I came to know Phuket back in 2004 when television news shocked the world about a tsunami that struck the province killing thousands of lives. For days, I helplessly watched the news and prayed for the people of Phuket.
This is our second leg of our Indochina trip. So we came from Hanoi and had a layover to Bangkok before reaching Phuket.
We arrived early morning at Phuket International Airport without a prepared itinerary. At the exit, there are couple of travel agencies which we thought were just information desks. So when we approached one of them, we were trapped to avail their package which included airport transfers and a day tour via speed boat to Phi Phi Island (with hotel pickup).
We stayed at Phuket Old Town, which is a little less than an hour away from the airport via private car.
We booked at Fulfill Phuket Hostel, which is just along the street next to the UNESCO Heritage Phuket Old Town street. The room was pleasant, with clean shared bathrooms provided with basic toiletries.
The only downside was, they do not have any personnel to attend to your queries beyond 10:00 PM. Their main door’s locked with a passcode. If you plan to stay late outside, you can ask for the passcode. The trouble we had was (note that they will ask you for a deposit fee upon check-in, which was around 300php). When we left at 4:00 AM on our last day to catch our flight, no one was there to give us back our deposit fee.
The brighter side, apart from the fact that it is walking distance from the the Old Town and from the quaint cafes around, motorbike for rents are just right beside their doorsteps!
TRANSPORTATION AND MONEY EXCHANGE
We took advantage of the private car service we got from the airport by asking our driver to drop us to the cheapest money exchange. Upon arrival at our hostel, Jayvee Youtube-d for an hour to learn “how to ride a motorbike!” It was going to be his first time to drive a motorbike! After which, we rented one for just around ₱330 (200 baht) good for 24 hours. He gallantly asked me to hop in! No practice or anything. Haha. What made it more scary was, it was drizzling!
But boy, touring around Phuket via motorbike was the highlight of our entire trip! And don’t worry about running out of gas for the motorbike. In our case, we stopped over at a gasoline station; not really a station but just a little store with a sign that it’s selling ‘gas’. Many other foreigners on a motorbike did refilling there.
DAY 1: TOUR AROUND PHUKET
We toured Phuket from Old Town to the famous beachesvia motorbike.
Our first stop was at Wat Chalong Temple, deemed as the most important Buddhist temple in Phuket.
After Wat Chalong, we were supposed to head to Phuket Big Buddha at the highest viewpoint of Chalong town. We were already halfway through the steep narrow road going up the viewpoint when we decided to retreat as it was drizzling and the road was so slippery! I was just praying the entire time, it was so scary. The adventure, nevertheless, continued. Our next stop was at Karon View Point, overlooking the Kata beach, Karon beach and the Andaman Sea. We also came across with elephants just along the road!
We again hopped in our motorbike and continued driving until we reached Kata Beach. It is the upscale beach area in Phuket as it is filled with luxury hotels. But don’t be intimidated! You can swim there for free as it has this public area with the whitest sand compared with the other beach areas we visited. Thus, don’t forget to bring swimsuits!
Our last leg was at Patong Beach. It’s the area filled with most tourists, bars, restaurants, and what not.
So after dinner at Patong Beach, we headed back to the Old Town via the opposite route. Our road trip felt like we were in a movie scene of a couple in a motorbike trailing the highways with all the chill vibes.
OLD TOWN PHUKET
The Old Town Heritage is a street surrounded by colorful buildings, tourists, boutiques with eccentric trinkets, street food, and instagrammable walls!
Good thing we were there on a Sunday, just in time to witness the vibrant “Sunday Night Market” which opens at 4pm onwards.
DAY 2: KO PHI PHI ISLAND HOPPING
I celebrated my 26th birthday in this beautiful province and spent the day touring in the islands of Ko Phi Phi.
Note that besides speedboat, you may also hop on a cruiseship. Although cheaper, it travels so slow causing time constraints and thus stops only at the main island of Phi Phi, unlike when touring through a speed boat which covers 3 islands, 5 beach stops, snorkeling, free lunch and snacks, and lots of adventure in between.
Our first stop was to snorkel couple of meters away from the shore of Phi Phi Island. Make sure to bring sunscreen and go pro for snorkeling!
Phi Phi Island. It is the main and most populated island among the group. This island is governed already by Krabi province.
Phi Phi Ley Island. It shelters the Monkey Beach, which is obviously occupied by tons of monkeys. Without any warning, a monkey invaded our boat! Our guide told us that some of them even annex belongings.
It was fascinating to see them casually hanging on the cliffs or trees and jump from one place to another.
Another ‘must-see’ in this island is the Viking Cave. Legend has it that vikings lost their boat due to a storm and got stuck in this particular place, thus the name.
It is also in this very island where Leonardo Dicaprio’s The Beachwas filmed, particularly in Maya Beach. *All Saints’ Pure Shores on cue♫♫*
Our last island stop was at Khai Nai Island. It’s on our way back to and is already part of Phuket. Fruits and refreshing juice were offered for free!
Don’t forget to explore and climb the rocks at the back of the island.
Note that everyone in this small island, including the concessionaires, leave at 4:00pm because of high tide. Good thing Jayvee and I boarded our speedboat early. Just within few minutes after getting into our boat, the waves went crazy that our other speedboat-mates left in the island were left with no choice but to use a “bridge” built from durable plastics but (1) without handrails, (2) was indiscriminately swaying with the waves, (3) and was about 20 meters long! We were like watching Takeshi’s Castle while they were crossing. Super scary!
After the tour, we went back at our hostel then headed to a restaurant in the Old Town to celebrate my birthday over dinner.<3