Phuket was one of the first parts of Thailand I had ever heard about when I started my obsession with the country. I know everyone says that it’s not what it used to be, it’s overpriced, bla bla bla. But for someone who had never even been to Thailand before, I thought Phuket was a great start to my Thai adventures. Located in the southern province of Thailand on the Andaman Sea, Phuket is the country’s largest island and is one of the top destinations around the world. Party-goers, beach bums, muscle heads, divers, and all sorts flock to Phuket every year. There truly is something for everyone on the island.
OVERVIEW: Sam and I stayed in Chalong on the southern coast of Phuket, purely because we were training at Tiger Muay Thai. Chalong is pretty much exclusively reserved for Westerners training at the numerous fitness centers in the area. As my friend who had been living in Bangkok put it, “There’s never been this many Westerners or Western Restaurants in one place in all of Thailand.”
With that said, I loved my stay in Chalong. It’s a bit pricey because of the influx of foreigners and the demand for food in close proximity from everyone working out so much, but even so, I loved the smaller town vibe. It’s about a 15 minute taxi ride to Kata Beach, 20-minute taxi ride to Rawai and 30-minute taxi to Patong, the island’s party center.
WHERE TO STAY: In Chalong, we stayed at 2Home Resort, which was a wonderful little resort with a pool for mid-range prices. Prices range from 700-900 baht per night (but it was during Songkran so it was a bit more expensive.) Every three days, they cleaned the rooms, changed the sheets, brought in new towels, etc. They also offered a free laundry service and a full-service restaurant with poolside service. The pool is a godsend after 3-5 hours of training every day!
WHERE TO EAT: Our favourite (and cheapest) restaurant in the area is Tony’s, a family-run Thai restaurant offering all sorts of foods and drinks. Tony is a little man who loves to interact with patrons. I’m pretty sure we ate there for breakfast, lunch and dinner almost every day! Prices range from 20-90 baht for drinks and Thai food. Western foods ranged from 70-180 baht. Their Pineapple Shakes and Pad See Ew is to die for! Another great restaurant we loved was Mama’s. They had great pizzas, Mexican food and protein pancakes!
OVERVIEW: We took day trips out to Kata Beach, which is a lovely spot, but very touristy. Here, we walked along the long stretch of beach until we left behind the hordes of crowds and found a shady spot underneath some palm trees.
WHAT TO DO: I bought a coconut to drink for 20 baht by the small food markets and relaxed by the longtail boats. We stayed late enough to watch the gorgeous sunset whilst drinking Changs from 7 Eleven, which I highly recommend doing. We didn’t eat lunch or dinner in Kata Beach because we found it to be highly overpriced. There are definitely things you can do for free through, ie. walk along the beach, swim in the water, watch the sunset. We’re big fans of free 🙂
WHERE TO DRINK: We also spent a night watching our friends from Tiger Muay Thai try the Flow Rider Surfing at Surf House on Kata Beach. Probably the most expensive drinks I saw in Phuket, ranging from $6-15 for drinks, but it was fun to watch (and maybe judge..) the people attempting to surf. It was a fun night, but I wouldn’t recommend to anyone on a budget! Much cheaper to buy beers at a Family Mart of 7 Eleven and people watch on the street!
OVERVIEW: One late afternoon, we decided to go into Rawai, which has a lovely pier you can walk down and look at the islands off in the distance. Rawai is known for it’s fish markets, where you can buy loads of different fish, shellfish, even sharks and stingrays, and many of the restaurants will cook the fish for you just how you like for a small price!
WHERE TO EAT: We decided to opt out of that option, merely because we had two vegetarians with us! Instead we walked down the opposite end of Rawai down the water’s edge, and we came across this amazing restaurant, Nikita’s. We sat right next to the royal blue water and watched the sun set, while we enjoyed authentic Thai food. Being in a tourist area, the prices were quite expensive for Thailand – ranging from $6-10. Worth it for this sunset though.
OVERVIEW: If you’re not into paying to train at one of the fitness centers in Chalong, you can run or walk up to the Big Buddha. If you’re in the southern area of Phuket, you’ll be able to spot the 45 meter tall Big Biddha at the top of the mountain.
WHAT TO DO: It’s a solid 4.2 km run/walk/hike up to the monument, and it’s a very steep incline pretty much the whole way, but it’s such an incredible view the entire way up/down. It’s a free way to get up to the top, and you get some exercise in. Be prepared for a serious challenge!
OVERVIEW: We ended the week of training hard with a big birthday celebration in Patong. I’ve heard many a tale centered around the debauchery and craziness that is Patong, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it. Patong is well-known for its strip clubs, free flowing drinks, ladyboys in the streets and overall debauchery. Just a heads up, pretty much anywhere is going to be expensive in Patong.
WHERE TO EAT: Sam was determined to find this little Indian restaurant he had eaten at three years ago, and we managed to find it! It’s quite a ways away from the main center, Bangla Road, but it was some of the best Indian Food I’ve ever had! Royal India is tucked away in a little alley near the beach, but worth the find. Service and food were excellent, just don’t order the Long Island Iced Teas… Stick to beer, trust me.
WHERE TO DRINK: After dinner, we met up with friends at the Irish Pub near the beach, Molly Malones, where we played pool and geared up for the long night ahead on Bangla Road. The next few hours were just roaming up and down the main street ducking into different bars and pubs, paying an extremely ridiculous amount of money for each drink and dancing. We decided on a club called Monsoon, which played the best of the 90s, then ended the night in a club called Seduction, fist-pumping and literally dancing around our shoes for hours. Prices were around $8-16 per drink.
Overall, I thought Phuket was great. You have to be prepared for everything to be more expensive than you thought it would be. From the taxis to food to drinks, everything is pricey. If you can except that fact, and just enjoy where you are, then it will be a great time!