What To Do in Dubai in 3-5 Days

Dubai is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Over the last decade, the city of gold has been consistently ranked in the top 20 most visited cities in the world. Shopping facilities, its unique culture along with the new and modern tourist attractions are the things that make this city so popular. It can be overwhelming trying to decide just what to see and do on a trip to Dubai, so we’ve made it easier. If you have three to five days in Dubai, here are all the best and most exciting things to see and do. Take your pick! (more…)

21 Amazing Things That You Can Do In Koh Samui

Before landing in Thailand, you probably heard a lot about a place called Koh Samui. Most of what you heard must be to do with beaches, lounging and partying. But that’s just three of the many things you can do here. If you are wondering what else is there to do, here’s an interesting list of 21 things that will help you get to know Koh Samui really well!

1. Visit the Secret Buddha Garden

Sitting on top of the Pom mountain is the sculpture garden which is also popularly known as the Tarnim Magic Garden. It is a private garden built by a 77-year-old farmer in 1976. And, he continued to tend to it till the time he turned 91. Sculptures of Buddha in various states and of that of the farmer’s parents are found here. All these grant a magical ambience to the place. And even though the road here is not easy, this magical garden is visited by hordes of tourists every year.

2. Explore Angthong Marine Park

This Marine National Park in the Gulf of Thailand wraps around 42 islands. It was established in November 1980. Locale of the Emerald Lake here was used in Hollywood movie ‘The Beach,’ and when you arrive here you will know why. In all its remoteness, the National Park is a beautiful page with islands scattered all over the clear waters.

3. Go Diving

Your Thailand experience is incomplete without diving. And the best diving spots lie within 60 kilometers of Koh Samui. You have boats available to take you to the diving sites that are spectacular. So, when you are here, make it a point to dive into the deep blue sea. It takes close to 50 minutes to complete one dive. Before hopping on the boat, check if you have your identity proofs and safety protocols in place.

4. Get A Relaxing Thai Massage

The best way to relax is to have a massage. The ambience of Koh Samui makes a massage experience in this part of Thailand even better. The soothing touch complements the peaceful ambience of the place. So, if your frayed nerves need some relief, head over to a masseuse.

5. Stretch With Thai Yoga

If you want to amp up a massage experience, follow it up the next day with yoga. Here professionals will bend, twist and stretch you to straighten any knots that might have remained to improve the blood circulation. It is a great way to end the tour of the the place, feeling refreshed and relaxed.

6. Visit The Big Buddha

Wat Phra Yai is the temple of the Big Buddha situated on the island of Koh Samui. It is a 12-meter tall golden statue of Buddha. If you approach Samui through a flight, you will be able to spot it from your window too. The temple was constructed in 1972 and depicts Buddha in meditation

7. Tour On A Paddle Boat

While you are aware of the usual walking tours, here a tour with a twist that is offered in Koh Samui. This is a tour on the paddle boat, where you explore your surroundings while standing up on a paddle boat. With life jackets and a tour guide in place, we say it’s a great way to move around when in Koh Samui.

8. Dine At The Thai Experience

If you want to taste a Thai meal in all its vibrant glory, step into the Thai Experience. This is as communal as you can get. You will share a table with 25 other travellers and will be taken along the whole course of the meal with an expert. The banter is loud, food delicious, and the table throbbing with travel tales. If you love socialising, this is a must-visit.

9. Find Peace At Laem Sor Pagoda

If you are looking for a place to meditate, or just a place of silence, head to this pagoda. Situated by the water bank, Laem Sor Pagoda is perfect to bring the stillness back into your life. In the background, you hear the gentle waves crashing, which complete the experience.

10. Play Golf

Playing Golf in Koh Samui has its benefits, of which the biggest one is the view. When here, and if you have some extra hours to kill, take a stroll around the golf course to experience this different side of Thailand.

11. Visit The Mummified Monk

The monk Phra Khru Samathakittikhun was mummified at the Wat Khunaram. He became a monk late in life, after he turned 50 years old. But when he did turn into a monk, he blessed the culture with his meditations practices. He even foresaw his death and so, as per his instructions, he was mummified in an upright position in tandem with the Buddhist beliefs.

