LA CANVAS - THE VACATION ISSUE (SUMMER 2016)

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TR A V E L G U I D E S

thailand Sabai, sabai, a phrase in Thai meaning “take it easy” or to “feel alright,” is a way of life in Phuket, Thailand. Dubbed the “pearl of the Andaman Sea,” Phuket is the largest island off the southern coast. Though the flight is a hefty sixteen hours on average from LA, just beyond the airport gate are pristine beaches, cozy eateries, and soothing sceneries occasionally punctuated by intricate golden temples.   You’ll trade gridlock traffic for winding roads along the lush green coastline, with roadside carts fully decked with chilled coconuts and sweet chopped pineapples. If you rent a motorbike, enjoy this exotic privilege in Phuket: you can park almost anywhere, anytime, for free.   If there is one thing worth that long flight time, it’s the culinary experiences of places with long histories and deep-rooted cultures. Phuket’s rich diversity is well articulated in its East-meets-West menus, though be warned—the menus in local restaurants can reach twelve pages long in what feels like 14-point font, double-spaced. But do not fret. From world-class restaurants that serve beautifully garnished gourmet dishes by Michelin star chefs in luxe hotels, to mom-and-pop shops that serve home-style tom yum goong, all budgets and palates find their place.   When it comes to authentic Thai street food, look for the fluorescent lights that illuminate numerous night markets around the island. You’ll find food stalls selling everything from sweet mango sticky rice, grilled satay on sticks, spicy som tam, stir-fried pad thai, and for the adventurous foodies: fried arthropods (your choice of crickets, bamboo worms, or water beetles), best washed down with a

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bottle of ice-cold Singha or Chang beer. It should also be noted that Thailand is known for its produce, calling those who prefer a plantbased diet to come and try their exotic fruits in bulk. Make sure to stock up on the freshest dragonfruits and bananas after climbing to the top of The Big Buddha Temple, where you’ll take in insane views of the city’s lush landscape.   Where you stay will depend on your preference for luxury or excitement—options range from four-star hotels and oceanfront villas to hip mid-town hostels. Book a getaway to Kamala, on the west coast where hidden hillside hotels are crowned with spectacular sunset views. If your top priority is to party, stay in Patong and make your way through Bangla Road’s mile-long strip of go-go bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. For a lively but less rambunctious experience, drive down to Kata and you’ll find trendy beach clubs, rock ‘n’ roll pubs, and laid-back reggae spots. Note to surfers: Kata is a great place to catch a wave from May through October. Coming to Phuket in the off-peak season for surf ? Mai-bpen-rai (meaning “no worries” in Thai)—Surf House in Kata is the place to be for its wave-generating machine, making waves year-round no matter the conditions. Discover Phuket Town’s historic charm and see hotels and guesthouses in century-old SinoPortuguese Architecture. Decided to add a few days to your trip? Take a ride to the mainland coastal town of Krabi. On the road into the province you will be greeted by turquoise sea views punctuated with limestone formations.

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