Dive in and discover the colourful underwater world at the Similan islands, a protected archipelago with colourful coral beds and exotic fishes. Even the occasional whale shark and sea turtle have been spotted in the crystal clear waters. Diving and snorkelling trips are available when the islands are open from 15 October through 15 May.
Phang Nga Bay is the iconic seascape of dreams with its steep karst islands, floating village and hidden lagoons. There are many ways to explore the bay, whether it be aboard a luxury yacht, a traditional long-tail boat or by paddling a sea kayak.
Enjoy close encounters with Thailand’s wildlife, safely and ethically, at two animal shelters on Phuket. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary cares for elephants retired from the tourist trade and visitors can watch them at play in the jungle. Nearby Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is a shelter for rescued gibbons, and some of the cute furry apes can be seen hanging around in their large enclosures at Khao Phra Thaeo national park.
If the kids somehow tire of exploring the endless sands and sea of Natai Beach, they could try a day of waterslide action at Splash Jungle water park near Mai Khao Beach on Phuket, or visit Anthem Wake Park for a freshwater-lake wakeboarding session or indoor wall climbing at the Rebel Rock Climbing centre next door.
Natai Beach is home to some excellent upmarket dining spots including the stylish Baba Beach Club and Aleenta resort, found along the beach just a short drive away from the villa. And for a more easy-going beachfront dining experience, go for Thai food at Rabiang Lay restaurant with its bamboo huts shaded by casuarina trees.
Golf enthusiasts have a choice of scenic golf courses to play in the area, including the Thai Navy-run Tab Lamu course and over the bridge in Phuket are the lovely Mission Hills and Blue Canyon clubs.
Explore the natural wonders of the Andaman coast with visits to waterfall parks, river rafting adventures and ATV rides through the lush jungle terrain of Phang Nga province. Bring the camera for an early-morning visit to Samet Nangshe viewpoint, with breath-taking sunrise views over Phang Nga Bay.
Take a stroll around the Phuket Old Town with its restored Sino-Portuguese buildings, vibrant local food scene, eye-catching wall murals and boutique shops to explore.
Join a cookery class to learn the tricks for preparing authentic Thai cuisine, with some courses including an immersive shopping trip to a local market. Some nearby resorts including Aleenta, the JW Marriott Phuket resort on Mai Khao Beach and The Slate hotel at Nai Yang Beach offer Thai cooking classes.
There’s no shortage of places to shop in Phuket, with a range of retail choices. The streets of Patong Beach turn into busy street bazaars in the evenings, while the large Jungceylon shopping centre offers a less chaotic and cooler place to shop. Phuket Town is a shopping haven with its bustling Naka Weekend Market, Old Town Sunday street market and Central Festival mall. Boat Plaza near Bang Tao Beach is a good place to wine and dine and browse the upscale shops for beachwear, artwork, jewellery and more.