12. Explore Alambic Rum Distillery

Curious about how alcohol is brewed in Thailand? Make way to the famous magic Alambic Rum Distillery where you can see the process and sample the famous rum too.

13. Join A Cooking Class

As a foodie, nothing beats getting so up and close to a flavour that you know the recipe! A great way to learn about Thai culture is through its cooking styles and recipes. And, Koh Samui has a long list of cooking classes that will help you do just that. Provided, you like cooking.

14. Hop On A Cruise

Not wanting to do anything can also become a great way to experience Koh Samui. That is, if you are on a cruise. Sit back and relax as your cruise bobs over the waves and takes you around islands scattered along Koh Samui. This can make for a perfectly lazy day in Thailand.

15. Shop At Fisherman’s Village

Check out this ancient Fisherman’s village by taking a stroll around its market. You will find it to be buzzing with energy. And lined on each side of the market are old fishermen’s houses that you can request a tour to. This is a great way of getting close to the culture of Thailand, and a good chance to pick up souvenirs too.

16. Relax At A Resort

For those who have packed too much on to their itineraries, one day to relax at a picturesque resort in Koh Samui can complete the experience. Sometimes we put a lot of to-dos on our list, and our brain needs time to process everything that we have seen and done, just so it doesn’t seem like a blur of vacation when we reach home. Out your feet up and have coffee while looking back at your trip.

17. Enjoy The Sunset

Here’s one thing you can do every day at Koh Samui. Wherever you are, if the sun’s about to dip into the horizon, pause. There is no better sunset than one at Koh Samui. And, it is wise to slow down and take in its beauty when you are there.

18. Learn The Thai language

Get up close and personal with the place by learning the Thai language. Apart from being conversant with the locals, it will also allow you a peek into the traditions that as a non-Thai speaking tourist wouldn’t have. This helps if your stay is long at Koh Samui.

19. Go Kite-boarding

There’s more to adventure in Koh Samui than diving and snorkelling. You can sign up for kiteboarding which involves tagging along with a boat while on a surfboard. There’s speed, there are waves, and an awesome lot of adventure tucked in this experience if you are up for it.

20. Walk On The Beach

A visit to the picturesque Koh Samui is incomplete without a leisurely walk on the beach. Choose a time when the sun is not too strong, either early morning or evening, to take in the true beauty of this place.

21. Visit Peculiar Rock Formations

According to famous folklore, these peculiar rock formations denote a grandmother and grandfather who had set out to find a bride for their grandson. But their boat perished in a storm and they were turned into this rocks. This is to remind their grandson of their love. The rock formations here indeed look like the male and female genitalia. Whether there’s any truth to the story, well, you will have to visit and find out for yourself.

You can know a lot about a place if you experience it from different perspectives. And, doing various things is a great way to do just that. Don’t just stick to the touristy to-dos. Get creative and be surprised to witness the side of Koh Samui that no brochure or blog ever mentioned!

The post 21 Amazing Things That You Can Do In Koh Samui appeared first on Ithaka Travel.

The Best Wine, Beer and Cocktail Bars in Sweden!

Happy New Year! Let's kick off 2019 on a high note... pun intended. The White Guide Nordic recently awarded the best bars in Sweden in the categories of beer, wine and cocktail. Good news for guests at the Hotel Rival as the winners of the three categories are all located on the same island/district in Stockholm as the hotel: Södermalm! While we do have our own fantastic cocktail bar at the hotel, it is nice to have a few other top options nearby. The winners... (more…)

The Best Moment of Your Life

Although I’m now 10 years away from Lonely Planet they’re still nice to me and ask me to lend my expertise (whatever there is of it!) to projects like the annual Best in Travel and to assorted new publications.

▲ Creg-ny-Baa corner on the Isle of Man TT Mountain Circuit, fail to make this corner and you’re straight in the front door of the pub. I drove around the course in a rent-a-car and that was quite fast enough, the motorcycle lap record for the 60km circuit is over 215kph, over 135mph.

