We're thinking of visiting Phuket next month for a week. Can you recommend a luxury hotel? Since it's the monsoon season, what are the chances of enjoying water-based activities and tours of the islands around the coast?
The southern Thai city of Phuket is great to visit all year round, although most tourists prefer to arrive between November to April when the weather is cool and the chances of getting soaked in a rainstorm are few. But the rainy season, beginning around mid-April, is the best time to grab a bargain holiday deal. Plan your trip anyway because the showers don't last very long and rarely occur more than twice a day.
While some tour operators close for a few months because of the unpredictable weather conditions, others offer discounted day trips. For an off-the-beaten-track experience, try kayaking by starlight in the bioluminescent waters around the cave systems of Phang Nga Bay, a few kilometres from Phuket's coast. The trip costs 3,950 baht (Dh484) per adult and 1,975 baht (Dh242) per child for a 10-hour trip (10am to 10pm), including a traditional Thai lunch and seafood dinner banquet onboard, and hotel transfers. For more detals, visit www.johngray-seacanoe.com.
If you're after a quiet break by the beach and a spot of snorkelling or diving - weather permitting, of course - try the Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa (www.starwoodhotels.com; 00 66 76 335 600). Book the "fresh start" for an ocean-view room from 3,686 Thai baht (Dh450) per night, including taxes, breakfast and access to a private beach in Siray Bay. The property also has suites and villas.
For truly luxurious living this monsoon season, head for Anantara Phuket (http://phuket.anantara.com; 00 66 76 336 100) on Mai Kao beach. The resort offers area excursions such as cycling tours of the beaches along the coast, trekking on elephant back in the jungle and a visit to a local animal rescue centre, located near the beautiful Bang Pae Waterfalls and home to a successful gibbon rehabilitation project. The resort also offers kayaking, diving and snorkelling excursions to the island of Koh Phi Phi. Anantara Phuket currently has a "stay seven pay five" offer - seven nights in a private pool villa, including breakfast for two, daily snacks, and fruits and cookies served by the infinity pool every evening. From 21,240 baht (Dh2,600) per night based on two sharing, including taxes. The offer is valid until October 31.
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