December in Thailand means lots of long weekends and, if you’re lucky, some time off for Christmas and New Year’s. So why not take advantage and plan a coastal holiday getaway to Phuket, where stunning vistas, white sand beaches and balmy blue waters are served up with a dose of style and luxury.
How to Get There: Bangkok Airways is now offering a new daily direct flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket for as low as 2,990 baht, with their trademark attention to detail and top level customer service for each and every passenger. Feel like you’re on holiday (rather than a piece of baggage travelling from point A to point B) from the minute you check in with Bangkok Airways’ exclusive passenger lounge here in Chiang Mai, which was recently renovated and expanded to double the size (with a plush VIP area for Premier flyers).
Where to Stay: Find your slice of paradise at the luxurious and romantic Cape Panwa Hotel, tucked away on a private beach in southeast Phuket. Choose from a range of cosy and stylish beachfront suites and pool villas, and spend the day lounging on white sand or partaking in a number of organised activities, from sea canoeing to scuba diving to cooking classes to batik painting.
What to Eat: Cape Panwa Hotel offers a selection of five fabulous restaurants and eight bars, from sumptuous seafood buffets to dreamy tête-à-têtes at Panwa House, the hotel’s authentic Sino-Portuguese mansion turned beachfront restaurant. Head into Old Phuket Town to try the legendary fresh crabmeat curry at Raya Restaurant (076 218 155) or a seafood feast plucked straight from the ocean at the famous Chaiyo Riverside Restaurant.
What to Do: No trip to Phuket is complete without a bit of snorkelling, and a great place to do it is in the crystal clear waters of beautiful Mai Thon Island by hired boat (many hotels, including Panwa, can set this up for you). From there, continue on to Chalong Bay to partake in a plethora of water sports and perhaps take a tour of Phuket’s only working distillery, Chalong Bay Rum, where a mojito upon arrival is guaranteed. Old Phuket Town is a charming place to shop, eat and explore the old Portuguese architecture, which comes in bursts of candy colour. If you’re looking for a wild night on the town, you can hit Patong Beach where you’ll find everything from bucket bars to cabarets to antique shops to boxing rings to world class seafood to the futuristic Jungceylon shopping mall, which features a rooftop pool bar, movie theatre, seashell museum and indoor amusement park. Last but not least, Instagrammers must make a stop at the famous Promthep Cape, where sunset is a high affair. Check out the historical lighthouse or hike to the tip of the promontory to escape the crowds.