Where to stay in Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and one of the top reasons that tourists choose Phuket for their holiday is because Phuket has many beautiful beaches, offers great value for money and the freedom to do fun things that are not allowed in other countries!

Choosing accommodation in Phuket can be difficult for some people who visit the island for the first time, especially when you are looking for accommodation for a big group of people and need to make sure that the place suits everyone. However, if you are looking for relaxing accommodation for a group of 10-12 people, within walking distance to the beach, restaurants and shops, you may want to consider this beautiful 5 bedroom villa called Villa IDEAL.  The villa is located in Baan Thai Surin Hill estate, near Surin beach. The estate is surrounded by many five star hotels, resorts, luxury properties and beautiful sandy beaches. The villa is ideal for a fun and relaxing stay with friends and family. Beyonce and Jay Z also stayed in a nearby five star resort called Amanpuri near Surin beach for their holiday a few years ago!

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Thai contemporary villa with swimming pool
012 Pool Terrace
View over Bang Tao Bay
011 Dining Pavilion
Beautiful sunny day..
015 Living Room
The living room & music system over the villa
019 Master Bedroom
The master bedroom with Thai decor style
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The master bathroom with a jacuzzi
030 Bedroom 4
One of the guest bedrooms
032 Bedroom 4 Bathroom
All bedrooms with en-suit bathroom
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A study room
008 Pool Terrace
One fine evening!

Get to know the areas in Phuket:

The North WestBang TaoSurinKamala

If you are looking for a budget hotel, Bang Tao might be an option. There are several hotels in the Bang Tao area, many of them within walking distance to Bang Tao beach which is very convenient for beach lovers. Bang Tao is the longest beach in Phuket and most beautiful in my opinion. The famous Catch Beach Club is also located on Bang Tao beach. There is a Muslim village and a Thai-Chinese village in Bang Tao, so you will find colourful day and night markets full of cheap delicious local food and fruit. A local supermarket, Tesco Lotus, is full of Thai products and local beers. There are also many good Thai restaurants and street food very popular with locals which you should not miss trying.

If you would like to go a bit up market with easy access to high-end facilities, the Laguna complex is an option. The complex is located on Bang Tao beachfront and is a mix of five star hotels, resorts, golf courses and luxury property estates. The whole area is immaculate. Staying in the Laguna area gives you easy access to Boat Avenue which I would call a town centre. Boat Avenue provides many good high quality restaurants, bars, wine shops, shopping and a high quality supermarket called Villa Market where they import a lot of high quality products.

The Surin and Kamala areas have many luxury properties, villas, five star hotels and resorts. The accommodation in this area is mostly luxury with few nice hotels less than 4 star. Staying in Kamala gives you easy access to Patong which is the centre of entertainment. Rihanna and her crew stayed in a five star resort in Kamala called Paresa before going to perform at the F1 Grand Prix concert in Singapore in 2013.

Staying in this area gives you easy access to high-end facilities, e.g. beach clubs, fine dining, golf course, horse riding, etc. You can also find good value for money local facilities such as outdoor markets, seafood restaurants, street food and local supermarket without going out of the area. This area is suitable for a family holiday and people who want to have a relaxing time and enjoy what Phuket has to offer. This area is only 30 minutes from the airport.

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Beautiful sandy Surin beach
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Beautiful coconut trees on Surin beach
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The most beautiful beach in Phuket, Bang Tao beach
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Catch Beach Club on Bang Tao beach
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Kamala beach
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Andara resort & Villas in Kamala

The Central WestPatong, Kata, Karon: Patong is the centre of entertainment, nightlife and bars. It ideal for fun nights and partying hard! The streets are full of bars, tourist restaurants, massage shops and souvenir shops. There are a lot of cheap hotels popular with young people on a low budget and who want easy access to the nightlife. I would not recommend you to bring children and stay in Patong. Patong beach is not particularly special, sometimes very crowded and the sand is not always kept clean. Water sports are available here but be careful when using jet skis as you can be tricked into paying for damage that you may not have caused!

