365 days in Phuket
PHUKET AND ITS SECRET.
After 365 days in Phuket I can say, there is rarely a place which taught me more than this island. Phuket in Thailand is just one of this places you will love or hate and either way you won’t get around. Why? It has a magical spirit which drags you onto the island. May it be the world famous Bangla Road with its Ping Pong shows (Really? You wanna know what that is? Come on!), Ladyboy Bars and Pull Up contests or the 35+ beaches which you can find all over the island. And it is impossible to decide on just one favorite beach, believe me. Maybe it is the popular national sport Muay Thai Boxing and the atmosphere which comes along, when you step into the stadium. However, this island has something which will drag you into its world and will not let you go. At least it will always stick to your mind!
WHY I CAME HERE.
June 18th 2014 was the day I hopped into a plane and left Germany – for good. One day later I arrived in Thailand and my journey began. I was on my way to become a Scuba Dive Instructor and in reward would work in Online Marketing for the Dive Company. That’s what I did. I spent half of my time here training for several diving licenses, which was not always easy and hell did I have to learn books full of Medical and Physical stuff. But let me tell you it was worth every single night I didn’t sleep and every single meal I ate at my desk because I needed to prepare presentations or anything else. In the end, after 8 months, I finally received the card I was working hard for: SSI Scuba Dive Instructor. Whoop!
I kept on working in the Dive company, there was plenty of stuff to do. We built a totally new website in two languages, and since it was only the programmer and me working on it, we were quite busy. Like, really busy.
As well I had my first dive student and several certified divers I was leading in groups. End of April I decided I would leave the company to start my new project (and it seems this was a good idea since you are reading already about it, yeah!). So all in all I spent 365 days in Phuket – and I never regret I did.
BUT WHAT DID I DO WHEN I WASN’T WORKING?
Ha well oh yeah good question. Let me say it like this: Everything! So when you want to live in Phuket, you won’t spend all your money on TukTuks and Taxis. Means the first thing you do is, you gotta learn how to drive a Scooter. And I mean how to Phuket-drive a Scooter. Forget all about traffic rules you learned in the past cause Phuket has its own rule: there are none! Try not to get hit by a bike/side car/dog/truck/minivan/bus/whatever and this is one of the phrases in life which is definitely 10 times easier said than done! You will figure out quite fast that you have to drive on the left side, which obviously doesn’t mean that everyone has to do the same. Bikes will cross your way just right in front of you (don’t think they will use the indicators) or will just drive at the wrong side, because isn’t it easier going back to their place the 5km on the wrong side instead of crossing the 4 lane road twice? Sure. As then the bike in front of you uses its indicator (OMG surprise!) but that is just because they forgot to take it off and you will wait for them to turn left (or right) – and you will wait forever.
Anyways that will take a little while and so I spent some time, let’s call it ‘practicing’. But that gave me as well the opportunity to explore the island and that’s indeed a big part of my free time I used to spent. Besides the usual sights like the Big Buddha or the Wat Chalong, I went to see some waterfalls, different beaches all over the island. I explored Phuket Town and its viewing points, found the monkey hill and some great markets.
My favorite thing to do on my day off was just getting on the bike and see where I end up. One day I would hop on the bike with my friend and we were about to see waterfalls in the north of the islands. Obviously we missed a street where to turn in and just went further up until we reached the Sarasin Bridge, which connects Phuket with the mainland. You can find the quietest and best beaches around this area and so we spent some time on one of them.
Well as we came already that far, we thought we take another 100km to go on the bike and see the great national park Khao Sok. Haha well in the end, we arrived ‘on time’ as they just closed the park and we had dinner then. We went back all the way to Phuket and the whole trip would take us about 13 hours. It was the best tour, as we saw so many great landscape and things we would have missed out on otherwise. And on our way back we had to stop in the middle of the road as we saw a sky full of stars, which we never saw before like this. There was literally no space left for any more star. They were shining so bright, I couldn’t have imagined before, that this is possible. And just before we wanted to leave the biggest, brightest and longest shooting star just lighten up the sky for us. Unbelievable.
I can highly recommend to go to Khao Sok and spend some time there. You can stay in great tree houses for the night, see waterfalls and take a bath in there natural pools. It’s just awesome and the park is one of the best places to go around Khao Lak and Phuket.
