Best for beach bums: Phuket

From high-level trekking in Morocco's Atlas Mountains to rubbing shoulders with A-listers on Hollywood Boulevard, and from rural retreats off Tuscany's beaten track to jet-set hang outs for Moscow's super-rich, our writers have been to the ends of the earth to find a world of inspiration

It seemed like the perfect plan. I would travel to Phuket with my mate, who owns the pub in the Cotswolds, four days before our wives arrived for a further fortnight. That would give us a whole four days to deal with car hire, get the fridge stocked, put the house in order. But, mostly, four days to sample Phuket's glorious nightlife sans WAGs. I enjoy spending time with my mate, who owns the pub in the Cotswolds, not least because it's his job to get people drunk every day. Since I'm a gossip columnist, he's one of my few chums whose livelihood is arguably more reprehensible than my own.

So as we careered down Kata beach in the warm evening air just a couple hours after landing at Phuket airport, we were filled with the same sort of excitement as when we arrived as squiffy-haired backpackers 10 years previously. Except the unmistakable throb of Kata's neon waterfront was strangely subdued for reasons which soon became apparent – the king's sister had died.

As anyone who has been to Thailand will tell you, members of country's royal family are viewed through the same sort of dewy-eyed goggles as Americans look upon Barack Obama, or, at the very least, Jesus Christ. There would be a mandatory period of mourning. For four days. Plan scrapped.

As good as the nightlife might be, Phuket is tailor-made for the early riser. For beach dwellers, 6am is the best time to go. The monks, fluorescent in gold and orange, will be pottering about with their food bowls on their early morning rounds searching for tasty offerings. The persistent taxi drivers are still snoozing lazily in their flip-flops. The sand will be clean, the surf ripe for some early morning body-boarding and, most of all, it's empty.

Kata, on the south peninsula, is divided into two beaches: Kata Yai and Kata Noi, both equally inviting and an ideal spot for the medium-budget traveller. Past the beach, along the Thanon Patak road, there is a fantastic day market full of some of the ugliest fish you have ever seen and trays of gorgeous vegetables laid out in row after row of rich Technicolor. Do, however, avoid the butchery section and mind out for the faint whiff of manure.

If you have hit the town the night before, you're fortunately never far from the perfect hangover cure from one of the numerous noodle bars which pack the streets. I would recommend a bowl of pad see-ew (hot noodle soup) followed by moo grob (literally thick chunks of crispy pork fat) which is great at soaking up alcohol. Give the western beers a swerve, and order a large Singha, without a doubt the best lager in the world.

A 20-minute tuk-tuk journey further round the southern tip of the island will take you to Nai Harn. It's worth the trip alone for a drink at the bar of the Royal Phuket Yacht Club, with its panoramic view of the beach. There are worse ways to spend an evening than at the Yacht Club in full few of Nai Harn's turquoise surf, enjoying a cocktail as the staff, resplendent in their pristine white ducks, pack up the sunbeds below before the last shafts of sunlight disappear for another day.

It is my favourite viewpoint in the world, the one where I escape to each day in my head as the Jubilee Line once again grinds to a stubborn halt, the one that sits in front of me as my screensaver, and the one where I asked my wife to marry me.

Should anyone be tempted to perform a similar stunt, they mix a gargantuan martini which will do just the trick.

Superb sands

* Tahiti and her 117 islands are barely known to UK travellers. For remote beauty the mountainous Marquesas Islands are hard to beat, with beaches that have seduced such artists and adventurers as Paul Gauguin and Robert Louis Stevenson Audley Travel offers tailor-made trips: 01993 838830

* If you like your desert island hideaway on the refined side, try the Turks and Caicos, the Caribbean's last undeveloped outpost. The exclusive Amanyara is set in 100 acres of national park and has an infinity pool with sunset views over the talcum-white beach. 00 1 649 941 8133; amanyara.com

* Come to Mnemba, a private island 4km off the coast of Zanzibar to spot film stars, supermodels and some of the best marine life in East Africa. mnemba-island.com

* You don't have to go to the tropics to feel like a castaway. The Côte D'Argent at the south-western tip of France's Atlantic coastline has 250km of white sands (the longest stretch in Europe), rugged dunes and thick Atlantic forest. And there's little development save a few (good) rustic seafood shacks. franceguide.com/uk

Suggested Topics
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before