Sunday, May 18, 2014

Phuket Free and Easy

Phuket is the modern name for Jung Ceylon and Thalang. It is the biggest island in Thailand, located southwest of the country in the Andaman Sea. Interestingly, a western source referred Jung Ceylon as badly pronounced "Tanjung Salang" in Malay, showing the close relation between the island and Peninsular of Malaysia, where Malay Language was widely spoken.

Phuket was a name in our list, but never a priority. We heard a lot about about the island- the beautiful beach, the nightlife, and of course, the disastrous tsunami. This time, we spent 5 days 4 nights on that island, and for the first time, we didn't set any particular itinerary before our departure- to make our trip as free and as easy as it could be.

First day, we reached Phuket International Airport around 5:30 pm local time. As commented by many travellers, the immigration was slow. It's true. We stuck at the counter for more than 30 minutes, with only around 5 - 6 persons in front of the queue. Lucky, the excellent service by Phuketshuttle.com eased our travel from the airport to our hotel in Patong. We booked a limousine service through the website 4 hours prior to our arrival, and found a sweet lady carrying a big tag with "WONG LS" awaiting for us at the exit of the arrival hall. The company prepared a receipt of our payment and an envelop filled with travel information and tourist map for us too. We were in a new comfortable Toyota Altis in less than 5 minutes later. The driver was fast and furious, but still, he took around 1 hour to bring us to Baan Paradise Hotel. With 750 Baht, the service worth the price.

The taxi and minibus stands are located just outside of the arrival hall (left). We were glad that the staff were very helpful. One of them told us to walk around and look for the tag showing our name. Well, we found it in next minute.

The first surprise we saw was the sexy-boy parade outside the hotel. It was 15 minutes after we reached the hotel. The guys wearing sexy lady-like costumes were parading around the street, advertising some sort of product and services provided at the sexy-boy street (which we found out it was just two blocks away from our hotel later). The next was the open pole dancing bars with dancing sexy ladies. We described it as "open" because the dance could be watched by anyone by Bangla Road. How about lady-boy? Well, we seen some of them at Bangla Road as well.

Sexy-boy parade on the street (upper left), lady-boys with exposed clothes at Bangla Road (upper right), the ladies prepare for the dance of the night (lower right), and the entrance of Bangla Road from the beach. Bangla Road was busy only at night.

The pole dancers in Tiger Live Band. The dance could be seen from the street.

First night, we visited Jung Ceylon Shopping Mall, Promenade Mall, Bangla Road, and took a night stroll along Patong Beach. The second day, we decided to have a day tour around the island. Since we decided not to drive by our own and tuk-tuk was not suitable for long journey, renting a car with driver was the only option that we had. After a few survey, we got a good offer from a taxi driver with 1200 Bahts for 5 hours' trip. The driver was polite and could speak in simple English.

Our first stop of the day, Tiger Kingdom. It was a place that we will never forget. The tigers there, ranged from the smallest, small, medium, and big, were tame. We could pet, scratch, and even hold their tails in special designed cages. All of this privileges came with a price- 1400 Bahts for 20 minutes (for our package). Then, we went to Chalong Wat, the Big Buddha Temple at the top of the hill, and Rawai Beach for nice Tomyam Kung lunch, before we continued our trip to Phromthep Cape, the viewpoint at Mueang District, and headed back to our hotel. The whole day trip took us around 6 hours, but the driver didn't demand for more (we gave him 100 Bahts tips after the trip). At night, we had our dinner at Shabu Shi, Jung Ceylon. Then, we strolled along Thawewong Road before we went back to our hotel.

 Tiger petting in Tiger Kingdom Phuket.

Jung Ceylon is a huge modern shopping complex in Patong (upper left). Patong Promenade Mall is new but quite empty during (upper right). Patong streets are full with tatoo service, pharmacies, currency exchange boothes (lower left), hotels, and eateries. The streets was safe during our visit.

Thawewong Road was busy at night, second to Bangla Road.

