An absolute no-miss destination if you’re planning a trip to Amazing Thailand. Set in the arms of Andaman Sea this sweet island will make you fall in love with your better half, your family or simply yourself all over again! We went here in March 2013 for our honeymoon. It was indeed a thoughtfully selected location as a part of our Thailand trip. For me, this was a third trip to Thailand, and I wanted to make sure we add a destination that was unexplored by both my husband and me; in addition to me inducting my husband to Bangkok! We spent 3 nights in this enthralling island-town and those 3 days feel like eternity even today.
Sojourn & Scoff!
Phuket has some gorgeous villa resorts, 4-star and 3-star resorts and hotels, as well as budget inns. Surrounded by the sea waters on almost 90% of the island borders, you can almost bet on getting a sea-view hotel most of the times… and if not, definitely one from where a sea-side is stone’s throw away. We chose to stay at the Holiday Inn Express Phuket Patong Beach Central. This is a nice 4-star hotel about 5-7 mins walk from the Patong Beach. You can almost walk around this area and you will find millions of options to drink & dine, shop, and enjoy the serene beaches. Since we had 3 nights here, we opted to get some local dining experiences everyday which included beach-side shacks, roadside seafood, fresh fruit stalls, canopy styled bars, small bakeries and coffee shops, and of course some fine-dining. Of course when you are in Thailand you don’t want to miss the Royal Thai Massage! And rightly so, this hotel had a couple of good professional massage centers just in the neighboring block. Without a doubt, we dedicated one full afternoon to a Thai massage.
Roving Around in the City & Islands
Since Phuket is not very big a city, you can almost walk to most of the areas around. If you wish to travel to a place which is not within a walking distance, don’t even think of hiring a hotel car. Why do you need that when you have the convenient, colorful, chic Tuk-tuk?! It doesn’t cost you much – a minimum distance, say a kilometer and half, will cost you THB 100 (Thai Baht) and 3-4 kilometers around THB 400 (plus/minus THB 100). Be sure to learn some bargaining skills and agree on the fare before you hop on to your destination and you wouldn’t be disappointed with this fun, colorful joy ride!
One of the best activities to do here is scuba and snorkeling. I am not a swimmer and with my phobia for water bodies, we had to give up on this idea. But if you are up for it, get in touch with a local trip organizer to arrange a day-trip for you. You will find many in Koh Kaew and Patong area. For us, it was the alternative of cruising to the smaller pretty islands – James Bond Island & Phang Nga Bay. We booked a day-trip from our hotel’s tour desk. It costed us around THB 2000 per person and included pick-up and drop from/to our hotel, cruising to these two locations, diving into the calm waters (yes! right from the deck of your ship!), lunch on-board, kayaking into small caves, and some great music and dance on the cruise. Sounds totally worth, ain’t it?
For the Shop-a-Holic in You!
If you are one of those travelers who loves to shop during your trips, head out to the Jungceylon shopping destination in the Patong area (by the way, we learned from a local Tuk-tuk driver that Jungceylon was the old name for Phuket!) This is the largest shopping, dining and entertainment place in the town. The huge 200,000 sq. m. mall has loads of stores – right from international and local brands’ flagship stores to small kiosks selling souvenirs. We bet you will feel hungry for some great food after strolling just half a section of one zone of this gigantic arcade! Obvious to its size, the place has all genres of dining options. It boasts of some great South East Asian fine dining restaurants as well as mid-range and budget outlets serving lip-smacking local cuisine. They also have a number of desserts and coffee shops with a number of unique ‘fresh fruit-booths’ which seemed more popular. You must try the Thai Mango on one of these stalls. The shopping mall also has a big atrium which holds various types of entertainment shows all throughout their opening hours. In the day time you can bump into a jester trying to juggle bottles or an acrobat showing some stunts on a one-wheeler cycle. At sunset, this atrium transforms into a well lit-up, colorful festive place and has some beautiful sound, water and light shows that you should not miss. The only thing to keep in mind – the mall opens late in the morning, around 11 am, and closes at 10 pm, which is like late night for ‘Phuket-ians’!
After visiting the Jungceylon shopping mall, this will sound a bit despicable, but we totally enjoyed the street-shopping experience in Patong! They have a lot of night markets and if you are there on a weekend, you can get a chance to drop by the weekend market too. You can pick-up some cool t-shirts and shorts (for both men & women) for as low as THB 100 and if you are a good haggler then it might work out even cheaper. Although the quality is not the best, these prove to be some amazing comfy sleep-wears for us! If you are shop-a-holic you can indulge in shop-till-you-drop sprees on these streets.
All in all, this charming city on the beachfront overlooking crystal blue water and glistening sand can never be short of offering you a unique harmonization of local culture, relaxation, shopping and food. Whether you are traveling with your friends, your partner or this is your solitary trip; 3-4 days in Mesmerizing Phuket will definitely leave you more refreshed and inspirited!