So, anyways, I have more to post yet on Thailand, but here’s the round up post for Phuket…
Where we stayed
Gracelands Resort on Patong Beach.
This is a great family resort. Located on the northern- so quieter and cleaner- end of Patong Beach, it’s close enough for you to walk to everything, but far enough away to be protected from what goes on just down the road.
The rooms are large, the pools are great, and the breakfasts have enough choice to keep even the fussiest kid happy.
And, it’s across the road from the beach.
The spa is expensive- manicures are 900BHT, so pretty close to Sydney prices. That’s double the price at the Novotel in Bangkok- which was a much more spa-ier spa.
The resort lobby and main wings are a little “tired.” If this matters to you, pay the bit extra for a room in the sunset wing- these are newer.
Prices in Phuket for most things are higher than they are in Bangkok. This is largely because it’s an island, so everything has to be brought in.
Anyways, away from the hotel, expect to pay:
- 50bht/kilo for laundry. Wash, dry, fold services are everywhere.
- 105bht/ 4 pack of Chang beer in the 7-11
- Anything between 70-100bht for a beer in most pubs. Better yet, most have happy hour for at least 2 hours between 5-7pm when you can get 2 for 1…including free wi fi.
- 10-15bht for water
- Coffee is relatively expensive and at 100bht will cost you much the same as it does at home.
Bangla Road- really?
Trying to explain what a go go or ping pong show is to a 15 year old is, well, interesting.
The thing is, as “out there” as the red light part of Patong is, we didn’t get hassled when walking with our daughter at night …although my husband, when walking alone, had plenty of “interesting” services offered. I dread to think what a “chopstick show” is about….
So, from a family point of view, as long as you’re not sauntering up Bangla Rd later than 8 or 9pm with your kids, you’ve got nothing really to worry about.
And yes, the ladyboys are absolutely beautiful.
Did we get sick?
Hubby and I set ourselves the challenge of eating Thai food each night- ie no Italian, no pizzas, no burgers, nothing from a franchise.
There are heaps of “cafes” that spring up each night along the beach road and the road that runs parallel. These are fun to eat at and watch the passing trade.
The quality differs- as these things do.
- If choosing fish, make sure that it is fresh. Some vendors display very recent catches (ie still live), with others you’ll need to check the translucency of the eyes and the firmness of the flesh. Two of the best meals we had were deep fried whole fish- one with red curry sauce, another with garlic and pepper sauce.
- Speaking of which, if in doubt, go for the fried option- but only when it’s done to order- you have no idea how many times the pre-fried has been fried.
- Look for stalls that are busy and therefore have a high turnover.
- Ask for drinks from cans or bottles with no ice and insist on a straw or a glass
- Drink only bottled water
- Avoid pre cut fruit
- Avoid salad garnishes
- Papaya salad is an exception to the no salad rule. These, when done well, are spicy and good. If buying from the street, check the turnover and make sure it’s made to order.
- We had some great noodle salads from busy street sellers
Expect to pay 80bht for a plate of spring rolls, 80-100bht for a curry, and 50bht per 100g for fresh fish.
If you’re after something a little more special, Savoeys, on the corner of the beach road and Bangla Rd, is good. The seafood is seriously fresh and cooked to order. Check the prices before ordering, as the prawns and lobsters are huge.
This is a big restaurant, so the service can be a bit hit and miss, but the food is good- especially if you like your curries and your papaya salad hot (as we do).
Other than this, there are quite a few Irish pubs in town, lots of (apparently good) Italian restaurants, a Belgian Beer Café (attached to our hotel) and a Hard Rock Café.
So, if you aren’t into spice, or need a break from the spice, you have plenty of options.
You’ll get hassled for offers of transport.
If you want to explore the island on your own, hiring a driver for the day is your best option- 6 hours will cost you about 1200-1500bht. Anyways, negotiate and agree a price before getting in.
I have friends who visit the island about 3 times a year, so gave me the names of drivers they use regularly, but we didn’t do much tripping about.
Tuk tuks, relatively speaking, can also be expensive for travel anywhere outside Patong- but will rarely cost you more than 100BHT for destinations in Patong. Most hotels will have a guide as to how much you should be paying (I’m pretty sure there’s also one posted at the Tourist Police board at Patong Beach), but make sure you agree a price before you get in.
Be aware, many taxi drivers you pick up will want to take you to tailors or gem dealers….
Speaking of which…
Most organised city tours will wind up at the Gems Gallery, or something like it.
We had a city tour operated by Tour East (the company used in the Qantas brochures) thrown in for free when we booked our James Bond Island tour.
Even though this wasn’t stated on the itinerary, the tour finished at, yep, Gems Gallery, with the guide telling us all that we had to change buses and “it will be no more than 15 minutes.”
We were then whisked into the factory and shop. I “firmly” requested immediate transport back to our hotel.
Also, you’ll get stopped a lot in the streets by people offering free gifts etc for attending “short presentations.” They are selling holiday packages and timeshares and the “short presentations” can waste up to half a day of your precious holiday.
Thankfully we’d been warned about these scams by friends, so were prepared.
What about the shopping?
I couldn’t be faffed.
There’s a big mall in town, Jungceylon, just up from Bangla Rd.
Phuket Town has a big weekend market, and there’s also plenty available from the sellers in Patong.
We bought a few beach dresses and knock off t shirts, but I wasn’t on holiday to shop.
Would I go back? Absolutely.
Despite having big plans to see and do a lot, we found ourselves rarely straying from the beach…the weather was just too good to waste! Speaking of which, aside from a storm on our first day (see below), and a few overnight thundery downpours, the days were clear and blue and unrelentingly hot and humid- around or over 40C most days.