Phuket - the good, the bad and the ugly

Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Prior to booking a stay in Phuket, we heard quite the amount of negative and positive feedback from travel writers. It was clear, people either loved Phuket or hated it. I'm here to tell you what I would do differently if I ever found myself in Phuket again.

Phuket is a southern province of Thailand and the country's largest island, located in the Adaman Sea. We opted to stay in Patong Beach due to the proximity of our excursions and ease of island hopping and. Patong is the most tourist populated area in Phuket. However we were at the beginning of off season so it wasn't busy. Patong is also home to the nightlife in Phuket, so that helped our decision as well. Here's a breakdown of the areas we visited in Phuket. Note, we did not see the whole island so please take that into consideration when reading this post.

Patong Beach

Patong Beach
We spent 5 nights at Patong Beach. 3 should have been our max (2 really). So here's the nitty gritty on Patong Beach. We stayed at a place called Kee Resort and Spa. The pool and facilities were nice but I'll leave it at that. Every time we left our hotel, we were bum-rushed by men trying to sell the boys custom suits. We passed multiple massage parlors where you could get a 300 baht massage ($9 USD) and everyone was polite when we were with the boys. The one time they went out on their own, they were physically grabbed, the women trying to pull them in to give special massages. Yes, this is a real thing. Kee Resort was also located on a side street which leads you onto Bangla Road....

Bangla Road
Bangla Rd. reminded me a great deal of Bourbon Street. People in your face trying to get you to go into bars for drink specials. People trying to get you to attend Ping Pong shows while shoving insane menus in your face of things people shouldn't be able to do with human body parts. It was fun to see it once but not fun to have attached to your hotel room for 5 nights.
Simons Caberet
We attended the "must see" lady boy show called Simons Caberet. It was a cute show, very PG and family friendly but after the show, the Lady Boys lined up for photos, and only after a really bad pic was taken, they demanded 500 baht. I don't have much to say positive about Patong Beach and I would never stay there again. With that said, I don't want my opinion of Patong to reflect Phuket. We were warned, there are 1001 blog posts about this, we just chose not to listen.
Sunset on Patong Beach
As I mentioned above, one of the reasons we decided to stay in Patong was it seemed to be a good centralized home base for the ease of excursions. All three excursions we did picked us up at our hotel (FYI they do not pick up at Air BNB). They picked up other passengers from the other beaches, so ultimately we did not have to stay in Patong. We also never did island hopping as we originally planned.
Dog on the Beach in Patong
There are many nice places to visit there and overall, I really did enjoy Phuket Beach. Continue on for the nightmare on how we got from Patong Beach to Krabi Island.

Kata Beach

Kata Beach
We took a tuk-tuk from Patong to Kata Beach for 400 baht ($12 USD) and our driver dropped us off at a Public Beach that had an outdoor market directly on the beach. Super convenient and they had every type of food you could imagine!
We found the sweetest vendor who allowed us to borrow their chairs for free and made our beach drinks (rum in the coconut!). After floating on our new doughnut floats that we purchased for 250 baht each ($7.50 USD), we headed down to the southern part of Kata to take a stab at surfing.
Surfing rates in Kata Beach
My husband and I are both from Daytona Beach. He is an amazing surfer, I cannot stand up on the board (I tried, so credit is owed there). During our time at Kata, I really wished that we stayed there vs. Patong. It's easy enough to get to Patong if you want the party scene but it had a sense of serenity that Patong was missing.

