Sunday, July 12, 2015

Twenty Something Travel to [Phuket - Patong Beach]

Hello! As promised, I'm back with my travel post to Phuket!

I've been to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Since then, I told myself I must visit the land of smiles every year because of the flavourful local food and friendly people. This summer, I went to Patong Beach in Phuket with Bii. Patong Beach is famous for its bustling night life and also its beautiful beaches with white sands and blue water. Do check the weather and monsoon season before you book your flights because the sea can get pretty rough near June and July. Beach holiday is usually relatively more relaxing as compared to touring cities because the former enables you to just alternate between beaches and your hotel room without intense planning. You don't have to rush from one attraction to another. All you need to do is simply lie down and enjoy the tranquillity of the beach.

Streets near Patong Beach

Sunset at Patong Beach

Telecommunication


Arch of Patong Beach
I always have this habit to get a SIM with unlimited data at the airport before heading out when I'm overseas to ease communication. However, I would advice not to purchase a SIM card at Patong Beach airport (Bangkok is fine) because there was only one SIM seller at the airport. The price was marked up insanely. We wanted a SIM for 7 days (we were there for 9 days 8 nights) and they charged us THB 800+ initially but we managed to bargain it to THB 599 (appx. SGD 23). I later found out from my previous Bangkok post that I bought a SIM with unlimited data for THB 299 (appx. SGD 11)! Strange enough that the THB 599 SIM that I bought for 7 days worked even on the 9th day. Nevermind. Moral of the story is to buy your SIM at Jungceylon Mall because it's way cheaper and please do bargain for it!

Transportation

Tuk-tuk at Patong Beach
The transportation from the airport to your destination in Phuket is very convenient. Upon exiting the airport, you will see booths set up by transport operators. There are a few modes of transport for you to choose from and the price set is similar across all operators. I would suggest you to take a mini van instead of a taxi because of 2 reasons: (1) mini van costs you THB 380 (appx. SGD 15) whereas taxi costs you THB 800 (appx. SGD 23) (2) you get the same service (both will fetch you to the hotel's doorstep). Unless you are in a rush and cost is not your concern, mini van is definitely the better choice. Just take note that mini van may take slightly longer than taxi to reach your destination as it accommodates up to 10 people and you may be the last to alight. However, I would say the time difference is negligible as Patong Beach itself is not a huge region.

Unlike Phuket Town, there are not many tourist attractions at Patong Beach. The beach and the beach side are the highlights. Hence I would say travelling would not be a problem as most of the shops and attractions are walkable as long as you are staying near Patong Beach. However, if you plan to visit other beaches near Patong Beach or perhaps going out of Patong Beach, you can take a tuk-tuk or taxi. Depending on your bargaining skills, their taxi fare can sometimes be as cheap as tuk-tuk fare! Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike and ride to your destination! They have rental shops and petrol filling booths everywhere!

Accommodation


Where we stay? Here.
If you are looking for a low budget but super clean accommodation at Patong Beach, this is it! I always have to do a lot of research before booking hotels because I want something that is cheap and clean, for 2 reasons: (1) I just want a place to sleep as I will be exploring the region most of the time (2) I can't sleep and possibly enjoy myself if my crib is dirty after long day of walking. I highly recommend Troy Guest House if you are not looking for a resort-like place to stay. They have a 7-eleven right beside it, a pharmacy  and a laundry right opposite it, as well as house-keeping service every day. Toiletries and fresh towels are provided too! The receptionists are friendly and helpful. They even helped us to arrange airport transport and late check out on our last day! SGD 20 per night for an air-conditioned room plus 10 minutes walking distance from Patong Beach? No way!

Food

If you are in Thailand, you must try Thai cuisine at least once. Their special spices make everything so flavoursome. Here are few things we ate at Patong Beach:

Pad Thai at Food Bazaar (food court at Jungceylon Mall)
Pineapple Rice at Food Bazaar
Patong is also famous for its fresh seafood. Bii and I went to this seafood restaurant just 3 minutes across Junceylon Mall and ordered a seafood set with one crab, three lobsters, mussels and sea bass which costed THB 2000 (appx. SGD 79). It's cheaper if you order in set as most seafood sold at the night market at Patong Beach are priced by weight. The latter can possibly cost you a bomb when you see your bill. 

Curry Crab 

Lobster
We also tried some Western food in Junceylon Mall.

Irish breakfast at Irish Times (looks English huh)
Beef Burger and Pork Ribs at Bondie Aussie Bar and Grill

Places

Patong Beach. Pretty much that. We walked around Bangla Street at night where pubs and clubs are concentrated and visited Jungceylon Mall for movies, food and shopping.

Bangla Street

Discounts!
Massage is a must in Phuket! There are plenty of massage parlours at Patong Beach. When it comes to choosing them, I guess it's pretty subjective. You can either read their reviews on Tripadvisor or just simply follow the crowd. Bii and I tried Sweet Lemongrass Massage as recommended online. Note: do make your reservation in advance because the slots are taken up easily! If you are looking for a relaxing and aromatherapeutic full body massage, here it is. It is only 5 minutes away from Troy Guest House, by foot.

Besides, we also went on 2 trips (Phang Nga Bay by Big Boat and Phi Phi Islands by Speedboat) with Phuket Sail Tours (THB 3700 each) which I highly recommend to all my readers. Visit their page here. It is important to note that at the exit of the airport or on the streets of Patong, you will see a lot of tour operators soliciting their tour packages to you. The price can go as low as THB 1000 per trip per head. My advice is that you get what you pay for. If you want an enjoyable and personalised day trip, go for a reliable and experienced tour operator like Phuket Sail Tours. You don't want to end up saving but let crowded boat trips, terrible itinerary and unpleasant food ruin your trip.

We both enjoyed our tours with Phuket Sail Tours very much. Phang Nga Bay has more variety in terms of nature element as compared to Phi Phi Islands. The former brings you to visit bat caves, secret lagoons and mangrove forests which are not highly commercialised or populated by tourists whereas the latter focuses on snorkelling in clear blue waters around the group of islands at Phi Phi. Visit their detailed itinerary at their website. Just a thing to take caution when you sign up for the tours: if you don't like hour-long bumpy rides that will make you feel queasy, do opt for big boat tours instead of speedboats. Big boat trip provides a more relaxing, smooth and steady ride to your destination. Here are some pictures I took during our tours!

View from the Big Boat

Lawa Island Viewing Point



Canoeing along the mangrove forests
James Bond Island

In the bat cave
View in a secret lagoon 
A small beach with monkeys and clear turquoise water 
We travelled slightly out of Patong Beach and visited Kata Beach. We luxuriated for about 4-5 hours in this perfect view with a hydrating coconut!


Our trip at Patong Beach was a memorable one. What I like about Patong Beach is that there are so many places to explore despite it being a beach. It's a place that never sleeps. Overall Bii and I love the Phang Nga Bay Trip the most. I enjoy beach holidays once in a while, not just to get tanned but to give myself a revitalising respite while listening to the sound of waves breaking on the shore. I wish I could visit the rest of Phuket again in future. Do leave a comment if you have any additional questions about out trip!

Us on a canoe
Till next time!

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