The towering limestone mountains, thick jungle and pristine white-sand beaches of this 42-island archipelago are paradise on earth. Numerous tour companies offer day trips from Samui, but there are also simple bungalows at the park’s headquarters, located on Koh Wua Talab, for the more intrepid explorers who wish to stay overnight.
SEE & DO
Ang Thong National Marine Park
This cable wakeboarding park within a scenic freshwater lake has evolved into a multi-sport centre, with an indoor rock climbing wall and a water park for kids. Suitable for beginners and seasoned pros alike.
Join artists and hipsters at this new, bohemian night market in the working-class Sam Kong area. Here, you’ll find indie music, food trucks, cocktail vans, as well as several shipping containers housing restaurants, galleries, tattoo parlours, fashion pop-ups and handicraft stalls. Open daily from 5pm.
Take in Phuket’s sublime sea views with this swish local catamaran operator, which offers ever-changing luxury sailing packages. Current tours include stops at COMO Point Yamu’s Beach Club, where you can sunbathe on white sand beaches, and Koh Hong, where you can kayak around soaring limestone karsts.
This organic micro farm, homestead and cooking school has recently unveiled a new cooking sala (pavilion). Forage for ingredients in the farm’s veggie gardens before whipping up classic dishes like tom kha gai (coconut chicken soup).
Check out this little-known waterfall, which is a multi-tiered cascade with a series of drop pools that you can splash around in.
MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum
Eric Bunnag Booth shares his extensive collection of modern Thai art in this handsome San Kamphaeng gallery. With its well-curated museum shop and restaurant, it’s a great spot for rubbing shoulders with the city’s creatives.
Located just five minutes from the airport, tranquil Nai Yang offers a fine white sand beach, several stores and massage parlours, and a handful of restaurants. The water is clear and the sunset views, stunning.
Phuket Art Village
This vibrant community of Thai artists welcomes visitors into their home studios, where they can be seen working on their latest creations – from colourful paintings to sculptures fashioned from recycled materials.
Catch a show at the outstanding Simon Cabaret. The flamboyant performer will transport you to Egypt, Latin America, China and then back to Thailand through spectacular displays of classical dance and song.
EAT & DRINK
Akha Ama Coffee
For the city’s best cup of coffee, head to this popular café. Here, drinks – everything from pour-overs to piccolo lattes – are made from coffee beans grown by a hill tribe in a remote corner of northern Thailand and then roasted in-house.
Anna Farm & Eatery
A winding drive through Mae Rim’s countryside takes you to this slice of paradise. Dine on farm-to-table Thai fare amid emerald-green rice paddies, before scoring great bargains on hand-thrown pottery at the farm’s shop.
Arun’s Roti Shop
Manas Dada, better known as Arun, serves up the best roti (fried bread) on the island. Pair it with beef curry and a cup of cha chak (pulled tea), before rounding off your meal with some off-the-menu roti bom (sugar-covered roti dipped in condensed milk).
The craft beer trend is alive and well in Chiang Mai. With 18 beers on tap and over 200 bottles from around the world – including Chiang Mai’s very own Red Truck IPA – Beer Lab pulls in the crowds.
Blue Note Bar
Located off Chaweng’s main drag, this unassuming watering hole has shelves lined with botanicals, infusions and homemade bitters. There’s no menu; simply tell the bartenders what you like, and they’ll customise a cocktail for you.
While many visit this industrial-chic hangout for its signature coffee (served with marshmallow crème topping), what sets it apart from other cafés are its cavernous co-working area, and an exhibition space that doubles as a cinema.
Cariocas Bistro & Lounge
This new Central and South American-influenced restaurant has set tongues wagging, thanks to its funky décor and creative Mexican, Italian and Thai fare. Do also try its tiki-inspired rum cocktails — co-owner Florian Niessing is one of the region’s most acclaimed mixologists.
Few spirits encapsulate the tropical island vibe quite like rum; it’s therefore fitting that Samui is home to arguably Thailand’s most comprehensive rum bar. Opt for a rum tasting flight (THB1,500 or S$60) that features rare bottles from Trinidad, Guyana, Barbados and Venezuela.