Old Phuket Town

Old Phuket Town
We did the Real Phuket Sight Seeing Tour with Phuket Lets Go, which took us all around Phuket, showing us the real parts of the island. I was very sick that morning and it took everything out of me to go but we had to  leave the group halfway through the tour. Two of the things I really wanted to do in Phuket was visit Old Phuket Town and see Big Buddha. If you plan on seeing these things, I suggest booking a tour like we did, or the taxi fair alone will be astronomical. It was going to be 1000 Baht to get a taxi from Big Buddha to our hotel but luckily we were driven to the bottom and grabbed one for 800.
Old Phuket Town was incredible and very different than any other place we saw in Thailand. Old Phuket Town is noted for Sino-Portuguese buildings on both sides of the street. Many old buildings have been converted into shops, hotels, restaurants and museums.
One of the coolest shops we went into was an old medicine shop. They have remedies for everything you could possibly imagine. It was incredible to see and wish I would have brought some of this home with me!
On On Hotel
Also, the movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio had the hotel scene (On On Hotel) filmed here. The architecture was incredible and I wish we had more time (when I felt better) to explore all the shops and restaurants.

Big Buddha 

Although I was on the verge of passing out at Big Buddha, it still took my breath away. Unfortunately, I could not make the climb up so I stayed at the bottom. Gabe got to go up and he took quite a few pics for me while I sat back and enjoyed the view.

Big Buddha is one of the newer Buddha landmarks, which construction started in 2004. It's still not complete because it relies on public funding. While waiting for the group, I noticed a few shops where you could by snacks, souvineers and coconut ice cream from.
The dress code is strict for women but much loser for men vs. Bangkok temples. If you don't come dressed appropriately, you can rent a cover up there. Definitely worth the trip up, but look into renting a car or take a tour vs. a taxi as that would be a very expensive trip.

Khao Rang Hill Viewpoint

Khao Rang Viewpoint
We had an opportunity to check out the viewpoint at Khao Rang Hill right before heading up to Big Buddha. We saw some incredible views of the city leading into the ocean. If you find yourself over there, it's worth a trip and they have a restaurant (that wasn't open yet when we were there).

Street Art

Street art on the Beach in Kata
There is so much street art in Thailand. I felt like we were in competition as to who could take the most photos of street art! One of our favorites was Alex Face, who has his signature character named Mardi all over the town. Here are a few we found!
Alex Face

Alex Face

Alex Face

Alex Face
Overall, we did have a great time in Phuket. I wouldn't stay in Patong Beach again but wouldn't say no to going back as there is so many lovely areas in Phuket. I will say, we were very happy to leave, which brings me to the ending of our time in Phuket..........

Getting from Phuket to Krabi
If you need to go from Phuket to Krabi, I strongly suggest reading this very long storey. When we booked our hotel and location in Patong, we didn't realize the Ferry to Krabi was on the other side of the island. That ferry is 3 hours long and left at 8:00 in the morning, meaning we would have had to be up and checked out by 6:00 to make it across town (take the ferry regardless of the time, trust me). So we decided to do what was one of the biggest mistakes of our entire trip - set up transportation from Kee Resort. We paid 3500 Baht for an air conditioned van transfer. That is $110 USD. We were told it was a 3-4 hour car ride and the van picked us up at 10am. To our surprise, there was another couple in the van. Our next surprise came 30 minutes later when we were taken to a bus station and we had to transfer to another van, which had hardly any AC and was seconds from falling apart. This was when the nightmare began. The driver stopped at every single bus stop on the way, picking up random strangers. Then another bus stop. We eventually arrived at the terminal to take us to the marina, only to be told that the long boats had stopped transfers to Railay West where we were staying. That it wold cost us an additional 100 baht per person and we had to be taken to a northern location, then pay to transfer. I luckily had an international plan and called our hotel, only to learn this was a scam. We told him we would stay on the initial track. He got pissed. Really pissed. Once we were on our 3rd van to go to the marina, the driver stopped to pump the equivalent of 5 dollars in gas (his tank was full), stop 3 times to talk to people and drive under the speed limit. The boats stopped running at 5:30 and they were purposely trying to make us miss our boat. He also passed the drop off, which again, thank you international plan - I had the map running without his knowledge. We demanded to get off the van and ran, making one of the last boats to Railay Beach. While I realize this shouldn't reflect Phuket, it kinda does being our hotel staffed someone who 100% scammed us into taking a nightmare trip and wasting more than half of our day.

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