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18 November 2010

Same-same But Different : Saying Hi to Phuket (Again!)

AirAsia Social Media team

By AirAsia Social Media team

I never think, to be honest, that I’d visited Phuket again in a very short notice. Thanks to the destiny that finally connects Bali and Phuket on a flight; from paradise to paradise.

This month, I’ve been traveling so much, kinda need a break to enjoy my hometown for a while. But, how can I reject this offer?

Well, for me, Phuket is always a good host to welcome people with dozens of racial variety who’s having intention to have some fun and getaway from their daily life.

Google it –use the maps facility— to find where Phuket really is. It’s an island on southern Thailand, almost three hours ride from Jakarta. And for me, it’s like the perfect getaway spot after Bali.

One simple thing you should remember: You can do anything you want here. Anything!

I arrived in Phuket on a rainy afternoon. The mood was a bit frantic; I thought Phuket was rain-less. The gloomy sky said hi to me in a very elegant way, it succeeded to raise the worries inside me whether I’d be able to complete the mission or not. But then in the end of the story, God put his smile upon me.

Just a rough picture, there are few district you can choose to stay while you’re in Phuket. If you want a happy joyjoy spot, then Patong is the best choice. If you’re a couple on a honeymoon, you can pick Kamala. And if you’re more into a quiet but homey spot, then Kata is the answer.

I picked Patong; for a young man it’s like the best choice to do things.

I had few plans inside my head but the first choice was booked a tour to see Phuket Fantasea. This is the only tour that starts after daylight fades. I arrived at three so there’s nothing much I can do.

Phuket Fantasea is a theme park located in Kamala Beach, 7 km away from Patong. Normally, if you book a tour to this theme park then you’ll be offered with transportation also. No worries.

The menu on this site is an epic show about how Thailand passes the time travel which connects the ancient life of the nation and how they are living a modern life now. It’s pretty much interesting if you’re the one who really into a cultural thing when you visit a new place.

But the price is actually a bit pricey. For a full course of tour, you’ll be charged THB 2,200; THB 300 for the round trip transport, THB 1,500 for the show and THB 400 for the buffet dinner.

If you want to cut some cost, just avoid the dinner since it’s just a normal dinner you can get anywhere else. Also expect a discount if you book the tour transport with an unofficial pick up from Phuket Fantasea. It’s safe, no worries.

The tour usually starts at 5 or 6 PM and then ends at 11 PM. So nothing you can do afterwards except go drink something on a happy Bangla Road.

The next day, my plan was saying hi to Phi-Phi Island. Why say hi? I’ve been visiting Phi-Phi few times but always have a good reason to come back. That’s my third visit and the island never loses its charm, they’re still beautiful.

If you take this tour then you’ll be seeing Phi-Phi Don, Monkey Beach and Maya Bay too. Yes, Maya Bay is the one who appeared as setting of The Beach, Leonardo di Caprio’s movie from 90s.

Actually there are two ways to take this tour; with speed boat and with ferry. If you go with ferry, then you won’t be able to take a look closer at things while on speed boat, you’ll see things closer. But it depends on how much water bumpy road in the middle of ocean can you take. Ferry is much slower and stabile while speed boat is more adventurous. Oh, speed boat is more expensive; it will cost you around THB 1,500 and the one with ferry cost around THB 1,000. It all depends on what season you’re in, if it’s low season then you can always make a good bargain.

I picked speed boat. I woke up early and then hit the road with a truck to reach the pier. From the pier, I waited a while for other party to come. It’s a sharing tour, so everyone needs to be patient while others still on their way.

This has always been the best part of visiting Phuket for me, to see your skin got sun burned and capture wild life momentum are marvelous things to do. I always want to do that over and over again.

Basically, on this tour, they will provide you a snorkel, lunch, and the safety instruments. If you need a fin, then you can rent it just before the boat departs. You can bring your own stuff if you want to, of course.

The tour will ends at 5 PM with smile on your faces.

The other excursion you can get is James Bond Island tour. If Phi-Phi Island takes you a full day one, James Bond Island will only take about half day.

This time, the whole tour happened in a very good way, just as predicted. I also predicted that I would lie on my hotel bed afterwards, got no energy left to go out and see the night of Phuket. But I had a pretty good consolation; I watched BBC and saw Aung San Suu Kyi released in Yangon. How beautiful was it?

