If you have 8½ days and £££ = Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa, Thailand
Island-hopping, lots of shopping and lounging on a beach called Paradise: Diddy would be so proud
Your transfer to the Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa, a chic and secluded resort with a booming poolside sound system, takes around half an hour from the airport, so you’ve got time to freshen up before starting your day. Thailand’s seven hours ahead of GMT, so you’re going to feel like napping. Good excuse for needing a pool day, if you ask us.
First rule of Thailand: always barter. Second rule: you must download the taxi app Grab to save a shedload (it’s basically the Asian equivalent of Uber). Make your way into tourist beach hub Patong and haggle at one of the stalls selling island-hopping
boat and snorkel trips. We paid around £30 for a day of exploring three islands (including Koh Phi Phi, where The Beach was filmed). Block out a day in your schedule to visit the old town of Patong, too, and stop off at OTOP market (open day and night) to buy, well, anything from sandals to a tattoo (of course you won’t regret the Sanskrit song lyrics when you get home). You can’t leave without visiting the famous sleeping Buddha statue – mostly for the electronic fortune-telling machine. For the rest of the trip? There are 30 beautiful beaches to test (hit Paradise, which does what it says on the tin) with locals walking the sands offering aloe vera rubs for your sunburn. Oh, and try the day-long Sunday brunch for £40 at the Dream Beach Club Phuket. Yes, the chunk of pineapple garnishing the piña colada you wash it down with counts as one of your five a day, absolutely no question.
Pack up all those wooden bags/coasters/ornaments you got for your mum and the ‘designer’ bargains you haggled for at the markets – no one will notice the ‘Z’ on your new Michael Korz watch, honest. With your morning flight home, you’ll be back in time for the 10 o’clock news (OK, The Xtra Factor) the very same day.
Rooms from £120; Dreamhotels.com/phuket. Return flights from £475; Thomson.co.uk
Koh Phi Phi: Leonardo DiCaprio not included, but still pretty great
Bring your shades, if only for the sunbeds