We have just returned from an amazing 13 night stay in Phuket (Patong)
its our 6th trip there and love the place, really depressing going from shorts and singlets to trackpants and jumpers.
I wont go day by day just a summary of what we did.
Flew air asia via KL, 6 hr stopover at LCCT really makes you earn that last leg to phuket, hot and steamy and overall boring, quick brekkie, some WiFi, a nap a bit of walking around passed the time.
Finally get to Phuket, flights comfortable and on time, actually 10 min early into phuket.
Our ever reliable driver Pong is there to greet us as usual there are 6 adults, so a quick entrance into a welcoming air conned minibus we are off to Patong a quick chat with pong brings us up to date with how his family is and his traumatic experience with his mums death, he is like family now and he really doesn't get the credit he deserves on TA, 800baht and we arrive at the Banthai.
We are Patong Merlin Tragics but thought wed try something different this time, while the banthai is a lovely place, nice rooms, friendly staff, We had interconnecting rooms and one room wasn't ready till 4pm even though check in was at 2 but they gave us a drink voucher to compensate which was good. i think it lacks the feeling of a resort in the way PM does, the entrance foyer is a little too city office feeling to me and its all a bit too straight stoned with a few trees added around the place, the 3 wings are pretty much carbon copy, the pools are nice for walking around in and having a drink but no deep water, the bar staff Wicket, Jessica, Jump Coco and Chalasee are a riot. the pool in the afternoon gets really warm and its not refreshing especially if you want a dip after a day out. The location is an absolute plus smack dab in the middle of it all, the beds where firm but I liked that and slept really well.
We didn't get the breakfasts as at $20AU per person thought it was a bit rich and honestly the breakfast buffet wasn't the best id seen, only other criticism is they have to sort out the Mozzie problem in the rooms as even with the doors closed during the night they where getting in maybe they need to supply those plug in Mozzie repellants as they do in the PM, and apart from the geckos getting in to our boys room from the AC vent (3 in all, fun trying to catch the buggers) it was a pretty nice stay, i would stay there again but overall would prefer the Patong Merlin as it has more of a resort feel with its gardens and pools.
Where we ate.
Breakfasts where mainly at Molly Malones 99baht for eggs bacon hash brown, toast and coffee is the best bet, same thing at Sabai Sabai is 199baht, we went and visited a couple of the pool staff we got friendly with at Patong Merlin to say Hi and they invited us all for free breakfast at the buffet on a couple of Occasions which was great, we just strolled in and they sat us down, the PM Buffet is probably the best, better still when its free LOL!!:)
Sabai Sabai, was great much has been said about this place and its all true.
Sweets first time we tried it and really liked it well priced and large layout, ate there twice
Marco Polo Sorrento in soi post office, Yum pizza and Italian food ate there twice and really liked it
The 9th Floor, really surprising upmarket open air restaurant avg price 300-400baht really nice ambiance, attentive waitresses, and a great view over patong and the bay, when you go there just ask a tuk tuk driver as its really hard to find and when your dropped off its like your in a ghetto, you think "what the hell"? the lifts are small fit only about 5 and they are very slow, but once there it really is a jewel in the rough.
Number 6 restaurant on the Hill was also very nice, Sabai and sweets type menu, open air dining and you can get a shuttle from Number 6 restaurant in Rathuthit road, its a real nice place to eat at dusk even though the trees hide the sunset.
Molly Malones was another place we ate but only for the ribs which are not cheap but so tender the meat falls from the bone.
Down Bangla walking from the beach on the right just before you get to the end there is an open air food court, Yum Ribs, chicken kebabs fish, prawns, and really nice banana Pancakes, yes even better than the street cart ones, they are actually more crispy and you can add your own condiments chocolate condensed milk etc, there is guy singing and there are drinks available a really nice place to eat alfresco.
we also ate at a place on the beach near Savoey don't remember the name but really nice eating on the beach, we had a beautiful orange sunset really set the mood. the food was standard thai curries, rices etc all around 300baht mark.
