I had great intentions of writing a daily blog, outlining our family’s Phuket adventures while we were away, but unfortunately I quickly sunk into lazy mode and all good intentions went straight out the window. I must thank everyone on this site for their contributions. I found the advice invaluable while I was away!
We (Dear Husband, Miss 5 and myself) flew AirAsia to Phuket at the beginning of August for a 2 week stay in LOS. We had booked flights months ago and had tried our luck with Optiontown, hoping (but not expecting) for an upgrade. You can imagine my excitement when, on our way to the airport, an email arrived advising of our upgrade to glorious flatbeds on our overnight flight! I was beside myself with excitement.
We had a hassle free flight with a quick stopover in KL, and finally arrived in Phuket. We grabbed a free sim card, collected our lugggage and made our way out of the airport to look for our driver, Sam (who I had booked on the recommendation of many others on this site). We sent a text advising that we were here and waited, and waited………. and waited. After about 30 minutes we gave up and made our way to the taxi stand. We had had enough and just wanted to get to our hotel. My husband negotiated a fare (worked out to be around 16AUD), piled our luggage in the back (I have no idea how it all managed to fit) and we were off at 100 miles per hour.
I swear our driver had a death wish, weaving in and out of traffic and at one point, narrowly missing the rear end of a bus. I was clinging onto Miss 5 in sheer terror. The seatbelts did not work properly and she was a sitting projectile. We made our destination in record time. The driver gave my husband his card, which he promptly ripped into two when he left, swearing never to hop into a vehicle with him in the driver’s seat again! Sam finally texted us back as we arrived at our resort. I am not sure what happened there. (My parents booked him a week later for an airport transfer and he also failed to show).
We checked into Gracelands Resort quickly and effortlessly. Our room was ready (which we did not expect and we arrived quite early in the morning) and we quickly unpacked, changed into our swimmers and headed out to look around. We did not get far as Miss 5 was desperate to get into the gorgeous pool. To avoid the whinging that would ensue, we gave up on our exploration plans and went for a swim.
This was my husband’s first trip to Thailand. I had been 20 years previously, but it felt like the first time to me as well as the place was unrecognisable. We spent the first day close to the resort, as we were pretty knackered. After a refreshing afternoon siesta, we headed out the back gate for a drink at Legends bar (and to use their free wifi) and ended up at Edens Bungalows for our first nights feast. I had read good reports on this place, and we were not disappointed.
I must say that I was quite paranoid about us getting food poisoning (as mentioned on many JBR’s) or contracting the gastro bug that had affected so many in the weeks before we arrived. I am happy to report that we had no ill effects from any food that we ate, and every meal we had was a taste sensation! We did take travel bug tablets each day and Miss 5 drank copious amounts of the Yakult drinks. Not sure if that helped.
I had done my research, and had written down a long list of restaurants that I wanted us to try. I am not sure what it was (the heat, the amount of fizzy drinks consumed during the day, our cooked breakfasts), but we were not overly hungry a lot of the time and were not up for big meals. We often had a light snack for lunch and a light dinner. My daughter and I finally tried the pancake cart at the back of Gracelands a few nights before we left, and each night went back for more. I was a bit disappointed that we did not get to sample many of the restaurants on my list, but I guess that just gives us an excuse to come back again next year
Over the next two weeks, I must admit that we were pretty lazy. We soon got into an easy routine of a leisurely breakfast at the resort, followed by a morning by the pool, and afternoon snoozes where my husband and I would take it in turns to go off exploring/shopping. It was a little hard, as Miss Five developed an aversion to walking, so it was quite painful going shopping with her. We spent a lot of time around the pool, down on the beach directly in front of Gracelands, shopping along Beach Road and catching Tuk Tuks to Jungceylon and the Otop Markets (Tuk Tuks were a highlight for Miss 5).
We caught a Tuk Tuk down to Kata beach one day to have a look around. We really enjoyed the vibe there. It was so different and a lot more laid back than Patong. It also had a very European feel. We walked along the beach, went for a swim and had drinks and a light lunch snack at a restaurant at the end of the beach (down by the Ska Bar). Our lovely Tuk Tuk driver was waiting for us (having a snooze in the back of the vehicle) when we were ready to leave.
