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Phuket offers a rainbow spectrum of spectacular holiday sights from blue lagoons and pink sunsets to orange-robed monks. Three wheeled-Tuk Tuks, taxis, buses and long tailed boats transport visitors between these marvels. Phuket's south coast offers its most popular beaches. The north is more tranquil. Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Patong Beach are popular spots. Diving, snorkeling, wind surfing and sailing are just a few active options. Inland, forested hills, mountains and cliffs wait to be explored.
At nearly three miles long, Karon’s beach stretches on and on and on… so this might be the perfect spot for travelers who want as much space as possible around their beach blankets. TripAdvisor travelers say the diving is fabulous. And bring the kids-- Karon is known as a family-friendly town.
Rawai is an off-the-beaten-path area of Phuket that attracts devotees of Muay Thai martial arts. Training centers here teach all levels, from absolute beginner to world champion. On the opposite end of the vacation spectrum, there’s the Phuket Seashell Museum, an immense collection of delicate specimens from around the world. A visit to the Sea Gypsy Village on the eastern end of Rawai Beach is a transformative experience.
The largest of the Phi Phi Islands, Ko Phi Phi Don is a non-volcanic island, made mostly of limestone. Accessible from Phuket, with all visitors arriving by boat, Ko Phi Phi Don has great beaches and popular diving and snorkeling spots. Much of the island is a protected marine reserve.
Packed with all the amenities—and unsightly development—of a modern Thai harbour town, Ao Nang is a popular base camp for exploring Krabi’s karst islands. A long arc of sand is shared by long-tailed boats delivering day-trippers to resorts and rowdy beach bars.
The southern Thailand town of Krabi serves as base camp for exploring the province of the same name, a lush region of jungles, limestone cliffs and idyllic isles floating just offshore in the Andaman Sea. Buddhist shrines still used by local monks are tucked into the chambers of the town's top attraction, Tiger Cave. The riverside pier links travellers with ferries and longboats to the best scuba diving, rock climbing and white sand beaches on the coast.
Just 80 km north of Phuket, Khao Lak was essentially erased by the 2004 tsunami. But the town, and the tourist industry it relies on, has rebounded. It remains quieter than other coastal destinations, offering secluded beaches, tranquil nights and family-oriented activities. You want full moon parties and besotted nights? You’re out of luck. But if you’re looking for unparalleled scuba diving in the Similan Islands, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Ko Lanta is a gorgeous island where you'll be certain to find an uncrowded beach. Located in the Krabi Province, one of the southern provinces of Thailand, Ko Lanta offers fantastic scuba diving with exotic marine life and grand coral reefs. The sunsets, too, are legendary—watch one over a glass of wine with someone you love.
You’re on a gorgeous island off the coast of Thailand—it doesn’t get much better than this. Spend the day on a lively, popular beach, or explore the Ang Thong National Marine Park’s secluded lagoons. Looking for romance? Choose a luxurious five-star resort, a simple, secluded bungalow or pretty much anything in between.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
Mauritius is arguably Africa’s wealthiest destination, a tropical paradise with tons to do. Port Louis, the modern capital of this 38-mile by 29-mile island, is a bustling port with a revitalized waterfront and a busy market. But most visitors gravitate toward resort areas such as Mont Choisy, quiet Trou-aux-Biches and the more bustling Flic en Flac, popular with scuba divers. Rivière Noire is ideal for those looking for great deep-sea fishing.
Tuck into succulent five-star meals in Port Douglas, the culinary gem of Queensland, or suck down a killer cocktail at a casually swanky lounge. A perfect base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest at Daintree and the beaches at Cape Tribulation, this Queensland town has an out-of-this-world setting. Sunbathe on the golden sands of Four Mile Beach, then melt into perfect pampering at one of Port Douglas’ glorious day spas for the ultimate in relaxation.
The Whitsunday Islands are a collection of 74 tropical mini-paradises, floating in peaceful waters that double as a marine park and are a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Plan a romantic getaway or a fun family holiday that’s filled with sun, sailing, golfing, snorkeling and diving, all served up with a little slice of heaven.
Noosa is a world-famous surfing destination, known for its expansive beaches and colourful bays. Hike across Noosa National Park's cliffs and forests, canoe through the Noosa River Everglades, kayak across the open sea or just bask in the sunshine on golden sand that stretches and sparkles for miles. A day trip to nearby Fraser Island, a World Heritage Site where lush rainforests mingle with dry sand dunes, is a unique experience not to be missed.
Sun-drenched and built for fun, Australia's Gold Coast hugs Queensland's southeast coastline with beaches, shimmering high rises, and epic surf breaks. Though it's hedonistic at heart, there's also plenty of opportunities for adventure and family-friendly attractions beyond its well-known party scene.