What to Pack Series

What to Pack: Phuket and the Thai Islands

Posted by Bee Shapiro on March 18, 2013 at 8:51:31 AM EDT | Post a Comment

When it comes to picture postcard perfect beaches, it's tough to top Thailand with stretches of crystalline white sand and dreamy Andaman Sea islands like Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. Lap up the sun and warm waters with a trip this season, but not without these chic packing essentials.

Ladies

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Color Me Happy: With paradise temperatures year-round (April to May are particularly hot and September to October is downright steamy with seasonal monsoons) dress breezily in cheerful colors like this airy red tunic cover-up ($125) to go over a boldly printed bikini set by Violet Lake ($110 for bottoms; $140 for the tie-on bandeau top). On your feet, stick with stylish island casual like these toe-ring black and golden pony sandals ($69), and toss a pair of sassy red cat-eye sunglasses ($98 by Norma Kamali) into this boho print beach bag ($66), which can easily double as a daytime hobo for shopping trips in town. Speaking of browsing the Phuket markets, add a couple accessories like this playful heartbreaker bracelet that can go in and out of the water ($55) and channel local vibes with this silver Buddha ring ($75).

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Tropical Nights: Stick with breathable separates like this gray marl t-shirt with cut-out shoulders ($30) and denim shorts ($50). To add a dash of Nicole Richie-inspired gypset chic, throw on this paisley pajama jacket ($39.97). Since this is real vacation after all, stick with lower heels or metallic flats like these conversation starters: starry gold sandals Loeffler Randall ($175). Finally, bring along this embroidered leather zip pouch ($69) to tote your Thai baths (the local currency).

Guys

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Sea Scoping: Go beach-hopping in these sporty flip-flops ($65) and Gambler style straw sun hat, which has a clever built-in absorbent cotton headband ($60). Pull on these board shorts in a richly exotic pattern ($69) and this three-quarter sleeve lightweight henley with stripe detailing ($48). Rent a snorkel set to check out the action underwater (this Nixon waterproof black watch, for $125, with silicone band and polycarbonate case will come in handy), or bring your own ($69.99), which fits into this handsome unisex weekender bag ($95).

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Sunset Isle: When the sun starts to dip west, trade your flip flops for these Schooner boat shoes by John Varvatos ($198). For a nice dinner out, put on this striped, sun-faded button-down shirt in a hazy gray ($59.50). Stick with a summer weight when picking bottoms, like this relaxed J. Crew chino in a muted ocean blue ($75), which will pair well with this brightly colored canvas belt by Land's End ($39). And if you're a neutrals kind of guy, try venturing into cheerful hues through accessories. This zip wallet in lime green is built to impress when the bill comes ($48), while laying sleek and flat in the pocket.

Where to Stay

The charming and intimate Baray Villas (14 in total) is within the lush and exotic Sawasdee Village in Phuket and is a steal with rates starting at $100/night. It's set on the bustling tourist-oriented section of Kata beach, so some honeymooners may want to venture South to Kata Noi, further down the same strip, with a more peaceful atmosphere. There, The Shore at Katathani hotel offers indulgent pampering, where the couples-only atmosphere is a great grown-up escape.

If you're looking to stay off the beaten path, Surin beach is more up-and-coming and features the Pen Villa, with 15 simple rooms at a bargain: from $40 for a double room in low season to $96 in high season. Those seeking even roomier digs should head to The Surin Phuket with cottage and suite accommodations built into a hillside offering amazing ocean views. Despite its name, the hotel is actually located on the neighboring Pansea Beach and something of an oasis for the island as only hotel guests of The Surin and Amanpuri have access.

If you're looking to do a little island hopping, start on Koh Phi Phi where the Zeavola is the hotel of choice with a retro Thai vibe and 52 villas starting from $280/night. Krabi is home to one of the area's most stunning beaches: Railay Beach. Stay nearby at the beautiful Tubkaak Resort, which sits in front of a small private beach overlooking Hong Island. From there, the best way to spend a day is on a long tail boat exploring the surrounding islands.

Photo Credits: Women Day: Top Left: Blue Ridge Mountain Sports; Bottom Left: Athleta; Center Top: Victoria's Secret; Center Bottom: Amazon.com, Inc.; Top Right: farfetch.com; Bottom Right: Bath & Body Works Direct, Inc. Women Night: Left: mara hoffman inc.; Center: Planet Blue; Top Right: Planet Blue; Bottom Right: Zappos.com. Men Day: Top Left: CCS Direct LLC.; Bottom Left: SATURDAYS SURF NYC LLC.; Center: Reef Gear; Top Right: Oakley, Inc.; Right Center: Amazon.com, Inc.; Bottom Right: ZAPPOS.COM. Men Night: Top Left: UrbanOutfitters.com; Bottom Left: UrbanOutfitters.com; Center: J. Crew; Top Right: A.P.C.; UrbanOutfitters.com.

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