A week in Phuket
Phuket, 2011-11-28 12:00 by Laerke


I actually never thought I would go to Phuket, the image I have in my head of the island is one of mass tourism, Russian package tourists, sleazy go-go bars, inflated prices and lobster red tourist in too little clothes. Not really my cup of tea. However we were going to Bangkok, and there were really cheap flights available to Phuket, so cheap in fact that it made more sense to fly over Phuket than directly to Bangkok. We had a few days to spare and decided that we needed a holiday – and off we went, excited to see if Phuket would live up to my expectations…
We started our little holiday in the north of Phuket at Ao Nai Thon, this should be far enough away from the hubbub of the south (read Patpong, Kata etc.) to ensure a bit of peace and quiet. We stayed at a decent place, where the owner was super charming and full of good advice. The beach was nice, yellowish sand and not very many people on it. Definitely not one of the best beaches we’ve seen, but we enjoyed eating dinner with our feet in the sand and listing to the waves.

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Our guesthouse helped us arrange a scooter, as far as I remember the price was pretty normal (somewhere between 200-300baht a day). We went on a day trip to Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife and Forest Reserve, here we spent the better part of the day hiking in the forest, lonely planet says the park protects an area of 23 sq km of virgin island rainforest (evergreen monsoon forest). We walked along a stream and found a sweet little waterfall, it was hot and sweaty in the forest so it was wonderful to cool off a little in the water!

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Another day saw us going to Phuket Town. Phuket was a trade island long before the first tourist flip-flop touched down on the island, attracting Arab, Chinese, Indian and Portuguese traders. Today all of this is evident in the Sino-Portuguese architecture of the old town, it was great to wander down these charming streets many of the beautiful old house have been converted into artsy coffeeshops, galleries and cute looking guesthouses. We regretted not knowing about this place earlier or we would have booked into one of the guesthouses for a night or two.

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We did drive past Patong, Karon and Kata on our scooter, but we saw nothing there that warranted a stop, and the next day we happily boarded a small ferry to take us to Koh Yao Noi off the east coast of Phuket.

Upon alighting at Koh Yao Noi we breathed a happy sigh of relief, the island was deliciously low-key! We found a new scooter to rent and set off to find a place to stay, we drove past a 7-11 (the only one on the island) a lively little market and lots of wooden houses. The next couple of days we were treated to relaxed days taking in the island, we whizzed around the whole island taking in the coconut farms, rubber tree plantations, rice fields of the interior and the pretty coastline.

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The swimming wasn’t great, but we rented a boat for a day and toured the gorgeous scenery of Ao Phang-Nga, here there was plenty of opportunity for swimming. We saw some of the most beautiful seascapes we have yet to see in Thailand, it really was drop dead gorgeous. There were quite a few other tourists out and about in boats, but it wasn’t too bad and our captain did a great job at finding secluded spots for us. It was fantastic to bask in the sun and the turquoise water surrounded by jagged limestone cliffs, and we also explored a beautiful lagoon where we found lots of starfish. We specifically chose not to go to James Bond Island as we had heard that it is quite the tourist trap and super crowded and filled to the brim with hawkers selling coral and shells – that all should have stayed in the ocean! We absolutely loved our day out on the water and what a perfect ending to our Phuket trip.

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So did Phuket live up to my bad expectations? In the end we ended up spending half of our time away from Phuket on Khao Yao Noi, and that was pure bliss. The time we did spend on Phuket we stayed away from the main tourist areas and in doing so we managed to have a pretty enjoyable time, I definitely recommend Phuket Old Town! It might be really small but it is fun to explore for a day.