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Recreation

Must-see places and can’t miss things to do from Malé to Bali

Paradise on Natai Beach

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Natai Beach is a quiet and peaceful 10-kilometre stretch of white sand with an attractive blend of unspoilt nature and stunning luxury villas. Situated in Phang Nga province, only 25 minutes away from Phuket Airport, Natai Beach is the perfect place to escape the crowds and discover the soft sand and lush landscapes of the less-traveled Andaman coast.

There are only a few facilities to be found on Natai Beach – it is not your normal tourist beach. There are no wandering peddlers, no beach chairs or umbrellas – only a random beach massage cabana and some long tailboats. There is nothing except the sun, sea, and sand – and these are the reasons why this destination is perfect for a stay in a beachfront villa.

There are also some fantastic activities and attractions that are within a short distance of Natai Beach if you are willing to put your cocktail down and head out of your villa.

Phang Nga Bay Viewpoint

The sunsets from Natai Beach are great, but the sunrise over the limestone casts of Phang Nga Bay are spectacular. The recently discovered Samet Nangshe viewpoint is 25 minutes away from and it’s well worth an early start to watch the sunrise. It’s not as popular as many of the viewpoints in Phuket so it isn’t crowded. It is becoming a popular place for photographers who want to capture the perfect sunrise. The clear night skies with millions of stars are not too bad either.

Sarasin Bridge

Sarasin Bridge connects the mainland of Phuket and Phang Nga and is known as one of the most beautiful bridges in Thailand. It has a very interesting history: it is named after Pote Sarasin, former Prime Minister of Thailand, but it is best known for an unforgettable tragedy. In 1973, two young lovers, one from a wealthy family and one from a poor family, jumped off the bridge and took their own lives. The story is this: the family of K. Gew, a girl from a wealthy family, forbade her from seeing K.Dam, a local bus driver. They tied themselves together and jumped. A Thai movie about the lovers, The Bridge of Love, was released in 1987.

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Fabulous Fun on Father’s Day

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He’s the one who took you to the doctor when you fell off your bike; and the one who taught you how to ride it in the first place. He hugged you tight whether or not you got As, and didn’t mind the mess in your room. He picked you up from your first dance party and opined that nobody was good enough for you. Through it all, you counted on him for the best advise and unwavering support. He will always be special, and gifts or words in praise will never be enough. But there’s something you can do to bring a smile to his face. Surprise him with an unforgettable trip, a holiday of a lifetime. A vacation for the family, away from daily life, where you all can sit around in the evening, chatting up a storm or where he can relax and relive his youth playing with grown-up toys.

We have curated a handpicked list of vacation homes ideal for a Father’s Day getaway, or even just a trip to treat him to the one thing he values the most – quality time with family.

Bali

Pool fun is on the cards at Villa Malaathina, where a large swimming pool sits in the centre of the spacious grounds. Flat-roofed designs accentuate the villa’s special features: a bale by the pool which contains a dining area, a teppanyaki pavilion and a sunset terrace on which three large chairs shaped like giant chocolate Kisses rest. Dad will love the barbecue area and the ready-to-go Bose and Sonos sound systems. Villa Malaathina is in the Umalas region – a blissful rural area in Bali. But Seminyak is only 15 minutes away, where you will find fabulous restaurants, bars and spas.

Nearby, also in the Umalas region, Villa Umah Daun sits overlooking some rice terraces. Indonesian for ‘leaf house’, Villa Umah Daun has five large bedroom suites, a series of pavilions and gorgeous bowed roofs. The living pavilions, containing the dining area and living room, curve around the swimming pool in a charming fashion. Dad will love the relaxed vibe, the villa’s modern design and family appeal. There’s also a tree house, games room, kids’ wading pool and jacuzzi for unlimited fun. Best of all is the climate-controlled wine room;

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A Delicious Tale of Cooking, Learning and Feasting in Koh Samui

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It was a dinner to end all dinners – the perfect introduction to authentic Thai food, served with panache.

It began when our professional dinner host, Joe Sambataro , an American by way of Argentina, taught us how to make cocktails that would keep us happy for the rest of the evening. We started off by grinding limes using a muddler, a contraption resembling a mortar and pestle. “So, we just push and twist and get the juice out. But don’t push too hard because if you do that, you’ll break the skin and that will make your lime juice bitter. So think about something that makes you mad but not too mad, haha,” quipped Joe. We each got to choose our drinks; mine had rum and mango and tasted like a sunny day at the beach.

