Co-founder and owner of Bill Bensley-designed resort The Slate Phuket, Krystal Prakaikaew Na-Ranong, shares her insider tips about where to shop, dine and explore in the ‘Pearl of the Andaman Sea’.
Do you have a favourite beach or natural attraction in Phuket?
I love Nai Yang Beach, especially at sunset. It is a peaceful beach with soft white sand and safe swimming all year round. At sunrise, you can buy the freshest seafood directly from the local fishermen as they return to shore — it doesn’t get fresher than that!
What is your favourite restaurant and what is a must-try dish on the menu?
By all means, Black Ginger at The Slate. It is a magical place sitting on a lagoon surrounded by mature tropical trees. The arrival experience is unique in Thailand as you are pulled across the lagoon in a raft to get to the restaurant. The must-try dish is Phuket Poh Pia Sod (Phuket fresh spring rolls). This do-it-yourself dish is a traditional Phuket cuisine brought by the Chinese tin miners who came to work in Phuket in the 16th century.
Where can a visitor find a good cocktail menu or wine list?
I sometimes go to Dibuk House for their cocktails. It’s located on historic Dibuk Road in the heart of Old Phuket Town in a traditional Sino-Portuguese shophouse and has a chilled atmosphere.
Where do you go to feel inspired?
I like to walk on Thalang Road and Soi Romanee in Phuket Old Town. I used to live in our family shop house on Thalang Road during my childhood and it is inspiring to see some of my grandmother’s friends, who still live there and preserve their traditional Chinese homes in their best condition. I love to see the melting of cultures between Euro and Chinese, which translates into beautiful architecture. These Euro-Chinese houses stretch along Thalang, Yaowarat, Phangna, Dibuk roads, and Soi Romanee. Soi Romanee is a small alley, off Thalang Road, which used to be the red-light district for tin miners in Phuket during the old tin mining period. Today, you can see a lot of colourful shops, bars, and restaurants there.
Do you have any preferred shops or boutiques that you would recommend?
STOCKROOM at The Slate is unlike any other hotel boutiques. It is where you can find things from custom-made industrial ornaments, crafted jewellery, street and beach wear, spa products as well as antiques from all over Asia. You can also purchase many of the custom pieces that decorate our rooms if you want to take a little bit of the hotel back home with you.
What are the best day jaunts to take in Phuket and why?
A stroll on Thalang Road is fun, as you can absorb the culture and the flavour of Phuket’s past. On the weekends, the road is open to pedestrians only. You can discover delicious Phuket food stalls along the road. Phuket is surrounded by beautiful smaller islands so it’s also great to take a day trip to go island hopping for some of the most spectacular scenery in Thailand.
What’s the best way to get around?
Renting a car is the best option as taxis are quite expensive in Phuket.
Do you have a favourite hotel or resort? What makes it special?
Well, I may be biased but The Slate is my favourite resort in Phuket, as it tells the tin mining history of the island through the industrial chic design of Bill Bensley. It is very unique. The resort connects guests to the soul of the island, and offers direct access to the beach and beautifully landscaped gardens filled with statues and art pieces. The attention to detail is second to none.
What’s a hidden attraction that a lot of visitors miss when in Phuket?
Ka Jok See is a restaurant/club which is a place not to miss if you manage to get a table there during your stay. It is a small place full of surprises, so try to book far in advance. There is always a lively atmosphere here, with music and dancing, limbo, DJs, or drag queens.
About Krystal Prakaikaew
Krystal Prakaikaew (known as Khun Moo to her friends) is a Thai national who was raised in Phuket. Following four generations of tin mining heritage, her father, who grew up amid the family’s tin mining enterprises, moved into the hotel business. The family is credited with putting Phuket on the world tourism map.
Khun Moo is a graduate of the University of Buckingham in the UK and the highly-acclaimed École Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. Later, she gained extensive international hospitality experience around the globe, working in France, Switzerland, and Hawaii.
She has returned to her childhood region in Phuket to run the family’s hotel, The Slate Phuket, a member of Design Hotels.