So now finally after 9 years I was reunited with my island loves Phuket and the Phi Phi islands.
As Thailand is quite big and diverse I get a lot of questions from friends where to go when they are making holiday plans to go to this wonderful land. But as I have seen a lot there and this is very dependent on what you are looking for I will try to answer this question by sharing my experiences on these beautiful Thai islands.
As I mentioned earlier in my last blog Reunited with Thailand since my visit 9 years ago, on most islands in both the east and west part of Thailand I have been before. But these small islands on the west part are definitely some of my Thai traveling faves 😉 Here’s some useful reasons:
The scenery is awesome and the waters are turquoise coloured.
I love boat trips and snorkeling and these areas have unique high cliffs standing out of the water and a lot of small islands around, which are best explored by boat.
Thailand is beautiful, but also discovered by many tourists, which can make it a bit crowded and quite busy. These smaller islands are so authentic and quiet, which makes the Thai experience more real.
Thai people are generally really nice, helpful, always friendly and smiling 🙂
I love massages.
I am a sucker for islands and palm trees..
Phuket is easy to fly on directly, so you don’t have to get a transfer flight again in Bangkok, which saves you some travel energy for more exploring during your stay!
You have the best authentic accommodations here, with the best view, for nice prices and good value for money.
Phuket can be touristy, but if you steer away from Patong and stay in the North or South it is very quiet and real. As it is a bit bigger than most islands there is still a lot to do and see on this island, which makes it perfect for exploring a lot, while still being able to stay in the same accommodation during your vacation.
Flying directly to Phuket is possible through different airlines, but I preferred Emirates as they have good offers and they fly via Dubai, which was a good excuse for us to add another extension to this vacation. More about the Dubai experiences on the next blogs though:)
Where to stay?
When booking an accommodation I like to use Booking.com as it is very easy to search for a certain kinds of accommodation in a specific location. For more booking sites also take a look at my tips on the page Favourite travel links.
As Phuket can be quite touristy, especially around Patong and I generally don’t like the big resorts, I have searched for boutique hotels and private villas/bungalows more to the South. It is more quiet here and the beaches are nice as well.
I have booked the following accommodation for our stay this year:
A small tropical resort with nice wooden villas with their own private pool and tropical garden. All villas also have an indoor jacuzzi, free WIFI, aircon, a small kitchen and breakfast included, served at your door each day for good value for money.
They only have 12 villa’s available, all with private pools, most with 1 bedroom, perfect for couples, but some also with more bedrooms accommodating families or bigger groups.
This villa was so authentic and yet so chic that I would really recommend it to anyone looking for relaxation, tropical environment and privacy, but still a bit of luxury and close to restaurants and beaches.
Especially the garden and pool are really nice for some relaxing days, but it was also very easy to do some daytrips from the villa’s location in Rawai to nearby towns and islands.
For dinner they have a Thai/European restaurant on the resort grounds, but also offer a complementary shuttle service to nearby towns and beaches in the South, such as Rawai and Nai Harn.
Where to go when on Phuket?
For dinner we liked Rawai most, as this is a really relaxed town with a fresh fishermen’s market to the left of the pier (when facing it) for seafood lovers. Buy the fish straight from the boat and have it cooked at one of the restaurants opposite to the market.
To the right from the pier some nice restaurants facing the sea, such as Nikita beach restaurant-bar, our favourite!
Rawai pier and Nikita’s beach restaurant-bar right next to the sea, with the best view, a lot of different dinner options and cocktails.
Phuket city centre, the capital of Phuket in the East is also worth a visit, and about an half hour drive, easily done by taxi from Rawai. Don’t expect too much of this small busy city though, as it doesn’t have that much outdoor restaurants as I would have liked. Make sure to go the old city centre, as there are some small sights, streets and buildings in old Thai colonial colorful style to see in that part.
Karon more to the West is also a nice town to visit with a big quiet beach and restaurant street with some quaint back roads. In between the Kata’s and Karon is a great view point over the 3 neighboring bays of Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon:
What to do on and around Phuket?
For some suggestions of the best excursions on and around Phuket go to my page Favourite booking links for some useful links to plan these excursions in advance.
Some tours I can recommend to you are:
Jungle trekking in the North of Phuket or an overnight trip to Khao Sok National Park
A boat trip by traditional Thai junk boat to Phang Na or Chalong Bay, a real unique and original kind of boat trip.
Cave paddling and sea canoeing through the mangroves and tropical waters of the area is also a good way to see more of Phuket’s stunning natural surroundings:
From far away you will see the Big Buddha on the mountain near Karon already. Rent a scooter or take a taxi up there to see it up close and personal. When you are there make sure to also pass by Karon view point, for the best views over the west side of Phuket:
Massages all day, every day:)! As Thai people are naturally talented massagers and it is part of their culture, it is offered in massage shops everywhere, even outdoors at the beach for very low prices. When in Thailand I can not resist to have either a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure every day. This is so nice and my ultimate way to get relaxed fast.
To give you an impression, depending of course on the rate of the Thai Baht, a few weeks ago the rates for massages were generally the following:
1 hour massage with or without oil from €7 to €10
With Aloe Vera added 1 hour €12,
Pedicure or manicure of half an hour €5
Facial or head/shoulder massage of 1 hour around €8
And of course a definite MUST DO when on Phuket is a trip to the smaller islands!:
Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh, Bamboo island and Monkey beach also known as Ton Sai Bay.
The fastest way to visit them is on a day trip by speed boat, as these islands are a bit further away from Phuket. If you have more time and like to stay in different accommodations during your vacation, I would look for a nice beach bungalow on Phi Phi Don!
Remember though that in general the main arrival beach is always more crowded than the beaches and bays around the corner, like Hat Yao/Long Beach for example. Make sure to always take a taxi boat and look a bit further as in my experience these are the more authentic locations with quiet beaches all to yourself!
Monkey beaches little beggars are already waiting for you when you arrive at the small island.
Bamboo island and the blue waters of Phi Phi Leh are so pure.
For links to my favourite sites for booking a day trip to the Phi Phi islands or to find a nice beach bungalow for a longer stay, again go to my pages: Favourite booking links. I hope you will find there what you’re looking for, I certainly did!!