Text and pictures by Vijaya Pratap

Sun-kissed beaches of glistening sand, coconut groves and pristine azure waters make up this Pearl of the Andaman.

1. Spa

Nothing like pampering yourself while on a holiday with this matchless experience. The unique masage totally energizes and rejuvenates where the masseur leans on the recipient's body to apply firm rhythmic pressure in a variety of yoga-like positions. Succumb to the workings of timeless techniques steeped in Asian traditions dating centuries back as the subtle fragrance of Thai flowers coaxes you into deep a reverie.

2. Old Phuket Town

The island’s extensive tin mining two centuries ago, is reflected in its Chinese-influenced architecture, cuisine and culture.Visit Buddhist temples and some of the vintage buildings that have been converted into bars, guesthouses and cafés. The main streets to wander are Phang Nga Road, Thalang Road, Dibuk Road, Ranong Road, all within a few blocks of the market, to get the essence of Phuket. Soi Romanee gives a real insight into Phuket culture.

3. Phuket ATV Tour

All Terrain Vehicle Tour is the new way of exploring by riding and discovering the adventurous side of Phuket and Phang Nga. The tour encompasses the scenery of the tropical forest. Can combine ATV tour with other exciting activities like flying fox via rope bridge; elephant trekking in Phuket ; and white water rafting in Phang Nga. Heroic tourist will love this !

4. Golf

Phuket has long been famed for its emerald green golf courses and now with seven courses, is deemed a hot golfing destination. Laguna Phuket Golf Club is popular for its resort style course and international standard of management. The scenic 18- hole golf course takes its pride of place in the golfing community of Phuket as a ‘must play’ for all golfing visitors to the island. When you play, you might as well play in style !

5. John Gray Sea-Canoe Tours

Created by one of the pioneers of cave exploration, John Gray, these award winning day and night tours are perfect to discover the unique and hidden world of collapsed cave systems. Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay as the sturdy, inflatable canoes weave their way through a network of crystalline limestone caves (called ‘hongs’ in Thai), is a memorable experience. Open to the sky, filled with jungle flora and fauna, the hongs conceal a unique eco-system that can be accessed only during low tide. A surreal experience with the bioluminescence of fireflies and planktons. Not to miss !

6. Snorkeling

Swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the beach at Khai Nok Island is the perfect way to spend a day in paradise with abundant shallow reefs teeming with tropical fish, clear waters and a white sandy beach. Beginners can do ‘guided snorkeling’ with experts to see the amazing underwater world. It feels like being a part of Discovery Channel’s camera team ! Phi Phi and Tachai Islands are great places for snorkeling with crystal clear waters.

7. Fantasea

This nightly cultural theme park with its spectacular show, is a hit with both kids and adults. A highly entertaining theatrical production featuring traditional dances, magical illusions, special effects, acrobatics, pyrotechnics and live animal performances, features over 30 elephants( if you don’t mind animals being used for entertainment!) Fashioned after Angkor Wat, the 3,000 capacity auditorium is normally fully packed. Book in advance, choose only show or with buffet dinner.

8. Phi Phi Islands

Get the perfect adrenalin rush as the speed boat cuts through the sea, foaming and splashing as you hold onto the edge of the boat ! Considered the ultimate in tropical islands, with imposing limestone cliffs rising from serene blue waters, Phi Phi shot to international fame after “The Beach” was filmed here. Look for the ‘paradise’ location in Maya Bay in Ko Phi Phi Lee- soak up the sun on a day trip.

9. Bang Pae Elephant Safari

Trek on an elephant into a world of lush tropical greenery in the picturesque, Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. Listen to the chirping birds and sounds of gibbons, through the thick forest follow the river and arrive at the Bang Pae Waterfalls. This leisurely jumbo voyage is the best way to unwind and connect with nature. At several points on the way, you can jump into the river and have a splash!

10. Thai Boxing

Men and boys may find Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) quite interesting- for that little bit of violence! This national sport and Thai martial art evolved from sword and baton, as the hand-to-hand tactics of their army. The tremendous power, speed and a fighting spirit impress those into self-defence, sporting, military and law enforcement activities. Javanese clarinets, drums and finger cymbals keep playing in the background, as the fight goes on.

FACTFILE

‘Thai Smile’ has direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Phuket.

http://www.thaiairways.co.in/thai_smile_flight.asp

Visa: On arrival. Costs 1000 Baht (that equals INR 2000)

Stay: Laguna Phuket Resorts have an offer from May 15 to October 31. Two kids below 12 (accompanying parents) get free dining, kids’ golf, speedboat tours and extra beds etc. Banyan Tree, Angsana in Laguna Resorts have early bird offers. Huge savings if booked in advance. http://www.lagunaphuket.com/

Transport: Three-wheeled Tuk Tuks, taxis, buses and long tailed boats. Hotels also arrange private mini vans for hire. Best to create your own tour itinerary.