The first time I visited Thailand was in August of 2009, I spent a few weeks in the beautiful and bustling beach towns of Kata in Phuket. I've since been back to Thailand maybe 5 times, you may imagine correctly that Thailand left an impression and its introduction via Phuket was just perfect.
Phuket is an island, there are great lengths of beautiful sand beach dotted across much of the Andaman Sea coast
Phuket itself is an island, not a big one but not tiny either. You may not even notice it's an island, the bridge taking you there from the airport is a smooth ride and although you're surrounded by beaches there isn't really an aha moment which tells you to even think about geomorphology haha
There's plenty to see and do, which will keep anyone occupied for a week or longer. Especially if you like to dive, as I do.
The western side of the island is the side all the tourists tend to visit, with delightful beaches and beach bars dotting several spans of the coast. Names such as Kata, Karon, and Surin will soon feel familiar.
Me for scale, the picture doesn't do the size of this single coral justice, however
You'll get to visit the eastern side in Chalong or maybe even the Thai city of Phuket Town when diving or boating - that typically includes your point of embarkation for trips to Phi Phi Island.
Food was absolutely a highlight, as it remains on any visit to Thailand. There wasn't much surprise here. What was surprising, was the prominence of live music and just how good the cover bands are!