Phuket Cleanse: My experience at Thailand’s best wellness retreat

From meat-eater to vegan in less than a week.... Is Phuket Cleanse really as good as the reviews?

“F*CK OFF!!!” were the first words Shane said after I’d suggested spending a week at a yoga detox camp.

“You’re joking, right…?” Turns out I wasn’t.

We’re both proud meat-eaters who are just as lazy as we are open to a midweek trip to Wetherspoons. So the thought of spending a week at a booze-free, vegan bootcamp sounded more like a prison sentence than a holiday.

Lee and Shane at Phuket Cleanse
Looks like Shane’s enjoying himself after all…

But after a convincing chat with Phuket Cleanse boss Stanton, we thought we’d give the “Best detox, fitness & yoga retreat in Thailand” a try – and here’s what we discovered.

While most lads were out, getting their d*cks sucked for peanuts in Patong, we were either meditating on beaches or hiking up hills.

Girls in Patong, Thailand
Hmm, 6am hill hike or a night with these beauts? Tough one.

We were in bed by 10pm most nights and up again at 5.30am / 6am, for the morning activities.

It’s much better than it sounds.


By the end of the first week, I’d lost 2kg of bodyfat and gained lean muscle – from doing activities I enjoyed.

Shane’s results were even better, but his tan wasn’t as good.

Shane trying to get a tan in Phuket, Thailand
Shane trying to get a tan on a pink flamingo inflatable… as you do

I’m a hardcore carnivore. If my plate doesn’t have meat on it, I’m not eating it… Well, at least that’s how I used to feel.

Phuket Cleanse has taught me that a raw vegan diet is so much more than rabbit food.

Phuket Cleanse Buffet Dinner
Phuket Cleanse Buffet Dinner

The chefs somehow managed to conjure up some seriously tasty meat-free dishes using veggies and spices.

I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t struggle some nights. But fortunately, Salmon is on the menu for fussy guests like me, as well as people with muscle building goals – the fish provides an extra protein kick at dinner.

Phuket Cleanse is jam-packed full of activities. In fact, there’s two activities almost every hour and they run from 6am until 9pm.

There’s more than 20 classes a day, ranging from floating meditations to Muay Thai boxing.

There’s plenty of yoga types to choose from, and regardless of whether you’re superfit, fat or thin, the intensity of the classes are suitable for almost anyone.

So if you’ve packed on some flab over Christmas, you know what to do!

But it’s not all fitness, with cooking masterclasses, cycle clubs, sunrise ocean walks and sunset breathing ceremonies.

And if the weather’s right (more often than not) guests are taught to stand-up paddleboard, which is pretty sick as you can make your way across the warm waters of Nai Harn to the hidden Ao Sane Beach.

Stand-up paddle boarding in Phuket
My poor attempt to stand-up paddle boarding… ending with me just sunbathing instead

Manage to stay on the waterboard for long enough and you’ll have your next Instagram profile pic.


Regardless of whether it’s your first or thousandth time, they love a good stretch here at Phuket Cleanse – and you’ll be bent crazy!

There’s a tonne of activities which are guaranteed to improve your flexibility – and as Russell Brand likes to brag, makes you better in bed.


Within 5 minutes of stepping into the Bikram Arena (a hot room full of bendy people) it was clear, I was in trouble.

Participants / victims are instructed to bend their body’s in ways Stretch Armstrong would struggle with.

Phuket Cleanse will stretch you like Stretch Armstrong
Remember this guy, Stretch Armstrong

Admittedly, I wasn’t the only one in the room who was as stiff as a plank but after the 26th and final “series” aka stretch exercises – I was out for the count.

… but despite HATING every second of it, the physical and mental benefits forced me to keep coming back all week…

Bikram Yoga at Phuket Cleanse with Lee, Shane, Aya, and Little Miss Raw
Bikram Yoga at Phuket Cleanse with Lee, Shane, Aya, and Little Miss Raw

… helped that I fancied one of the girls in the class, obviously 😉

Yeah, I called bullsh*t too, but then after getting f*cked up during a Rebirth session with Dela, I decided to look into the science behind it.

