What to expect when in Phuket
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.