It had been 3 days. We had finished exams, packed our bags (as hurriedly as possible) and set off trying not to think about our impending results. Our first stop,Phuket.
As we descended upon the large island, excitement was brewing. This wasn’t our first trip to Thailand, but we had never been to Phuket before. We had all seen the pictures before, with its beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters and we were ready for our paradise.
However, Phuket wasn’t quite what we had expected, in good ways and bad. After we collected our bags, we hit our first obstacle, actually getting to our hotel. With four big bags and some decent sized hand luggage we were a bit concerned when the taxi companies told us we would need a 7 seater to get to our hotel in kata and that it would cost us 1500 bhat (£ 32). Unfortunately we made the mistake of accepting this offer as there was nothing else on offer here. We had made the mistake of not looking extensively enough about these costs and had not realised that all the taxi companies work with each other keeping this taxi cost high. Fortunately there is a taxi app that works here, GRAB taxi, which I’ve explained in detail in my other articles. But this is a must for travelling in Phuket.
Phuket, unlike Bangkok, has no other means of public transport aside from taxis, so if you are a lone traveller, make lots of friends that you can share this cost with. The journey from the airport to the popular resorts can often be quite long, ranging from 30 mins to over an hour, so bare this in mind when looking for taxis, as the price even with a taxi app will not be as cheap as you may have experienced in other places. However, it is still very cheap in relation to the majority of the western world and most of Asia, so don’t worry!
Top things to do in Phuket
- Explore the beaches
If you’re expecting lots and lots of culture, unfortunately phuket isn’t the right place for this. Although there are some temples, and statues which invite people who are craving some culture in a foreign land, unfortunately these are few and rare and most of the island has now become a tourist hub.
Not all is bad! Phuket offers some of the most beautiful beaches, surf clubs (and houses for those who have never done it before), adrenaline junkies get a chance to go bungee jumping, white water rafting, kayaking and other adrenaline filled activities.
So ofcourse we had to try everything!
Our first place we stayed was on kata beach. Kata is quite out of the way, but is one of the best known beaches. It is one of the quieter beaches, located on the western coast of phuket. Kata is brimming with life, with lots of tourist shops, restaurants and a few clubs that can be found along the way. If you’re looking for a good night life, this isn’t the place for you, but if you’re looking for somewhere to relax, this is quite good!
We stayed at the Chanalai Garden resort, which we were able to get for a decent price from agoda (https://www.agoda.com/).
Of course Kata beach and the view point is something that has to be checked out. The humidity around this area is intense and in early june we definitely felt it. However, we quickly forgot this, with the thought of getting into the cold waters of the Adaman sea. A fair warning to people out there, the beach at Kata isn’t the cleanest of beaches, and the tourism hasn’t helped this beach. However, there are still lots of water sports available at the sea front with lots to do, and the view is amazing across the sea.
2. Try the amazing food
The walk along the beach will take you to some amazing restaurants. And trust me, you haven’t even tried curry until you’ve had it in Thailand. The streets are littered with delicious restaurants, food stalls with the smell of pancakes, coconut, curry filling the streets of kata. Restauranteers pop their heads outside their restaurant to cheer and greet potential customers, jeering that their place is the one to go. Eventually you find a place to eat, with each and every menu brimming with sea food, chicken, lamb whatever your heart fancies. And nothing disappoints.
3. Try a water sport
Of the many things that were available to do, our first choice was water rafting. It wasn’t something that we had done before, and the adrenaline junkies that we are, we were garing to try new things. The one advice I would give all of you, is to be prepared to haggle. Some of us are brilliant at it, and some of us (like me) are not. So its best to go with a few people and make sure you check as many counters as possible before deciding on a price for a tour. Most of the tours in Thailand picked us up from our hotel and dropped us right back. So don’t worry if you don’t know where this place is. Be warned, never book these before you go! The price on the package can be two to three times higher than the price they offer in person. We managed to get our tour down from 2500 bhat (written on the leaflet) to 800 (around £20). This included food, a temple, a zipline adventure, waterfall and an elephant aspect. This is a lot to do in one day. But we were feeling adventurous, and thought why not.
