Saturday, November 20, 2010

Picturesque Phuket

Just a mere 1.5hr from Singapore, Phuket is good for a quick beach getaway if you can put up with the masses at some of the more popular beaches. Visitors arrive at Phuket Airport in shorts, t-shirts and little sundresses. Of course, there are the more sophisticated travellers who arrive in style; with little safari-themed outfits. Most budget airlines fly to Phuket now and this return trip with Jet Star cost S$264.

Lodging and transport
If you did not arrange for hotel transfer from the airport, you can take a taxi from the taxi stand to the right of the airport exit. This organised taxi booth takes your hotel location and gives you the cab fare amount upfront to be paid to your driver. An hour cab ride to Karon Beach for eg. will set you back 500baht.

The Access Resorts & Villa, Karon Beach. has a maximum capacity per room of 3 persons and don't even try to fool them by rooming 4 (which we did and had to get a 2nd room. DON'T BE CHEAP). Per night here will set you back S$70+ but you get the pool right outside your balcony. It is a MUST to bring mosquito coil to Phuket (or buy them at the beach mart).

Karon Beach
Karon Beach is accessible from Access Resorts via the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. This gorgeous 5* hotel is right along Karon Beach and has beautiful rooms (but costs an arm to stay here per night). However, to get from Karon Beach back to Access R&V, you'd have to cut through Mövenpick's beach front restaurant. Do not wander further along the beach thinking you can cut through any of the hotels. This is NOT possible as all hotels require access cards for entry or you'd be checked by their security.

Karon Beach is a long stretch of white sandy beach with deck chairs (100baht) and massage services being offered. Beach towels are not rented out so do bring the hotel pool towels.

Karon Beach and beach-fronting Movenpick hotel

As many of the locals ride bikes, you tend to find many roadside eateries run by Scandinavians or Thais. Stop Shop; a Hungarian roadside shack serves a mix of Thai and western fare. Prices are pretty reasonable and a table of 4 will set you back 270baht.

Stop Stop and its lady boss, Mel in her hot pants. Strange stuff at 7-11!

Karon Beach also has a lot of restaurants, pubs and roadside stalls. Being budget-conscious, we had some banana pancakes with our choice of toppings (condensed milk or chocolate etc) for 35baht, BBQ-ed seafood for 110baht and finally, topped off the night with dinner at The Elephant Restaurant which served a fusion of western and Thai food. The yellow curry, Tom Yum Khung and sweet & sour fish(602baht).

Roadside Banana pancake and Elephant Restaurant (skip this)

View Point and Promthep Cape
Negotiate for a cab to take you to View Point, the Promthep Alternative Energy Station and Promthep Cape. Flagging a cab off the road will require good negotiation skills though. Bargain and settle on a price prior to boarding the cab. A 1-way ride to Viewpoint and Promthep Cape will cost 500baht and do take the return ride for another 700baht. There are no available cabs up there for your flagging convenience so you do need the return ride down.

View Point is a mere 15min stop for photo taking and affords you a nice view of the peninsula and the White Buddha monument on Phuket Island. To get to View Point from Karon Beach, that will be a 40min ride. Promthep Alternative Energy Station is a MUST go as it gives you an amazing view of the clear blue waters and mountains surrounding Phuket. This tourist spot is gorgeous and on a sunny day, you can see swimmers down by the bay. Promthep Cape is equally amazing but the former is a better spot for photo taking.

Seascape at Viewpoint and Promthep Alternative Energy Station

From Promthep Cape, it is a 40min ride to Patong with no toilet stops or food stops in between so do have breakfast before sightseeing. Lunch was settled at No.6 Patong Beach and this small joint had the best Tom Yum Khung and food on the entire trip. Prices here were reasonable and lunch will se you back back less than 600baht.

Patong Beach is best spent in the early morning/afternoon. This very crowded beach is noisy and populated with Caucasians mostly. Beach chair rental and cola costs 100baht each, though you get to use the beach chair for the entire afternoon. Patong Beach is good for parasailing, jet ski riding, banana-boating and of course, tanning. Do apply alot of sunblock and don't be surprised if you see lady boys in full make up at the beach or topless SPGs (Sarong Party Girls for the uninitiated) sunbathing in all their natural glory. We were afforded a spectacular show by this topless SPG who was dry humping her Caucasian boyfriend next to our deck chair T.T

Promthep Cape and the koala of a SPG

The madness that is Patong Beach

Like Indonesia, Phuket prides itself on offering cheap and quality massages. Walking around Patong Beach, you are inundated with massage shops. Pay caution to whether the massage joint is offering clean or 'dirty' services. Massages cost 200-250baht typically for foot or Thai massage. 'Dirty' places offer more in terms of blowjobs. You get the idea.

Jungceylon Shopping Mall in Patong houses a huge Carrefour, MacDs, Boots and Quiksilver so you can get all your necessities here too. Overall, Patong Beach is completely tourist-centric so do expect prices to be higher. Communication is not really a problem as most locals speak English. A 1-way return via cab from Karon Beach will cost 300baht (30min ride). Do note: Phuket's taxi may in fact be a privately owned air-conditioned vehicle. So don't be alarmed when they bring you to an unmarked SUV or saloon car. That IS your cab ^^

If I had any last thoughts on Phuket, it would be that I would reconsider coming here. Chiefly, the beaches are too rowdy and crowded. Although I must admit my experience might have been better should I have done more water sports, went to the FantaSea show or even to watch the lady boys perform at Simon Cabaret. But Thank You Thailand, for this experience.

Hotel: Access Resorts & Villas, Karon Beach
Hotel Review: Clean with relatively good service. Lots of mosquitoes so mozzie coil is a must. Location is a 15min walk to Karon Beach but conveniently located near a 7-11 so you can buy bottled water, beer and coke. (7-11 does not carry mosquito coil; get from Karon Beach - Beach Mart)
Weather: 30-35c (hot and humid like Singapore)

Twin room and the pool right outside the balcony
Posted by fongie on 11/20/2010 09:53:00 AM in , , , , , ,