A Trip to The Land Of Smiles: Phuket
January 1, 1970
When it comes to traveling in South East Asia, Thailand is one of the countries that will definitely come in your mind first. For me also it was the same. Thailand is known for its lovely beaches nightlife and definitely the infamous massage. But I wanted to explore what’s more to the lovely country. So I and my partner decided to backpack across the country and Phuket was the first destination. So after 3 months of deep research and weather study, we chose the safe month of October to travel to Thailand. October is right after the rainy season and weather is very pleasant at that time. Packing our bags with loads of shorts and sunscreen, we set out for Thailand with Thai Airways.
How to reach there?
We booked our flight to Bangkok with Thai Airways. Once we reached Thailand, we had to stand in a long queue for the visa (Indians have visa-on-arrival). It is a pretty painful process as you have to stand for four hours almost to get to the immigration officer. It is also very risky if you have a domestic flight to board on the same day because the domestic airport is again pretty far from the international airport. The visa procedure takes an unpredictable amount of time. After the visa process, we headed to Don Muang Airport. We had booked tickets with Nok Air for our flight from Bangkok to Phuket. Here comes a little warning: Never keep any luxury goods in your check-in luggage. My partner never got back his luxury perfume and shades. The domestic airlines are not very trustworthy. Within two hours, we reached Phuket. Right outside the airport, you will find ample cabs. There is a booth where you have to tell your hotel name and make payment accordingly and the cab will accurately drop you right in front of your hotel, no matter how big or small it is.
Where did we stay?
We booked our hotel through Airbnb and it turned out to be more lavish than we had expected for the price we paid. Our hotel’s name was Naina hotel and it was centrally located and at a walking distance from the marketplace and the local beach. I will suggest fellow travelers to always read reviews before booking hotels in Thailand as there are a lot of fraud happening there which we got to know after interacting with few locals.
Places to see in Phuket
We hired a scooty from a dealer who lived right in front of the hotel. He charged 120 baht per day for the scooty. Gasoline comes from anything between 40 and 60 baht. It is one of the most budget-friendly ways to see around. The local beach being pretty crowded, we set out to check out one of the virgin beaches in Phuket; it’s called the Freedom Beach. It is a 10km drive and you will love the drive as on the way you get to experience the true beauty of Phuket. From the distant hills to the rivers to the lagoons- every piece of landscape will make you take a stop to capture the moment. It is a small trek from the parking place to the beach but you will love every moment of it. But make sure you watch your steps as snakes and lizards are in abundance there. Freedom beach was very secluded and the water was peaceful. There were no shops or shacks around and make sure you’re carrying your own food or beverage. We had a relaxing time there but soon we were starving and we had to get back. While returning back we stopped by a small shack for some Thai Phad fried rice.
Here is a list of spots that you shouldn’t skip in Phuket:
- Freedom Beach
- Bangla Road
- Seduction Night Club
- The Phuket Weekend Market
- Patong beach if you’re looking for water sports
- Phuket viewpoints ( plenty on the way to Freedom beach)
Later in the evening, we went to visit the Bangla road which is infamous for its strip clubs and massage parlors. It is a very lively happening place and a must-visit for party-lovers. For a budget clubbing experience, collect the flyers that you will be handed while you stroll in the street. Most of them earn you at least a couple of drinks. We went to the popular Seduction night club and it was a night of budget clubbing but with extravagant experience. Try to avoid people who are approaching you for “ping pong shows”. They can lead you to shady places and you just never know what you might get into.
Food is divine in Thailand. You get amazing herb-roasted fishes and ducks for as less as 60 Baht. Also, try out the Thai beer Singha. People are warm and welcoming and you will love every bit of your stay in Phuket.
Things to remember before you plan your trip:
- Carry ample cash. For the visa approval, you have to carry a minimum of 20000 Baht with you (excluding the visa fee- 1000 Baht) In Phuket, we rarely found places that accepted cards. You may get broke totally if you have further travel plans.
- Loads of sunscreen- sunburn is inevitable even if the weather is not extreme
- Smile a lot; helps you to connect with people when you don’t understand their language
- Tip smartly. You’ll be tempted to tip the waitresses heavily but tipping at every bar you go will eventually leave you with nothing ( personal experience)
- Shop for stuff which you won’t find in your country. This helps you to save for other activities in your trip or maybe a few extra beer
- Gorge on street food! Budget-friendly and tasty.
If you want to know more about Phuket, check out https://www.phuket101.net/10-quick-facts-about-phuket/.
A smiling farewell to the land of smiles
Our trip didn’t end in Phuket and we traveled to Phi Phi Islands after our one night stay in this lovely city. We had our ferry booked already and we had a pick-up van waiting for us at the hotel itself. We had booked our ferry from PhuketFerry and got them at really reasonable rates.
Phuket is a must-visit place in Thailand and a day out around the city and its outskirts will definitely give you a sneak-peek into the serene and more peaceful side of Thailand which many tourists are unaware of. So pack your bags and say Sawaat-dee-Phuket!