to stumble on those corners of Phuket that peacefully hum a quieter tune. It is, of course, crucial to find the right place to stay, as this is one of those places where you can hide away in the bubble of your hotel and never leaving.
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