Last year I contributed a couple of chapters for Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives. I wrote about the Targa Florio and other racing circuits you can drive on (like the TT Circuit) plus the Gibb River Road and other Australian outback tracks. This year I wrote the foreword to the new Lonely Planet Travel Atlas.

Plus I contributed one of the 100 ‘Life-Changing Travel Experiences’ to The Best Moment of Your Life. I wrote about walking the Mt Kailash Kora, a classic Tibetan pilgrimage circuit. At Shiva-tsal you’re supposed to undergo a symbolic death and reincarnation which you mark by leaving behind some reminder of your old life. A drop of blood or a lock of hair will do, but I joined the pilgrims who discarded an item of clothing from their old life. In my case the spider underpants which I quite liked but Maureen was never enthusiastic about.

▲ My spider underpants and a Mani stone with the Tibetan Buddhist chant Om Mani Padme Hum – ‘Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus’

The other 99 ‘best moments’ featured some which have already got a tick beside them on my bucket list and quite a few which I’d really like to do. Here are five categories:

• It’s another pilgrimage trek – walking the famous Spanish Camino de Santiago like Andrew McCarthy – and it’s been on my must do list for a long time. Last year I even helped launch a novel, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist’s Two Steps Forward, which takes place along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. Walking the Cornwall Coast Path, like Paul Bloomfield, also appeals.
• Some years ago I co-authored Lonely Planet’s scuba diving guide to Tahiti & French Polynesia with Jean-Bernard Carillet so his account of swimming with humpback whales off Tahiti definitely has me in the water.
• Greenland is another place on my ‘must do’ list and I might even get there in 2019. Meanwhile I can enjoy Nigel Tisdall’s Greenland dog-sledding adventures and Richard Mellor’s essay on Greenland solitude and tranquility. Yemen has been on that list for even longer, so I’m jealous of Suzanne Joinson’s mountain gazelle account.
• I’ve swum with the whale sharks off Exmouth in Western Australia a couple of times, the first time one of my fellow swimmers went on years later to experience the whale sharks off Djibouti on the horn of Africa. So does Georgina Wilson-Powell and I’d be happy to try them again.
• There are other islands still to visit and Madagascar is another place I still haven’t got to … yet. Emma Greg explores Madagascan forests. Or if we want to be really remote Tristan da Cunha, Lucy Corne goes there.

28 Awesome Things That You Can Do In Phuket

Phuket has transformed from the sleepy hidden paradise of the South East to a vivacious city that doesn’t sleep over the past decade. Whether you are a beach bum or an adventure junkie; whether your idea of a holiday is party hopping or some S&S (spa and shopping!) – Phuket caters to every travellers’ unique tastes in a way that will make you come back for more.

Here’s a list of experiences for you to enjoy Phuket in your own special way!

Adventure Sports

Surrounded by beaches and the gorgeous sea, Phuket provides the perfect opportunities for thrill seekers to get their fix. Whether you have dreamed about exploring the sea or flipping in the air above it – Phuket provides something for everyone.

1. Scuba Diving And Snorkeling

Whether you know how to swim or not, you can experience the incredible underwater world full of corals and sea creatures by diving into the gorgeous aquamarine waters that surround Phuket. There are many diving sites and operators in the city with the islands around Phuket also offering a variety of courses for first timers and advanced divers.

Some operators offer up an opportunity to snorkel along with a full day tour of one of the islands surrounding Phuket. Diving courses are available for beginners and certified divers both.

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Recommended: Aussie Divers Phuket
Cost for one dive: Approximately THB 2,900
Note: If you are worried about diving for the first time, Aussie Divers let you try it out in their swimming area and give you honest advice on whether or not you should take the big plunge!

2. Canoeing / Kayaking

If boating on the tranquil waters of the Andaman Sea sound appealing to you, then you must take one of the many available day tours from Phuket to its surrounding islands. Most of the tour companies will offer you the equipment and expertise to paddle in the open waters amongst stunning natural landscapes.

