So Phuket it was this time! After exploring many of the smaller and lesser known islands the previous years (like Koh Lanta and Koh Kradan), I came to the point where I wanted to give Thailand’s “queen” of islands and the “pearl of the Andaman” as they name themselves, another chance. Because Phuket and I didn’t have a good start. Back in 2009, when I visited Thailand for the first time as part of a uni field trip, we could’t choose where we stayed, and our supervisors for some reasons, picked a hotel right in the busiest part of hectic, seedy Patong Beach. Probably not the worst location for a group of young students willing to party, but the masses of tourists in combination with all the girly bars, tacky souvenirs and pushy ladyboys became a bit too much after 5 days. Not even the beach was that great. I know, the subject of our trip was the impact of mass tourism, however 1-2 days (or nights) would’ve been enough to recognize that 😛
Anyway, I knew there was a different Phuket somewhere – the one I saw in other blogs, travel guides and photos. Luckily the island is rather big, so there’s plenty of space for everyone’s personal Phuket experience which has nothing to do with what I’ve described before. And we’ve found what we were looking for and even more (because we certainly didn’t look for food poisoning – yuck!).
We stayed away from Patong this time and found that Phuket indeed has some wonderful, quiet beaches. One of my favourite was Mai Khao Beach which is right by the airport and has become quite an attraction for plane spotters. Apart from aircraft noise here and there (which I found rather entertaining), this stretch of sand is the longest but also the least frequented of Phuket.
Pure joy when I hit the beach after some time…
The old part of Phuket Town is definitely worth visiting. Although Thailand never has been colonized (and they’re very proud of that), you can still feel the different cultural influences of Chinese, Portuguese and Arabian merchants thanks to the pretty architecture.
Also there’s plenty of food options and we enjoyed some local specialities (like the Hokken noodles and shaved ice) and delicious seafood at some simple but popular restaurants.
Dinner at Ang Seafood in Phuket Town – very recommended!
And there is this massive night market with tons of second-hand ware, souvenirs and of course, more food.
But this was where it must have happened… My bf and me suffered a severe food poisoning the next day. We’re still wondering whether it was that chicken or not :/ However it does look tasty doesn’t it?
Our hotel Cloud 19 Beach Retreat was in the southernmost area of Phuket and quite decent. We loved the generous bathroom and the amazing view from our room with balcony. Also the pools were very welcome as the beach in front of the hotel isn’t the best for swimming. But the sunsets paid off for that little flaw.
Seafood Krapao (stir fried with Thai basil) – #nomnom
Phuket has plenty of other, smaller islands with postcard-perfect beaches in close proximity. We went by speed boat to Koh Racha and were blown away by the turquoise water and white sand. The snorkeling was surprisingly one of the best in Thailand I’ve seen so far. Paradise found!
A few tips I can give you if you consider visiting Phuket: Do some research in advance because location is everything there. The island has so many beaches and resorts catered to everybody’s taste but distances are far, so if you’re not motorised, you may be stuck in the resort/beach you’ve chosen. This is one of the places in Thailand where renting a car is almost a must, because taxis are expensive and public transportation is equal to zero.
My relationship to Phuket has been saved except for the stomach issue. But that just taught me that I should be more careful with market food next time… Have you been to Phuket? What are your experiences?