Have had a manic last week. We qrrived on Phuket island on 17th June. Gorgeous weather even though it is supposed to be monsoon and had previously been raining…seems the good weather is following us around!
Spent day 1 looking at apartments and hotels. Some great value options at Ocean Breeze Apartments and The Plantation Kamala, but I’m still not sold on Phuket as a private rental destination. There is construction work everywhere and while some of the apartment complexs are nicely done the surrounds often ruin it.
The hotels seem to have the better locations. Indigo Pearl was especially good. Based on the theme of tin mining which made Phuket rich when Chinese settlers first landed here, the hotel has a funky industrial feel, with extremely unique, comfortable rooms even in the standard category. Wonderful restaurants and bars resembling scenes from Mad Max, thai cookery and exotic flower arrangment classes. A hotel that would appeal to any fun loving or design consious adult and children of all ages.
We spent the evening on a sunset crusie round the beautiful limestone islands of phangan bay. Our boat was a traditional chinese wooden junk, with red canvas and bamboo sails. We had dinner on board and as it was low season we practically had the huge ship to ourselves!
On Day 2 we travelled up to Khao Lak on the mainland. Just 1 hour away from Phuket airport, this area has got to be one of Thailands best kept secrets. The area was growing steadily before the tsunami, especially popular with divers because of its close proximity to the world famous Similian and Surin island dive spots, but development slowed after the events of 2005 which has thankful left Khao Lak years behind Phuket, with a relaxed, escapist feel. The Paradise Khao Lak with just 30 charming villas was a particular favourite due to a lovely GM and gorgeous pool/beach set into the corner of an impressive bay with a lush tropical backdrop. The Sarojin would be perfect for anyone with slightly deeper pockets, who enjoys outstanding service.
After driving back to Phuket we decided to brave vibrant Patong for dinner to soak up a bit of the colour and sinful side of the island! As a one off guilty pleasure I must say it is great fun. Daunting and loud, with some outrageous sights to be seen, but unmissable just once.
Day 3 and it was time to leave Phuket for a night to explore one of the areas much quieter islands - Koh Yao. We arrived at a local port with not a tourist in sight. We caught a speed boat whose cargo comprised off us and several thai passangers, some fertilizer, a computer, 3 huge crates of food (luckily no smelly duran fruit even though it is in season) and an entire engine which was balanced precariously on the small bow. The journey took just 40mins and needless to say I loved the experience.
We feel in love with Koh Yao instantly. Rural, gorgeous, with views across Phangan Bay and only 3 hotels on the island it is the thai beach idle I have been waiting to find. We took a longtail boat that afternoon to a couple of deserts islands within Phangan Bay. Prak Bai would be a brave but stunning spot for a wedding and the hidden lagoon of Koh Hong is great sea kayaking ground. Our accommodation was also perfect. Koh Yao Island Resort has just 15 open air luxury bungalows. No air-con but plenty of fans, electricity and amazing views from every bed in the morning. They are connected with a local childrens community centre which you can visit, and occassionally the children come to the hotel for drawing and art classes. LOVE LOVE LOVE Koh Yao!!
After reluctantly leaving Koh Yao, the next morning we caught another longtail boat back to Phuket, were meet again by our superb Phuket guide Usa and transfered efficently to another pier. This time the experience was totally different but highly enjoyable in a another way. Our destination was ‘The Racha’ hotel named after its home island Koh Racha or Raya to the locals. We were greeted on arrival at the port and escorted into a beautiful air-conditioned lounge with complimentary drinks & nibbles, free internet access, a wide screen TV and games for the children. We were able to check in in advance and even select which scent we would prefer our shower gel to have. The boat was very comfortable and took just 35mins to reach the island.
The hotel was everything I had anticipated style wise, but without being at all potentious. The small bay had electric blue water and power puff white sand, but a rustic local restaurant and a few fishermans huts stopped the hotel from feeling sterile and cacooned from the reality. The set up is therefore ideal. High end luxury in a very private location without cutting guests off from interacting with the thai people and the countries culture.
After another boat trip back to Phuket this morning and a fasinating tour round an open fresh market, we are now on our way over to Koh Phi Phi. So many boats in such a short space of time is getting a little tedious, but necessary to bring you the best!!
Check in again soon.