During my time backpacking some of South East Asia I visited Phuket. This was the first island that my boyfriend and I visited in Thailand. We got a flight to Phuket from Chaing Mai with Thai Airways, this cost around £30 (GBP), and the journey was around 40 minutes. I personally didn’t love Phuket. I mean, I liked it and still enjoyed every day there but in comparison to places like Krabi, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui, it didn’t really compare. This is because it felt extremely touristy, not like an island, and it was expensive (well… in terms of Thailand prices!!).
HOWEVER, whilst I didn’t love staying in Phuket, some of the things that we did there were some of my favourite things I did whilst travelling. Therefore, I would go back in a heartbeat. I would say that if you’re backpacking you don’t necessarily HAVE to go to Phuket, instead stay in Krabi and do the Phi Phi Islands and other excursions from there. HOWEVER, if backpacking isn’t for you and you are doing 7-14 day holiday in Thailand, Phuket is IDEAL as you can really experience everything on this island (island tours, elephant sanctuary etc). Since I was backpacking I stayed in Patong, the popular area for backpackers to stay in as it is cheap and lively. Whilst Patong is great for a night, there are so many other nicer places in Phuket so make sure you check these out if you’re looking for a bit more of an authentic experience.
We stayed in Phuket for 5 days at Nipa Resort (https://www.niparesort.com). This hotel was a 5-minute walk from Patong beach and Bangla road (the strip). The location of this hotel was ideal as we were just outside of the craziness but close enough! The actual hotel was stunning and for what we paid we felt like we had got a really good bargain. We were also upgraded to a nicer room which is always a nice surprise! I would definitely recommend staying here! It cost £16 (GBP) per night PP. Whilst you can stay for much cheaper in hostels, over the 6 weeks we travelled for I spent a total of £340 on accommodation and pretty much everywhere we stayed was luxury, so it’s up to you really!
Phuket is much more expensive for food than other places in Thailand. I panicked quite a bit when we came here as I was so worried that the rest of the places I was going to in Thailand after this (Krabi, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao) would be just as expensive, as I didn’t budget for this… but they’re not! Food is particularly more expensive in Phuket, where you pay around £3.50 (GBP) for a pasta dish in Krabi, you pay about £10.00 in Phuket. My boyfriend and I didn’t love the street food in Thailand, so we ate at restaurants throughout our stay. I can’t remember everywhere we ate, but two places stick in my mind! First, a really good pizza at Salute Italian, and a nice but extremely overpriced burrito at Coyote. Phuket is great for veggies! (you very quickly get sick of just eating Asian cuisine).
Things to do:
– Karon Beach: Whilst quite a nice beach, this beach didn’t compare to others that we found later. However, if you like surfing this beach is for you!
– Roof Top Bars: There are loads of roof top bars in Patong. Nothing really compares to sitting in one with a cocktail watching the sun go down over the ocean.
– Paradise Beach: This beach is insane! It is located in the middle of nowhere, therefore you will have to get taxi or scooter here. However, when we arrived here we found out that there are free shuttles to and from Patong beach. You pay around £6 (260 Thai Baht) to get into this beach. It is the perfect location to paddle board!
– Phi Phi Islands – YOU HAVE TO DO THE ELIZABETH ANDAMAN TOUR – Read below
– Big Buddha – We actually didn’t go to the Big Buddha, we chose not to do this as we had seen lots of temples in Bangkok and Chaing Mai. We did plan on going there to watch the sunset, however, unfortunately, the weather was not on our side. So check this out if you’re lucky enough to have no clouds!
The Elizabeth Andaman Phi Phi Island Sunrise Tour
We had read online about various Phi Phi Island tours before going to Phuket. One stood out, and whilst it was pricier in comparison to other tours, we made the best decision ever to bite the bullet and do it.
Cost: 3500 Thai Baht (around £80)
Tour booking: http://www.elizabethandamantour.com/good-morning-phi-phi-sunrise-tour.html
Day included: Breakfast, Snorkel equipment, lunch, guided english tour, unlimited drinks and snacks throughout the whole day, transfers to and from hotel.
I will try and put this day into words…
We were picked up from our hotel around 4.50AM, from here we were taken the port, were given breakfast, a briefing of the day, and snorkel equipment. We then left the port on a speed boat and made our way towards the Phi Phi Islands. We had a fantastic young and lively tour guide called Kong, who to be honest made the day even better. On our way to the island, we were told “through this tour you’re going to see beaches with nobody else on them because of how early we leave”, “this is the best tour” etc etc, which does go over your head because EVERY tour says this. So we didn’t believe it. But oh my god, no word of a lie, we pulled up into Maya bay and we were the second boat there. The beach was EMPTY, and the sun was just rising up through the cliffs. I have never felt so happy. We were in paradise.
We spent around an hour and a half at Maya Bay, as time passed more boats came, and by the time we left around 25 boats were within the bay. Later on, in the afternoon our tour guide showed us a picture on Instagram of Maya Bay at 10 AM and there were around 80 boats in the bay and you could not see the sand. We had made the BEST decision.
After Maya bay, we went to Pileh Cove, a lagoon between two lime stone rocks in the middle of the ocean. I honestly can’t even put this into words. Me and my Boyfriend, Ben, looked at each other whilst swimming within this lagoon, and both of our faces were just the expressions of pure happiness, and “oh my god, is this real”. Again, like we were promised, empty. No other boats, just us and the ocean.
We then got back on the boat and Kong hunted out a good location for us to snorkel. Before going to Thailand I was very bad in water, the tour guides gave me so much confidence and really helped me get over my phobia of the water (well sharks really… which within 3 weeks of being in Thailand I ended up swimming with, in Koh Tao, which was my own choice!)
After this, we had lunch at Phi Phi Don, which was an amazing little island with a private beach and restaurant owned by the tour company. We were able to sunbathe, chill, and eat some really good food. We then went to Monkey beach, Viking Cave, and to our last stop, Bamboo Island. We arrived back at our hotel around 4.30pm.
I won’t go on about how amazing this day was anymore, all I’ll say is that you’re a fool if you don’t pay the extra and go on this tour. Whilst Phuket wasn’t my favourite place, this tour was honestly breathtaking and made Phuket amazing!