Known as the ""Pearl of the Andaman"", the beautiful island of Phuket in Thailand is a premier holiday destination and a byword for luxury and relaxation. Thanks to the popularity of the resort town of Patong, with its crowds of hedonists and assorted pleasure-seekers, Phuket has a reputation as a slightly racy destination, which isn't entirely fair. Certainly, Patong lives up to its reputation as a honeypot for 24-hour party people, but there's a lot more to the island than that. The capital, Phuket Town, is a charming mix of heritage architecture and cultural attractions. There are unspoilt beaches, national parks, breathtaking scenery and a pervasively laid-back atmosphere; in all, it's an island that lends itself beautifully to relaxation and entertainment.
The beaches are undoubtedly a highlight. Away from the busy and lively Patong, the Karon and Kata beaches on the west coast offer a more relaxed pace of life and are close to one of the island's best-known landmarks: a giant statue of Buddha commanding wonderful views to the south. The unspoilt Rawai offers a blissfully calm atmosphere. The old-world charm of Phuket Town invites the tourist to ramble amongst its colonial Portuguese architecture and get a taste of the real local flavour. To the north of the island, the exceptionally beautiful Sirinat National Park is a tropical paradise of coral reefs, jewel-like waters and sea turtles.
There's much to distract and delight in Phuket. From canoeing trips to scuba-diving, there is any number of activities and tours to keep you busy. And after a long day's serious relaxation, you're in one of the best spots in the world to unwind and eat. The island is crammed with restaurants ranging from incredibly high-quality fine dining to seafood shacks where the food is on your plate within a few minutes of leaving the ocean. Thai is one of the world's great cuisines, and a cookery course whilst you're here is a must. For this, try Ginja Taste at the Marriott in Mai Khao.
There are many 5 star hotels on the island, all with the high levels of service and convenience you'd expect. You'll be grateful for the air conditioning that features in all 5 star hotels. The Pullman Arcadia offers extreme tranquillity in an idyllic location. The Marriott is notable for its amazing restaurant and the Angsana Laguna offers beautiful surroundings and excellent customer service.