Kata and Karon are located in the south of Patong and only 10-15 minutes by car to reach Patong. This area is more layback than Patong and popular for family holiday as hotel prices are not as high as in the north of the island and the beaches are beautiful. The facilities are very touristy; tourist prices prevail and you will hardly find any locals here. However, there is one local supermarket in the area called Makro that provides a good selection of local and imported products. Patong, Kata and Karon are about 1 hour from the airport.

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Kata beach
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Kata beach is popular for family holiday
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A public park located opposite Kata beach
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Karon beach
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Karon beach

The South: Rawai, Nai Harn: At the southern end of the island, Rawai beach is more like a marina where a lot of long tail boats and speed boats are waiting to take tourists to the nearby small islands. The beach is not suitable for swimming because the sea bed is very rocky but you can rent a boat to beautiful small islands nearby – just walk by and check out the price with the skippers who sit waiting for customers. Rawai beach front is very touristy; most shops, bars and restaurants are for tourists, with hardly anything for locals. Around the corner at Rawai beach is a popular seafood market where you can buy fresh seafood and bring it to a number of restaurants opposite the market where they will cook it for you. I would recommend to cook at Mook Dee Seafood, the original seafood restaurant before this area became more and more popular. There are also pearl and souvenir shops next to the seafood market where you can buy pearls from China! Hotel prices are very reasonable near Rawai beach.

Nai Harn beach is located only 10 minutes by car from Rawai beach. Nai Harn beach is beautiful and many nice hotels, resorts and private properties are located here. This area is popular with Russian families who escape their winter and rent a private property for 1-3 months. It’s also popular with retired foreigners who find long term rental accommodation is affordable. The price for accommodation in this area is quite reasonable for long term stays and private properties are available for short stay holiday use as well. This would give you an option of feeling more like home. Check out these villas with private pool for only USD 100-150 per night which can accommodate up to 6 people.

Staying in Rawai and Nai Harn gives you easy access to Chalong, a residential area that offers local facilities. The famous Big Buddha and Wat Chalong are located in Chalong. To reach Rawai and Nai Harn would take 1-1.5 hours from the airport as they are located in the south of Phuket and the airport is located in the far north.

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Long tail boats in Rawai are waiting to take you to small islands!
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Many beautiful small islands near Rawai beach
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Nai Harn beach
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Nai Harn beach

I hope this helps you to find a suitable location and accommodation for your holiday in Phuket.

Phuket Destination Wedding

Phuket has become one of the most popular wedding destinations for people around the world. There are many good reasons to choose Phuket for your special day, e.g. good value for money for high-end facilities, variety of ceremonies on offer, e.g. Thai traditional, beach wedding & religious ceremony, many beautiful venues to choose from and lastly, friends & family can take the opportunity to have a nice holiday in Thailand.

Recently, I had my own wedding in Phuket and I’m going to share the most memorable experience of my life with you. This will probably give you some ideas to plan your own special day in Phuket.

My husband and I are Phuket residents and we have been living here for 10 years so we know Phuket very well and what we can get in Phuket for the best value. We set our wedding date on the 8th of April 2017 and we started to plan it around the beginning of Jan 2017. 

Talk to wedding planers: This will give you a lot of ideas and many things you need to think about. Before talking to the wedding planers I did some research but after talking to them I had a lot to think about which I did not consider before. They will provide helpful guide lines and they can give you an approximate price for your dream wedding to help you to plan your budget. I talked to 2 wedding planners but at the end I did not use them because I decided to be my own wedding planner as I thought it’s going to be fun to organise my own wedding. 

