It’s the sand. Powder white, bordered by tropical blue water on one side and lush greenery on the other, the beaches (particularly along the island’s southern shorelines) are what made Phuket one of the hottest playgrounds of Southeast Asia. Patong Beach is the most famous, but it’s not exactly a secluded getaway. For that, head south. Nai Harn is a lovely, low-key strand anchored by the posh Phuket Yacht Club, but for a little more privacy, go through the club’s grounds to Ao Sane Beach, a small bay where life’s choices come down to warm sand or warm water.
Tiger Woods made a spectacular comeback – 8 shots in the final round of the 1998 Johnny Walker Classic – to defeat Ernie Els at Phuket’s best golf course, the Blue Canyon Country Club. The scenic lakes-and-woodlands course, located at Mai Khao, is just one of several championship courses on the island. Another favorite? The Banyan Tree Golf Course at Bangtao, set against a backdrop of verdant mountains.
Phuket has always been a kind of Bangkok South, where the night is a time of neon, clubs, karaoke bars, discos, massage parlors, sex shows, and more kinds of “entertainment” than you could shake a credit card at. The action centers in Phuket Town (favored by locals) and Patong Beach (more popular with Westerners, which is probably why one local website calls it “the Viagra capital of the world.”)