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Introducing Ao Bang Thao

Almost as large and even more beautiful than Ao Patong, the stunning 8km-long white-sand sweep of Ao Bang Thao is the glue that binds the region’s disparate elements. The southern half is home to a sprinkling of three-star bungalow resorts. Further inland you’ll find an old fishing village laced with canals, along with a number of upstart villa subdivisions. Don’t be alarmed if you see a herd of water buffalo grazing just 100m from a gigantic construction site. That’s how fast Bang Thao has changed.

Smack in the centre of it all is the somewhat absurd Laguna Phuket complex – a network of five four- and five-star resort properties and an ageing shopping mall knitted together by an artificial lake (patrolled by tourist shuttle boats) and a paved nature trail. But in the north, Mother Nature asserts herself once more, and a lonely stretch of powder-white sand and tropical blue sea extends past all the bustle and change, and delivers the kind of peace you imagined when you booked your trip.

The Hideaway Day Spa has an excellent reputation. It offers traditional Thai massage, sauna and mud body wraps in a tranquil wooded setting at the edge of a lagoon. The Hideaway also has its own line of spa products.