Spectacular scenery, stunning tropical sunsets and warm blue sea – Asia’s most popular beach destination clearly has it all!
Phuket offers a rainbow spectrum of spectacular holiday sights from blue lagoons and pink sunsets to orange-robed monks. This fun island provides an unbeatable combination of perfect white palm-lined beaches, superb hospitality and great value accommodation. Whether it’s world-class diving in the Andaman Sea, golf at international-standard championship courses or exciting eco-adventures in tropical forests, Phuket really is a place to extend your horizons. Beaches there are all pristine white sand and crystal clear waters! Patong Beach with its carnival like atmosphere, street shopping, amazing clubs is definitely the place to go if you want to party and have crazy fun! Mai Khao beach is quiet and serene, it’s a nature lover’s paradise! One can hire a cycle from the resort to go there (there’s a cycle path leading upto the beach). A must visit if you prefer your vacations peaceful and rejuvenating!
Where to eat. Already well known for its fresh succulent seafood, Phuket is rapidly gaining a reputation as a great place to find excellent Thai and international food in some very picturesque venues. You can find a range from Italian to Middle Eastern to Indian and Japanese. In addition, wine has become readily available in Phuket, with some local restaurants now featuring creditable wine cellars. Places to eat vary from roadside noodle stalls, air-conditioned restaurants, open air restaurants with great views, or fast food outlets. You won’t go hungry!
The most sophisticated of vendors have stalls attached to a motorbike. They usually have a favourite spot to settle down in for the day or night, where they place a few small plastic or wooden chairs and tables around so that customers can sit and eat on the side of the street. Depending on the food, the stall might be equipped with a charcoal grill, hot plate and preparation area, with all the ingredients either hanging down from the top, or stacked around the sides protected by Perspex walls. Serving more than just snacks, these stalls can provide substantial meals and attract dozens of customers at busy times of the day.
What to see. Phuket’s great advantage is that there’s always something to do on and off the island whether it’s raining or shining. From the sublime to the seemingly mundane, the range of activities and places to visit is remarkable for a destination of this size. You can spend your days exploring places like Phuket’s Old Town – unique blend of colonial and Chinese architecture along with a tangible quaintness makes for a fascinating and unforgettable afternoon, or on the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay. And you can spend your evening exploring the amazing night life!
Phi Phi Island is Thailand’s island-superstar. Phi Phi’s beauty is a large chunk of the allure. The islands, when approached by boat (50 minutes from Phuket), rise from the sea like a fortress. Sheer cliffs tower overhead, then give way to beach-fronted jungle. It’s love at first sight.
The second part of the why-we-love-this-place story is attitude: few places on the planet are this laid-back. Of the two islands, one is completely free of human inhabitants (Phi Phi Leh), and the other is without roads (Phi Phi Don). There’s no schedule, no hustle-and-bustle, no reason to be in a hurry.
Pattaya is always switched on and fun. This vibrant coastal city shot to fame in early 1980s, and stayed there. From sunrise to sunset, Pattaya’s beaches are constantly brimming with life, as water sports lovers and sun worshippers take to the waters. After dark, the action shifts to the streets, as revellers explore its electrified nightlife scene, where drinking and partying continue until dawn. Apart from water sports and nightlife, Pattaya offers endless possibilities when it comes to accommodation and entertainment. It has outgrown its image as a seedy beach town to a destination for a wider audience; whether couples, families or business travellers, Pattaya has something for everyone. Only 147km from Bangkok, it is the closest of Thailand’s major beach resorts to the capital city.
Pattaya Beach offers superb hotels, value-for-money shopping malls and market stalls, a huge variety of restaurants, bars, discos and endless sports and leisure activities. Jomtien Beach is a long, straight 6km stretch of sandy coastline featuring hotels, resorts, condominiums, shops and restaurants. It’s much more peaceful and laid back than Pattaya Beach.
What to see. No guide to Pattaya would be complete without also exploring the islands nearby, including the Near Islands of Koh Larn, Koh Khrok and Koh Sak and the Far Islands such as Koh Phai, Koh Man Wichai and the beautiful Koh Rin. These islands are all accessible from either Bali Hai Pier or Ocean Marina.
Whether Tiffany’s or Alcazar, Pattaya’s cabaret shows have garnered world-wide fame, thanks to their stunning ladyboy entertainers who possess tremendous stage talents. Tiffany’s Cabaret Show is Pattaya’s world-famous and 30 year-old ladyboy cabaret extravaganza. Here, three times each night, a surgically and hormonally-enhanced army of transgender performers put on a show that shatters that fearsome reputation.
You can also sail across the sparkling aqua-blue water of the Gulf of Thailand to the Coral Island. Here under the brilliant tropical sun, you can relax, swim or snorkel or simply bronze yourself on the beach. There’s also the Pattaya Floating Market to see – covering an area of 100,000sqm, the market is separated into four sections – each represents and sells items from four major parts of Thailand (north, northeast, central and south).
Where to eat. Superb food is just about everywhere in Thailand and Pattaya is no exception. From street vendors to five star gourmet dining, Pattaya will cater both to your taste and your pocket. Pattaya is a multi-cultural coastal city, and nothing reflects this better than its ethnically diverse dining scene. A wealth of options run from street vendors to fine dining.
We give you our pick of top 5 Thai dishes to try if you are in Phuket or Pattaya!
1. Pad Thai – Thailand’s calling card to the rest of the culinary world, pad Thai doesn’t need an introduction. There are an infinite number of variations on this timeless tradition, but usually noodles are dressed up with tofu, bean sprouts, onion, and the brilliant final touch: peanuts ground to near dust. Pad Thai is a diner-participation meal; you put on the finishing touches of fish sauce, sugar, chili powder, and crushed peanuts to suit your taste.
2. Kuay Tiew (Noodle Soup) – Brush up on your chopstick skills and get your slurping muscles ready, noodle soup is a quick-and-easy staple of the Thai eating experience. Variations in ingredients mean ten different vendors could serve it ten different ways ‘ making it nearly deserving of its own top ten list. Noodles ‘ usually thin, occasionally broad ‘ are served up in a broth with just about any edible meat: pork, chicken, beef, duck, and seafood being the most popular. One sample and you may not stop until you’ve tried them all.
3. Gai Med Ma Moung (Chicken Cashew Nuts) – Roasted cashew nuts. Sweet soy sauce. Honey. Garlic. And, of course, chilis ‘ it would be Thai food without a little enjoyable pain. Three cheers for the clever soul that figured out nuts and chicken were a good mix. A dish this popular must be more than a little good. Phuket raises the standard with a vast supply of some of the world’s best cashew nuts, and they’re grown locally.
4. Massaman Curry – Massaman is the Thai word for “Muslim”, which is the community to heartily thank for this concoction of coconut milk, potatoes, roasted peanuts, bay leaves, sugar, cinnamon, and tamarind sauce. The meat of choice is often beef or chicken, but because it’s been embraced by the Buddhists, pork can also be found.
5. Geng Kheaw Wan Gai (Green Curry Chicken) – So what gives green curry its color? Green curry paste. Sorry, not an exciting answer, but it is an exciting dish. Of all the curries, and there’s plenty of them, the one that’s the colour of American money is among the spiciest. It’s also the least like Indian curry; Thailand has a way of making borrowed food distinctively Thai. The proof is in the coconut milk.
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