I finally made it to Thailand, which has been on my travel list for some time. I spent a full 6 days in Phuket versus going to other cities so I’d have enough time to do a few activities + completely relax. Leading up to my trip, I read several articles that painted a rather negative picture of Phuket. Primarily that it was overrun with tourism, slightly corrupt and dangerous – especially the roads (which I witnessed as soon as my taxi pulled out of the airport and right into a pretty brutal motorcycle accident). And while I found most of this to be true, I still had an amazing time exploring the island and all it had to offer. Here are a few tips if you plan to visit as well:
Island hopping: Phuket is surrounded by gorgeous islands all around, and I did 2 speedboat tours to Phang Nga and Ko Phi Phi. Phang Nga was more of an adventurous area, where most tours will take you on canoe rides, jungle walks, etc. Ko Phi Phi was more about picture perfect beach stops and relaxing. The most important thing to do is research the company that you take the boat tour with. I did for the first one, and had a perfect experience with Phuket Sail Tours. However, the Ko Phi Phi tour was booked through my hotel which is attached to a bigger tourism company. The first one was 100x better with a smaller intimate feel, personal attention, free beer and overall more authentic experience.
Eating out: Thailand is known for its super cheap food, but I also ventured to some of the top recommended restaurants in Phuket that were on the more expensive side for the island (about $40 USD pp). Blue Elephant (get the crab curry!)and Breeze at Cape Yamu were 2 highlights. Great service and food.
Learn Thai phrases: I made the mistake of not learning any Thai phrases before my trip. Huge mistake. There were multiple occasions where I was unable to communicate with taxi drivers and people in town. Since I read that Thailand was overrun with tourism, I assumed most people would know basic English. Bad assumption on my part, and lesson learned!
Go to Old Phuket Town: I don’t think any trip is complete without getting a taste for the local life. I visited Old Phuket Town to see the colonial architecture and followed a tour in one of my books. While the city didn’t have much in terms of shops and activities, I think it was still worth seeing. Also near Old Phuket is Raintree Spa, where they offer amazing 2.5 hour massage packages starting at $60 USD.
Research where you stay: I stayed at the Anantara in northern Phuket. It was quiet, gorgeous and had the most amazing grounds. It was also about 45 min away from downtown. This was fine as I didn’t plan to go out much, but for anyone who wants to spend more time in the more populated areas, I wouldn’t recommend it. Taxis are more expensive compared to the rest of Thailand and can add up.
Watch the sunset: This tip is pretty simple. Something about the sunsets I saw in Phuket were unbelievable. Find a good viewpoint and enjoy!
Will I go back? Likely not, due to some of the initial negatives that I listed. But I’m happy that I went and feel that I did all of the “must-see” things.