After reaching Hanoi and the Ho Chi Minh, the last destination for #TrippinASEAN14 was Phuket, Thailand. The beautiful paradise which is full of glorious food and entertainment was chosen to be the last stop because we had been there before, and this meant we could relax more as there were nothing much to explore. Initially, we wanted to do bungee jumping, but that was scrapped after knowing my wife was pregnant.
But nonetheless, Phuket created yet another adventure which will be a lasting memory for years to come, regardless of it being our second time here.
TRAVELLING TO PHUKET, THAILAND – Malaysia Airlines in a class of its own
The fastest way to travel to Phuket was by flight, and Malaysia Airlines was the preferred choice of travel from Kuala Lumpur since it was cheap, and convenient.
We arrived early at the Phuket International Airport, and was greeted with smiles by our hotel representative, whom was also our driver to the hotel. The journey on Malaysia Airlines, as I have stated in the previous post was exceptional, although I was rather disappointed with the in-flight meal which was just a sandwich, and it was served cold =(
WHERE TO STAY – Andaman Embrace Resort and Spa
I couldn’t recall our drivers name, but upon knowing we were from Kuala Lumpur, he offered to take us sight seeing as we traveled to the hotel. He said that KL and Phuket is not so far, so he thought we would enjoy sight seeing since we were probably not too tired.
He also obligated to stop at numerous beaches and also hilly spots along the way to enable us to capture Phuket in its glory with photos such as the one below taken during that brief but interesting journey.
When we reached the Andaman Embrace Resort and Spa, which was our hotel for this leg of the trip, we were immediately impressed by its size with expectations over its quality of service skyrocketing in our minds. The impressive pool, and the wonderful reception at the front desk just made us confident this was a great hotel to stay in.
But unfortunately, after a day in the hotel, flaws soon cropped up, with the housekeeping not replacing complimentary items such as the bottled water and the soap. Internet connection at the hotel also sucked that there were times I just gave up surfing entirely.
To top it all off, the breakfast buffet was below expectations with juices somewhat served warm, and variety seriously lacking. I did leave a comment on this on my TripAdvisor review, but the comment I obtained was rather defensive.
PUSING-PUSING PHUKET – Renting a motorbike
Since this was our second trip here, we were not keen on going island hopping. Aside from not having the budget to go on such trips, it was well noted that pregnant ladies are not covered by insurance shall they go on such rides. That said, we decided to stick to the main island, and enjoy what it had to offer by renting motorcycles which are found in abundance at almost any hotel, motel and restaurant.
Rental of these motorcycles, also seen as scooters, were not expensive. We paid about THB250 for a 24-hour rental, which was about RM25, for one scooter. Fuel was according to the market price, but we did pay around THB160 (RM15) for fuel for our whole trip around Phuket Island, which was still pretty cheap if compared to taking a Tuk Tuk or a cab which could cost you over RM100!
A Malaysian driving license seems to be accepted in Phuket by the local authorities, but be warned that you must bring your licence and wear a helmet at all times because the local traffic police does have a habit to do road blocks specially for foreigners on a vacation.
I somehow forgot to bring my driving license, and well, paid the fine of THB500 for the fine when I was unluckily caught during a road block. In Thailand, you pay your summons on the spot, so there is no way you can escape Scott-free, so I believe.
Regardless, on scooter, you could literally reach almost all of the beaches in Phuket, with some less popular ones beating the famed Patong beach hands down. Surin beach is one of the few which would make you fall in love instantly.
Another must visit in Phuket would be Prom Thep Cape which overlooks the Andaman Sea. This place provides you one spectacular sunset, with the breeze of the sea rushing to blow your hair off. Entrance is free, and there is even a restaurant nearby where you can just sit down and chill while enjoying both the view and the breeze. We spent about four hours doing nothing there, so I guess that speaks volumes.
An hour from there by motorcycle , is the hidden ‘Big Buddha’ statue.
Driving up the mountain (also can be called hills) will need some expertise, but once you get there, it’s totally worth it because you can see the whole Phuket just under your feet. You can also enjoy the sight of elephants along the way, hence making the ride up so much more fun! (Do get one of those Phuket maps at the hotel you stay in in order to drive around Phuket. GPS is also reliable).
Before you do decide to rent-a-bike however, please be fairly warned that you must take care of the bike to avoid any extra cost incurred for repairs. Also, parking at Patong Street at night can be really difficult with thousands of bikes also wanting to head down the street which offers the best nightlife in Phuket.
SIMON STAR CABARET – It will blow your mind!
Another thing you must not forget to do in Phuket is go to the Simon Star Cabaret shows. I’ve went to a similar cabaret show in Bangkok last year, and almost fell asleep midway the whole show because it was repetitive and rather dull.
Simon Star Cabaret is distinctively different as the show is lively and there were plenty of moments to enjoy, hence making the money spent on tickets well worth it. To make it even more interesting, there were plenty of nervy interactions because yours truly would’t want to be lucky enough to be kissed by one of the ‘transsexual ladies’ which were drop dead gorgeous, if I may say so.
At the end of the show, the acts would line up for photo taking in which one could either pay them a tip for your photo moment, or just take one and wave them as you pull away without tipping. This was possible since the don’t hassle you to pay up, although I feel that they do deserve some tips as they put up such an amazing show. Photography during the show is strictly forbidden, which is also a reason for you to enjoy it fully.
Expect to pay at least THB450 for the show and a round-trip back to your hotel.
EATING IN PHUKET – Tom Yam heaven, but prices have risen
The last time I went to Phuket, seafood was dirt cheap, and excellent too! This time around, it’s different with prices somewhat raised with many almost equal or more expensive, if compared to Kuching.
We went to Linda Seafood, but found ourselves paying more this time, and another seafood restaurant called Champion was cheaper, but had average food. Ice cubes were by request, ad charged for a good RM2 (which I thought was really expensive).
Regardless however, the tom yam at most restaurants we tried in Phuket were top notch with tom yam featuring in almost all of our meals on a daily basis.
MASSAGES & SPAS – Many choices but some lacking in quality
Aside from its nightlife, beach, island and food, Phuket is also famed for its wellness services such as spas and massage centers. The problem would be choosing between them since some do tend to offer ‘happy endings’ which some customers would not like.
We went to two places during our stay, with one (Holiday Massage) proving to be worth the money, and another (Emotion Day Spa), being a total waste of money.
Some of the spas which came highly recommended were way too expensive it seemed not worth the price as I would match the price with what I enjoyed in Kuching.
THE CONCLUSION – Phuket has changed
Despite the wonders of Phuket, there were some major changes noticed which are not welcomed. The number of foreigners doing business seems to have overshadowed the locals with them manning souvenir shops and clothing shop. Also, Bangla Street does seem ‘tamer’ than I remember, with me unsure if this is a good or bad thing.
Nonetheless, the experience of riding a bike in Phuket, coupled with the greatness of Tom Yam, and not mentioning the superb Simon Star Cabaret show made this trip something I could really brag about.
That said, TrippinASEAN14 finally came to an end with Malaysia Airlines flying us safely back to Kuching, in style.