Fantasea is located near the coast of Kamala beach, so those of you staying around there may find it better not to pay for tickets for the taxi. We had heard quite a bit about this place. We weren’t sure whether to expect great things, or not. But always willing to try something new, we thought once again, why not?.
If you think this place is just for grown ups, you would be sorely mistaken. The whole show itself is like a massive circus, with fire acts, acrobats, elephants, tigers, goats and even chickens made an appearance. A warning for those of you who don’t like seeing animals. This place has lots of animals. There is an option for an elephant ride, and for those of you that know about the cruelty behind the way they are trained, it may be something that is best avoided.
There is a little park of sorts around the main hall and theatre, where kids (and adults!) can go buy tickets to try out all of the activities and games. There are dress up shops, which allows you to try on traditional thai clothing and have pictures with them. There are arcade games. And for those adults who love to shop, there are beautiful crystal on sale. Unfortunately, there is no atm once you are inside the complex, although some places do take card payments. So make sure you have money ready before going in!
The hall is quite grand when you enter, with a buffet of every type of food you can possibly imagine (even for halal, vegetarian and vegans!). I have to say I was a big fan of the desserts there, but there is so much good food its hard not be a fan of everything.
Once it gets to 9pm the theatre springs to life. Fires are lit outside the theatre, and a sense of excitement hits you, as you wonder what you’re going to see. The atmosphere in this theatre is amazing. The story is told in English, but in all honesty, its difficult to keep track as the story hasn’t really got too much of a plot. Half the time its so confusing what is happening and what you think will happen next. And just as quickly as it starts, its suddenly over. taxis are outside to pick people and whisk them home.
I won’t lie to you. This was probably one of the most expensive things that we did. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take our cameras into the theatre itself, so I can’t show you exactly what it was like. All in all it was a good day to go and check the place out. However, its name as ‘a cultural theme park’ isn’t something that I would stick to. It doesn’t really show much of the culture of Thailand, and is in true, a glorified circus. However, if you have the time to enjoy a luxury like this, I would recommend going to it.
Don’t worry, I wouldn’t forget something as big as this on my list.
As our stay wasn’t very long, we did island hopping tours, and visited the islands for a day, or half a day each. We picked three main islands to check out; Koh Phi Phi, Coral island and Raya island.
So why go to these islands?
Remember before when I mentioned the polluted beaches of kata. Well these beaches won’t compare to those. With minimal pollution, these beaches are a tourist hub, so kept clean. The waters are sparkling blue and so clear that you can see the tadpoles and small fishes swimming underneath you.
Speed boating to these areas, was an adventure in itself, though speaking from personal experience I will not be trying to sit in the front of the boat again anytime soon (Try at your own risk!). Most of these tours have snorkelling as part of their itinerary and its worth trying it if you’ve never done it before. Its lovely seeing starfish and other amazing fishes at the bottom of the sea. And for those of you that don’t like doing that, these tours have lunch provided (yes more amazing food!) and time to lie around in the sand and just take up some sun. Koh Phi Phi itself (or one of the islands) is very populated as it is so well known. And there is not much place left on the small strip of sand to enjoy its true nature. However, its worth a visit, and I imagine it would offer much more if you were to stay there. My personal favourite was the white sands of coral island. This was the last island we went to and it was just amazing. So relaxing and breathtaking. The prices however on this beach were extortionate and were rivalling prices back in the UK. My suggestion…bring snacks! Drinks! Something small to keep you going after lunch.
There were so many other things we wished we could have tried. Going to the half moon party still remains on my bucket list, as does bungee jumping which we just ran out of time for.
Phuket is amazing and is something I would definitely recommend for a holiday. If any of you have tried other activities over there, please comment! Sawadee for now 🙂