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Recommended: John Gray’s Sea Canoe (Hong by Starlight)
Tour Cost: From THB 3,950; for children between 6-12 years THB1,975 per person; infants under six go free
Note: Kayaking/ Canoeing is child friendly however, do check with the tour operator before booking

3. Jet Skies, Parasailing And More Water Sports

A beach holiday is incomplete without falling off a banana boat or speeding off into the open water on a jet ski. There are thousands of vendors on the beaches in Phuket and the islands around it that offer every imaginable water sport.

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Recommended: Patong Beach
Cost for Parasailing: Approximately THB 800 -1300 (lasts about five minutes)
Cost for Jet Ski: App Approximately THB 800 -1500 for 30 minutes (with about THB 200 for an extra rider)
Note: You must ensure that the jet ski is licensed and covered by insurance (check for an “insurance jet ski” sticker on the side of the vehicle). Do point out the damage (if any) on your jet ski beforehand so you do not lose your deposit.

4. Kite Surfing

With gentle winds and shallow waters, Phuket provides the perfect setting for those who either want to try or enjoy the extreme adventure sport of kite-surfing. The location of the beach where you can perform this acrobatic activity over the sea depends on the season: December – March in Chalong Bay, April – November in Nai Yang Beach.

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Recommended: Kite Zone Phuket
Cost for a custom lesson: Approximately THB 500 (for 30 minutes)

5. White Water Rafting And Zip Lining

If you enjoy battling the thrashing river or being suspended from a wire in the middle of the jungle, then Phuket offers the perfect backdrop to make your heart race. The untouched beauty of Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary adds to the charm of the adventure of a lifetime.

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Recommended: Best Rafting 4U
Cost of tour: Approximately THB 2800
Note: Most of the tours are kid friendly. However do check with the tour company beforehand.

6. Bungee Jumping

Jumping from 50 meters or more with a rope tied to your ankle sounds fun? Then bungee jumping is for you! If you fancy a jump — either as a first timer or an experienced jumper — Phuket offers up a beautiful spot for you.

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Recommended: Jungle Bungy Jump
Cost per jump: Approximately THB 2200 (cost reduces if you sign up for more jumps)
Note: If booked online or at Patong beach, visitors get a discount.
Island Hopping

Phuket is the entry point to many Thai tropical islands and bays; some located just about five minutes away by speedboat. There are many ferry, speedboat and private charter services and tours that take visitors to experience the awe-inspiring views that surround Phuket.

7. Phi Phi

Often referred to as the crown jewel among the islands of Thailand, the Phi Phi islands find themselves on bucket lists all over the world. Made up of six magnificent islands they offer a range of activities from snorkeling to some truly exotic local cuisine.

Update on Maya Bay restrictions: Please note Thai National park authorities have prohibited boats from dropping anchors or alighting their passengers within Maya Bay indefinitely, to assist with environmental regeneration

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Recommended: Ithaka Tours
Tour Cost: From THB 3,020

8. Phang Nga Bay

Located between Phuket and Krabi, Phang Nga Bay is known for its gravity defying limestone outcrops, breathtaking lakes, untouched beaches and caves. If you have opted for a tour, it most likely will take you to Khao Ping Gan (Leaning Rock), popularly referred to as the James Bond Island, after getting featured in one of the movies.

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Recommended: Phuket Sail Tours (Phang Nga Bay by Speedboat)
Tour Cost: THB$ 4,400; for children between 4-12 years THB 2,000, infants under 3 go free!)

9. Racha (or Raya) Island

A 30-minute speedboat ride away from Phuket, Racha Island has pristine blue waters and white sand beaches. It provides the perfect getaway from Phuket and is a popular destination for watersports and snorkeling!

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Recommended: Phuket Let’s Go (Racha Island by Speedboat)
Tour Cost: THB 1,800
Culture

Thailand has a rich history that is prominently and proudly displayed and shared with visitors. The only way to truly experience the country is to immerse yourself in the colorful traditions that Thailand unique.