For the rest of the week I would work either in the office or on the boat, so that longer trips haven’t been possible for me (yet). But I can truly say, I discovered a lot from the island , there is still so much to see, but I am glad I took all my free days to spend them on the island to explore.
So to sum it up, here is an overview about some hard facts from my 365 days in Phuket:
ALL AT A GLANCE – WHERE WOULD I GO AGAIN AFTER 365 DAYS IN PHUKET
Sawasdee Villa, Chalong (not sponsored, only recommended, because it’s so lovely!)
> Small Bungalows with private bathroom in a little secluded area just off the famous “fight street” in Chalong. The Soi Tad Ied (aka “Tiger Muay Thai Road” or “Fight Street”) is famous for all it’s Muay Thai and Fitness Training Camps. It’s a very special area to live in as you have mostly fitness tourists or expatriates who live there. The first 6 months I lived in another area , surrounded by some nature and within a more Thai community which was nice as well but decided to be closer to friends for the last 6 months and so I moved to Sawasdee villa, which was the best decision. Very nice owner, Khun Sompis does everything for you and her daughter Aom speaks great English to deal about everything with you. Thumbs up!
Central Festival, Chalong > If you urge to be in a western shopping mall or wanna go to the cinema, then this is your place to be!
Big C, Chalong > Shopping Mall, #thaistyle. One big store with everything you need, from food, to souvenirs and technical devices – go for it. Also outside you find some street vendors with clothes, motorbike accessories and more.
Home Pro & Villa Market, Chalong > The food store offers a lot of international foods as well as fresh meat and fish and a bigger selection of alcohol. It is more pricey but if you really want it, you pay it, right?! So go and get your Schnitzel.
Jung Ceylon, Patong > Another big and more western shopping mall just on the other of the island. Not to forget the cinema 😉
Phuket Old Town > I mean nothing in particular but all the small little local business and shops. You’ll find your way or just get lost within the streets then!
Night Market, Phuket Town (Sat & Sun 4pm – 10 pm) > Follow the big Chao Fah West Road (towards the airport) up just about a kilometer before Central Festival is a big T Junction. Actually follow the mass of motorbikes on market days and you should be fine 😉 It’s definitely worth a visit and I don’t know how many of the 365 days in Phuket I spent on this night market, haha!
Tuesday Market, Home Pro , Chalong (Tue, 4pm – 10pm) > just out of Chalong Circle towards the airport on the left on the parking area of Home Pro & Villa Market
Sunday Market, Dibuk Road/Phuket Town (Sun 4pm – 10pm) > On the whole Dibuk Road in the old Town in Phuket Town. Make sure you park a little bit offside so you won’t get relocated or fined.
Street Markets (Mo – Sun) Vichit Road Rawai > changing locations along the main road – every day, start often around 3-4 pm up to 8 or 9 pm
Whenever I went to the market I bought many fruit and vegetables and also great fish. It’s just too good to not buy them and cook some delicious Thai food. If you like some inspiration for recipes or a great cooking class in Phuket, just hop over to Julianna from ‘The Discoveries of’ and learn how to use your freshly bought foods (Yum!).
Big Buddha > It’s not only the statue itself but the surroundings and the way up the hill. You can stop at the Elephants Camp to feed them some bananas, cuddle them and take a picture (please do not take a ride on them! You will hurt them more than you think about and they anyways rather have bananas than you on their back. Please be a considerate traveller and don’t hurt animals!) or just stop at one of the viewing points to get a stunning view over parts of Phuket. Attention: Mind the little monkeys which are chained at some view points, they just wait for you and all those great, shiny things you have 😉
Dibuk Road/Old Town , Phuket Town > Find some really nice old houses in a kind of Portuguese style.
Monkey Hill, Phuket Town > What a great place to spend a view hours. Walk up the hill is a good exercise and will train your cardio for sure. Way up to the hill is quite easy to find. Drive to Phuket Town and take the next left at the traffic light just after the District Court. The Thai name for this is hill is Khao To Sa, in case you want to find it in Google Maps 😉
Wat Chalong, Chalong > Follow the Chaofah West Road (towards the airport) from the big Chalong circle for about 2km and find the Wat Chalong on the right side. You will see a sign just short before the entrance appears. It is well worth it to see this temple, it is one of the main temples for Phuket’s buddhist to go and have any big bank holiday celebration or for their daily prayers.
