Phuket is a large island on the south-west corner of Thailand. Although technically it is an island, only a short bridge separates it from the mainland. At the time of writing there are no direct flights to the UK, but internal flights from Bangkok are inexpensive and plentiful. Alternatively, it is around a 7 hour drive from Bangkok, with regular bus services. Its airport is to the north of the island.
The Patong Beach area’s somewhat sleazy reputation has tainted Phuket’s reputation in the past, but it must be stressed that Patong is only a tiny part of this large island, with the rest being filled with rainforest-clad mountains, stunning beaches, cultural sights and some of Thailand’s top hotels and spas.
We chose the Bang Tao Beach area of Phuket as the perfect honeymoon destination – and area now known as Laguna Beach. It is on the west side of the island, less than 30 minutes from the airport, with several resort hotels within a large and carefully planned development. Elephant riding, horse riding and an excellent 18 hole golf course are all within the Laguna Resort area, and jet-skis are illegal. A free shuttle bus runs between the different Laguna Beach resorts with a reciprocal arrangement allowing guests to use some of the facilities at the other hotels. Not all facilities are included in this scheme, so it is important to choose the hotel which best matches your needs.
The Banyan Tree is perhaps the best known hotel in Laguna Beach. All accommodation is within individual villas, many with their own pools. It is particularly suitable for those who want total privacy. It would not be a good choice for anyone with children. Click here for a full review.
Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket would be our choice of venue for most couples. More down to earth than The Banyan Tree, with all you would expect from a 5* resort. Click here for a full review.
Laguna Beach Resort is more suited to those looking for an action packed family holiday.
The Allamanda is on the lagoon, not the beach, and is largely operated as timeshare-style accommodation.
The Sheraton is based around the lagoon, with a small beach frontage at one end. It is more suited for conferences than for honeymoons.
The Laguna Resort’s hotels offer the perfect holiday for those who would like a gentle introduction to Asia.
English is widely spoken, and each of the resort’s hotels offer a selection of restaurants with a wide range of cuisine, in addition to excellent Thai restaurants. The decor, special touches and high standards of service are all very Asian – you will not hear a raised voice during your stay.
A concern of many travelers is being “harassed” by locals and this is dealt with very well in the resort area; a necessity as the beaches are all public. Each hotel has an area set aside in the pool area and/or on the beach for local Thais to offer massage and hair braiding, and to sell drinks, food and clothing. They are given a uniform to identify themselves as being “approved”. This system of co-operation enables guests to interact with the local people, and support the area financially, while enjoying the much lower prices than those offered by the resort – typically around £5-£8 for a beach massage.
Following the tsunami and negative press reports relating to Thai protesters, Thailand’s tourism has suffered over the past few years. In this area of Thailand, neither should be a concern.
Although this resort is based the Andaman coast which was badly hit by the Tsunami, the Laguna resort suffered only very minor damage and no loss of life, and was quickly restored to it’s previous beauty.
Following the 2008 protests caused chaos in Phuket and Bangkok airports, the government is committed to ensuring that tourism is not affected in the future. We visited Phuket during the April 2009 protests and were not affected at all – a sentiment echoed by all the other guests, despite UK Home Office warnings to the contrary.
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