FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Discover Plenty to Smile about in Thailand’s Exotic Islands

by Kelly Magyarics

Mar 22, 2022

PHOTO: © MOSAYMAY | DREAMSTIME.COM

March 2022

Sandy beaches. Vibrant local cuisine. Fascinating history and culture. Visitors who decide on a tropical locale often must choose one of these features and sacrifice the others. Not so in Thailand, where lush, craggy islands burst out of a turquoise sea and offer seemingly endless coastlines. Abundant seafood from oceanfront restaurants is served up grilled or wok-seared along with colorful vegetables, fragrant herbs and spicy sauces. And towering temples, golden Buddha statues and opulent palaces date back a millennium. The islands in the Land of Smiles will make the beach lover grin, indeed, and they promise plenty to explore.

Phuket, though Thailand’s most developed island, yet offers quieter, more laid-back spots, too, especially up north. Spend an afternoon in tucked-away, cove-like Banana Beach, where you can order grilled skewers and cold bottles of Singha from a beach shack and lazily nap under a palm tree. Later, lean back on pillows and catch sunset sea views during a multicourse dinner at Dee Plee, where dishes incorporate ingredients from the restaurant’s spice garden. If you crave a buzzier scene, head south. There you’ll encounter raucous Patong Beach on the west coast, with its bevy of bars, nightclubs, hotels and restaurants, and Phuket Old Town to the east. The latter is home to legendary Blue Elephant’s set menu of royal Thai cuisine. Also check out the bustling night market bursting with souvenir finds including flowy elephant pants, silk scarves and hand- carved soaps; be sure to break for a foot massage.

Thailand

PHOTO: © TELNYAWKA | DREAMSTIME.COM

The country’s second-largest island, Koh Samui actually lies on Thailand’s east coast on Phang Nga Bay. Hop on a songthaew to explore the coconut plantations and rice paddy fields, or board a long-tail boat to visit a local fishing village. After a seafood lunch, take to one of the island’s top beaches: Chaweng boasts powdery white sand and a wide bay, crescent-shaped Lamai’s deep water proves perfect for snorkeling, and Mae Nam’s calm surf matches its low-key vibe. For a more ambitious island adventure, sea-kayak through the caves winding within those imposing rock formations — both the region’s signature geographical feature and the perfect Instagram backdrop.

LODGING

Kimpton Kitalay Samui
This new resort overlooking Choeng Mon Beach pays homage to Thailand’s seafaring people. Many of the accommodations tout private pools, fat-tire bicycles inspire nearby exploration, and five restaurants tempt with local seafood and a laid-back vibe.
10/79 Moo 5, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani
$$$$

Trisara Resort
Sanskrit for “garden in the third heaven,” this oceanfront resort features 60 spacious, private-pool villas on three tiers. A palm tree-dotted beach, saltwater infinity pool and signature six-hand massage join exquisite dining, including the Michelin-starred PRU.
60/1 Moo 6, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket
$$$$$

V Villas Phuket
The 19 luxurious villas with 24-hour butler service and private pools perch atop Ao Yon Bay. Spa treatments harness the benefits of Andaman pearl powder, and Yon | Ocean House serves creative fusion European-Thai coastal dishes.
39/39 Moo 8 Wichit, Ao Yon Road, Amphoe Muang Phuket
$$$$$

DINING

Dining Room & Chef’s Table
The main culinary concept at Six Senses Yao Noi offers sweeping vistas of Phang Nga Bay and fixed-price experiences featuring classic, modern, Southern and royal Thai dishes like star anise-braised pork belly, red curry grilled Wagyu and herb-steamed sea bass.
Six Senses Yao Noi, 56 Moo 5 Tambol Koh Yao Noi, Amphur Koh Yao, Phang Nga
$$$$$

Juumpo
Named for the owner’s grandfather whose recipes pepper the menu, this restaurant in Phang Nga celebrates the cuisine of the local Baba (Chinese- Thai) people through dishes like Baba-style coconut milk soup with Thai herbs, and shrimp and fried fish with sweet and sour sauce.
1/96 Mu 5, Petchkasem Road, Khuk Khak, Phang Nga
$$

PRU
Phuket’s only Michelin- starred restaurant (Plant. Raise. Understand.) uses locally sourced and garden- grown ingredients for five- and seven-course tasting menus. Try the black crab and lemongrass, vanilla- scented lobster or aged duck and velvet tamarind.
Trisara Resort, 60/1 Moo 6, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket
$$$$$

INFO TO GO
To reach Thailand’s islands, visitors generally connect through Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport; carriers serving this airport include Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Delta Air Lines. From Bangkok, you can book a flight to either Phuket (HKT) or Krabi (KBV) — each about a 90-minute flight — on Cathay Pacific or one of Thailand’s regional airlines like Bangkok Airways, Thai Lion Air or Thai Smile. Reach Koh Samui by ferry or private speedboat, and get around Phuket by taxi or tuk-tuk.

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