Choosing venues: The concept of our wedding was non-religious, modern, simple and intimate. We invited about 30 people to join us, only family and close friends. Knowing the guest list helped us to look for the most suitable venue. We started to look at hotel packages; many hotels are offering a beach ceremony and a reception in their hotel restaurant or pool side. You have to think carefully to have an outdoor wedding during April-October during the wet season. We did not want to take any risk on this so we decided to go for an indoor wedding. We ended up choosing the Angsana Laguna Wedding Chapel for the ceremony. We made a decision immediately after visiting the Chapel located in the Laguna Complex, right next to a beautiful lake and surrounded by tropical greenery. The Laguna complex is a mix of five star hotels, resorts, golf courses and luxury property estates. The whole area looks clean and well maintained and this created a good impression on our guests who visited the area for the first time. 

Here are some photos of the Chapel and the ceremony.

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Angsana Laguna Wedding Chapel located next to the beautiful lake
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Angsana Laguna Wedding Chapel

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The ceremony started around 4 pm and took only 30 minutes in the Chapel. After that we spent about 40 minutes to take photos with our guests outside the Chapel, then headed to the reception. We choose a sea view villa at Andara Resort & Villas for the evening reception. And again it did not take us long time to make decision to choose a private villa at Andara Resort & Villas for our special evening. The villa was stunning, the space and the layout were just perfect for 30 guests, not too big and not too small. We got a good deal to ensure that we were not going to be bankrupt after the wedding! Let’s see the photos of our wedding reception venue. 

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Andara villa
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Perfect weather
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Stunning view over Kamala Bay..
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The villa is well maintained, clean & immaculate
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Pool side for welcome drinks
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The refreshment corner with view over the sea and Kamala beach
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A very relaxing place
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A lovely couple..
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Guests arrived and enjoy welcome drinks!
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Beautiful villa with amazing view..
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Perfect space for 30 guests
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The dining room
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Thai contemporary villa
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Flower arrangement by me..
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Time to eat..
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Delicious Thai food..

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Guests arrived at the villa around 5.30 pm and the staff served drinks by the swimming pool. The weather was perfect with a gentle breeze from the sea so it was very relaxing to sit, drink and talk. Our guests enjoyed the view, the sunset and the stunning villa. We started dinner around 7 pm and the party went on until 11 pm. All the guests had great fun dancing. I would say that the service, the staff and the food were five star. The event manager at Andara handled everything perfectly and professionally. I would highly recommend this place.

Here is the cost of the venues;

The fee for using the Chapel was THB 88,000 (USD 2,600) This included the set up of the chapel, flower arrangement, a bridesmaid’s bouquet, a photographer (we received 260 photos), a celebrant, a one night stay for a couple in Angsana hotel and the event manager who helped to organise everything. Our guests were impressed with the Chapel and the ceremony and we were more than satisfied with their service.

The fee of Andara Villa was about THB 200,000 (USD 5,700), this included food, drinks, one night accommodation in the villa (3 bedrooms), venue set up, staff and the event manager who help to create this memorable evening.

Other – Photographer at the wedding reception for 6 hours was THB 16,000 (USD 450) and I received 800 photos from Thana Photography, hair & make up was THB 8,000 (USD 230) by Shine, the flower arrangement at the reception was THB 12,000 (USD 340) which I spent all day on the day before the big day to do it myself. The price also included my bouquet. The flowers would cost about THB 30,000 (USD 850) if I hired a professional to do it. Ps. I watched YouTube and practiced a few times.

Total was THB 324,000 (USD 9,300). When we started to budget we did not want to spend more than THB 350,000 (USD 10,000) so it was successful.

My wedding dress is from a Thai designer called Patinya, and the after party dress is also from a Thai designer called Pitchana. If you want a simple, stylish and high quality tailor dress, you can visit Central Chidlom (ThaiThai Zone) and Siam Paragon in Bangkok where is about 20 designers from Thailand.  My earrings are Dior Tribal Earrings and my shoes is MANOLO BLAHNIK They are available worldwide. 

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Hope this give you some ideas for your wedding in Phuket. If you need advice please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to help!

Road trip from Bangkok to Phuket

I had a chance to do a road trip again when I got a message from my Italian friends that they wanted to visit Thailand (for the first time). After discussing the best way to see Thailand for 8 days, we ended up with this itinerary.

