Ask any seasoned traveler if they’ve been to Phuket and the answer would most likely be YES! It’s a popular and affordable destination that will give you lasting memories of a vacation well spent.
We did this holiday on the back of a Hong Kong trip where we were stuck in a busy city with not much down time in between excursions and our hotel room. Arriving at our Phuket accommodation we were greeted with monstrous lush foliage, orchids growing from trees and a cool refreshing juice cocktail. I can still remember saying to Mike “NOW we’re on holiday” and what a wonderful time it was seeing in the new year the Thai way.
First on the cards was to change into something cooler and head down to the beach to explore the surrounding area. The humidity was high but luckily one can buy cold alcoholic beverages and fruit skewers at every second vendor. At every other vendor its clothing. A calculator is used to convey the price of the goods. I did however find it funny that they have three prices…one for Auzzies, one for Americans and one for South African’s. Naturally with the weakest currency the South African’s got the best price. Negotiation is expected, so don’t just pay the asking price.
Phuket offers something for everyone!
If you’re there to party, there is no shortage of night clubs and pubs. For a good time with a happy ending, they have a “Red Light” street. We literally entered it and were accosted by Thai girls (real ones…LOL) looking to “party” at your expense of course. Never have I done a 360 so fast in my life. There is also a gay street with bars, restaurants, and night clubs catering to the LGBTQ patrons. We found it very amusing to see drag queens hit the street in a “flash mob” style trying to entice people to enter the clubs. There is no shortage of massage parlors that offer the proverbial “happy ending”, if you are single and traveling alone, you are bound to get your rocks off!
Hiring is a scooter is a MUST! Don’t be intimidated by the hordes of them around, you will soon be as confident as those transporting the contents of their apartment, family and livestock all on a single scooter. Phuket is an island, so you can’t get lost and a trip to the Big Buddha by scooter makes for a very scenic ride.
Crystal clear warm waters and high humidity means you’re going to spend a lot of time in the pool or the sea. We found little street kiosks selling tickets to various excursions at very affordable prices. They were always on time to collect us from our accommodation and never disappointed.
Here is our “To Do” list:
Island Hopping Tour – you board a fast speed boat that takes you to the various islands dotted around Phuket. It was an amazing experience. We got to snorkel and see some hidden islands that that are only accessible through the excursions. Buy a loaf of stale bread before departure and place pieces of it in a water bottle with a hole in the lid. While snorkeling squirt the liquefied bread right in front of your goggles and see the tropical fish swarm around you. The monkeys on Monkey Island are not interested in bread. They want sweats and sweet cool drinks. They are very cheeky so keep your bags closed and under a tight grip. The only down side to this excursions is that the speed boats all depart at the same time from island to island and we felt like herded cattle. Renting a local fishing boat with a “weed eater engine” is an option, this would be a full day excursion as they are not as fast, but at least you will have the freedom to go wherever you want.
Massages – You can literally go nowhere on the island without being accosted by girls shouting “MASSAGE…MASSAGE…MASSAGE” (not the happy ending type). It gets really irritating after a while, but you’ll eventually give in. It’s cheap as chips, so treat yourself to a full body massage, mani, pedi and facial. Tattoos are also very cheap if you’re looking to get one done.
The Simon Cabaret Show – You can’t go to Thailand and not see the “Lady Boys”. We booked tickets to see the Simon Cabaret Show and BOY (LOL) did it exceed our expectations. Not only are the ladies immaculately dressed, they are also very feminine and proudly displayed their small waist lines and perfect boobs. The choreography and music of the show was also top notch.
Food & Beaches – Unlike Hong Kong you can eat the street food without spending the rest of the vacation on the loo. Street food was fresh, cheap and hygienically prepared. A great way to taste local cuisine. The usual brand name fast food outlets are also well represented in Thailand. But you’re there to try new things so why go to the big M when you can have the best Pad Thai noodles you’ve ever had in your life.
Beaches, well around every corner and hill is a private beach tucked away just waiting for you to find it. Hit the road on your scooter and see what you can find.
Elephant rides – Mike was initially hesitant to ride one. He said they looked so sad and mistreated. I had to explain to him that this in an Indian Elephant, much smaller than its African counterpart and the pigmentation on the smaller ears was not due to manhandling. The elephants in Thailand are actually allocated to an individual at birth. They will be bonded for life, its handler in charge of its wellbeing and training. Yes the elephants have to work clearing forest etc, but something has to pay for their board and lodging. Our elephant ride through the jungle was rejuvenating. The guide all too eager to take pics for a small tip. The elephants sped up the closer we got back to base. They knew what was coming. Tourist are sold baskets of pineapples to feed the elephants. A well-deserved treat for schlepping tourist around all day.
Thailand was a wonderful vacation and we got to see and do a lot. It was actually one of our cheapest holidays. The only downside is that due to all that it has to offer and the cost of doing so, it’s rather busy. If it’s a more laid back vacation you are after which offers all the same natural beauty then see our article on Indonesia.