Located on the fringe of Old Phuket Town, Dibuka’s industrial-chic décor, superb Thai dishes, live music and cocktails attract a discerning crowd. Visit on a Thursday or Friday evening, when the artsy Indy Market sets up shop alongside it.
Huen Muan Jai
The distinctive cuisine of northern Thailand is definitely worth trying. Sample authentic dishes such as gaeng kare (chicken curry) and tam kanun (young jackfruit salad) at this popular restaurant.
Kad Chin Haw
This little-known but fascinating Chinese Muslim farmers’ market offers foods from the Haw Chinese, Shan and other hill tribes. Open every Friday, from 6 am to midday.
Kopitiam by Wilai
Sample nostalgic Nyonya fare, such as bak kut teh (pork ribs in a peppery broth) and slow-cooked massaman curry (a rich but mild coconut curry), at this vintage-style café.
Lock Tien Food Court
Hugely popular with visitors, Lock Tien serves up the best of local food in a shaded open-air courtyard. Snag an empty table and order a bowl of Hokkien-style fried noodles, a plate of popiah (fresh spring rolls served with a sweet-spicy sauce), and several skewers of pork satay.
Meena Rice Based Cuisine
At this century-old barn set amid lush gardens and lotus ponds, you can tuck into Lanna dishes like young jackfruit larb (a fresh, spicy salad), coconut and fish curry, and locally grown organic red rice.
While Chiang Mai has grown increasingly sophisticated, most bars unfortunately still don’t know the difference between a Gibson and a gimlet. For proper pours – many featuring localflavours – step into this stylish watering hole, which is by far the city’s best-stocked bar.
My Secret Café in Town
Weekly music nights turn this tucked away bistro into a chill post-dinner hangout spot. Complement the melodious sounds with refreshing cocktails and a decadent line-up of desserts.
This airy restaurant serves up modern Thai dishes conceptualised by chef Tammasak “Noi” Chootong, a popular figure on Thailand’s Iron Chef TV series. Signature dishes include crab curry quiche Lorraine and Isaan-style tuna tartare.
Sunset by Angelina
This thatched-roof waterside bar near the Big Buddha temple is one of the island’s best spots for a sundowner. The cocktails are fantastic (especially the peach mojitos), as is the food.
Leading Thai product designer Thinkk Studio is responsible for the rustic-chic interiors at this sunset dining spot. While the gorgeous views are the real stars, the skilfully mixed cocktails and Thai fusion and Italian dishes are no afterthought.
Torry’s Ice Cream
At this retro-inspired ice cream boutique, you can sample delicious and unusual flavours, such as lychee sorbet and durian, all handmade from scratch.
Located in the popular Wat Ket neighbourhood, this café, gallery and lifestyle shop serves up Thai and Western dishes. Browse artworks or shop for unique handicrafts after your meal.
Z1mplex Mixology Laboratory
This idiosyncratic bar is fast gaining cult status, thanks to its psychedelic cocktails concocted with tools straight out of a science lab. Arriving here is half the fun: Upon entry, patrons receive a card with a QR code which, when scanned, reveals the drinks list for the night. ‘
This boutique-cum-café has four Samui locations, but this outlet boasts a particular charm. Shop for locally made, foodie-focused souvenirs like coconut caramels and curry pastes, as well as jewellery, friendship bracelets, textiles and photo frames made with driftwood.
Housed in a series of colourful shipping containers near Bang Tao Beach, this mall offers an eclectic mix of cafés, boutiques, salons and galleries. Hotspots include Lalita’s for European-made shoes and Luna Cici for Italian wines.
This new shopping arcade on Bophut’s walking street eschews the usual souvenirs. Here, the old-school wooden kiosks are packed with trendy shirts and unique craft and design pieces
This enormous store is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of antique and reproduction furniture from countries like Thailand, Myanmar, China, Pakistan and India. You’ll also find many beautiful decorative items, such as porcelain door handles, for sale.
Lard Yai Sunday Street Market
Phuket’s most picturesque market offers delicious Thai takeaway meals, local art and handcrafted souvenirs like batik. Restored Sino-Portuguese shophouses form a colourful backdrop to the lively street fair.
