STOP 12 | Day 31 to 35 |
Continuing with our exploration of Thailand’s beaches, Phuket was next on our travel destination list. Phuket is the largest island of Thailand, situated on the west coast in the Andaman Sea. Getting to Phuket we took the ferry and bus option with Lomprayah, which offers the high-speed ferry alternative from Ko Samui back to the Thailand mainland (Donsak Pier). From Donsak Pier we took a comfortable coach to Phuket. The total journey time was approximately 7 hours.
Similar to Ko Samui, Phuket is very developed and caters to high tourist volumes. Our first day we explored the area between Kata and Karon beaches which were walking distance from our hotel (Novotel Phuket Kata Avista Resort & Spa). Kata and Karon are just south of the main tourist area of Patong, which is the most famous resort area of Phuket. The majority of the restaurants in the resort areas are for the masses of tourists, but we did manage to find The Kitchen Kata Beach which offered good and reasonably priced Thai food, as well we found a fried ice cream stand which was the best we’ve had during our travels!
On our second day we participated in a cooking class at the Kata Thai Cooking Class by Sally, which ended up being perfect as we woke up to pouring rain (to be expected as it was the rainy season). This was an “A activity” as J noted, however he ended enjoying it just as much! The cooking class ended up being private (perk of being there during low season). We made Tom Yum/Tom Kha soup, Green Curry (curry paste made from scratch) and Pad Thai. Sally was a great chef, we learnt all about the Thai ingredients and Thai cooking tricks/tips. The class included preparing all the ingredients, making our own curry paste and individually cooking all the three dishes. All our dishes turned out amazing, our favorite was the green curry (one of the best green curries we’ve ever had!). J even won bragging rights as Sally said his Pad Thai was better than A’s. Hopefully he can recreate this once we are back home! In summary, this was one of the best activities and we recommend for anyone who is interested in learning how to cook authentic Thai cuisine.
The third day we decided it was time to explore the underwater world of Phuket so we headed out diving for the day with Phuket Dive Tours. Some of the best diving in Phuket requires an Advance Open Water certification (we are only Open Water certified), as they are about 25+ meters deep. Fortunately the team at Phuket Dive Tours was able to arrange an adventure dive with our own assigned dive-master so we could explore these dive sites. We have been diving through most of the Caribbean, Europe and the Philippines, over the past six years relatively seamlessly, but the process in Thailand was quite an experience! Foreigners don’t own boats in Phuket (the Thai people don’t allow it), so instead the dive companies you research online are only agents for the locally ran boats. Arriving at the pier it was a zoo, with tons of tourists heading on boats for dive, snorkel or island hopping trips (and to imagine this was “low season”). We were one of about 6 groups on the dive boat, with just over 30 divers; apparently during the peak season there can be about 50 divers on the boat. It was quite chaotic with so many people setting up gear and getting ready, you get a 10 minute warning before arriving at the dive site and the boat crew manages to get all the divers off the boat within minutes of arriving. The three dives we did were Koh Docmai, King Cruiser Wreck and Shark Point, the visibility was not the best on the first two dives but we still enjoyed the schools of fish and coral at Shark Point. King Cruiser Wreck (a passenger and car ferry) was also neat, as the wreck was still in pretty good condition so you could enter and see what use to be a staircase and remnants of a bathroom. Following our diving for the day we decided to check-out the main tourist hot-spot of Patong on our rented 125cc scooter. Patong itself was bustling with many restaurants and nightlife. For dinner we decided to check out Malin Plaza , which offers an array of food stands serving Thai street food, ice cream, crepes or fruit shakes.
On our last day we went on an all day speedboat tour of the Phi Phi islands. After looking at various options we realized that all the tour companies offer the exact same package (which was evident during the tour as numerous speedboats all stopped at the same place). The first stop on the tour was to Monkey Beach on Ko Phi Phi Don, the monkeys here are not shy and pretty aggressive, the tour guide warned the parents with small kids to not let them run around on the beach as they could get attacked! After a few happy snaps we went snorkeling off Phi Phi Don, the coral here was surprisingly good with parrot fish, an eel and again schools of fish. The next stop was in Pileh Lagoon, which reminded us of Halong Bay with the limestone rock formations only here you could swim in the water. The tour also supplied a buffet lunch on Phi Phi Don, where the massive hall catered to all the various speedboat tours. The last few stops in the afternoon was to Maya Beach, made famous by the movie “The Beach” and Khai Island. The organized tour may not be for everyone with the key drawback being the crowds and rushed experience, however given it was low season we got it for a very good price and it was a good way for us to pack everything into one day. Arriving back in Phuket we managed to head over to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point of the island which is known for its sunset views. We had to navigate through the crowds brought by the tour buses, but it was definitely a picturesque and relaxing viewpoint to enjoy the sunset.