Change of Pace
Global Traveler|September 2021
Slow down and unwind in easy-going Phuket.

It’s not even 9 a.m. in the sleepy fishing village of Rawai on Thailand’s famous Phuket Island, but already the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea swarm with local fishermen casting their lines and releasing their nets from the bows of rustic long-tail boats. The scents of lemongrass, incense and sweet pandan leaves season the air as the villagers slowly rise from their beachside bungalows to start their day. In just a few more hours, the fishermen will return with their catches, filling the stalls of the iconic Rawai Seafood Market with buckets of shellfish and displays of fresh filets. Visitors line up each afternoon for the catch of the day, selecting their fish with care before hauling their purchases across the well-worn road to the restaurants opposite the market to have the fish cooked for 100 Thai baht per kilo.

The average day in Phuket starts and ends on the beach, where villagers and visitors alike spend hours enjoying the slow pace of Thailand’s largest island and its nearly 25 miles of public shoreline. Only a short, one-hour flight from Bangkok, Phuket boasts numerous national and international flight options that make it an easy addition to a business trip in Thailand or even neighboring countries. If you’re looking for nightlife, Phuket has you covered, as it’s become known as Thailand’s party island. But it’s not just bars, clubs and EDM festivals in Phuket; the island offers many chances to kick back and enjoy some much-deserved rest and relaxation.

Phuket consists of one main island — separated from the mainland by Chong Pak Phra channel at the northernmost point of the island — and a series of several smaller islands that add about 27 square miles to the total size of the destination. The main island’s rolling hills give the densely forested landscape an exotic flair, where hilltop restaurants and hotels offer vantages once reserved for the birds. Find some of the best views of the sea at Sri Panwa, a luxury boutique hotel perched in the hills of the Cape Panwa Peninsula at the southern tip of the island. Many of the family-owned resort’s villas and estates offer panoramic views of the sea, but a handful even offer uninterrupted 300-degree views of the Andaman Sea and the surrounding islands. The villas are modern and fresh, designed to feel like private homes, with surround-sound entertainment systems, wrap-around plunge pools and chilled-out décor perfect for lounging in between adventures around the island.

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