Since I got a good energy recovery, the next day happened as I planned. It was a Sunday galore where I could see the white sandy beach and Phuket Town after the Saturday night chaos on Bangla Road. Well, chaos in terms of fun, not a scary one.

Beach in Patong was meters away from my hotel and Phuket Town could be covered with a motorbike ride. A motorbike? Yes, Phuket authorities has a special treatment for tourist, you can drive a rented motorbike anywhere in Phuket without having a special license. Just make sure you hold your own motorcycle driving license of your own country.

Renting a motorbike will cost you around THB 150-300 per 24 hours. Gas cost you THB 40 per litre. Most of motorbikes here are automatic scooter so you don’t need to hassle with your basic skill riding this vehicle. It’s easy as A-B-C.

If you rent the motorbike, the rental will hold your passport as a guarantee. It’s a common practice, no worries. Oh, finding a motorbike rental just as easy as finding a restaurant in the main strip of Patong.

I got a motorbike which was very similar with what I’ve got now back in Jakarta, only the name was different. First stop is the beach.

At a glance I saw a paragliding operator started to prepare things for their operations that day. Paragliding was always a temptation for me but I still have no guts to do that. I was once compiling my guts in Bali back in 2002 to try paragliding in Nusa Dua but then the wind cancelled it. And now, the guts are not in my store yet.

I took pictures and asked the operators about things; “Is it safe?” or “How much does this cost me?”. The first question of course answered by, “Yes, it’s safe, sir.” And the second one, umm.. it will cost you THB 1,500 for a five minutes ride. Expensive? Yes, for me.

After having a brief brunch opposite the beach, I started the motorbike journey. I had picked Phuket Town map at the airport and it actually didn’t hard to learn the direction. Phuket Town can be reached with two ways from Patong; the normal way which is an entrance to Patong if you come from the airport or the other way via Kata and Karon Beach.

I took the other way via Kata and Karon Beach. The ride was a very enjoyable, you can see the hilltop area and beach in the same sight. Somewhere in between also, I could see Wat Chalong, a religious temple.

My main target in Phuket Town was visiting the weekend market which also known as Phuket Chatucak Market. It only opens on Saturday and Sunday evening. Have you ever heard about Chatucak Market in Bangkok? Well, this one is much smaller that that but with similar concept.

If you’re away from home, then this market can be answers to your needs. Anything you need available here; from shorts, souvenirs, and food. Please bear it on your mind that everything is can be bargained here.

The night ended at Bangla Road. I have a ritual, every time I touched my end of journey moment; I always spare some money for a good and specialized local food. In Phuket, I tried its seafood on Patong’s main strip, just at the gate of Bangla Road.

Music played in a very loud volume while people chatted with drinks on their hands. Bangla Road closes every night for vehicle; you barely can only use your foot to cover distances.

That walk I had was extra ordinary; the party mood was hanging high even though it’s a Sunday evening. Gogo dancers were all over the spots, the same thing happened for bar where you can sit and watch people moving.

It’s a huge picture for me. I took a drink of Singha, finest local beer, and chatted with some girls there. They’re very attractive and please do watch out next time you’re here; they only in for your money but if you think it’s worth the experience, go have some fun while chat with them.

Four days was a short trip to cover Phuket and live the maximum enjoyment this island can give you. The flight to Jakarta went off at 8 AM and I couldn’t believe that I was on my busy Monday morning again. Sigh!

One thing that a bit regrettable for this trip; I didn’t bring my GF or someone else to share, because Phuket is not recommended to be spent alone.

  • Xinjian

    It sounds wonderful!

  • Muneer

    I agree with the Visitor from Jakarta I can picture exactly in my thoughts how Phuket is as I read the Visitor’s naration of the place and know it is a wonderful place to be,I for one have visited Phuket moore than 12 times in the past and am schedule to go there in April 2011 , thanks to Air Asia for making it possible for every one to fly there including me and for that many times !! As for Xinjian I can tell you it is more than just sounds wonderful it is wonderful place to be e and to get there take A A as the air line of choice because it will be very kind to your pocket .