Thai treasure

Ahlan! jets off for Phuket, the Pearl of the Andaman Sea
Tuesday , 08 April 2008

If the last time you spent a summer in Thailand was sweating it through the hills, bent over double with a backpack and budgeting for bowls noodles, now's the time to pack a little lighter for the full pampering package. And if you think you need to book your escape to a smaller, quieter island to get that, think again.

With the boom of seriously swanky resorts on Thailand's biggest island, Phuket, you won't want to move a step further when you have star treatment, the turquoise Andaman Sea right on your doorstep and local charm around the corner in lively spots like Patong, if you want it.

Surrounded by culture that blends Chinese, Malay and Indian traditions, you know you're in for some of the world's finest cuisine and an even more delicious menu of spa treatments. And while that alone could keep you indulged, there are still great temples (Wat Chalong is a favourite), lush forests, colourful markets and glorious beaches to explore... Just take it at a leisurely pace this time.

While you're there...

Find a pearl of a different kind
It's located right on nai yang beach, overlooking the andaman sea, but the recently opened indigo pearl has more than just a top location to boast. with decor inspired by a century-old thai factory, this is one top-of-the-dream list resort, with each of its luxurious themed rooms and villas so unique you will want to spend a night in each one.

Sand, safari and local flavour
While the resorts leave little to be desired, venture out for a taste of real thailand. sampling seafood at the rustic restaurants along beaches like kamala, go on a safari tour to traditional thai villages and saunter through the jungles on the back of an indian elephant or head to phuket's quaint old town - a blend of colonial and chinese architecture. then up the pace a bit and head to patong for its vibrant shopping in the day and even more potent partying at night on patong beach.

Smooth Sailing
There are cruises on the andaman sea aplenty, so set sail for a more secluded spot for a day or head to phang nga bay to see the legendary james bond island where the man with the golden gun was filmed.