This is Thailand’s largest island, located in southern part of the country and easily accessible by plane. An airport is located about 32 km from the Phuket City. The island is very popular among tourist hence more expensive than other parts of Thailand. Monsoon season is between May and October. The best time to visit but also the most expensive one is hot and dry season from March to early May. March and April are school holidays and many Thai people take holidays during that time. You should consider taking recommended vaccinations about 4 to 6 weeks before arrival. Phuket Island is famous for its beautiful beaches and nearby, small islands which are the highlight of the place. Phuket’s most famous town is Patong - by far the busiest and the most controversial place to stay around. On the one hand, this place is full of life and activities with many restaurants, shops, art galleries and lovely beach. On the other hand, busy nightlife, discos, open air go-go bars make this place very dissolute and I wouldn't recommend this place to families with kids. Families should consider other parts of Phuket.
Why we chose Patong Beach?
Our two weeks trip to Thailand was planned around sightseeing and scuba diving. We got up very early in the mornings and came back late evening hours therefore variety of available restaurants in Patong made our stay a lot easier.
I booked the trip via expedia.com, both - flights with Malaysian Airline and The Kee Resort & Spa. I would highly recommend the airline and the resort. Airport is located about 40 km from Patong. You can choose between taxi, shared minivan or book a private transport online before arrival that will take you from the airport to a hotel in Patong. Pre-booking could save you time and all the hustle.The Kee Resort & Spa is located a short walk distance from the beach and even shorter from Bangla Road, where all nightlife takes place. It is a lovely hotel, very clean and modern. We stayed in a pool view room which gave us peace at night, even though Bangla Road is so close we didn't hear any noise at night. If you plan to spend more time around hotel, book room with direct access to the pool. We booked a room without board option but we tried their on-site café and rooftop bar & restaurant with an amazing view. Hotel provides spa treatments and laundry services but in a walking distance from it, you can find many massage parlour and laundry kiosks for a fraction of price. Money exchanger is located just outside the hotel, what is really convenient. We experienced high quality service from staff and had no issues with hotel amenities and you just can’t beat that location so I highly recommend this place.
This place is far from being quiet or peaceful holiday location - bear this in mind before choosing this destination. Full of people, full of cars, very noisy at night and during the day.
Bangla Road itself is very controversial place - love it or hate it, but this is definitely a place you want to see once in a lifetime, at least to get your own opinion. Enormous amount of people, open air bars with girls dancing on the pole, people trying pull you inside bars with ping pong girls (they don't use paddles to play), people trying sell you selfie sticks or other useless gadgets. On top of that Lady Boys bugging you for a photo with them. How does that sound to you? Would you like to visit the most famous and commonly accepted brothel in the world?
Dining - There are many restaurant to choose from, serving fresh seafood, Thai cuisine and also Italian, Indian or Chinese restaurants. We tried Thai and Italian restaurants on the Thawewong Rd which is the main road along the beach, Sky Bar at The Kee Hotel and Indian restaurant. Only the Indian place is worth recommendation - Navrang Mahal Restaurant located on a small road perpendicular to Bangla Rd (you can find exact location online). Please be advised that real Indian food is very spicy therefore if you are not an Indian, opt for the less spicy dish possible. The restaurant doesn’t look spectacular on the outside but we were tempted by the amount of Indian people dining inside - that’s always a good sign and we were thrilled at the end.
Patong is filled with multiple tattoo studios, very affordable massage parlours where for just few euro, you can enjoy a full body massage. Big shopping centre, art galleries, plastic surgeries and dental practices are almost at every corner. Try Tuk-Tuk services if not for sightseeing then at least for fun. These are extra colourful mini vans, serving noisy music and disco lights. They come with no distance meters so always agree on price upfront and bargain hard. Multiple art galleries are located on every corner and owned by really gifted local artists. Paintings come with very affordable price tag so do not hesitate to enter if you are around. I bought two beautiful, huge paintings for circa €200. They roll them for you and put into a plastic tube which can be easily taken on board your plane for no extra cost.
Phuket Island on a one day trip
You can easily experience the most popular tourist attractions on a one day trip. You can hire a scooter, private car or go with an organized tour (check Phuket All Tours). Tour operators tend to waste lots of tourist's time on jewelry shops or cashew nuts factory. That’s why I booked online a private car with driver what (theoretically) gave us freedom of tourist attractions’ choice and timeframe. Unfortunately, even paying extra doesn’t mean you are given full control over driver’s decisions - our driver pretended speaking little English and took us to jewelry shop anyway. My suspicion is, they receive some money from the shop owners for bringing tourists in. We spent there not more than 10 minutes looking for some treasures but failed miserably due to high cost. Don't get me wrong, you can find there beautiful jewelry with eye catching gemstones but those prices…
Karon Viewpoint rewards you with views of Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches. You spend here at most 15 minutes but it is worth to stop by, take some photos and enjoy this very picturesque place.
Wat Chalong - the most important of the 29 buddhist temples of Phuket. That beautiful temple is open for tourists and gives opportunity to learn something about Buddhism. Remember it is a sacred place, you will be asked to take off shoes and leave them outside the temple so don’t wear anything expensive just in case someone else has the same taste as you have and borrows yours forever. Try to wear an appropriate outfit but don’t worry if you forget about it, you will receive sarong to cover your shoulders and knees just before entering the temple.
Big Buddha - huge Buddha statue sitting on the top of the Nakkered Hills. The place is still a building site and completely depends on tourists donations.You will find on-site many donation boxes. It is again a sacred place where you can still meet monks and if your outfit shows too much of your body, you will be asked to wear sarong to cover it.
Phuket Town - our private driver took us for a ride between buildings in Old Phuket Town where traffic was crazy. We also had a lunch in B Cat Cafe located on Thepkasattri Road. Being a huge cat lover I couldn't resist to pay a visit to the place but honestly, I was a bit disappointed with all the rules. Some of them made sense but ‘do not wake cats up’ was a little bit over the top. Anyway, it is a lovely and cosy place to visit and if you like me, a cat enthusiast, pop in for a coffee in the furry company.
Phuket Town Viewpoint - Khao Rang Viewpoint also called Rang Hill Viewpoint is one of the most famous places but wasn't crowded at all. Comparing this place to other similar places in Phuket it was actually a pleasant and peaceful spot. The beautiful open pagoda leads out to the large viewing platform at the edge of the hilltop offering an amazing view. This whole area is surrounded by gardens, large old trees with swings and you can visit nearby restaurant with fantastic view.
During our two weeks holidays we also visited Similan Islands, Koh Phi Phi Islands, Pha Nga Bay. We did Whitewater Rafting and lots of scuba diving trips. Read about the excursions and locations in my next post.
For more descriptive overview of Phuket Island check out my GoPro video from Thailand (my previous post).