The next stop in the South East Asian Adventures is Phuket, Thailand. It’s a fantastic stepping stone to enjoying the beautiful beaches and islands of Thailand and it is probably the most popular destination in Thailand especially amongst the younger generations. Once you arrive you’ll soon see why! The two weeks spent here was one gigantic blur of partying, beaches, island hopping, day treks and exotic foods. I’m sure there are different sides to Phuket but my experience was a mixture of laid back beach side adventures and party fuelled fun, and for these reasons I would recommend it to anyone.


Accommodation

We stayed in the rather lovely Ashlee Hotel in Patong, Phuket. It’s quite convenient with access to markets, bars, the beach and tonnes of restaurants. Everything is a short walk away, and the major shopping centres are only 1.5km down the road. The complimentary breakfast was probably the best I’ve been offered and you can easily eat your fill on the cheap. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and every so often foam parties are held up stairs on the roof which are a sight to behold.

Getting there: From the airport we took a cheap transfer bus with 8 other people. It didn’t cost us more than $10 but there was the usual stop and scam operation behind it. Just politely say no, and get back on the bus and you’re getting a bargain.

Cost: Rooms start at around $80 AUD for twin share.

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From the rooftop pool and bar

Major Attractions


Phi Phi Island

So you would be perfectly justified in staying on Phi Phi Island for an extended period of time – it is truly beautiful. I saw it on a day trip by high speed boat and I thoroughly enjoyed my time. It was booked with Phang Nga Exploration and it was a bundle of fun beginning  the energetic tour guide, the catered lunch, the snorkelling, the island exploration and ending with the relaxing stop at Maya Beach where they shot the movie “The Beach”,  with Leo DiCaprio – it’s a well known spot that you can see in practically everyone’s Instagram if they’ve been to Thailand. There are plenty of islands to see nearby as well such as Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh, Bamboo Island and Fung Yai island. Phi Phi Island is gorgeous, but a little crowded near the main beaches for my liking but the beauty of the place is best seen with a sense of adventure as there are countless places to explore that will reveal its true potential.

Getting there: You could swim, but it’s inadvisable. Go by boat, there are tonnes you can choose from the mainland. It only takes about an hour from the Royal Phuket Marina.

Cost: Hotel costs on the island vary from $200 AUD all the way to $2000 and it depends on what you’re looking for. The speedboat trip I took cost $120 AUD for the day and it was enough for me.

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Bamboo Island

Siam Safari Elephant Tours

So I’m a pretty big advocate for getting rid of zoos and marine parks, but before I was educated I went on an elephant trek. Now, I will say that this particular tour was highly researched by my girlfriend at the time who refused to do anything with animals that weren’t properly taken care of, and so we found ourselves at the Siam Safari Nature Tour. There were no chains, no enclosures, and nothing grotesque. It was a beautiful trek in a beautiful part of the world and if you feel you must experience elephants like this it might be best to visit these guys at Siam Safari. I would beg you not to go to elephant shows in town and pay that little extra to visit these wonderful animals up on the mountain.

Getting there: If you book in they include a transfer from your hotel entrance

Cost: $55 AUD per adult – can be booked online or via your hotel if you’re already in Thailand

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Phuket in the distance

Sea Canoe Tours

For a day of gorgeous landscapes, tranquil waters, and an upper body work out* you shouldn’t look any further than doing a Sea Canoe Tour! It’s a wonderful way to explore and experience things close up. The weather wasn’t too crash hot when we went, but even so it was lovely, so I can only imagine when it’s a clear day your experience will be legendary. Give it a go! It can all be organised from your hotel as well for convenience.

Getting there: Similar to the Phi Phi Island tour you take a boat from the Royal Marina in Phuket and they take you to the drop off location.

Cost: Around $120 AUD for the day – transfer included

* They can do the rowing for you if that’s more your style – it makes it far more relaxing.

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Beach

Where would a recommended guide for Phuket be without mentioning the beach. Now, the main beach isn’t always clean – I myself came across a few plastic bags in my travels – but there are a tonne of fantastic and cheap activities you can do on the main beaches of Phuket. These include parasailing, paragliding, jet skiing and sun-baking – one of these is free.

Getting there: If you booked a decent hotel room/hostel room you will most likely be walking. If not, ante up for a tuk tuk

Cost: Parasailing/gliding will cost you around $30 AUD, Jet skis will set you back the same. That’s minimum – any longer and the cost will rise.

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Patong Beach

Shopping

This is a given while in Phuket. Everything is so cheap that if you thought you saved in Bangkok you’re about to kick yourself for not waiting. This goes for practically everything, and i’ll include food and drink in this as well to conserve time and space. Phuket is loaded with restaurants, shops, bars, nightclubs and cafes and it is a shopaholics wet dream. Just don’t be shocked at how often you’re asked to get a massage, buy a suit or hire a tuk-tuk, it gets old fast.

Getting there: Walk out your front door

Cost: Varies shop to shop – trinkets shouldn’t be more than $3, a main meal at a moderate restaurant will be about $26 AUD for two people (that’s 3 courses).