More than just beautiful beaches and emerald waters.
If we ask you to close your eyes and think of a lush, mountainous island set in a sea that glimmers like a polished emerald, with sugar-sand beaches ringing the shoreline and mystical and ornate temples dotted across the island’s interior. I think many of you will think of Phuket. We cannot deny that Phuket is home to many tourist attractions, but there is so much more to the island than what the postcards show. Because of the rich cultural diversity of the island, Phuket has beautifully evolved in so many ways, creating unique atmospheres that are truly distinct to the island.
When COVID started to spread in Thailand at the beginning of last year, the government introduced increasingly stricter measures to control the outbreak. It eventually led to the suspension of all commercial flights and a total ban on all tourists and leisure travellers from entering the country. With tourism being so important to the domestic economy, both formal and informal, there are so many families that have been hit hard by the total suspension of tourism for so long. So the government’s proposal for restarting tourism with the Phuket Sandbox has been met with great anticipation for what it means for so many people, employers and employees, and to the survival of so many businesses.
As of the 1st of July 2021, Phuket was re-opened to Thai and foreign travellers under the Phuket Sandbox scheme. The Sandbox scheme allows tourists and leisure travellers to visit and stay on Phuket without the need for the usual 14days locked-down hotel quarantine. Travellers are allowed to roam free and enjoy the island as long as they meet the criteria of the scheme: the basics of which require that each arrival has been fully vaccinated against covid, provides negative PCR tests, has appropriate travel insurance with cover for covid, and books their stay in an SHA+ certified hotel in Phuket. For stays up to 14days the travellers must remain within Phuket, but on completion of 14days (a negative PCR required) they are free to travel anywhere in Thailand. Stays shorter than 14days are permitted, with the whole stay spent within Phuket. After the past 18months of lockdowns we all need a holiday and the thought of finally being able to travel to Thailand again is very tempting I am sure! Now do we have your attention yet? Please contact our Secret Retreats’ concierge at email@example.com to check if you are eligible to travel in the Phuket Sandbox Scheme.
In this week’s edition, we will prepare you for the best Phuket Sandbox experience. These cozy corners of the island could easily turn into the highlights of your trip to Thailand!
STROLL THE HISTORIC ROADS OF PHUKET ‘OLD TOWN’
Phuket’s history was written by sea-faring traders, sailors, gypsies, and laborers drawn to the island from China, Portugal, England, India, and other far-flung locations due to its abundant natural reserves – all of them in search of the island’s ivory, pearls, timber, animal hides, metals and gems. The economic opportunities on the island also drew people from across Thailand and from neighboring countries like Malaysia, Myanmar, and Indonesia. In the 18th century with the discovery of tin, the Dutch, French and Portuguese came to the island, as did many miners from China who settled on the island and married into local families. These mixed-blood marriages gave way to a new ethnicity known as the Peranakan or Baba Nyonya. The influence that they have had on Phuket’s culture is evident in everyday life here. The stories of Phuket’s migrants can be seen in the island’s architecture, and especially around Phuket Old Town where Sino-Portuguese influences are apparent on every street corner.
Built on the wealth of tin mining in the last century, the Old Town is compact enough to walk around and look in wonder at the lavish Sino-Portuguese style mansions and shophouses with beautiful facades. In the evening, the Old Town quarter comes alive as the area’s buildings are lit up with colourful lights, very much a photographer’s paradise. And every Sunday Thalang Road is closed to traffic and hosts one of the island’s most eclectic walking-street markets. Not only is Phuket Old Town aesthetically pleasing, it’s also a vibrant busy home, a place where the locals are more than pleased to share their Peranakan traditions with visitors and tourists.
PHUKET’S UNIQUE STREET FOOD CULTURE
As we mentioned earlier, Phuket is a melting pot of cultures. The island is inhabited by a mix of Thai Buddhists and Muslims, and people with a mix of Chinese heritages, this cultural melting pot makes for great dining, with much of its varied cuisine unique to Phuket. So unique in fact that in 2015, Phuket was also recognized in the UNESCO Creative City Listings for its local gastronomic delights.
