I visited the easily mispronounced, Phuket, twice on my trip, each for very different reasons and I can’t make my mind up about the place. Okay, if you want an amazing Thai experience there is absolutely no reason why you should go to Phuket. As I look back in my travel diary, I noted two points about the place:
- Painfully westernised
- Dry of authenticity
If you’re a Brit abroad (or of any other nationality with an equally embarrassing disposition) and you’re looking for nice beaches, decent views and a host of MacDonalds (and the rest) then Phuket, and particularly Patong is perfect for you. But why go to Phuket when you can get this, and so much more (minus the MacDonalds) in a far more exciting and exotic place.
I will try to focus on the positives of Phuket now, because nobody wants to read a dreary blog post by some misery guts.
It’s easy to get to –
A short plane ride from Bangkok and connected to mainland Thailand by a bridge.
it’s westernised –
Make of that what you will, language barriers will be less of a problem as will locating your nearest KFC.
there are lots of hotels –
Very very good hotels, I think perhaps these and the views (particularly from the mountain dwelling resorts) are the saving grace of the island.
Plenty of great restaurants –
You won’t be stuck for choice, always a bonus when you fly half way across the world.
It’s a gateway destination –
I wouldn’t have visited Phuket, if it weren’t for the fact that it took me onto my next destination Phi Phi, and for that it was worth it.
Chances are if you’re a traveller – particularly a backpacker – you’ll be staying in Patong which is essentially Magaluf with pad thai and ping pong shows. I didn’t take many photos here, but this is the sort of bar you’ll come across. Don’t get me wrong, Patong can be great fun for a crazy night out, but don’t make it one of your “go to” holiday destinations…
So I stayed in a cool and slightly weird hostel in Patong. It is a hostel or is it a spa? What? Erm this was both. So after you’ve paid your deposit at reception, you enter the hostel itself through separate curtained doorways (one for men, one for women) into a changing/shower/locker room. Next there’s a huge open plan living area with 30 inch computer monitors, a massive TV (and DVD selection) followed by a steam room and a sauna at the end of the room. Weird right? Next there are random beds in the middle of this room (which are cheaper than the pods). Pods, so they’re just off the main living area and you get your own little wooden box with a roller curtain for privacy as well as a reading light and shelf. It was called the Capsule Hotel (really?) and Sauna, here’s the link to it.
As I said before, the saving grace of this Island is the quality of the resorts. On my second visit to Phuket I stayed at the Marina Phuket Resort Hotel which was excellent, if you’re NOT in a wheelchair. Parts of the hotel are spread out through jungle like territory, with leafy wooden walkways and plenty of steps…
You get the gist… cool, leafy, slippery. The breakfast buffet was exceptional, apologies for not snapping a photo – I was too busy eating and stuff.
This meant after one night we moved to this Marriott Renaissance Resort and Spa which is a little out of the way of the hustle and bustle, but by all means an exceptional hotel. The food was amazing, the room was pleasant, and the staff went above and beyond my expectations. The pool…
In summary, only go to Phuket if you have to. Also, it has a good hospital, which is very, very, very, important.
Next stop, Phi Phi.