Day 1 – stay 1 night in Bangkok

As we had very limited time, after picking them up at the airport at 9 pm we went straight away for drinks at one of the best rooftop bars in Bangkok, Moon Bar on the 61st floor above the city with panoramic view at Banyan Tree hotel. This place is my favorite cocktail bar in the city and I think it’s the best way to see Bangkok when you have only 1 night here. My friends had wonderful welcome drinks on their first night in Thailand after a long flight.  This stunning place has never disappointed when I brought my foreign friends. My friends also enjoyed staying in Urbana Sathorn hotel, where they have a large swimming pool view overlooking the city of Bangkok.

We visited the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew in the morning but we did not visit Wat Pho which is located near the Grand Palace due to limited time we had. I would recommend you to visit The Grand Palace around 2-3 pm followed by Wat Pho. You should then be finished visiting these places by 6 pm in order to catch a beautiful sunset on the rooftop bar at Sala Rattanakosin hotel located opposite Wat Pho. The bar has a stunning view overlooking the Chao Phraya River and Wat Arun. A cocktail with a gorgeous sunset view is a perfect way to celebrate the end of the day. If you finish visiting Wat Pho too early for sunset, you can walk to Pak Khlong Talat, a flower market nearby and come back to the bar near sunset time around 6 pm. If you are hungry I would recommend Apsorn’s Kitchen (ครัวอัปสร), a real deal Thai restaurant located on Dinso Road only 10 minutes by Tuk Tuk from Wat Pho. 

There are so many things to do and see in Bangkok that you probably need a minimum of 3 days here.

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Wat Phra Kaew
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The Grand Palace
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Wat Pho
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Wat Pho
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The rooftop bar at Sala Rattanakosin hotel
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Pak Klong Talat, a flower market

Day 2- stay 1 night in Pranburi, Phetchaburi Province

We arrived in Pranburi late afternoon and after checking in to the hotel I went straight to the beach. I have been here many times and still enjoy being here as Pranburi is not developed as much as Hua Hin and Cha-Am which are full of hotels and resorts. I always prefer a place that has fewer tourists and authentic local rural life. Pranburi is popular with Thai people as it’s only 2.30 hours drive from Bangkok. You would probably stay here no more than 2 nights so I recommend to stay in a beachfront resort or hotel for maximum enjoyment. We had a great dinner at a seafood restaurant and we ended up on a beach bar where we enjoyed music and watching stars!

We left Pranburi around 10 am and instead of taking the highway we took the seaside road through Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. My friends were impressed with the mountain and agricultural scenery.

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Sunrise in Pranburi
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Sunrise in Pranburi
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Best fishing location!
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You will never walk alone!
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Pranburi beach
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Pranburi beach
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Pranburi beach
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Beautiful sea star in Pranburi
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The friendly beach bar in Pranburi
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Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Day 3- stay 1 night in Baan Krut, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province

We arrived in Baan Krut beach about mid day. This is the first time for me here and I could not believe how beautiful, peaceful and wonderful this place is. I totally forgot about Pranburi and Baan Krut became my number one favorite place. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer a quiet place with local rural life and if you like the same, this place is the answer for you! We stayed in a beachfront resort called “Baan Montra Beach Resort” where they have an excellent restaurant, swimming pool and great staff. You should also visit “Krom Luang Chumphon Khet Udomsak Royal Palace” located up on the hill only 5 minutes by car from the resort. I very much enjoyed waking up at 6 am to see the sunrise, local rural life and chatting with local people on the beach. This could be my ideal retirement place!

To get to Baan Krut beach you can also fly from Bangkok to Chumphon Airport and from there it’s about 100 km by road.

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Baan Krut beach
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Baan Krut beach in the afternoon
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Baan Krut beach in the afternoon
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Baan Montra Beach Resort
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There were only my friends on the beach, hardly see any tourists on the beach.
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at 6 am
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Beautiful shells
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Sunrise and local fishing boat
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Local people start their life early in the morning
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This kind man dropped me at the resort after I ran on the beach for a few km and too tired to walk back.