10. Theater, Shows, And Musicals

Phuket has a host of productions – some that invite visitors to submerge themselves in the Thai history and culture, while some promote what Thailand has become to be known for – lady boys! Depending on your preferences, it is definitely worth experiencing a night of music, dancing and glorious costumes on your holiday!

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Recommended: Simon Cabaret Show & Phuket FantaSea
Cost per person: Approximately THB 700 and THB 1,800 respectively.

11. Museums And Art Galleries

If you are an art junkie or want to learn about the history of Thai mining and culture, or (and most likely) it’s raining and you can’t visit the beach – Phuket has got some interesting options for you to spend a pleasant afternoon. Whether you want to invest in some art or enhance your knowledge, it is definitely worth it to get out of the sun for a few hours and head to one of the centrally located galleries and museums.

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Recommended: Phuket Trickeye Museum
Cost per person: THB 500; for children between 4-11 years THB 300, infants under 3 go free.

12. Thai Cooking Class

A trip to a foreign country is incomplete if you do not experience the local cuisine. For those of you who enjoy working in the kitchen, there is simply no better way to remember your travels than learning how to make the local foods. There are a number of professional chefs in Phuket who have opened up their kitchens to teach their craft in recent years.

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Recommended: Phuket Easy Thai Cooking
Cost per person: Approximately THB 1900 (for a half day class)

13. Muay Thai

There is no better way to learn or even polish your Thai boxing or Muay Thai moves than in its place of birth. Phuket is swarming with gyms providing everything from day boot camps and pay as you go classes to customized training programs for visitors who are on the lookout to get fit.

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Recommended: Tiger Muay Thai
Cost per person: Starts at THB 500 (for a single drop in class)
Sightseeing

Phuket has plenty to see beyond the beaches and the waters. From giant statues to expansive forests, the sights that you experience around Phuket are sure to let you awe struck.

14. Nature and Wildlife

If you enjoy interacting with animals and learning about their origins, then Phuket has some great zoos and sanctuaries for you to experience. From cobra farms to tiger kingdoms, Phuket provides a unique way of interacting with nature.

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Recommended: Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Cost per person: Approximately THB 3,000 for adults and THB 1500 for children
Note: The tour promotes education and observation, so while you can feed the animals you cannot bathe/ ride them.

15. National Parks

Phuket is covered in acres of untouched forestland that provide the perfect trails for visitors who love hiking. What’s more visitors can cool off by jumping into one of the hidden waterfalls in the parks. Visiting a national park is the ideal offbeat family outing for visitors in Phuket.

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Recommended: Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
Cost: Entry from THB 200 (entry free after 3pm)

16. Beaches

With over 30 beaches boasting perfect white sands, Phuket is one of the most popular destinations for beach seekers around the world. Whether you prefer a beach with lots of activity like the famous Patong beach or a quieter spot – Phuket has something for everyone.

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Recommended: Kata Beach & Laem Ka Beach

17. Landmarks

Phuket city is home to serene temples and magnificent monuments that are sure to stun visitors. Spending a few hours exploring the city will definitely make you feel more connected with and enhance your Phuket experience.

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Recommended: Big Buddha Phuket
Tour Cost: From THB1,250
Note: The visit to the Big Buddha will involve a little trek.
Shopping & Spas

A holiday is incomplete for some without purchasing one souvenir (or many!) to remember your trip by. While you are at Phuket you can experience the wonders of street shopping (in the middle of the night) or simply go to a mall – and of course wrap up your day with a famous Thai massage after all that work.

18. Spas

Thai massages are extremely popular around the world and whether you are a massage person or not, if you are in Thailand you simply must indulge in a massage at least once (it is quite addictive!). Massages are offered at literally every nook and corner of Phuket – whether you are at the beach or walking down the street.

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Recommended: Siladon Spa Phuket
Cost: From approximately THB$2300 (for a 2 hour massage)
Tip: Negotiate the price before hand and ensure that you get the full agreed upon treatment.

19. Street Shopping

Night and weekends markets are unique to Thailand and are essential to visit if you want to get the feel of the local culture and products. They are a fun, colorful and can often be messy and overwhelming, but they offer a glimpse into the life of Thai locals like few other experiences can.

