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How to Pick Your Perfect Thai Island

Deciding between a getaway to the island of Phuket or a trip to Koh Samui is like picking between a pot of gold or a pile of cash—you really can’t go wrong either way. Holiday packages to Phuket and Koh Samui offer opportunities to immerse yourself in Thai culture, embark on an outdoor adventure, or simply enjoy some downtime on some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.

We wouldn’t dream of making you choose on your own, so the experts at Expedia Australia did the research for you. Here are some memorable morsels to help you choose between these two enchanted islands.

Phuket

Patong Beach, Phuket

Connected to the Thai mainland by the Sarasin Bridge—an attraction in its own right—Phuket is an incredibly popular tourist destination, and rightfully so. You can soak up the sun on a secluded beach like Nai Harn or Kata Noi one day, then revel in the local festivities at Patong Beach with your fellow holiday-goers the next. For something a little more adventurous, hop on a stand-up paddleboard for a float, or rent a pontoon boat and cruise out to one of the outcroppings in the Andaman Sea.

Next, rent a moped and zig-zag your way across Phuket in search of local culture. You can easily visit museums highlighting Thai history, as well as Buddhist temples filled with colourful, ornate statues. Later, see how culture mixes with performance art in the graceful movements of Thai dancing. You can check out a show, or try some moves for yourself.

03_PatongCity

If you really want to get to know the amazing people of Thailand, volunteer at a language school during your visit. Who knows, maybe they’ll even recommend some secret spots where you can find delicious southern Thai food. Pro tip: A great, hands-on way to get acquainted with the local culture is to schedule a traditional Thai massage—preferably on a west-facing beach at sunset.

Koh Samui

Located off the eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is the country’s second-largest island. While it’s only recently been discovered by tourists, the island is rich with Thai history and outdoor adventures. Hike up through the rainforest—or take an elephant ride, if you are so inclined—to explore hidden waterfalls or the Secret Garden, a collection of Buddha statues carved by local farmer Uncle Nim.

It is a tropical island, though, and you’ll most likely be spending much of your time on the sands of tucked-away shores like Silver Beach and Lamai Beach. If you want a bit more excitement, check out the shops, restaurants, and nightclubs of Chaweng Beach on the northwestern side of the island. Or, learn a little about Koh Samui’s past by spending some time with a local fisherman. They use the same methods today that they have for generations, and you’ll get the chance to help out with the fishing village’s conservation efforts.

Silver Beach Koh Samui

Speaking of fishing, some of the best seafood in all of Thailand is served up in the eateries on Koh Samui. Tickle your taste buds with some pickled and deep-fried pla som tod. Need some local art for your house? Check out a Batik painting class and create your very own Thai masterpiece. If you need inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, visit the Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai or the 18-armed Guanyin at Wat Plai Laem.

Both of these islands are so wonderful, you’re probably no closer to selecting one over the other than you were before. That’s alright. You can always visit both—no one said you had to pick just one!

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