세계에서 가장 아름다운 해변 휴양지

태국에서 가장 큰 섬이자 안다만의 진주라는 별칭으로 불리곤 하는 푸켓은 툭 튀어나온 반도에서 서부 해안까지 길게 이어진 설탕처럼 부드러운 모래사장으로 수년 동안 많은 관광객들의 사랑을 받았습니다. 푸켓은 지금도 가장 인기 있는 휴양지이지만 아직 숨겨진 매력이 많은 섬입니다. 산이 많은 푸켓에는 자연 본래의 모습을 고스란히 간직한 시리낫 국립 공원이 자리하고 있으며, 푸켓 타운에는 다채로운 중국-포르투갈 양식의 건축물과 유서 깊은 사찰, 세련된 카페가 가득합니다.

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From cool cafes to unspoilt beaches

Brilliantly compact, Phuket Old Town (it is bordered by Ranong Road in the south and Dibuk Road in the north) is really just a handful of roads packed with stylish boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants. Chino Cafe Gallery is a great spot for ice-cold smoothies or a snack – go for a famous bite-sized Tao Sor pastry, made with either green beans or salted egg yolks – and at the front has a small, curated selection of batik clothes and gifts.

For sweet treats, there is A Dessert Moments cafe, which has a seaside vibe and a wooden swing seat at the front, and the quaint Crepe is Crepe that serves delicious savory and sweet crepes. Or join the locals on Phang Nga Road for super-spicy green chicken curry and excellent fried rice with chilli paste shrimp (the no-frills restaurant doesn’t have an obvious name but it is to the right of second-hand bookshop South Wind Books).

When you do want to head to the ocean, low-key Freedom Beach near Patong, which is backed by dense jungle, is a good bet. The fact that it is only accessible by longtail boat means that this 300m-long bay remains relatively peaceful (speedboats and motorised watersports are also banned) even during high season. There is also laid-back Kata Noi, south of Karon beach (not to be confused with Kata, the larger, neighbouring crescent bay), which is as great for surfing as it is for sunbathing.

And further south, Ya Nui beach is a charming cove with the small, uninhabited rocky island of Koh Keyao Noi within easy kayaking distance. Above it, to one end is Phromthep Cape, one of the island’s best-known hills which gets incredibly busy with crowds at sunset (there is also a lighthouse here, from where you can see the Phi Phi islands).

If you are determined to tap into the island’s undeveloped side, head to the Sirinat National Park in the northwest. This protected coastline is split into four equally deserted beaches – Mai Khao (the longest beach in Phuket and a breeding ground for leatherback and hawksbill turtles), Nai Thon, Nai Yang and Sai Kaeo – backed by mangrove forests.

There is very little to do other than loll on the sand and swim in the sea – and that’s the point. This is one of the sweetest spots on the island and a world away from the crowds elsewhere.

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