Rebirthing Breathwork step by step
Rebirthing Breathwork step by step

By the sounds of things, Rebirthing is the spiritual equivalent to Holotropic Breathwork, said to release emotional trauma through conscious and connected breathing.

rebithing breathwork
Rebirthing is said to put you in a semi-conscious state…

It’s a pricey extra here at Phuket Cleanse, but if you’ve got FOMO (fear of missing out) like me, you’ll want to experience it.

Some guest claimed they’d ORGASMED during the two-hour long exercise.

Personally, I’d rather get a “happy ending” at the Angels Massage place just down the road for a third the price.

But, each to their own.

Angel Massage sign in Phuket, Thailand
Angel Massage do happy endings, apparently?!

If she’s not cooking up delicious vegan treats or playing Scrabble, she’s chilling in an ice bath.  Louella (aka Little Miss Raw) will guide guests through a Recovery Induction, which is essentially a way of warming your body up so you can survive, shoulder deep in FREEZING water for periods of time.

Louella in the ice bath at phuket cleanse
As tempting as it was to get in the ice bath with Little Miss Raw… I just couldn’t

It’s something professional athletes have been doing for years, as it helps speed up your muscle recovery.

I wasn’t so good at it…


The half Italian / half Frenchman, Bastian, nailed home the importance of breathing during one of his insightful, pool meditation prep talks.

“How long can you go without food?”

“How long can you go without water?”

“How long can you go without air?”

Exactly. Learn to breathe properly.

There’s not a thing he doesn’t know about breathing and more importantly, how you can use it to your advantage.

From stress-reduction and sleep preparations to energy boosts and decreased fatigue.

He can also teach you to hold your breath for extended periods of time (i.e. free dive training) – the guy’s practically a super hero for breathwork.

Note: Bastian has recently had an accident and might lose the use of his hand. Please help support him by making a small donation, here.


One of the best quotes of the week come from a Welsh Mum, Joanne who said: “When I’m at home, I’m a mother, sister and wife… When I’m here, I’m me.”

Moment to myself during sunset meditation session, in Rawai, Phuket
Moment to myself during sunset meditation session, in Rawai, Phuket

You get a lot of “me time” at Phuket Cleanse, and you’ll learn why it’s so important. Sounds cringe, but it’s so true.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself… Over 400 reviews, 97% of the ratings are excellent.

Phuket Cleanse on Trip Advisor

Note: The two ‘average’ ratings were back in 2012 and completely out of date – kind of like my “Messiah Costume (below).

Messiah moment at KataRocks , Phuket Thailand
Messiah moment at KataRocks
Kata Rocks hotel / bar in Phuket Thailand is stunning
Kata Rocks hotel / bar in Phuket Thailand is stunning

It’s how I imagine the Big Brother house to be, but without the cameras and bitchiness.

At first, the thought of eating at a table surrounded by strangers was slightly intimidating.

Couple of girls we met at Phuket Cleanse
Couple of girls we met at Phuket Cleanse

But the majority of guests come alone so we’re all in the same boat, and as a consequence, conversation is easy.

It’s one of the many things I miss about the place.

Make your own face mask with Little Miss Raw
Make your own face mask with Little Miss Raw


Because of the setup, you get close to people you’d never naturally meet.

In my case, an Australian Tech Millionaire, Financial Advisors for Arab Billionaires, White House Business Correspondents, a Welsh Mum who once served in the Navy, and a half-American / half-Egyptian girl who’s obsessed with elephants and chewing gum.

Washing the muddy elephant at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Phuket, Thailand
Washing the muddy elephant at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Phuket, Thailand
Feeding a baby elephant the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Phuket, Thailand
Feeding a baby elephant the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Phuket, Thailand
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary day trip in Phuket, Thailand
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary day trip in Phuket, Thailand

Phuket Cleanse can house up to 40 guests, and you’re spending most of your time with these people, sweating buckets and opening up.

