Destination: Phuket, Thailand.

By Mel Webster
Greetings, Sawadee Ka!   
Ever just want to take off to somewhere foreign, very exotic and affordable?
In 2015 look no further than amazing Thailand and Phuket.  Their tourism board is not exaggerating when they bandy the word ‘amazing’ about in their advertising.  Full of eastern promise, Thailand is the land of smiles and miles and miles of gorgeous beaches, misty, tropical mountains and incredible places to stay.
At we’ve got you covered with steeply discounted hotels in all price ranges wherever you want to be, in what used to known as Siam.
A top choice for a fabulously affordable beach vacation is Phuket, but not the Phuket that is packed with bronzed, inebriated Aussies, no way, mate.  Our pick is little known, uncrowded and has the absolute best seafood in all of Thailand, right smack on the beach with your toes in the sand, for less than a burger stateside.  Yes, we’re opinionated.  We’re recommending savvy travelers check out Nai Yang in the Thalang district of Phuket.
Why do we love Nai Yang?  Let us count the ways!  It’s close to the airport, yet there is no jet noise, not sure why, but there isn’t. However, you can see the jets taking off, which we also like, a lot. Most Phuket resorts are often an hour or two from the airport, which we don’t like at all.  It takes long enough to get to Phuket, no matter where in the world you are traveling from, so we love the quick 15 minute ride from the airport to one of our discounted hotels in Nai Yang.
New for Phuket is the VIP meet and greet at the airport where you are met air side and fast tracked through immigration and customs to private transportation to your hotel.  Live like a rock star! Start your Thai vacation in style with this fabulous, yet affordable service which is offered by select hotels in Phuket.
Let’s get down to a couple of hotel recommendations, both offer enormous value with loads of Thai style.
For five star luxe, we heart the Thai owned and operated Indigo Pearl with its chic, industrial modern vibe sitting on several acres over a lane from Nai Yang Beach. Pick from pavilions with private pools or duplexes that sleep large families or opt for the entry level rooms that have the luxury Thai design sensibilities of the villas, for less.  
Indigo Pearl Phuket_Private Pool Villa__1_1
DiscountHotels has the lowest prices in the market for this wonderful resort, so if it is luxurious pampering you are hankering, this is a stellar choice. The Indigo Pearl offers the new VIP escorted arrival for 1500 Baht/USD$45 per person, which includes luggage handling, private limousine transfer along with the fast track escort through customs/immigration. We recommend opting for this pampering service, after a long-haul flight it’s an affordable luxury you will be glad you sprung for.
Lobby Indigo Pearl2
It is worth a mention that not one resort or hotel is actually on Nai Yang beach.  Regardless of where you stay in Nai Yang, you will have to cross a small lane to hit the beach.  Of note, in low season Nai Yang beach sports kite surfing that attracts enthusiasts from all over the world. Candidly, the beginners are the most entertaining to watch, while hanging out in a shady lounge chair with a cold beverage at hand of course! 
Nai Yang Beach Shot outside Indigo Pearl3
The long curved white sandy beach has a long stretch with at least a dozen restaurants right on the sand, all offering traditional Thai cuisine with a heavy emphasis on super fresh seafood for very little outlay.  This is what keeps us coming back to Nai Yang, along with a wide range of hotels that are unique and remarkable value for money.  You won’t find crowds in Nai Yang, but you will meet travelers from all over the globe who know a good thing when they discover it.  Repeat trips are the norm for most vacationers in Nai Yang.  
Hands down our favorite beach restaurant is Phen’s, offering wonderful Thai food,icy Chang beer and an extensive range of cocktails you would expect to find in a ritzy European bar.  You are hard-pressed to spend more than $10 per person for a meal with drinks.  During the day rent a chaise lounge and umbrella on the beach for a couple of US dollars and Phen’s waiters will bring food and drinks to you.  The mango shake is something to write home about, ditto for the papaya salad.  The sunsets are widely anticipated and draws everyone from their rooms or pool.  Your best bet is to snag a table on the sand, kick off your shoes and enjoy a sundowner, followed by a candlelight dinner.  Both hotels recommended in this article are an easy stroll back to your room after a night out at one of Nai Yang’s beach restaurants.
Phen's Restaurant4
For absolute cheap and chic, we love the Thai owned, independently operated Nai Yang Beach Resort with contemporary Thai design often for less than $50 per night for two people, with a full breakfast included. Recently Russian outbound tour operators discovered this gem of a hotel, so expect to see borscht on the breakfast buffet!  Each room is equipped with a full-size fridge and with a mini-mart right outside the hotel, it is easy to stock up on water, beer, soda and snacks for your holiday.  No sky-high mini bar tabs here!
Nai Yang Beach Resort Room
If you feel the urge to shop, Nai Yang has many charming tiny Mom and Pop stalls along the lane way.  For more choices, hop a taxi into Phuket proper, but it is a bit of a drive. This is where you can buy pretty much anything and we do mean anything and everything.  When you have had enough of the hustle and bustle, emphasis on the hustle, head back to Nai Yang and your heavily discounted hotel to rest up for the sunset. 
Closing notes.  Nai Yang is not flashy, it is not fast.  In fact, the slow pace is the beauty and appeal to smart travelers who want an exotic, faraway experience that is affordable and uncrowded.  Jump on a plane and journey to Phuket where you can still find a small, sleepy village that offers something for every budget with loads of inimitable, gracious Thai style and charm.  It’s in full view, but happily still rather hidden.
Go.  Go now, while it is still unspoiled and offering heavily discounted, independent hotels for travelers
who want an authentic, memorable Thai experience while decompressing from their regular programming.
It’s a trip of a  lifetime in many respects, but don’t wait until the end of your life to take one.