Kingdom of lights, Carnival Magic, Phuket, Thailand.
Courtesy Carnival Magic

Thailand’s most visited region—the famed beaches of Phuket—just upped its family appeal with the grand opening of Carnival Magic last September. The country’s first culturally-focused theme park, 40 acres sandwiched between verdant mountain and sandy shore, re-creates traditional festivals and market fairs found throughout the Kingdom in a dazzling array of neon lights.

Kids can get their ice cream fix at Torry’s, a family-run ice cream shop in the heart of Phuket Town that uses ingredients like coconut milk and blue pea flower in the subtly sweet and umami-rich Bi Co Moi.

Volun-tourism initiatives continue to be a priority on the island. The The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, for example, invites visitors to help feed the animals and provides education about elephant communication and behavior.

Although the island is best known for its eponymous city, Phuket is drawing more visitors to its uncrowded countryside with an impressive landscape of modern luxury lodges. The new five-star Noku Hotel. overlooking Chalong Bay, designed to blend in with the environs, was recently awarded the Green Mark Gold award for sustainability. On the opposite end of the bay, the ultra-luxe V Villas (opened in 2021) is a collection of 19 standalone suites on a private hillside. And the beach bungalows of Selina Serenity Rawai Phuket provide a lower priced option.

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