This quirky community of rustic art studios is perfect for one-of-a-kind gifts, such as natural-dyed clothing, handmade dolls and Japanese pottery. Relax in one of its garden nooks with a cup of coffee, an artisanal pastry and a good book.
Talat Ton Phayom
The guidebooks will invariably point you in the direction of Chiang Mai’s seemingly countless “walking street” markets; however, for something more local, hit up this small daily bazaar, which emphasises northern Thai dishes and fresh produce.
The centrepiece of this beautiful boutique hotel is an exquisite teak wood building dating back to the early 1900s. With two restaurants, a cigar bar, a wine cellar, a piano lounge, a spa and a pool, there are few reasons to leave the comforts of the resort.
Art Mai Gallery
The seven floors at this new boutique hotel have been designed by Thai artists who’ve taken inspiration from genres including impressionism and pop art. Other highlights include a rooftop pool and a restaurant serving fusion fare.
Hotel des Artists Ping Sihouette
Set in a restored 20th century Chinese-style home, this 19-room boutique hotel has a prevailing Old Shanghai vibe, with fixtures like fuchsia lanterns and handsome stone vessels overflowing with bougainvillea.
This glamorous five-star resort is perched on a headland near Kata Beach, with private pool villas offering superb ocean views. Sunset cocktails on the gleaming white pool terrace are a must.
Sequester yourself in one of the resort’s 66 redesigned villas, which now boast floor-to-ceiling windows offering gorgeous views of the surrounding greenery. The private pools have all been resurfaced with aqua-hued tiles, while the dramatic main pool remains one of the best infinity pools on the island.
There are few more magical spots to be kneaded and pampered on Samui than this day spa. Set in a beautiful forest environment, it offers a variety of massages and yoga classes, alongside herbal steam caves and cooling rock pools.
As the name suggests, Tamarind Village is a hamlet of northern Thai structures and towering trees that converge to form one of the city’s most charming hotels. Even if you’re not staying here, stop by to see its latest art exhibition.
The Nai Harn
This ultra-luxe, 30-year-old hotel has hosted royals and celebs over the years, such as 007 actor Roger Moore. Recently remodelled, it now flaunts a stylish Mediterranean vibe. Highlights include a beachfront pool with sunken seats overlooking the Andaman Sea, suites with four-poster beds, and a wildly decadent “press for champagne” button on every terrace.
The Slate Resort
Formerly known as Indigo Pearl, this resort pays homage to Phuket’s tin mining history with its industrial chic aesthetic. Check into a stylish suite or a pool villa; then, treat yourself to a spa treatment or Sunday brunch.
Blue Note Bar
距离查汶海滩不远，被店主 Shaun Hill 形容为一间“泰式爱尔兰酒吧”，吧台上陈列着多款草本酒、香槟和自制苦酒，而且不设酒单，想喝什么就告诉调酒师，他们会为你量身制作。
临近绑涛海滩一系列的彩色集装箱里，是这个设有风格迥异的咖啡馆、服饰店、发廊及艺廊的商场。热门据点包括主打法式料理的Little Paris、专卖时尚欧洲制作鞋履的Lalita’s，以及专售意大利葡萄酒的Luna Cici。
Cariocas Bistro & Lounge
位于桑空区的Chillva Market 夜市富有浓郁的文艺气息，在这里你能够找到独立音乐、美食车、鸡尾酒货车，以及设在集装箱内的餐厅、画廊、纹身房、时尚小店以及手工摊位。开放时间为每日下午5时起。
乘坐由当地经营的双体船出海，享受普吉岛独特的海景吧！你可在COMO Point Yamu海滩俱乐部下船，在洁白的沙滩上享受日光浴，或是在宏岛(Koh Hong Island)划独木舟，穿梭在岩溶石当中。
Phuket Art Village
位于普吉老镇附近，这家餐馆为食客送上由泰国“Iron Chef”节目系列的Tammasak“Noi” Chootong名厨所构思设计的泰式fusion料理。招牌菜包括了咖喱螃蟹乳蛋饼以及依善风味的吞拿鞑靼。
Sunset by Angelina
The Slate Resort
Z1mplex Mixology Laboratory
普吉岛奈汉酒店(The Nai Harn)