Sultry, lively, and with an abundance of activities, Phuket City in Thailand is a magnet for foreigners.
Part 1 for more travel tips on Phuket includes where to stay in Phuket city but also details visas and money tips while in Thailand.
After initially travelling through Thailand for two months, taking a flight to Myanmar for a month’s overland travel, return again to Thailand for the third month of more amazing travel. The three-month wonderful Thailand route so far.
Following a very long thirteen-hour journey and border crossing from Georgetown in Malaysia to Hat Yai (Thailand) on a bus, followed by a cramped minibus to Phuket Town in Southern Thailand, today should have only taken around 9 hours. But, travel in 2014 doesn’t always go to plan and today’s very long travel day is just one example.
Where is Phuket City?
Nestled in the picturesque south-eastern end of Thailand’s popular and largest island – Phuket – the city of Phuket (also known as Phuket Town) is the capital of Phuket Province.
As one of the oldest cities in Thailand, Phuket city boasts ten streets with colonial architecture known as Sino-Portuguese shophouses similar to townhouses.
Heritage buildings in old Phuket date back to the 19th-century and remind visitors of a more affluent time when tin mining on the island of Phuket flourished.
Most visit Phuket for its magnificent beaches – albeit crowded – and surrounding beautiful picture-postcard islands encompassed by turquoise becalmed waters. Although on this visit, absorbing intriguing architecture is the main objective.
What to see
The obvious renowned sights around Phuket are its beaches, Chalong Bay (B30 by Songthaew), and Kamala (B50 by Songthaew), which are good day trips if you are based in Phuket Town.
Catch a Songthaew – two or three-bench pick-up truck – to almost anywhere you need to go around the area. Songthaews are abundant and ply the streets looking for passengers.
These often crammed pick-up trucks randomly stop along many roads to pick up and drop off passengers, but designated stops for all Songthaews are still in the market area on Ranong Road.
If you wish to dabble in diving, snorkelling, sailing, and windsurfing to name a few activities, then a myriad of instructions and equipment are on offer.
You cannot leave Phuket City without a visit to the impressive and historical old town.
The 19th Century saw the beginning of the tin boom in Phuket’s intriguing old town, which led to the construction of many fine mansions, shops, and other buildings that are still standing. Most are well-preserved.
The architecture in the old town is described as Sino-Portuguese with a strongly Mediterranean character. You can see many shops, especially along Dibuk Road graced with grand Chinese fretwork carving, on old wooden doors.
Take the time to do a little walking tour around Old Phuket as this is an easy walk and you will experience delightful architecture along the way. Especially at night, on Thalang Road when colonial buildings are lit with striking constant-changing colours creating a gorgeous canvas of varying hues.
Where to eat
Try the Kopitiam by Wilai on 18 Thalang Road for authentic and great Thai food at good prices. There isn’t any exception when it comes to a reduction in spiciness for Westerners. So, expect an original scrumptious, spicy, and traditional experience for the taste buds.
If you love beer, then Chang beer is sold at a cheaper price at the market (B60) than in other pricier restaurants in Phuket Town.
In 2014, the market was held on Friday and Saturday nights. Down from the Tint Hotel, the market area is great for cheap delicious treats to curb any traveller’s hunger pangs.
Many locals frequent these markets so you know that prices are genuinely cheap. A buzz surrounds the stalls while everyone barter’s hard for a bargain.
Why not try a pedicure or some waxing? Both are carried out while you sit on a tiny stool by the roadside, and out in the open. You can also buy great souvenirs and stylish clothes at super cheap prices at this market.
Street performers and artists also perform along the main market street so it’s a great night out.
You can have anything done at this market – a wild thought!
Although I am not a big fan of store chains because I believe they drive local businesses into the ground. When you travel through Thailand, you cannot but help notice the 7-Eleven chains that grace (invade) almost every corner of the country. Whether in a city, town, or a small village, you can be assured of bumping into a 7-Eleven store, which is constantly busy.
This chain is cheap, convenient, and typically used by locals, as well as foreigners. Actually, apart from a plethora of available convenience items, you can pick up tasty fast foods (chicken meatballs, sticky rice burgers, Gyoza, sandwiches, and loads more), which staff are happy to microwave on the spot. Handy for a quick snack when running to catch your next bus.
Many items sold in this store are cheaper than in supermarkets and even some roadside food stalls.
Travelling from Phuket City to Khao Lak
From Phuket City Number One bus station, the orange bus drops you off along the very long Highway 4, in Khao Lak. So, make sure you know exactly where your hotel is, otherwise, you will be backtracking on foot miles out of your way with heavy packs.
Why Khao Lak? For some door-knocking (cold-calling) to hopefully pick up volunteering work. My partner wants to offer his services for free to clear landmines and if this isn’t possible, then hold lessons in Mine Risk Education (MRE) – read about his training in Kosovo. As for me, I’m hoping to volunteer in whatever is required.