Day 4-5 stay 2 nights in Koh Tao, Surat Thani Province

We left Baan Krut around 10 am to catch a ferry at Chumphon pier at 1 pm to go to Koh Tao, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. This was my first visit to Koh Tao. I had heard about it for a long time and I imagined a crazy island with young people having crazy parties on the beach. We stayed in a hotel on Sairee beach which is the center of entertainment. For people looking to have a party and to enjoy drinking, this place is perfect. This area is full of young people, backpackers and the beach is not very clean. If you want to go to Koh Tao and stay in a quiet place, Sairee beach is not for you. The highlight of Koh Tao was renting a boat to explore around the island.  There are many good places for snorkeling and scuba driving, e.g. Mango Bay. If you come to Mango Bay I would recommend to eat at the restaurant at Mango Bay Boutique Resort run by Gabriele Pilotto, an Italian guy who happens to be chef as well.

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Koh Nang Yuan near Koh Tao
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Koh Tao
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Mango Bay
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The restaurant at Mango Bay Boutique Resort
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View from Koh Nang Yuan
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Sairee beach, Koh Tao
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Popular activity
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Sunset on Sairee beach

Day 6-8 stay 3 nights in Phuket Island

I have been living in Phuket for 8 years since 2008 so before you ask me for any recommendations, you have to tell me first what you are looking for and what is your budget. In Phuket you can get anything from a cheap room to a luxury villa and from street food to a fine dining.

If you enjoy partying, drinking and want to stay in a budget hotel, Kata, Karon and Patong can offer you that. But if you are looking for a relaxing place, nice restaurant, quiet beach I would recommend to stay in the north of Phuket, e.g. Layan, Bang Tao, Surin and Kamala. My friends were not completely happy with their choice of hotel in Kata and they did not like the environment of the entertainment area. You can rent an IDEAL Property if you want something more like home instead of a hotel.

My friends enjoyed beaches so much that they ended up staying on Bang Tao and Layan beach for 2 days! Other than that, they also visited the Big Buddha and tried riding elephants. We had great dinning at Mom Tri Kitchen in Kata and the last evening at Baan Suan Layan. My friends also enjoyed a Thai country style pub full of only Thai people, Ploen@Chalong located in Chalong, where there was a live band playing. Try this place as an alternative to the tourist bars for a fun night out.

There are a lot of places to visit in Phuket; I wish my friends had more time so I could show them my other favorite part of Phuket, Phuket Old Town.

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Bang Tao beach
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Bang Tao beach
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Layan beach
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Layan beach
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Layan beach
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Favorite time of the day
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Sunset on Layan beach
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Our friends enjoying the beach!
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Most beautiful sunset
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Say good bye to a wonderful day!
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We made it!

We drove about 914 km from Bangkok to Phuket. The longest time on the road was 5 hours from Ao Thung Makham Pier in Chumphon to Phuket when we returned from Koh Tao. If you don’t want to drive too long you can stay in Kao Sok National Park in Surat Thani  for a night and visit Ratchaprapha Dam before heading to Phuket. On the way to Phuket if you have time you should stop at Ao Phang Nga Marine National Park , rent a boat and explore the park before arriving in Phuket.

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Phuket Old Town

Most  tourists who come to Phuket would probably head to the beaches and Patong nightlife which are located on the west coast of the island. After you have had enough of sandy beaches and have recovered from your hangover, you should make a trip to Phuket Town or stay there for 1-2 nights. Phuket Town is not a tourist area but it’s where the original Phuket people settled and where Thai people live today. If you stay in Phuket Town you would get a feeling of being a local person and most of the restaurants, bars, shops, market and street food are local style.

Here are a few things that I enjoy of what Phuket Town has to offer.

