Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Phuket Full of Fun

This past weekend, Aaron and I visited the gorgeous island of Phuket, Thailand. (For the Americans out there, it's pronounced Poo-ket — and not the way you'd think.)

Hands down, it's probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen in my life. I was a very giddy tourist the whole time I was there... you can see.

We started our adventure by venturing down to Karon Beach.

It was extremely pretty, clean and surprisingly calm. We spent the first half of our first day just walking along the beach.

To our surprise, the beaches in Phuket have an optional swimsuit top policy. That was a bit of a shock.

It was also shocking that the participants of this option seemed to be in either the "fairly older" or "somewhat larger" category.

For your sake, I did not take pictures.

You're welcome.

Instead, I took pictures of the locals doing local things.

After the walk, we headed up to Patong to check out the shops and book our excursions.

It was there that we discovered the wonderful world of Baht (Thailand's currency). Baht is the magical money that goes so much further than our Sing dollar and even the US dollar. Approximately 30 Baht is equivalent to our one US dollar.


In one day, we ate the best meal of Phad Thai we'd ever had for 50 Baht, got a facial massage for 299 Baht, and we went to a fish spa for 99 Baht a person.

(For those of you who don't feel like doing the math, that's US$1.50 for Phad Thai, a facial for US$10, and a fish pedicure for US$3. This can be translated into English as AWESOME.)

This is around the time that I fell in love with Thailand.

Also, just to note, Phuket is considered expensive compared to the rest of the country. So it just keeps getting better from there.

To finish off that first day, we took the touristy tuk tuk ride.

Day two of our trip was by far my favorite day. It was one of those experiences that will forever be burned into my memory. All day long, I kept thinking how incredibly lucky I was to be able to visit and see such an amazing place in person.

We took a day tour of the Phi Phi Islands.

To spare you the same embarrassment that I experienced, Phi Phi is pronounced like "pee pee". Not "fee fee", as I originally thought. Even so, I continually find myself refering to them as "fee fee". I just can't call the prettiest islands in the world "Pee Pee". To me, pee pee is something that a four-year-old does in a toilet. I just don't think "Pee Pee Islands" paints an accurate picture of just what these islands embody.

But I'm a silly American. What do I know?

As part of our tour, we visited seven different parts of the two islands: Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley.

This was Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley.

This is where The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was shot. It's astonishingly beautiful. The sand is so fine that it feels like walking on softened butter. The water is the clearest I've ever seen. You can stand in it up to your shoulders and look down and still see your toes. You can even see fish swimming all the way up to the sand.

I was awe struck. I am forever ruined for every other beach I visit in my lifetime. I don't see how anything else will ever compare.

After that, we snorkeled at Loh Samah Bay, ate lunch at Phi Phi Don, visited Monkey Beach (you know how much I love the monkeys), saw Viking Cave, gawked at the cliffs in Pi Leh Bay, and relaxed on Khai Island.

It was just a beautiful day. I couldn't stop looking at everything all around me. It was like being in a movie. It doesn't seem like a place that pretty can exist in real life.

The tour lasted until late in the day. So, by the time we got back, we were pretty tired. We had dinner at the hotel and crashed at 10 pm.

I don't think I've gone to bed that early while on vacation in seven years. Yikes. That's a sad realization.

Speaking of our hotel though, here it is.

This is the Pacific Club Resort in Karon Beach. We loved our time there. They had three different restaurants to choose from (one in the hotel and two accessible by hotel shuttle), a roof top infinity pool, and gorgeous views. The even better part: it costs less than US$70 a night.

The great thing about a trip to Phuket is that you can make your trip as cheap or as expensive as you want. There are hotels and hostels that rent rooms for as low as US$10 a night. There are also the hotels that rent rooms for several hundred. The same goes for food. There's cheap places and street food carts and there's also five-star dining establishments too. We pretty much stayed "middle of the road" for most things on our trip. I'm a pretty frugal person, but I also appreciate nice things while on vacation.

I am definitely glad that we stayed in the Karon Beach area though.

It had enough things to do to keep us busy, but was a lot less crowded than the Patong Beach area to the north.

The view was also much more exciting.

This was our last big trip in Asia. I'd definitely say that we ended it on an all-time high note.

I was so sad to leave our newly-found paradise, but also kind of glad that we hadn't discovered this place until we're about to leave.

If we had gone sooner, we would have spent all of our money trying to get back there every other month.

That's what you call a blessing in disguise.


Brad Farless said...

I'm jealous. When we went to Phuket we stayed at Patong Beach, which was a really cool place to be. There's a lot to see and do there. Unfortunately, it rained the entire time and then actually started flooding the last day so we canceled our Phi Phi trip and the beach wasn't quite as lovely as what's in your photos.

Somehow, we still really loved the place and are looking forward to going there again sometime in the future. Not sure when or if that'll happen though.

There are two great beaches in the Philippines called Boracay and Palawan. Those are both really cool, pretty beaches. Palawan has caves you can row a boat through too.

Anyhow, glad to see you had a good time.

amused said...

Megan, that's a great write-up for Phuket's tourism industry. Now you know why some expats in Singapore make regular trips there over the weekend. I enjoyed my trips there every time. The air tickets are really affordable now with the budget airlines. Did you noticed the swifts at Viking Cave? Yes, this is the bird nests that you wrote about recently.

mae said...

ooohhh very nice! i'm going to Phuket in July so now you get me all hyped up. i need July now now NOWWWW!!!!!


Megan said...

Amused, I looked for the swifts while we were there. I read online that they harvest birds nest from this specific cave. However, I didn't see any. We were traveling by a somewhat noisy speedboat so I think we may have scared them away.

Mae, I'm so excited for you! It was such a fun trip. I hope you have a great time too!

Brad, that's a huge bummer about the rain. I'd most definitely find a way to make it back if I were you. Phi Phi was by far the highlight of the trip. I hope you're able to make it work! If you want a little bit nicer beach, stay in the Karon area. It's only a short taxi/tuk tuk ride back up to Patong. We stayed on the northern part of the area just to ensure we could go up there when we wanted. The food and shopping is cheaper in Patong, but the beach is much cleaner and less crowded in Karon.

amused said...

Megan, the birds are all out looking for food.

Best to visit Phuket now because the coral reefing are suffering badly from tourists are trampling on them due to ignorance or carelessness and tour operators are not doing anything to stop this destruction. I was very saddened by this whenever I visit the coral reefs.

Debbie said...

I hate to say this Megan...but the Krabi is even better than Phuket. The scenery is INCREDIBLE!

@Brad...go to Krabi! It's even closer to Phi Phi! :)