Just over two years after the Asian tsunami wreaked havoc on Phuket’s coastline, the resort island is back and better than ever. A string of hotels have opened in the past year, the best of which is Indigo Pearl (66-76/327-006; www.indigo-pearl.com; doubles from $243), a 277-room property on secluded Nai Yang Beach that is just putting its finishing touches. Designed by Bangkok-based architect Bill Bensley, Indigo Pearl recalls the site’s former life as a tin mine with sleek, industrial-style interiors: polished-concrete floors, steel beams, exposed ceilings, and machinery-inspired sculptures. The austere effect is offset by yards of Thai silk on pillows and chairs, plush beds, and oversize bathtubs. The sprawling property has three swimming pools (don’t miss the “snakeskin pool,” tiled with glass beads), a yoga-focused spa, tennis courts, a breezy tapas bar, and five other on-site restaurants. Along the beach, a string of cheap and cheerful bars keep a lively beat throughout the day and night.
For a dose of culture, venture into the narrow streets of Phuket Town, where 19th-century Sino-Portuguese shop-houses dating from Old Phuket’s prosperous tin-mining days are being transformed into chic restaurants and bars. Stop off at the atmospheric China Inn Café (20 Thalang Rd.; 66-76/356-239, dinner for two $30) to shop for antiques and graze on Chinese-inspired local dishes, including goon jian (prawns in tamarind sauce).