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Recommended: Phuket Weekend Night Market & Sunday Walking Market or Lard Yai
Note: Do not be shy to bargain at the street markets. The vendors expect a counter offer of 30 – 50%.

20. High Street

With hordes of international tourists making their way to Phuket every year, the international brands have followed suit. Phuket is home to many malls and super markets where visitors can shop for international and local boutique wear and produce.

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Recommended: Jungceylon
Dining experiences

Aromatic curries and sticky mango rice – is your mouth watering already? Thai food is extremely popular all over the world. However, the authentic flavors and aromas you get to experience in Thailand are incomparable to anywhere else in the world. Whether you are a fan of oriental food or not, you simply must give in and pick up and satay stick!

21. Street food

Thailand is known for its variety of seafood and, if you love Thai food, there is no better way to get authentic food than sampling the wares of one of many street vendors around the city. Most of these vendors have spent years perfecting one dish, so be rest assured you are getting the best version of the local dish.

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Recommended: Khun Jeed’s Radna & Ko Yoon Hokkien Noodles

22. Fine Dining

If you want to treat yourself to an exquisite dining experience, Phuket has many local and international chefs who have curated the perfect menu for you. Perfect for a romantic date night, many of these restaurants boost outdoor seating with beach views adding to the charm of your dinner.

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Recommended: Blue Elephant

23. Unique restaurants

If you enjoy trying places off the beaten track, then Phuket offers up some hidden gems – quite literally. Located a bit away from the city, there are a few secluded restaurants that challenge you to experience Thai food that are a delicacy to even some locals.

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Recommended: Mor Mu Dong & Piang Prai (Krua Piang Prai)
Nightlife

24. Late Night Clubs

If you are looking to dance to night away, Phuket has an ever-expanding collection of clubs and bars that are sure to tickle your fancy. Patong and Soi Bangla are ideal venues for those who enjoy club hopping and want to experience the colorful Thai nightlife.

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Recommended: Illuzion
Note: The club regularly features international DJs and unlimited drinking deals, so find out what is on beforehand to avoid disappointment at the entrance.

25. Beach Bars

With its abundance of natural beauty it is no surprise that bars on the beach is the latest trend in Phuket – ranging from sophisticated clubs that will remind you of Ibiza to good old shacks. These bars boast spectacular views and the perfect for those looking to sip cocktails as the sun sets and party the night away.

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Recommended: Catch Beach Club

26. Sports Bars

If a bar experience for you is incomplete without a TV showing some sporting event, a pool table and of course, lots of beer – then there are some havens in Phuket that perfectly emulate this “western pub” culture.

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Recommended: Aussie Bar & U2 Bar
Others

27. Cocktail Making Class

Chalong Bay Cocktail WorkshopChalong Bay Cocktail Workshop via Phuket.com

Phuket is all about the beaches. But if you are visiting Thailand in the winter (and it’s too cold to visit the beach!) or want to experience something unexpected in the tropical country – how does learning how to make cocktails in rum distillery sounds good right? Not a bad way to spend a few hours – bonus, you will be surrounded by magnificent environs of sugarcane farms and the bay!

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Recommended: Chalong Bay Cocktail Workshop
Cost: Approximately THB 1700 for 2.5 hour tour.

28. Yachting/ Sailing

Ever dreamed of being the captain of your own ship? Phuket offers you the chance to gain some practical (and theory) experience to make your dream a reality. The cherry on top is the fact that perfect white sand beaches and turquoise waters will surround you on your journey to the open seas will surround visitors – talk about motivation!

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Recommended: Andaman Yachting
Cost per person: From THB$ 35,000 (for five days)
Note: Minimum duration for a class is 5 days (up to 2 weeks)

Phuket is a vibrant city with something for everyone. The list above doesn’t begin to do justice the length and breadth of the experiences the city provides. Whether you spend a few days or a few weeks there, you are sure to feel as though you have not had enough. And will find yourself planning your next visit!

The post 28 Awesome Things That You Can Do In Phuket appeared first on Ithaka Travel.


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