Travelling to Thailand is an experience everyone should have on their bucket list…

One of the most famous destinations is Phuket, an island which offers stunning beaches, lush rainforest and endearing culture. Whether you’re looking for a sun-filled relaxing break, an adventurous exploration of the island, or an action-packed tour of Thai history, Phuket offers all of this and more.

A six-hour flight from Dubai, Phuket has direct flight routes from DXB through Emirates, making it just as easily accessible for a long weekend as it is for an extended break. There are countless memorable ways to spend your time in Phuket, but we’ve rounded up the top five things you must try while you’re there.

Learn to cook the cuisine

Thai is an adored cuisine with fans around the world flocking to the country to sample its sought-after seasonings and powerful flavours. Dining at a traditional Thai restaurant while on holiday is one thing, but what if you could recreate the same delicious dishes at home? Spice Spoons inside Dee Plee restaurant at Anantara Layan-Phuket Resort offers some of the best cooking classes, with an expert insight into cooking up culinary creations in your own kitchen. Classes are taught by the animated and talented executive chef, who covers the breadth of basics – from correct knife skills to the interesting health benefits of certain ingredients. You will, of course, be able to enjoy your own masterpiece meal and be presented with a certificate and recipe card to take home.

Get up close with some gentle giants

Animal lovers should not pass up the chance to visit Phuket’s first ethical elephant sanctuary, which borders Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary offers the chance to see rescued, sick and retired elephants enjoying the 30 acres of lush tropical jungle. You can tour the sanctuary, feed the majestic creatures, and watch them splash around in the fresh water pond. The experience costs from THB3,000 (Dhs364) for adults and THB1,500 (Dhs182) for children, with transport from your hotel included.

Try your hand at Muay Thai

Another of Thailand’s famous exports is its martial art, Muay Thai. It’s a contact sport which combines fists, elbows, feet, shins and knees to score points against an opponent. If you’re new to the sport, an introductory lesson in Muay Thai boxing will teach you the basic types of punches, kicks and blocks. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the movements, the high energy class will have your heart rate soaring in no time. While it might take a while to develop the skills you need to move on to sparring, you might find that a love for the stress-busting sport will follow you to a gym nearer home.

Island hop for the day

While Phuket is stunning, there are hundreds of other islands waiting to be discovered nearby. A private boat trip is the ultimate in luxury exploration, and a seasoned guide will help you to uncover the mysteries of the sea. Movie buffs will recognise Ko Tapu, otherwise known as James Bond Island, which awarded the name after it appeared in Bond’s 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun. Avoid the tourists by sailing around to the back of the attraction to get a shot of the stunning natural creation in all its glory. Delve further into Phang Nga Bay, and you’ll find Koh Panyee, a now-famous ‘floating village’. A small Muslim community set up a home there by building their village on stilts directly in the water. Most mesmerising is the stunning white and gold mosque which sits directly under a luscious green hill. Tourists also enjoy the world’s only floating football pitch, which was made famous by Karl Pilkington in An Idiot Abroad.

Unwind and recharge

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One of the main reasons to travel to an exotic destination is to disconnect with the chaos of city life. Nothing will help you do that more than a relaxing spa day. Anantara Spa has an award-winning selection of rejuvenating treatments to speed along your unwinding process and launch you into a state of relaxation. Try the 90-minute signature massage, with customised audio and sensory experiences, and we dare you not to start snoozing by the end.

Where to stay

Twenty minutes from HKT airport is the area surrounding Layan Beach – where from up high you have stunning views of natural landscape and sandy shores, and from ground level you can see distant islands spread across the horizon. Anantara Layan Phuket Resort offers a sanctuary set along the shore of the Andaman Sea. Pick a deluxe pool villa to enjoy a private haven with its own celestial swimming pool, outdoor dining spot and cosy overgrown greenery. Dining at the newly revamped Age restaurant is a must, especially when choosing a table on the outdoor terrace, overlooking the tree tops and the famous Thai sunset. The menu has been carefully considered to offer an exceptional selection of high quality meat and fish, creating a dining experience to remember.

How to get there

Emirates flies twice per day to Phuket, with flights starting from Dhs3,375.

Images: Provided