The absolute highlight was being invited to our driver Pongs home for a traditional thai meal, green Curry, lemongrass seafood stir fry, Tom Yum goon. wow better than any restaurant and it was a real honour, these people dont need a lot to make them happy, they eat outside at the front like a carport, their home is only 3 years old but very simple, a main common room where they watch TV and a desk for computer with some sofas, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom/toilet, the kitchen is out the back and is open, they do their cooking on a gas hotplate and open fire no oven, there is a sink a small fridge and this room also doubles as a laundry, there is no backyard, made me feel guilty living in a 30 sq house with some rooms we dont even use, they have 2 small children, pong drives a taxi from 7am-3pm and his wife runs a market stall from 5am-10am then from 2pm - 8pm 7 days a week they don't have holidays or weekends off and they are happy. their neighbors dropped in a real sense of community and friendship, they where all so welcoming, these people work very hard for little money but you wouldn't know it, we asked around for a suitable gift to give them as we didn't want to offend them, there was 8 of us and we decided to give them 8000baht in an envelope, they where so overwhelmed they refused to accept it but we insisted, what we gave them his wife would have to work her hours for 2 weeks to make.
Business in Phuket has been very slow, we also noticed that, market stalls where pretty empty, there is a lot of Russians in phuket now and they don't spend money according to the thai people we know and they are very rude and dont speak any English, i came across them in Pattaya and found them a very rude lot now they have infiltrated Phuket and its much the same, for example we where walking to the lift 2 Russians where in there and we said please hold the lift they saw us coming, they started tapping the door close button like crazy so the door would close, just rude all round people, even on exiting the country at immigration there was a long line one big guy and his wife pushed in front of me 3 from the end of the line to which i gave him a good old Aussie OI!!!! and told him to get out of the line, just rude obnoxious people!
Shopping besides the usual grocery stop at Jungceylon was usually in around Patong, being so quiet the traders where willing to bargain and we got some good items at good prices, even cheaper that our last trip in 2012.
We did the Phuket night market but honestly I cant see a big advantage in going there, the traders are less willing to Bargain and prices are much the same as Patong, factor in the 1000baht round trip top get there i don't think its worth it, having said that though the food stalls there are amazing and all the different varieties of food is well worth the visit, and it is very cheap.
Suits again we had made from George Tailor in Bangla Road, we have had a lot of suits made in Phuket but none have met the quality of this one, Surita who runs the little shop is a quaint and quirky lady who does her best to help, My wife had 5 business suits made which included skirts and slacks, My sons had 2 cashmere suits made 1 extra trouser with 4 shirts and 4 ties, I had a Black Leather Jacket made, and my wife also had a sexy black lace evening dress and also a long woolen winter coat made, all done with no fuss and for my wife's suits and dress she had seen them on the internet so we logged onto the sites, Surita's tailor made some sketches off the website and they where made exactly as shown, all for 42000baht ($1400au) a bargain for tailor made and we had them delivered to our room,
I Love the vibrancy and nightlife in Patong and im not a youngin, just having a swim during the hot day then around 6pm venture out to dinner, a bit of people watching add to that a few 99baht cocktails, my favourite was a new bar in Keb sap just past burger king it has a walk up window and you can take away your 99baht cocktail or 299baht bucket and believe me they put spirit in it and very little lemonade lol, also the Coyote bar outside banthai is a nice place for some more cool drinks and a few games of pool during the hot day, nearing the end of the evening the customary foot massage would always take place our favorite has always been Patong Synergy in Soi Post office. 200baht for a foot, leg, neck head and back massage is really relaxing, i went girly & had a pedicure & Manicure for 400baht its a great way to end the night, but not before a night Cuppa at Starbucks while listening the Manila Machine playing live at the Port restaurant.
2 of our friends had never been before so the day trips where the usual lookout stop, chalong Temple, Big Buddah. and oh yes stock up at the cashew nut Factory, some Jewellery at WangTalang (she always stooges me to go there for a "look" but the look always costs me) day trips lying on the beach at Kamala where you get an excellent breakfast on the beach for 250baht so much you couldn't finish it, and another day spent lazing at Surin Beach, para sailing and beach massage was the best.