My parents, sister, brother-in law and young nephew arrived to spend a week with us on their way to Israel. We had fun showing them around. One of our favourite places to eat and drink was at a little café on the beach across the road and to the left of Gracelands. The drinks and the meals were delicious and all so cheap! The kids were able to play on the beach while we sat back with our feet in the sand. We had many a sundowner at this lovely place. The owner was just lovely and treated us like old friends each day. My mum ordered a Mai Thai and was wrapped when it came out in a hollowed out pineapple.
One afternoon, we decided to try and find Skyla bar at Kamala beach as I had seen it on Trip Advisor and thought it would be a great place to spend an afternoon. We caught a tuk tuk and asked the driver to drop us off at the end of the beach. Unfortunately for us, it was high tide and we stupidly nearly killed ourselves as we clamoured over the rocks to get up to the bar only to be told that it was closed. Well, so much for that! Time for plan B.
We walked back along the beach and the water was just so calm and inviting that mum, Miss 5 and myself had a gorgeous swim, while Dad and my husband went back and sat at a cute little thatched bar by the beach for an afternoon of Heinekens and Singha’s. We joined them a little later and had a lovely relaxing afternoon on the beach. Miss 5 loved it. She discovered coconuts washed up on the beach and little crabs to play with.
One of the highlights of the trip was the Gracelands Cooking class. Mum, Dad and my husband booked in and were the only participants that day. There was so much amazing food that Miss 5 and myself were called in to help eat it all. It was amazing – definitely to be recommended!! The head chef was just a lovely man and we became his best mates for the rest of our stay. We went to the cocktail party for guests at the resort one afternoon where he treated like royalty, organising our food and drinks.
I must also mention the amazing buffet that we had one night in the restaurant in the new wing at Gracelands. At first, I was not really keen (not being a fan of the buffet), but wow, was I blown away by the quality of the food and the attentive service by the staff! It was amazing. The food was so fresh and there was so much variety.
Dear old Mum and Dad offered to babysit the little ones for a night so that the rest of us could go off and enjoy the Bangla Road experience. What a funny night! We had drinks at a little bar where we could people watch, followed by dinner at Scruffy Murphys (yet another great meal. I have had cravings for the Thai Fried Rice every since). We finished off at the FBI Nightclub at the end of Bangla Road. It was such a funny night!
We made the most of the cheap massages, manicures, pedicures, hair braiding, Henna tattoos (for Miss 5) and did oodles of shopping – tshirts, singlets and boardies for the husband (he turned into a bigger shopper that I was), beach dresses for me and lots of cute dresses (she became particularly fond of Hello Kitty) and cheap, cute shoes at Findig for Miss 5. I found Jinda’s Shop (as recommended on Trip Advisor), and was served by one of the owners sons who was a pleasure to deal with. It was so nice not to have to barter, and the prices were so reasonable. I took my sister back there one night and she bought up heaps as well.
I thought perhaps that two weeks in Patong might be a little much, but I cannot believe just how fast the time flew! We were so lucky to have had the most perfect weather. It only rained once (during the night). I did not expect to have been able to swim in the ocean, but there were some beautiful calm days where we had wonderful beach weather.
Our stay at Gracelands was just wonderful. The position at the northern end of Patong was great for us and the beach was the nicest in Patong. The staff were brilliant (except for the couple of girls on reception – which has been mentioned previously in other JBR’s). The only negative I have about Gracelands (and it is not a reflection on them) is the number of Aussie Bogans that were sitting around the pool bar, yelling, swearing and yahooing, which I found a bit much, especially with so many young children around. This was only at the end of our stay, so wasn’t too much of an issue.
We could have easily stayed for another week as there was still so much more to do and see! We had barely scratched the surface. It was very sad to have to leave but rest assured, we have already started talking about a return trip next year!
Thanks for reading. Sorry for being a little long!