A Paradise Escape

The savvy traveler’s guide to Thailand’s transcendent beaches

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However, knowing the jargon of the travel industry in today’s digital economy is proving to be the travel hack we need. It is especially useful for when you’re planning that next getaway.

There’s something otherworldly about southern Thailand’s beaches. For some it’s the hypnotic sound of the ocean as it gently laps a crescent-shaped strip of snow-white sand.

For others it’s the spectacle of an evening sky erupting with the kaleidoscopic colors of sunset. With beaches spread across the mainland and the islands, blissful oceanfront corners are never hard to find.

But beaches are only the beginning. Mere steps from the ocean you’ll find lush jungles teeming with fauna.

You’ll uncover energetic towns with heritage buildings, vibrant markets and Thailand’s best shopping and nightlife. And you’ll encounter what is perhaps the biggest highlight of all: the food. Thai cuisine is one of the world’s greatest – and after visiting the beach towns of the south, you’ll understand why. The seafood is fresh and bountiful while the flavors reflect the region’s dynamism.

Phuket is a timeless classic destination that’s been luring travelers for over a century. Dip your toes in the Andaman Sea from world-class hotels that rest right on the ocean, such as Anantara Layan Phuket Resort near Patong. Special rates and promotions make these high-end experiences more accessible than ever before. Savvy Traveler tip: Ask about the hotels' black-out dates before you book.

For something a little different, slip on your adventurer’s hat, seek advice from locals and discover a secluded corner of the island. With over 800km of coastline, Phuket holds a treasure trove of secret spots for you to unearth.

Beyond the beaches, Phuket offers urban delights that might take you by surprise. Phuket Old Town overflows with stories told through picturesque heritage buildings. Rows of colorful shophouses lie in small alleyways and reflect a spirited trading history.

Handsome Sino-Portuguese mansions are proud reminders of Phuket’s tin-mining industry, which shaped the island in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now, these buildings are captivating places of interest, with many converted into trendy cafes, boutique restaurants and compelling museums.

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After dark, beach towns like Patong transform into bustling hubs of evening entertainment. The streets come alive with souvenir markets while restaurants cook up steaming plates of culinary delights. Keep your eyes peeled on special seasonal menus that offer bang for your buck.

Absorb the nightlife buzz on street level eateries like 3 Spices Restaurant, which serves up tantalizing local specialties and a careful selection of Asian and European favorites. Then, extend your evening with a wealth of entertainment options. Attend a grand cultural spectacle, sit back and watch some live music or hit the clubs and dance the night away.

Nestled within the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is the country’s iconic paradise island. Palm-fringed pockets of powdery sand leading to clear blue waters are found at the end of practically every road.

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Koh Samui is where you’ll encounter the quieter side of Thailand’s beach scene with a collection of acclaimed resorts, such as Amari Koh Samui and Avani+ Samui. With exclusivity a key focus on Koh Samui, many of the island’s best resorts offer private beachside villas.

 

If you manage to shift your attention from the irresistible beaches, you’ll be rewarded with a dense rainforest that sits at the island’s heart. Take control of your adventure with your own set of wheels and venture into the island’s interior.

Uncover trails that lead to sparkling waterfalls and refreshing rock pools. Climb mountains that offer panoramic views of uninhabited islets. Confront your fear of heights on a zipline or satisfy your need for speed on a quad bike.

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The list of adventures on Koh Samui is endless but don’t ignore the island’s spiritual side. The small towns and villages house gracious temples with towering golden spires.

If you see one on your travels, take a moment to peek inside and marvel at the intricate paintwork and mesmerizing statues. And for the grandest wonder in the area, hunt out the Big Buddha Temple on Koh Phan, a separate island connected to Koh Samui by causeway.

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Just a few hours from Bangkok awaits Hua Hin, Thailand’s friendliest beach resort town. Proximity to the capital has done little to stymie the charms of Hua Hin, which you can soak in from the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin in the center of town.

The family-friendly beach runs the entire length of Hua Hin, with bars and restaurants set up right on the sand. Get your bearings by climbing Khao Takiap Temple for commanding views of the seashore before exploring Hua Hin’s backstreets.

Hua Hin is famous for its markets, with different spots claiming different days of the week. Peruse artisanal markets offering exciting souvenirs one day and funky fashion boutique stalls the next.

Shop until you drop but don’t worry about being too far from refreshment and recuperation. In-keeping with its small-town vibes, Hua Hin boasts charming cafes and independent bars for you to relax and unwind in.

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Scratch beneath the surface of southern Thailand with Mastercard, giving you exclusive offers in Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin and the region’s other beach destinations.

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