We did go Cart Racing but not at the one you see at the foot of the hill going into Patong there is a street opposite this and you go in there and there's a go Cart Track Called Phuket Kart its actually owned by a Thai Go Kart world Champion, 800baht for 10 minutes gets the adrenaline pumping, right next door there is an ATV track into the mountains this was really fun, they are like enclosed ATVs not the 4 wheel motorbike type more like a car with a roll cage, this was about 1500baht for a double for an hour we got 4 cars it was well worth it and you get followed all the way up by helpers, you stop at the top before you come down, breathtaking scenery, they take about 200 photos of your journey and you can buy the disk for 300baht, what got me about both was the safety aspect, which sometimes lacks in phuket.
We did Simon Cabaret for the first time, not bad for $25AU show goes for an hour and a half, costumes are amazing, as are the sets, the "Girls" (lady boys) are gorgeous, damn there was one there id almost turn for LOL!! but they need to work on the Lip Synching and the sound wasn't that great, but well worth the visit, its one of those things you have to do at least once.
we did a speedboat trip to the islands, Phi Phi and my all time favorite Maya Bay this is what i would hope heaven is like. even though its getting crowded now, and the water smells of boat fuel, i hope they will limit the visits and preserve this beauty, we snorkeled at the mouth of Maya bay which was the best, this was a trip to 3 Islands cant remember the name of the 1st one but its basically a commercial island with overpriced drinks and beach chairs we spent an hour and a half there but would've preferred more time at Maya bay, we got this tour off Getaway and at $42 pp was pretty good, also with a lunch thrown in at Phi Phi, but be prepared to fight at the buffet with the Russians as they attack it like they've never seen food before, even the servers where fending them off as they where piling their plates with chicken drummets.
Wifi Is everywhere and usually when you put the password in you get it for your whole stay even if you don't buy anything, Molly Malones, Coyote has a free WiFi if you get within 20 metres, Black Canyon Coffee in Otop, Patong Synergy Massage has a good one to surf the net and email while getting av rub, true coffee on the first floor on the corner of Soi post office and the beach road has good WiFi and all it will cost is a great cup of coffee (probably the nicest besides starbucks)
The wife and one of our friends in the group did a thai cooking class for $100au was a whole day starting at buying produce at the markets and then going to a beach where the cooking stations where setup, all the cooking was done amongst a beautiful landscape, aprons where provided with good instruction and the food you made you ate at a dining set``ting then relaxed on Hammocks, picked up and dropped off at the hotel, she said this was a highlight
The wife also got a Keratin treatment done at the Hairdresser outside Banthai for $80AU cheap compared to $350 in Australia, and her Nails and pedicure for $40AU
an aromatherapy Massage at the Banthai Spa for $80au, she says Bargain, I wouldn't Know lol
Our group had dental work done at Promjai dental clinic in Patong, cleaning whitening, veneers and crowns where made and as they may not be the cheapest the level of the work and attention to detail is first class, and I will always go back as my dentist here in Melbourne is always impressed by what he sees, we've been going there on every trip and have never had problems.
I could go on and on because as i write this im reliving it, many people bag Patong but I love it, i love the vibrancy of the place, and while Kata and Karon may have nicer beaches its after the sun goes down that Patong wins hands down, what I noticed on this trip? Definitely quieter not as many people as I would have expected, definitely The Russians are in Town in a big way, Bangla Rd is still a melting pot love it or hate it its definitely a place to open eyes, Tuk Tuks at 200baht for a short ride isnt that bad really we did the short rides when we couldn't be bothered walking and the drivers really are not as demanding as the used to be i think.
time share touts on motorbikes well i gave them all the same answer, they come up and say do you speak English I said yes "F@ck off" so they understood me very well and that's all it really took.
All in all we had a great time, its a holiday we enjoyed and yes there are cheaper places and yes its touristy but warts and all we love it and our first time friends are already talking about a return trip that's how infectious it is , the people a friendly we had some laughs with them and thank them all for making it a memorable holiday.
Till Next time :)))