When you spent 365 days in Phuket, you won’t get around those beautiful beaches, and why would you want to?! So those are my favorites or the ones which are most famous:
Kata Noi – on the westside of the islands, rather a little bit hidden and surrounded by high class villas on the hill top or the Kata Apartment buildings which makes it very nice to be there. Less people, more space on that beautiful beach. You’ll find white soft sand, great blue water and the bay is surrounded by rocks. The view is amazing and mostly in the afternoon waves will get bigger to enjoy some great swimming. Definitely one of my favorites.
Karon – one long beach which you’ll think will not end. It is more crowded but you won’t feel that since people spread over the the whole beach. You will find some small local businesses which offer some water sports such as Jetski or Parasailing and you can have some good fun or just some relaxing time.
Kata – Between Kata Noi and Karon you will find the Kata beach which is one of the more crowded ones. also since you find many shops and restaurants around. Also the Surfhouse is located at Kata Beach front and is one of the best locations in low season to learn surfing or to catch some good waves if you are already advanced.
Laem Ka Noi – very small and hidden beach in Rawai, which is mostly used to bring big groups of tourists with speed boats to the islands nearby (eg Coral island). If you dont mind and maybe even like a bit of watching the crowds you can have an kinda empty beach for your pleasure. Only swimming will be a bit difficult since the speed boat traffic is quite intense but there are some spots you can hop in.
Nai Harn – in the south of the island a rather smaller beach in comparison to Kata or Karon but very nice. Can be really packed in high season but has some nice waves to offer and you actually can’t go wrong with a day in Nai Harn.
Ao Sen – Just about 2km further south over a small hill you will find Ao Sen. This is a very small beach, there are small stones rather than sand but it’s awesome to snorkel and you’ll find some relaxed time with a great view.
Ao Yon – Pass Phuket Town towards the east of the island and find this great beach. You have rather locals visiting this beach which is very nice and the view is great. There is a little swing in front of a cute restaurant and at lunch time some street vendors will find their way to offer drinks and food. One great place to spend a beach day!
Patong – most crowded beach on the island and just a few steps away from the islands ‘hottest’ party street. Very famous and for that you’ll find many people, small vendors etc. at the beach and it is not as relaxing as others might be. If you will visit this beach in low season this can be quite another experience and also one to enjoy.
Bars & Clubs
Monsoon, Bangla Road, Patong > Great live music daily from 8pm – about 3am, the band playing is awesome and very entertaining and you won’t stay on your seat for long! Find Monsoon in the middle of Patong’s Bangla Road, just beneath the huge LED Screen.
Surf House, Kata > Ever wanted to ride a wave? Well this one is artificial but big fun! You can book surf house and even have the surf wave for yourself, if you are willing to pay enough. They also have special events, when you can try the surfing for free. Wednesdays they used to have industrial night, so everyone who works in Entertainment, Tourism or Sports can come and have some thai buffet food from 7-9pm plus a free beer and you can surf 1 hour for free from 9pm. Don’t forget to bring proper swim wear, as you are not allowed to go with street wear/shorts etc.
Seduction, Bangla Road, Patong > If you are really keen to go dancing, well Seduction might be yours. A club on Bangla road, situated just next to the famous Tiger Bar. They have a big dance floor downstairs, which mostly plays House, Dance Charts and maybe some Trance/Dance (it’s not Techno 😛 ). You can find a shisha bar in the second floor, where you will listen to more chilled Hip Hop/ Reggae and Charts and if you wanna go crazy and be cool, find the 3rd floor with some more Hip Hop to dance to.
Timber Hut, Phuket Town > Live Music, bring your own alcohol and order mixers and have a good laugh. Timber Hut is where locals and foreigners meet and have a good time. Just close to the old town of Phuket Town.
You have been visiting Phuket or lived there before and you think I missed out on something? Please do not leave this page – tell me in the comments what it is and where to find so I can make my way to see it 😉