I finished off my 2016-2017 winter holidays and started off the new year with a beach holiday in Phuket, Thailand after spending NYE in Bangkok. There was no way I was going to be in Thailand without some proper beach time, which included some scuba diving, island sight seeing, and of course can’t forget the elephants!
We spent a total of 7 full days split with 5 nights in Kata Beach and 3 nights in the Westin Resort.
See all my top highlights from the trip in my photo diary post and my Travel the World post for Bangkok!
Things to see/do:
- Phuket Big Buddha
- You can see this during the day from Patong, Karon, and Kata beach, as well as from Phuket town. We had a great view of this from our airbnb so didn’t really see the need to actually go up to it.
- Muay Thai fighting
- We didn’t actually end up doing this, but they are advertised everywhere and cost ฿1000. It is Thailand’s biggest sport and Phuket has some one of the famous (albeit I hear touristy) Muay Thai companies called Tiger Muay Thai.
- Tours – these are a great way to do activities around the island as most tours will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
- Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – This was by far my favorite activity during my trip even though it was raining. We got to spend an afternoon learning about the elephants and the abuse they go through being part of the tourist industry. This company rescues elephants and brings them to the sanctuary to allow them to live a happier life than they could have otherwise and raise money to support them by allowing tourists to feed and play with them. Definitely highly recommend this one!
- Phi Phi Islands via speedboat – Phi Phi islands were absolutely stunning. I think the saddest part was how overrun with tourists they were, but it was still worth the trip to see the islands in all it’s glory. We spent the day seeing different islands including bamboo island and maya beach. The speedboat ride was about an hour quite fun, but expect a very very bumpy and somewhat painful ride if you decided to sit up front.
- Scuba Diving
- There are ton’s of scuba stores around in all the beach towns if this is something you are interested in doing. I had heard amazing things about Thailand diving, but was a bit disappointed. It could have been the luck of the draw for the weather that day, but there wasn’t too much to see nor was the visibility particularly good. It was however one of the warmest waters I have dived in, which was a nice change from thick wetsuits.
- For beginners this is a great place to do a discover diving trip or do the open water part of your certification. The staff were lovely and very good about taking care of us in the water and on the boat. It was also pretty reasonably priced!
Places to eat:
It was sad that there weren’t too many good easy to find local places to eat. Most places that you find along the beach were just the typical over-priced tourist places that literally serve everything from Italian pasta to Thai food. The few places I did really enjoy were actually thanks to the Lonely Planet Guide!
- Briley Chicken Rice | Patong – I absolutely loved this place for a delicious and cheap meal in Patong. Check out my review on it!
- Pad Thai Shop | Karon – Unfortunately I forgot to snap some pictures of this place, but honestly one of the best Pad Thai I’ve had to date. It’s another one of those hole in the wall places filled with locals and only really one type of food: Pad Thai. Super cheap and well worth our walk from Kata beach.
- Getting to and from the airport:
- The airport is at the very north part of the island, so it takes about an hour to get to and from any of the main towns like Patong, Kata, and Phuket Town.
- Taxis at the airport – There is a taxi stand as you exit the terminal to the right. It is not extremely obvious, but our research told us that the only official taxis from the airport are the red and yellow ones. You tell one of the girls at the counter how many people and bags you have and they give you a piece of paper with a number. You wait until your number is called and they pair you up with a cab driver. To get to Kata beach it cost about ฿800.
- Pre-arranged Cars – If you are staying with a resort or hotel you might be able to get a pre-arranged car to pick you up and drop you off.
- If you plan on doing tours during your time in Phuket it will be significantly easier to stay at a hotel or resort of some sort. Many of the tours pick you up from a hotel, so Airbnbs just make your life a tiny bit more difficult.
- Choose your area wisely, do some research on what kind of beach town you are looking for. Getting from one area to another is difficult unless you have car and can be expensive if you taxi/use tuktuks.
- Patong is definitely the most touristy and common place to stay, but for me it was too much. It is known as Phuket’s sin city, so be warned.
- Kata beach is where we stayed and was lovely! It was just the right amount of touristy while still being able to enjoy the beach properly
- Karon beach, which is in between Patong and Kata is even less populated than the other 2, but has less to do. If you are keen though, we were easily able to walk back to Kata beach area afterwards
- Phuket town is on the east side of the island and I honestly found this place to be quite boring and quiet. There is supposedly a weekend market which is amazing, but we unfortunately missed it.
- These are everywhere and there are plenty that are quite nice at a reasonable price. You can do some research and book ahead of time if you aren’t a fan of just wandering around until you find a decent looking one
- My friend and I got a lovely facial for ฿300 in Kata and ฿500 in Patong. Each time we just happened by a spa with a special and decided we wanted one. As with massages, it’s usually a safer bet to go with the ones that don’t have people advertising outside and look nice.