What to ex­pect when in Phuket

Stanthorpe Border Post - - ESCAPE - DAR­REN HALLESY

IF THE thought of dip­ping your toe into a hol­i­day in Asia ap­peals to you, it’s hard to look past the is­land of Phuket in south­ern Thai­land.

The des­ti­na­tion re­mains a favourite for Aussie fam­i­lies look­ing to ex­plore, shop and chill.

From Bris­bane it’s an eighthour flight di­rectly to Bangkok with Thai Air­ways and from there a short one-hour trans­fer flight to Phuket.

The beauty of this hol­i­day hot spot on the shores of the An­daman Sea is you choose the type of hol­i­day you want.

You can shop un­til you drop, dance all night while sip­ping bar­gain priced cock­tails, or sim­ply take in its nat­u­ral won­ders scat­tered be­tween idyl­lic beaches, is­lands and in­land na­tional parks. Af­ter all it is the Land of Smiles.

Most ho­tels of­fer ac­com­mo­da­tion pack­ages in­clud­ing break­fast, but you don’t need to worry about what to eat. Phuket has so many res­tau­rants, bars, cafes, tav­erns and street ven­dors that you could eat out ev­ery night for a year and still not scratch the sur­face.

The beaches

While Pa­tong is the heart of the tourism in­dus­try in Phuket, don’t think that you are lim­ited to Pa­tong Beach. There are more than 30 beaches on the is­land, and by tak­ing a 30-minute taxi or tuk-tuk ride (about $30), it’s well worth ex­plor­ing the is­land. Do your re­search be­fore you go and de­cide what ap­peals to you. One of the best is Free­dom Beach, but you will have to al­low for some walk­ing. Check out Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach and the 6km Bang­tao Beach.

The shop­ping

Most shops in Phuket are open from 10am to mid­night, per­fect if you’ve slept in. There are many mar­kets at night across the is­land, with week­ends a haven for bar­gains. Bar­ter­ing is a Thai tra­di­tion and you soon get the hang of it.

Just ask your­self what you’d pay for some­thing back home be­fore you do a deal, and be nice about it, as some traders can get a bit pushy.

Chilva Mar­kets is open Thurs­day to Satur­day, while OTop Mar­kets in Pa­tong and the week­end mar­kets in Old Phuket Town are other high- lights for street food so cheap and tasty you’ll over­look the west­ern op­tions in a flash.

Beat the heat and flock to a shop­ping cen­tre for some re­prieve.

Phuket Cen­tral is huge, and you can eas­ily pass a day with cin­e­mas, food, fash­ion and tech­nol­ogy sec­tions, while in Pa­tong, Jungcey­lon is a hub for shop­pers.

The sights

If see­ing the sights is your thing, then do your re­search be­fore you go to save time.

Many larger op­er­a­tors al­low you to book and pay in ad­vance, but, if not, there are hun­dreds of stands in Phuket where you can book tours. A good place to start is the Phuket.com web­site to map out your itin­er­ary.

You can spend big days in hot tem­per­a­tures, so al­low time be­tween tours to chill out.

Many spots you can ex­plore your­self via taxi and, if you ne­go­ti­ate with your driver, of­ten you can get them to stay with you all day. The Big Bud­dha of­fers amaz­ing views of the is­land. You can also get blessed by one of the monks.

The most pop­u­lar tourist sites are James Bond Is­land and Phi Phi Is­land tours.

The relaxation

If you like a mas­sage, this is the place for you. Shops ev­ery­where of­fer them and, when the av­er­age price for an hour­long mas­sage is about $10, you’d be mad not to in­dulge. For the price of one mas­sage in Aus­tralia, get a week’s worth.

Pho­tos: Tourism Au­thor­ity of Thai­land/iS­tock

CHOOSE YOUR SCENE: Phuket of­fers plenty to see and do, no mat­ter your hol­i­day style. Ex­plore the nat­u­ral won­ders in the An­daman Sea, kick back on the beach with a co­conut or im­merse your­self in the colour­ful cul­ture in Old Phuket Town.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.