Digests | Email

Attractive Phuket Island

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

surin_beach_phuketAttracting over five million visitors a year, Phuket, off the southern tip of Thailand, is the nation’s most popular beach destination for its balance of tourist amenities and authentic Thai experiences. These sites, shops and restaurants are not to be missed.


You might associate shopping in Phuket with flea markets, which is what you’ll find in Patong, but this island offers much more than knock-off handbags and souvenirs. Fine art, furniture, clothing, jewelers and antiques abound. But the boutiques are scattered in unlikely, hard-to-find places, so you’ll need a driver and a plan.

Surin Plaza (5/50 Moo 3 Cherng Talay) near Surin Beach is a super- luxe three-storey mall filled with home accessories, art and clothes. Lamont, on the first floor, features stunning Chinese and Japanese antique furniture and decorative objects, but are just as pricey as they would be in Singapore. A few doors down, Lola is a fabulous girly shop filled with great resort-wear and accessories.

Dutch-owned art gallery Soul of Asia on the second floor houses some amazing work from artists such as Andy Warhol, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and a range of Asian artists at reasonable prices. Once you’ve finished shopping, grab a drink or a Thai meal at chic Silk on the third floor.

If you’re in the market for antiques and artifacts, a minute clown the road from Surin Plaza is Oriental Fine Art (106/19­20 Bangtao Beach Road), a multi-storey building filled with museum-quality pieces.

Fans of fabric giant Jim Thompson should head to Canal Village (Laguna). There are three Thompson stores at this alfresco mall, including an outlet with fantastic discounts on cushions, table accessories and more. Also in Canal, you’ll find suitable souvenirs, pashminas, sunglasses and jeweler.

Phuket City shouldn’t be a top priority, but if you’re on the island for an extended period, the Sino-Portuguese shop houses in this part of town are home to some pretty nice shops. Visit Golden Lotus, Fai Sor Kam and Oriental Origin.

On your way back, make a stop at Gems Gallery, “The World’s Largest Jeweler Store”, for an endless array of baubles. Bargaining is acceptable here, so you may just get a good deal.

You can’t go wrong with food in Thailand, and Phuket is no exception. The local cuisine and seafood is incredible at most places, but the following offer outstanding ambiance in addition.

Baan Rim Pa (100/7 Kalim Beach Road, Patong), perhaps the most well-known restaurant on the island, serves authentic Royal Thai cuisine in a beautiful cliffside setting overlooking the Andaman Sea. This fine- dining alfresco establishment is always fully booked, even in the low season, so make your reservations even before you arrive to get a coveted waterfront table.

In the same strip, Joe’s Downstairs for Western cuisine and Da Maurizio for Italian are also delicious and offer similar views.

Another waterfront favorite is Rockfish (33/6 Kamala Beach Road), serving contemporary Western cuisine and seafood alongside authentic Thai fare in a swanky two-story beach hut.

Finally, if you love fresh seafood, it doesn’t come any fresher than at Lotus (Moo 4 Cherng Talay, Laguna). Choose your live lobster, fish, prawns or crab from the tanks in front and then enjoy the feeling of sand between your toes while you wait at your table on the beach. Casual, tasty and reasonably priced.