A young devotee of the Chinese Shrine Gim Tsu Ong looks on prior to a fire walking ceremony at the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, Thailand.
Thailand was voted India’s favourite holiday destination in 2012. And while I was in the island city of Phuket, its governor Suraphon Svetasreni, casually mentioned that India ranks sixth in terms of the number of visitors it receives from all over the world. But what is it about the island in Thailand that attracts so much attention? Turns out, a holiday to a beautiful country that offers a great mix of luxury, natural beauty and relaxation works for just about everybody. I was there just a week ago and can easily come up with
five reasons why you should head there this summer.
1. Beauty is your thing: A trip to Phuket means diving into crystal clear, warm waters around the famous Phi Phi islands, swimming with exotic marine life, breathing fresh air or watching yet another breathtaking sunset while sipping a Mojito? The destination is famous for its white sands, deserted beaches and emerald waters. Even Leonardo DiCaprio and Hrithik Roshan thought so. And you can spend quality time on the same beach on which The Beach (2000) and Kaho Na... Pyaar Hai (2000) were filmed. And that is something to write home about, isn’t it?
2. Delicious food turns you on: Original Thai curries and fried rice. Fresh, wallet-friendly and gigantic tiger prawns cooked specially for you. Yummy. Delicious Chicken Satay or Tom
Yum soup for lunch and
dinner daily. Enough now. Restaurants that serve every possible cuisine giving you a chance to up your gastronomic quotient. Stop already!
A trip to this part of the world is a foodie’s delight. And even a simple walk down the street can throw up multiple options that could satisfy the culinary connoisseur in you. It is little wonder then that most hotel rooms come with weighing scales.
3. Comfort comforts you: Now who would have thought that such a tiny island could host 600 hotels and resorts catering to every type of traveller? The fancy ones, like the Angsana Laguna Phuket and Outrigger, properties that fall under the Laguna group, where I was based, have pools, multi-cuisine restaurants, activities like elephant riding, Thai cooking course, windsurfing, snorkelling and spa treatments that come as part of the package. With so much pampering available at one go, stress and deadlines can seem miles away.
4. You like Friendly people : Friendliness, warmth and hospitality. Isn’t that for everyone? Experiencing it in large doses can actually make you happy. And whoever said ‘you can never have enough friends’ clearly knew what he was talking about. So considering that Phuket sees people of several nationalities converge in one single place at one time, it increases the chances of you meeting a friendly soul. And isn’t that one risk just worth taking?
5. Experiencing a new culture IS SO you: You were warned. Taking a trip to this island nation means that you may actually pick up a few words in other languages or just increase your knowledge about a foreign culture and religion, in addition to experiencing some rather rocking parties and festivals. Old Phuket town is dotted with Sino-Portuguese buildings built more than 100 years ago. These buildings portray Thai characteristics and heritage with Chinese and European styles. Or visit Wat Chalong, a beautiful and renowned monastery. And even though I did not particularly enjoy elephants fly at Phuket FantaSea, there’s no reason to hold back from having a good time there.
(The writer travelled as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand)
Thai Smile has now started direct flights from Mumbai to Phuket (four hours). Log on to www.thaismileair.com for details
Phuket has over 600 resorts/ hotels that cater to every type of traveller. Check into:
Laguna Phuket Resorts and Hotels: The resort complex is home to seven hotels: Banyan Tree Phuket, Angsana Laguna Phuket, Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket, Outrigger Phuket Beach, Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas, Best Western Allamanda Laguna Phuket and Laguna Holiday Club Phuket
Resort. They cater to every budget.
Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa: It offers stunning ocean views and a world-class spa.