By the end of the week both me and Shane were in bits when we had to leave. Sobbing like Love Island contestants after an eviction.

My favourite of all gestures here at Phuket Cleanse is probs the “Wall of Love”. It’s basically an area where guests and workers can write private notes to each other – which you can only read the day you leave.

The Wall of Love letters and notes
The Wall of Love letters and notes

I was genuinely choked by some of the messages. The unsigned “Thank you for letting me feel comfortable enough to be myself” was my favourite. I got a few numbers too 😉

If you haven’t heard of these yet, you probably will soon.

One of Phuket Cleanse’s former managers, Phil Anthony has teamed up with a gorgeous Instagrammer, Jessica Moses, to make some sexy smoothie bowls – which have taken the island by storm.

peanut butter and strawberry nanabowls smoothie bowls
People go crazy for the peanut butter and strawberry Nanabowls

From Strawberry Bliss to Peanut Butter Salted Caramel flavours – each bowl is stacked with gluten-free granola and not only tastes fantastic – but are healthy too!

You can check out the flavours here:

…or grab one at Wilson’s on the way back from a gym session (map below)!

If you decided to sneak out at night and stuff your face with burgers and chips you can’t expect great results from the detox and quite simply, don’t deserve them.

Booze, meats, sweets, crisps, caffeine and dairy products are all technically forbidden, but there’s ways and means of breaking the rules, without taking the p*ss.

Caffeine Fix:
Aya (the one obsessed with elephants) used to sneak off for a daily ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ at Wilsons.

She said it was amazing and worth it. She still achieved her fitness goals.

Sugar fix:
Simple and guilt-free solution: Grab a Nanabowl from Wilson’s.
Address: 31/44 Soi Saiyuan Moo 1, Rawai, Amphoe Mueang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

Nanabowls: Delicious protein packed smoothies free from dairy and gluten
Nanabowls: Delicious protein packed smoothies free from dairy and gluten

Booze Fix:
I’d probably save alcohol for the last day, once you’ve undergone your final body measurements.

There’s a great opportunity on the Banana Beach day trip to lay back and enjoy a Pina Colada – if a rum-less coconut doesn’t do it for you.

Rocksalt is a lovely beachfront bar which lives underneath the 5* Nai Harn Hotel.

Happy hour is from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
Address: 23/3 Moo1, Vises Road, Rawai, Muang District, Phuket 83100, Thailand, Phuket, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

Katarocks is a stunning bar / restaurant which has a gorgeous infinite pool.

Kata Rocks hotel / bar in Phuket Thailand is stunning
Kata Rocks hotel / bar in Phuket Thailand is stunning

Guests get to experience an interesting uphill buggy ride to the main entrance on arrival too.

It’s expensive but serves the best cocktails on the island.

Address: 186/22 Kok Tanode Road, Kata, Mueng, Phuket 83100, Thailand

Meat Fix:
Phuket Cleanse is a 5 minute taxi ride from Rawai Pier, a place known for it’s quality seafood restaurants.

When you arrive, on the right hand side you have a row full of stalls that sell living fish and crustaceans.

Once you’ve purchased your food, you’ll have the option of several restaurants to your left who will weigh up your food cook it for you.

We barbecued our Prawns and lobsters… Fantastic experience if you can live with the guilt of handing over a living thing for your dinner.

Tip: Stick to brown rice and vegetables for the side dish.

 So when our time was up, we’d had our cries, and received our impressive measurements back, we’d both agreed that the experience was life changing.

Not only did we feel fitter, better and revitalised.

I’m still not entirely comfortable calling the experience a “holiday” though – but when it comes to booking my next trip away, this is the EXACT  type of thing I’m looking for.

You can check out the story in The Sun, by clicking here.