Third day, we spent the whole day at Phuket Town (or Phuket Old Town). We went there by bus. The journey took us around 1 hour (30 minutes on our way back), and with only 30 Bahts per person per trip. The old town was far less attractive as described in the tourism leaflets. It was more or less a down-scaled George Town in Penang. The street was quiet compared to Patong. Many shops were closed during our visit, but the food and souvenirs over there were expensive. We went back to Patong at 5:30 pm, exhausted and a bit disappointed. We delighted ourselves with the sunset at Patong Beach. At night, we took our dinner at the night market in front of Banzaan Fresh Market, where we found the best tom yam there.

 Old clock tower at Phuket Town.

Patong Beach around 5:30 pm. Many people were around with their cameras, awaiting the best moment of sunset.

Fourth day, heavy down pour trapped us in Jung Ceylon Mall. In fact, by putting ATV adventure, elephant ride, shooting game aside, our choices were limited. Well, we just strolled around the shopping mall, watched a movie, and took our lunch at Banzaan Fresh Market. The food at Banzaan Fresh Mart was not excellent but acceptable. The fresh market was not attractive for us, as we had seen much bigger fresh markets before. Dinner time, not willing to travel far, we decided to try the Japanese food beside our hotel. Well, the food was over-priced with disappointing quality.

 Banzaan Fresh Mart was located behind Jung Ceylon.

The last day at Phuket, we went to the airport early to catch Air Asia flight back to Malaysia. We would say that Phuket is definitely not a tourist paradise and it is far from being a shopping paradise. The whole island is a tourist trap. Can you imagine a simple tom yam kung meal by the road side of Patong (without air condition) can easily cost up to 150 Bahts? That price is comparable with a nice meal in Bangkok. We came back from Phuket almost empty handed, except a few fridge magnets and local made snacks. It was far different from our Bangkok tour last year, where we bought many clothes and even a travel bag with irresistible price. However, the experience in Tiger Kingdom was unforgettable, and at least, we have seen the places.

Next, we would share with you the attractions in Phuket.

More about our experience in Phuket in:

[Phuket Free and Easy] [Phuket Attractions] [Phuket Old Town]

19 comments:

  1. Lovely information related to phuket, pictures are too good. Yes agreed with you Phuket is one of the most beautiful and best option to spend memorable time. Thank you.

    Accommodation in Phuket

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    1. Dear Rohini, good day! Thank you for leaving a link related to the accommodation in Phuket. Hope our reader find your information helpful. Please be coorporative to keep one link only to your commercial page, as we will have to delete the further added links to the same source/ topic. Thank you very much.

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  2. Great post about Phuket! I suggest that if you ever come back on a holiday you can opt to try other beaches Phuket has offered such as Karon Beach! See you!

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  3. Really liked your blog. I had visited phuket recently and compiled this list of Things to do in Phuket. Do give it a read! Cheers!

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    1. Dear Umang, great sharing, and you are a tiger lover too :)

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  4. Hi, can let me know how to contact the taxi driver that you've used?

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    1. Phuket Happy Tour +66-76-346-196. Driver name: Chapchainai Prasoet.

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  5. Hi, may I know where is the pick up point for the bus from patong to phuket town?

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    1. The bus station at Patong was located at the southern end of Thawewong Road, by the beach. Please read our article at http://bettyandlingshing.blogspot.com/2014/05/phuket-old-town.html for more information.

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  6. The Western part of Phuket is the region that the place is most famous for, given the beautiful beaches and the lush rainforests. Check out best Phuket tour packages for a memorable vacation ahead.

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  7. Tame Tigers well that's very interesting, Tigers are known to be aggressive and ferocious. One wonders how they are able to keep the Tigers tame.

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    1. That's the interesting part that we wish to know too Rakesh. We heard that the tigers were grown with human, thus treating humans as their family members.

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  8. thank you for the info and great pictures, very informative :)

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  10. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done
    a extraordinary job!

    ReplyDelete