PATONG: A QUICK STOPOVER IN THE PEARL OF THAILAND
January 1, 1970
So, when I was booking my flights from Europe to New Zealand, with the idea to treat myself and to make my travels a lot more bearable, I decided to have a stopover somewhere mid way, where it would be hot and where I could chillax at some beautiful beaches.
After a little research on flights, I found a good deal for Phuket. Since I have never been to Thailand yet, I thought it was a great way to get an idea about the hype for this place.
Because this was only meant to be a quick break and the time I was going to have there was only four days and most importantly I needed to RELAX, I decided I would not try to see as much as possible as I usually do when travelling and instead just stay around one area and really recharge my batteries after the hard working time I had behind me.
Usually, I would go for authentic places and try to avoid being the typical tourist. This time, I thought that the touristy places would have more options for eating and getting those massages that I have been longing for for so long. So I went for the most cliché place – Patong (also, you should see this legendary, crazy place once in the lifetime, I reckon).
My entire plan was to enjoy beaches, eat the amazing and my very favorite Thai cuisine and have a massage (or two) every day. As I was fullfilling my plan, there were some hits and misses along the way, which I am going to share with you right now.
Tips for beaches
The Patong beach is a nice, white sanded beach with fairly clear water, but is gets very crowded and noisy from the street and all the jet skis and speed boats and of course people. If you walk it up towards the north, you get to the part, where the beach is separated from the street by hotels and it gets a little quieter and nicer to be around.
An easy way to get to a more intimate and also much nicer beach, is to catch the free shuttle to Paradise beach. It leaves right from the main entrance to Patong beach (where the big ‘Patong beach’ sign is) and it only takes about fifteen minutes. The Paradise beach turns into an awesome party spot at night and the first part is right where the bars and stage is and then there is a second, more hidden part if you walk up the little stairs on the left side of the beach, it takes you to this gorgeous little beach, with big rounded rocks on its side and the water is also noticeably clearer than in Patong.
Beaches on the islands around Phuket
To step up the game, you can always book a comfortable tour to one of the islands around Phuket, where everything is arranged for you, as I did. And there are many options of the tours as well as the companies. When I was considering which one to choose, I looked up experiences of other travelers and not surprisingly but unfortunately excluded the famous (for the movie ‘The Beach’) and gorgeous Phi Phi Islands. As one could expect, the amount of people that go to visit this place every day completely ruins the magic. Some companies though started offering an over night trip so you sleep on the boat or somewhere close-by your destination and come to the beach early morning next day to beat the crowds.
Places to eat
I was super excited for the local food. Thai is my favorite and of course I heard how cheap and delicious it is over there. I tried different places and some were super cheap and some were reasonably cheap and all of them were good but only some excellent. The best place by far that I found is called ‘Dang restaurant’ and it is only a few steps around the corner from the Bangla street (the main party street), at the end further from the beach. The dishes start at 80 BTH (2 Euro) and are incredibly delicious, packed with vegetables and all kids of goodness. The place is busy but worth the wait. If you are traveling alone, they always find a seat to squeeze you in.
Another place I came back to was the ‘Patong seafood’ on the beach side right by the main entrance, oposite end of Bangla street than Dang restaurant. This place is more suitable for dining. It has a spacious and pretty outdoor area and the prices are higher but still very good. I would usually pay not more than 150 BTH for a dish.
Where to get a massage
On the beach
I had one or two massages every single day. It would be almost a crime not to! The prices and quality are hit or miss though.
I’ll start with my most disappointing experience, which was unfortunately the one right on the beach. The settings was great, under the trees in the shade, I could feel the breeze and listen to the ocean.. but the lady had no idea what was she doing 🙁 She randomly squeezed and rubbed my body but I myself can do a better job and have a better understanding of the human body. On the top of that, it was almost twice as much than in the salons on the streets. Talking to other people though, I have heard that the beach massage can be hit or miss. The quality is very different, so if you see a person getting a massage before you, just ask how it was.
The place I ended up favoring is called ‘Carpe Diem’ and is also by the street that goes along the Patong beach. The ladies there do get training and you can tell after they first touch you. I have had the traditional Thai massage, foot massage, Back, neck and shoulders, and Candle wax massage. My favorite was the Back, neck and shoulders for 500 BHT. Each lady did it slightly differently but all always found the knots and stuck their fingers in there to release them a bit. Very good if your back is sore. I had one not so satisfying experience from this place too though. I got curious and wanted to try something new. Candle wax massage sounded exotic enough and it was also their most expensive one (800BTH). The entire ‘massage’ was more of a skin treatment when the candle wax was being rubbed into the skin of my entire body but in not very massage-like moves. The skin was nice and soft the following 24 hours but not worth it in my opinion.
I am sure that there is plenty amazing places to be discovered but if you do not have much time like me, this might save you some disappointment. Have fun in this tropical paradise!