There’s nothing like a weekend getaway, and the lazy beach town of Nai Harn on the Thai island of Phuket offers a lovely escape.
You could spend three days here and never leave your chair by the pool, but if you want a bit more variety, here are some options for how to spend the time:
Enjoy the beach
You’ll probably want to do this every day, and it’s an ideal place to start. The beachfront is crowded, but the sand is soft and the water is perfect. And if you get tired of lying around, you can rent a standup paddleboard (best done in the morning when the water is calm), go out for a long swim, do yoga on the beach, or wander down to the rocks at the water’s edge …
… and search for crabs and other critters:
Have Lunch and Drinks by the Beach
Just across the street from the beach sit four or five small restaurants and shops, and we found ourselves returning to Sainab restaurant for curries and noodle dishes multiple times. I never tried the mojito, but I the “mint leave” in the ingredients list made me smile every time (especially when juxtaposed with pictures of the Thai king).
Stroll Through the Market
Nestled in the trees right behind the beach sits a somewhat makeshift, somewhat permanent market, where you can buy anything from t-shirts and knockoff bags to seafood omelettes and mango with sticky rice. There’s even a spirit house to protect vendors and shoppers alike:
Snorkel at Ao Sane
Ao Sane is a rocky, narrow beach — but just beyond the shoreline lies some of the best snorkeling in Phuket.
To get to Ao Sane, you’ll need to walk south from Nai Harn about ten minutes, up and over a dusty hill. Once you’ve arrived, you can spend all day — the beach has a restaurant and beach chairs for rent. But if you want to snorkel, you have to bring your own mask and flippers!
Take in the Sunset
Once back at Nai Harn for dinner, you’ll have great sunset views (the beach sits at Phuket’s southwestern tip). We watched the sun go down from the patio at Rock Salt, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner (if you go, try the ceviche and their tropical version of an Eton mess).
Visit Wat Nai Harn
This small temple and monastery sits just a few blocks inland from the beach. When we visited, the temple itself was locked, but as we wandered around the grounds, we found all sorts of unexpected features, including this larger-than-life monk …
… a separate building filled with Hindu deities (why they’re at a Buddhist temple, I don’t know)…
… and tiny statues tucked somewhat eerily into a ficus tree:
Stroll Around Rawai Chaloem Phra Kiat Park
This park in the middle of Nai Harn Lake offered all sorts of surprising diversions, starting with these Hello Kitty Cars …
… complete with truly tricked-out interiors …
… and then these sea life lanterns …
… which I absolutely loved:
Find a Stray Cat
Cats are all over the place in the market area, and they’re incredibly cute!
Return to the Beach
The sand and the water are forever tempting …
… so enjoy!