The narrow streets in Phuket Old Town are always lined with street food stalls, hawker hubs and family-run restaurants. Delicacies available here include everything from local pancakes or a-pong, Chinese-style Hokkien fried noodles to seafood. The food here reflects the culinary influence of different countries that played a role on this Island.
In the morning, you can meet the locals chatting at their favourite coffee house and dim sum shops where you simply take a seat and the waiter will fill your table with a vast selection of dumplings, steamed buns and fried snacks to accompany a thick, sweet coffee.
Roti is also one of the dishes that has to go on your ‘must eat’ list. A delicious flatbread that originated from the Indian subcontinent. On Phuket it is prepared in a variety of styles, both savory and sweet, and is a favourite breakfast choice across the island’s communities. Many locals and expats prefer to have their roti served with moderately spiced curries and fresh vegetables. One more dish on the must try list is the tender beef soup. The beef is exceptionally tender as it is braised for many hours. Perfectly seasoned and often on the spicy side, as in fact many of Phuket’s curries are, this full of flavoured beef soup is a nice light alternative to the more typically rich and creamy curries Thailand and Phuket is famed for worldwide.
EXPLORE PHUKET’S SECRET BEACHES
Frequent travellers to Phuket might be very familiar with the sights of the busy Patong and Kata beaches which are packed with sunbeds and everything you would expect of a beachside resort, and you might be thinking that this is not the tropical paradise beach you’ve been dreaming of. However, there are plenty of hidden beaches to discover, especially if you are looking to enjoy some peace and solitude during your stay in Phuket. With a set of wheels, and a sense of adventure, you can discover secret pristine sands that will have you coming back for more. We will let you in to one of our favorite hidden beaches.
Banana Beach, hidden amongst palm trees in the northwest of Phuket and accessible via a steep path lies a small beachy paradise just like in the movies. Without the development that usually arises as a result of mass tourism, the remoteness of Banana Beach means it never gets crowded with tourists. In the afternoon, a few long tail boats from other beaches arrive. The water is crystal clear and there’s still plenty of shade from the palm trees in the morning. Bring a book, a beach towel and a snorkel and you can spend all day chilling out on a beautiful peaceful Phuket beach.
EXPERIENCE THE LUXURY HOME AWAY FROM HOME
What does a post-covid traveller need from the hotel and destination to ensure worry free and still fascinating travels? First on the list must be space and fresh air, a professional local team on-hand to provide full support is a must, a luxurious attention to the details and a great deal! And our curated property on Phuket, the Paresa Resort, has all this and more.
Enjoying an unrivalled clifftop vantage point in Kamala, Phuket’s most exclusive stretch of coastline, this luxury resort shares breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea from all of its pool villas. Phuket’s best kept luxury secret, the resort is secreted away under lush tropical trees and gardens guaranteeing peace, privacy and serenity. Paresa lives up to its name which means heaven of all heavens.
The chic, elegant villas and suites are luxuriously appointed, and all offer unrivalled panoramic sea views from their private infinity edge pools. With 1- and 2-bedroom villas and suites, Paresa is the perfect choice for every occasion. Whether you are looking for the ultimate romantic hideaway or for the family holiday of a lifetime, Paresa has a suite for you. And excellent dining is assured too, as this exclusive resort’s Thai restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Plate for 3 years running now. Paresa also features a luxurious spa, gym, library, and cooking school, all provided with a warm and beautifully Thai 5-star personalized service.
During The Phuket Sandbox, Paresa Resort offers a truly personalized stay and a great deal with their special 7- and 14-nights packages. Contact the Secret Retreats Concierges for full details of these not to be missed package deals tailored to ensure you a wonderful, safe, luxurious return to Phuket and Thailand.
As post-pandemic travel begins, Secret Retreats has prepared travel experiences that are not only crowd-free, but hassle-free and stress-free with full local support as well. As travel picks up again after a year of strict quarantine, that old adage about the journey being the destination has never felt truer. It’s not just where you want to go, but how you want to travel; not just what you want to see, but how you want to experience and here at Secret Retreats our professional team of concierges and our local teams in each destination are here to support you from the moment of booking and throughout your journey with us.
Start planning your travels to Asia, contact the Secret Retreats Concierges today on firstname.lastname@example.org .