Phuket

A tropical island in southwestern Thailand on the Andaman Sea, Phuket is prized for its clear beaches, jungle trekking and high-end resorts. It is well positioned as a gateway to smaller, surrounding islands, with ferries leaving daily to the Phi Phi Islands, Similians and James Bond Island.

Winter is the best time of year to visit to avoid monsoon season. The water is calmer and clearer between November to January.

If you want the freedom and mobility to explore the island on your own, scooter rentals are popular. We recommend only renting through your hotel, versus a local shop in town, to guarantee a fair price and to avoid thievery.

Tuk tuks are another popular way to get around. Be prepared to negotiate price up front and never accept the first offer.

EAT

Kata Beach One of the more popular beaches on the island, Kata is a great for restaurants and nightlife, and has a handful of spots right on the beach. It is more sophisticated than its seedier cousin, Patong Beach.

Mama Seafood Casual little restaurant serving up fresh seafood and overlooking sleepy Nai Harn beach.

DRINK

Kata Beach As mentioned above, Kata has a good nightlife scene and beach bars.

Nai Harn Reggae Bar Chill, laid-back spot with live music.

PLAY

Karon Beach One of the larger beaches on the island, it has a long strip of sand and is more commercialized than Kata Noi and Nai Harn.

Karon View Point South of Kata Noi beach, this view point has lovely vistas of the jungle, ocean and sunset.

Kata Noi Beach A smaller, quieter beach south of Karon.

Nai Harn Beach A quiet beach at the tip of the island that is a bit off the tourist track. Consistently ranked one of the prettiest beaches in Phuket.

Phuket Weekend Night Market The largest market on the island, it runs Friday through Sunday evenings.

Promthep Cape Watch the sunset and snap a few photos.

Walking Street Located in Phuket Town, this old Sino-Portuguese has interesting architecture and is a popular shopping area.

STAY

Most of the luxury resorts are on the northern part of the island. These are a good bet for relaxing away from the hustle and bustle. Angsana Laguna Phuket is well known for its long pool that snakes throughout the resort.

If you care less about staying in a five star resort, we recommend staying near Nai Harn beach. Check out the four star All Seasons, an Accor hotel.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the sleepy gateway town to the Angkor “Temple City”, a complex of 9th to 15th century temples built during the Khmer Empire. Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the world famous Angkor Wat.

Apply for an e-Visa through the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in advance of travel.

Take the temples at your own pace over two to three days. Visit the temples first thing in the morning and spend the afternoons at the pool or exploring Siem Reap. Passes to Angkor Archaeological Park must be purchased on-site in cash, in either USD, Euro or Cambodian Riel. One, three and seven day passes can be purchased.

Tuk tuks are an easy way to get around Siem Reap and Angkor. Ask your hotel to help confirm a driver for the duration of your visit, or negotiate directly with a tuk tuk driver in town.

USD is near universally accepted across Cambodia, and most payments must be made in cash. Always, always negotiate! Cambodians haggle and initial prices quoted to tourists will be nearly double the actual value.

Cambodia experienced a brutal civil war in the 1960s-70s at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime. During the war two million Cambodians were killed by execution, starvation or disease, and millions more fled the country to resettle abroad. Before visiting, consider reading Loung Ung’s memoir, First They Killed My Father, to better understand what the country has been through and how far it has come today.

EAT

Haven Gorgeous little restaurant. Haven is a social enterprise that hires and trains disadvantaged youth and orphans as wait staff in the restaurant.

Marum Marum has a similar concept to Haven and is run by an NGO that works with street children. The restaurant features a handicrafts shop on site. Recommended by a friend.

Viva Mexican Restaurant Tasty Mexican and super cheap margaritas near Pub Street.

DRINK

Angkor What? Visit this infamous dive on Pub Street for $2 Singha beers, and then move along.

Asana Bar A cocktail bar housed within a traditional, Khmer-style wooden building. Recommended by a friend.

Miss Wong Old World, Shanghai-style cocktail bar. Recommended by a friend.

PLAY

Angkor Archaeological Park Do not miss temples include Ankor Wat (arrive before dawn to watch the sunrise), Ta Prohm (featured in Tomb Raider), Bayon and Banteay Srei (carved with pink stone, it is several miles north of the others and known as the lady temple).

Cambodian massage or reflexology Check out the local spas in Siem Reap as the services are very affordable!

Quad Adventure Cambodia A fun way to see the countryside and surrounding villages by ATV.

Siem Reap Night Market Haggle for your wares!

STAY

We recommend staying in the city center or within walking distance, as Siem Reap is quite small.