I love Thailand though I never planned to. Bangkok was a practical stopover on my way to Cambodia and Vietnam a few years back. But one night was literally enough to entice me – maybe hordes of other travelers weren’t wrong after all especially if you knew where to escape?

After a glimpse of pad thai paradise, I wanted more and a proper trip through Thailand followed. From north to south, from east to west. I loved it all except one place – Phuket. I had just come from Koh Yao Noi, blissed out after a few days of utter peace and quiet and immediately renamed Phuket to Puke-It. It was loud, touristy, trashy – everything I dislike in a destination rolled into one neon-lit island.

For many Thailand trips after I avoided it. Even when I flew from Germany to Phuket to have easy access to the southern islands I usually went straight from my plane to the pier to take me elsewhere. Anywhere but Phuket would do.

On my most recent trip to Thailand with Emirates, I planned on doing the same. Arrive in Phuket and head straight somewhere else then head to Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao. I searched and looked but all options including my beloved Koh Yao Noi seemed complicated and pricey. I started to reconsider – could I make friends with Phuket after all and find a place that I liked? Were there any hidden gems left?

After an ordeal of googling, checking Airbnb, asking in our Facebook group and my usual modes of research, I settled on staying close to the Sirinat National Park. Ideally located very close to the airport, it seemed to promise actually deserted beaches, few bars and little else that would remind me that I was in Phuket. I was cautiously optimistic and I wasn’t disappointed.


Sirinat National Park is in the northwest of Phuket Island in the Thalang District. It is 90 square kilometers large with most of it being marine area. Its main appeal are the four beaches Hat Nai Thon, Hat Nai Yang, Hat Mai Khao, and Hat Sai Kaeo which alone are worth a trip. The only distraction you may run into here are a few airplanes taking off over your head. Worth it if you consider how practical proximity to the airport can be especially with Phuket traffic.

Tip: When you get to the national park from Soi Naiyang 16 know that there is a booth where you will need to pay an entrance fee. To avoid the fee take a left turn right before the booth and follow the road parallel to the ocean until you hit the road by the shore again.

Where to stay?

I stayed at Somo Guesthouse, a place I found via Airbnb. The guesthouse is about a 15-minute walk to the National Park and to the beaches.
They have dorm style rooms and bamboo huts with a shared bathroom. I stayed in a hut which was lovely though the mattress was incredibly uncomfortable. Mind you the price was right and I had my privacy.

Also, Somo is a lovely host and a great cook – definitely have a meal there!

Depending on your arrival time and luggage allowance I recommend that you walk from the airport as it is very close. I arrived late at night and had too much to carry otherwise the 300 baht I paid for my taxi would have been a complete waste of money.

Where to eat?

First things first, because I know that you also came to Thailand to eat. Well you are in luck, because this area is ideal for street food lovers - there is much to explore. Head to Soy Naiyang 16, the road towards the airport and to the beach and you will find a little stretch of stalls, smoothie shacks and bars. My favorite was the one below – the lady who cooks there is an absolute delight and her meals (mostly around 50 baht) are amazing.

Heading towards the main road, the 4031, you will find the usual array of 7 Elevens and touristy restaurants. Mind you, it is a fairly residential area so even here you will find some local roadside gems. I liked the one right at the corner of Soy Naiyang 14 – not only are they apparently famous for their duck dishes they also make the best noodle soup with shrimp dumplings – I ordered two helpings in one sitting.

If you are looking for the perfect place to play digital nomad you will, of course, need great coffee, wifi, and aircon. Head to the Sea Calm Cafe & Bistro. This little spot belongs to the Perennial Resort but is located in a small freestanding building resembling a glasshouse. It has the cutest touches and is great for an iced Americano, a ham & cheese croissant, and a bit of people watching from the low bar counter facing the road. Mind you, don’t be disappointed if you don’t see anybody for hours – it’s all part of its secluded charm.

For those who prefer a bit more of a setting and especially a view, there are plenty of options on the beach. Wander along the main road in Sirinat National Park next to the ocean and you will surely find something that will tickle your fancy.

Mr. Kobi is well known amongst Lonely Planet & Co and while I liked his energy and anecdotes there is better food to be found around. Head to the beach itself where you will find just the spot. It is even called Good View Restaurant. Prices are just a tad more pricey (but still affordable) and you will eat with your eyes too, feasting on 50 shades of blue and your feet buried in the sand. And as a self-proclaimed pad thai expert – theirs deserves a B+!

And if you need to treat yourself then head to the Slate hotel right across the road. This ultracool, industrial-chic resort offers a few different options to eat at. I had lunch at Dirty Monstera and loved the fact that they offered both – really good sandwiches and some yummy Thai dishes.

What to do?

While you are at the Slate, you need to head to their Coqoon Spa. Yes, I know what you will say – massages are a dime by the dozen in Thailand but this one is different and very special. Perfect for a special occasion and if you want a bit more than a sandy-toed beach massage. Their signature treatments happen in a cocoon, resembling a nest in the trees. Here you will not only find ultimate seclusion but honestly one of the best massages I ever had (and I make it my mission to try them all, especially when in Thailand).

Ideal also for couples or a girlfriends spa day as each cocoon has enough space for two (well, actually they are bigger than most New York apartments). The perfect relaxation – tree-house style!

If you want a more active kind of relaxation I recommend a yoga class at Baan Yoga. Just a 15-minute stroll from Somo Guesthouse you will find it tucked away in a little stretch of jungle. Classes are open for beginners and advanced practitioners and the setting is an absolute delight.

Mermaids should head to Sea Bees, one of the best dive shops the Andaman Coast has to offer. It was also the place I headed to for my first underwater steps after too much time on dry land. While I could tell that the dive season in Phuket was nearing its end (few fishes and not the greatest visibility) it was the best way for me to ease back into the water – and owner Michael and the team were an absolute delight to dive with.

For those heading there soon – for the next few months a kitesurfing operation is taking over their offices to take full advantage of the wind.

And even if you just like the ocean to provide a pretty backdrop while you get your tan on, the beaches in Sirinat National Park are the place to be – one long stretch of beach and pretty as a picture. The best part? They are empty! I was there during the Easter weekend and the handful of people I saw was apparently as busy as it gets.

With that said, there is not much to do. Except that utter sandy bliss awaits. So take your sunscreen, hammam towel, sunnies, and a book (maybe mine?!) and join mostly locals for an afternoon of sunshine delight.

Have you been to Phuket? Any other hidden corners I have missed?!

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!