Joe then asked us how spicy we wanted our dishes to be. “Can I get a show of hands, who likes spicy food? Who likes mildly spicy food? Who doesn’t like spicy food at all?” he asked. “Do you know the best way to communicate your preferences to the staff at a restaurant? I’m going to help you out here. I’m going to teach you some very important phrases that will come in handy. If you don’t like spicy food, you should order your food ‘mai phet’ which means not spicy. Don’t forget to copy my rising intonation! That’s very important!

And if you are okay with a little bit of spice, you can say ‘phet nit noy’ which means mildly spicy. If you want your food medium spicy, you can say ‘kon kaang phet’. And if you like your food very, very spicy, you can order your food ‘phet maak maak’ which loosely translates as spicy very very.” He also cautioned us when we were making our own sauce, “With Thai chilies, take it easy. If you don’t like spice, don’t add spice. If you like a little bit of spice, start with two pieces and try it first. If you like mild, go with four. If you like a whole lot, add as much as you want, but just remember today it’s all fun, but tomorrow, ring of fire!” he added cheekily.

The dinner commenced with three starters, based on traditional Thai recipes.

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Mammoth Fun in Exotic Phuket

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Phuket has long been known for its vibrant nightlife and unparalleled party-scene. But there is another side to the island that few take the time to discover. With lush rainforests climbing over mountains and spilling onto white-sand beaches, Phuket holds treasures just waiting to be discovered.

On your next trip here, why not leave aside the tickmarked must-do list and go beyond the obvious? Discover the Phuket that few know, a land that takes time to open up to strangers like a shy neighbour. But when it does, you will be enamoured by the experiences it holds.

“Phuket island offers so much more than stunning beaches, amazing sunrise and sunsets,” shares Femke Beekers, Elite Havens Country Head, Thailand. “Let us take you to a deserted island nearby to discover the mysterious underwater world, or allow us to showcase the different cultures on the island, visiting the amazing melt of our Buddhist, Chinese descent and Muslim tribes. Phuket has so much to offer, this merely scratches the surface.”

 

One of the most memorable things you can do on the island is plan a visit to Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. The first and only ethical elephant sanctuary in Paklok, Phuket, it is a haven for elephants who have done their time in the logging trade or as part of the elephant trekking industry. Take a peek into the tough lives that these gentle beasts have led, often mistreated and denied basic rights and care. It is an eye-opener, to be exposed to their side of the story. Majestic animals that belong in the jungle, and not in towns, treated as a prop or an attraction.

At Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, these retired and rescued elephants can live in their natural habitat and are treated with the utmost respect. It was founded as a partnership between Mr. Montri Todtane, ex-owner of an elephant camp in Phuket; world-renowned elephant rescuer and conservationist Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation; and Louise Rogerson, founder of EARS Asia.

Choose between the morning program or the afternoon program, where you can observe these grand animals from a respectful distance. Sit in the strategically placed observation salas and witness the elephants go about their natural daily routine –

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The Great Uluwatu: Nature’s Best Friend

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Uluwatu is part of a large limestone peninsula in southern Bali called ‘The Bukit’. Literally meaning ‘the hill’, The Bukit offers stunning clifftop ocean views, where you can visually feast on spectacular sunsets over the blue waters. “Glorious blue ocean, glistening white sandy beaches and dramatic clifftop vistas are inescapable in Uluwatu,” says Andy Grant, Head of Concierge at Elite Havens.

A Finely-Curated Tour of Uluwatu

Explore Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park

A special inclusion for guests staying at select villas in the region, our signature Uluwatu tour allows a relaxed start and begins with a stop at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. Look up and gaze in awe at a huge statue of Lord Vishnu riding his mount Garuda, standing at about 120 metres – taller than the Statue of Liberty. It is an unexpected surprise to find such a mammoth display hidden away on a tiny island in Indonesia.

The park includes an amphitheater, an exhibition hall, and a large area called the Lotus Pond, where many famous rock bands have performed in the past.  Your personal tour guide will be happy to capture this moment for you, should you want a photograph at the spot.

Enjoy Pandawa Beach

He can also give you the lowdown on the history of the park and of Pandawa Beach, a glistening spot a short drive away. “From start to finish, you are escorted by our experienced driver, who is also your guide for the day, sharing local knowledge and insights into each area,” says Andy.

Dine at Roosterfish Beach Club

Pandawa Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Bali; the fact that it’s also less crowded than Seminyak and Kuta adds to its draw. After some beach-time, you have the option of having lunch at Roosterfish Beach Club, where the smell of wood-fired oven pizzas and grilled local seafood wafts in the air. The beach club is right on the sand, so get ready to have some fun!

Watch a Kecak Fire Dance

The build-up is appropriate to set the tone for the most important stop of the day – the majestic Uluwatu Temple.

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