As my family and friends know, Phuket is a favourite holiday destination of ours. Relaxation at its finest, massages everyday are a must, evening swims with a cocktail in hand occur every evening, afternoon siestas happen without any guilt and fresh seafood which could turn anyone into a foodie. What more could you possibly want out of a holiday?
Restaurant on the beach
Enjoying a mojito at a beachside restaurant
For a first time visitor Phuket can be a little over whelming, from the chaotic fast moving traffic, the sleazy old men on Bangla Road, to the street food everyone recommends you try but can’t help and think it may make you sick. These were my exact thoughts when first visiting. One and a half years on and three trips later I’ve come to appreciate the rich cultural experience Phuket has to offer and the incredibly friendly Thai locals, which always have us planning our next trip back before we have even left.
Happy Thai locals cooking Street Food
Patong Beach Seafood Festival
Sunset in Phuket
Where to eat
- Nikitia’s – We visit Nikitias every trip for the atmosphere. Located on the water’s edge, dining under candle light with your feet in the soft sand. Serving fresh Thai cuisine and they even do great wood oven pizzas if you’re craving Western food.
- Raya -If you love the old Thai charm, a meal at Raya is a must. Set in an old 20th century Sino-Portuguese house in Phuket Town, the Thai food is some of the best we’ve eaten. The Yellow Crab Curry and deep fried fish in lemon grass sauce are a must.
- Mama Tri’s – A restaurant for a special occasion. I celebrated my birthday here one trip. Consistently ranked as one of Phuket’s finest restaurants, located on a cliff overlooking Kata Noi Beach… The views are AMAZING, with the food, equally sensational.
- Baba Nest / Baba Pool at Sir Panwna – A booking at either one of the two at Sir Panwa during a trip to Phuket in a must. Baba Nest is voted one of the world’s best roof top bars, with 360 degree view to watch the sunset.
- Street Food Markets – Patong night food markets, open every night from 4pm – 10pm. Phuket Town Weekend Markets Saturday and Sunday only 4pm – 9pm
- Beachside restaurant – try a simple beachside restaurant; be sure to pick one that is busy so you know the food is fresh.
Raya Restaurant Phuket Town
Raya Restaurant – Must try the Yellow Crab Curry and Lemongrass Fish
Thai Banana Chocolate Pancakes are a must
Nikitas Restaurant at Rawai Beach
Tasty Street Food
We stick to using taxis to get around Phuket, hiring a car is not for the faint hearted. I love finding a friendly taxi driver, taking down his number and using him for the entire tip. If you look after him, he’ll look after you, almost acting as a tour guide pointing out little known facts around Phuket, making recommendations and even asking if we need to stop off anywhere on the way back to our resort.
Booking taxis from the hotel concierge are always overpriced, with the hotel taking a large commission. Make sure you ride in a Tok Tok at least once too.
Boat day tour
If you’re not a fan of the overcrowded tours with terrible packed lunches and taking you to all the typical tourist traps along with a hundred other boats filled with tourists doing exactly the same thing… Book a boat just for yourselves. Head down to Chalong Bay mid morning, after the tour boats have left for the day, and barter with one of the private boat drivers. On one trip we booked a large 12 person boat with a captain and skipper just for the 4 of us. Be friendly with them, and just like the taxi drivers they’ll become your own personal tour guides on the water. Let the driver know what sort of day you’d like – snorkelling in the morning, lunch at a beach restaurant. The driver will then take you to his hidden places, away from the tourist traps.
A day exploring the islands.
Swimming in paradise.
Where to stay
When picking a resort in Phuket, first decide what sort of holiday you’re after. Whether it is a secluded resort with your own private pool or a holiday where you can walk out of your resort and onto the streets to fully experience the Thai culture.
Location. Location. Location. Although Phuket is quite cheap to get around, it does take time to get from one end to the other ,especially if you’re stuck in a traffic jam (almost missed my flight once!). Choose a resort around the area you’re looking at spending most of your time.
We’ve stayed in three different resorts, all with great uniqueness.
The Boathouse – Imagine watching the sunsets on a bean bag, in a infinity pool with cocktails on tap… Need I say any more! Plus a fantastic location if you love walking straight out onto the busy streets from your resort.
Avista Hideaway – For those who love the idea of staying in a fully self-contained resort in the middle of the forest – the Avista Hideaway is your resort. This resort also offers a free shuttle bus every hour down to Patong. (See blog post here)
Manadara – Private villas, THE BEST breakfast I’ve ever eaten in Thailand and only a short walk down to Karon Beach for shopping, massages and local food.
Another resort which needs special mention, a resort at the top of my #agirlcandream list, Sri Panawa
See and Do
- Hire a private boat for the day and go out to the islands
- Wander through Phuket Town for the afternoon for old Thai culture fix, finish off the day with dinner at Raya
- Patong – for shopping and a walk down Bangla road (something you need to tick off your list at least once)
- The Big Buddha
- Stop off at the Kata View Point for a fantastic view of all the beaches running down the coast
- Try some street food.
- Or simply just relax with a cocktail in hand by the hotel pool
Good to know
Don’t always trust Tuk Tuk drivers. If it seems too cheap there is usually a catch. Always agree on a fare before getting in.
Although I love a good cocktail, I’m also an even a keener wine drinker. With a drinkable wine costing at least $80, we usually take a bottle or two over with us. Many of the restaurants offer BYO.
Majority of the resorts are an hours drive from Phuket, if you haven’t made prior transport arrangements to your hotel, within the airport are signs mentioning the average price you should be paying from the airport to each area around Phuket. Use this a guide when negotiating with taxi drivers out the front of the airport.
When eating street food, always pick somewhere that is busy. This way you know the food is fresh. I generally only eat seafood and vegetable dishes when in Phuket, staying away from the chicken.
Tipping in Phuket. Although there is no mandatory tipping policy in Phuket, we always leave a tip. Whether it’s rounding up to the nearest 100 Baht or tipping the cost of the bill when in eating street food, being a generous tipper is always bound to get a big smile from the hosts.
Thai people are some of the friendliest people I know, smile back at them. Get to know them – doing this will make your trip even more enjoyable.
Looking up at the Big Buddha
Fresh fruit at the markets
Mojitos on tap
Sunset at Kata Beach