Phuket, Thailand

Located along the southern coast of Thailand just off the mainland, Phuket has long been an international destination, first for trade and then for travel. Royal Holiday members would do well to make it part of their itinerary. Featuring some of the most famous beaches in Asia, this shimmering isle offers endless expanses of white sand and glittering seas. Inland, however, one will find just as much to do on this mountainous island, Thailand’s largest. Its charming towns and villages offer incredible local cuisine, ancient temples, and world-class entertainment. Royal Holiday members considering a tropical vacation need look no further: Phuket has it all.

Members can stay at the Royal Lighthouse Villas at Boat Lagoon, where the two-bedroom condominium units feature every possible amenity, ranging from a full kitchen and dining room to a relaxing patio. The resort itself provides excellent service, handling such things as car rentals and baby-sitting services, while its grounds includes such amenities as a beauty salon, club house, swimming pool, and health club. However, its main draw is its access to some of Phuket’s most remote beaches, with guests taking short boat rides down to the ocean.

Phuket’s history begins 2,000 years ago, when Indian colonists established a settlement there. Known to the Greeks as “Jang Si Lang,” it served as an important crossroads for trade routes between Asian powers due to its position and natural resources. The discovery of tin in the mountains brought European traders out in force, and the region absorbed the Dutch, French, and English cultures the traders brought with them, as well as the Chinese culture of the tin miners. Today, the island reflects these hundreds of years of travelers and traders, providing it with a unique culture that will fascinate and delight Royal Holiday members.

Visiting Phuket often means checking out its numerous beaches, sampling each stretch of sand to find the perfect place to lay out and enjoy the sun. Some will prefer the upscale Cherng Talay, where beach clubs and restaurants line the beach. Others will want to seek out one of the more relaxed destinations, such as the beautiful Karon and Kata Beaches, or something more secluded, like the tucked-away bay of Singh Beach. Royal Holiday travelers who are tired of the sand would do well to take a trip to Phang Nga Bay, where its glorious cliffs overlook some of the most dramatic oceanside views in the world.

For a bit of urban flavor, Old Phuket Town provides Sino-Portuguese sophistication, bustling markets, and walkable streets, but the hippest Royal Holiday members will likely want to take the trip north to Kalim Bay, where the city’s best restaurants and coolest bars can be found. The night markets in Patong offer a fascinating and chaotic look at Thai culture, but for a more relaxed pace, a visit to one of the numerous spiritual landmarks on the island will bring Thailand into clear focus. While Wat Chalong is the largest temple, the most prominent symbol is the mountaintop sculpture of Buddha exuding peace over the entire region.