Sunday night street market at Thalang Road

Thalang Road is one of the most important and oldest roads in Phuket Town and along 350 meters of this road you will see  beautiful classic buildings in “Sino-Portuguese” style. The road is full of chic cafes, restaurants, traditional Chinese shops, some boutique hotels and some residential buildings. Every Sunday evening the road is closed for a street market which starts at 4 pm till 10 pm. The market is full of food stalls, drinks, fruit, clothes, bags, souvenirs, accessories, tattoo stalls and many more things at a Thai price!  There will also be music bands and a traditional show from local kids to entertain you and some kids’ activities like painting.

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Two girls wearing traditional Thai custom during Thai New Year or Songkran at the Sunday market
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The girl performed at the Sunday market on Thalang road
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Thalang Road on Sunday
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A lot of chic cafes on Thalang Road
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Some of the local products at the market
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Sunday street market
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Dibuk Road parallel to Thalang Road

Khao Rang View Point

If you want to see a big picture of Phuket Town, Khao Rang View Point has a stunning view over Phuket Town and is located on top of Khao Rang Hill. I have visited this place many times and one reason is because I love the food at Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant and enjoy a chill out evening at one of the highest places on the island. The menu is a mix between Thai and European and I have never been disappointed with the Thai food so far but I guess the restaurant maybe is not the best place for European food. Khao Rang View Point has a park with a chidren’s playground and a shop that sells ice cream and fruit shake – an ideal place for a family with young kids. From 4-6 pm would be the best time to visit as the temperature might be a bit lower (average 30 degrees all year round)  and to have a chill dinner at the restaurant would be a bonus. Before you reach the view point there is a Buddhist Temple that you can visit. I also think that Khao Rang View Point is the best place to see the sun rise as it is located on the east coast of the island but it’s a shame that I haven’t had an opportunity to wake up at 5 am yet!

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The park at Khao Rang Hill
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The view over Phuket Town
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Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant
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Khao Rang temple

Night market street food

There is a lot of street food in Phuket Town but my favorite one is the night street food located at the fresh market. There are a lot of food stalls here with open kitchens, e.g. seafood, one dish menu (pad Thai, noodle soup, rice with pork or chicken) and all kinds of fried rice and some local desserts. I have eaten there many times and enjoyed it every time. Tourists who visit Thailand for the first time might be a bit nervous to eat here but there is really nothing to be afraid of as all the food here is not strange. Go ahead and try the most delicious food in the world!

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This is what a street food in Phuket looks like!
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A lot of food stalls to choose from
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Busy time at 7 pm with local people

Shopping in Phuket Town

If you would like to buy good quality of T-shirts, trousers, jeans, shorts, accessories and all kinds of fashion for a reasonable price, The Expo Market is the center for this.  This place sells clothes for men and women made in Thailand and the quality is worth for the price. The price here is cheaper than in tourist areas, e.g. Patong 2-3 times. if you want to do serious shopping it’s worth a visit and It opens from 10 am – 10 pm everyday. If you are there around lunch time I recommend to have lunch at Up Town Restaurant next to the Expo Market or if you are there around dinner time you can walk to the night street food.

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Accommodation in Phuket Town

There are some of nice boutique hotels in Phuket Town but if you are looking for bargain accommodation and to stay in a place that you can feel more like home, renting an apartment from Airbnb is an option.

The nearest beach 

I highly recommend you visit Ao Yon Beach located on the east coat of Phuket Island where is very quiet as not many tourists go there. From Phuket Town take Soi Ao-Yon Khao Khad Road, this road runs along the sea with beautiful scenery. You can also stop at Khao Khad View Point Tower to check the most beautiful view point in Phuket.

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Soi Ao-Yon Khao Khad Rd. The road to Ao Yon beach
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Stunning panorama view point beside the road
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Stunning view
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Beautiful & peaceful Ao Yon beach
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Not many tourist on this beautiful beach..they all in Patong!
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There is a sailing school for kid on the beach
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Tourists enjoy sunny day with amazing view

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I hope you enjoy Phuket Town as much as I do!