Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, with all the white-sand beaches, stooping palm trees, sleek resorts, and balmy temperatures to go with it. A playground for vacationers, it ranges from the empty coves of the Sirinat National Park in the north to the sparkling sands of Rawai in the south. It's encompassed the whole way by the aquamarine currents of the Andaman Sea, which sprouts gnarled rocks and islets, concealing multicolored coral gardens and sea turtles. As the hour gets late, beach towns like Patong go into overdrive, there are fusions of Malay, Chinese, and Thai cooking to taste in the night markets, and sunsets in the west are simply to die for. Cheap flights to Phuket are now on offer from loads of different airlines, going long haul or connecting with other hubs in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Patong Beach never sleeps. For pumping bar strips, bucket cocktails, and sizzling off the hangover in a hammock, this is surely the spot to aim for.
Rising in stacks of chiseled limestone from the Andaman Sea an hour's ferry ride from Phuket, the Phi Phi archipelago has some of Thailand's top beaches (and party nights!).
Gazing over the bustling streets and markets of Chalong in south-central Phuket, the Big Buddha is a calming cultural draw between the beaches and bars.