Updated: Jul 17
By now you know we are not big on beaches or beach vacations. Laying on a beach for 4 days is not our travel style. We like active trips. That being said, when we did this trip back in summer of 2017, we had already planned to do a whirlwind trip to Europe - which meant we just needed a relaxing getaway.
.. and that's how Thailand happened.. it was just the perfect trip to escape the Dubai heat. As always, we skipped the capital city and went to straight to the islands.
Bangkok to Phuket to Patong. Local sightseeing. James Bond Island
Ko Phi Phi Islands
Local view points
BEST TIME TO VISIT
We went in June - it was pretty rainy during that time but we got lucky with the weather. No matter when you travel, be sure to carry a poncho or an umbrella.
FLIGHTS + VISA
We flew direct with Thai Airways from Dubai. Be sure to pre-order your vegetarian meal - there won't be ANY default vegetarian option. Thailand has VISA ON ARRIVAL for Indians. Just pay cash at the visa counter when you arrive and clear immigration.
Thai. Being such a touristy country, most people speak good English.
Baht is the official currency. Be sure to carry local currency as cash. They also accept dollars at most places.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the Memory Patong hotel. It was pretty close to a big mall - super convenient for lunch or dinner. The breakfast was delicious with fresh fruits and juice.
COSTS + GETTING AROUND
Depending on where you are flying in from, Thailand can be cheap or expensive. You can haggle for every single thing - including cabs, tours, street side shopping. Be sure you bargain for what you think is the best value..
Had no issues with safety.. but be mindful of your belongings at all times.
VEGAN + VEGETARIAN FOOD
There wasn't a lot of street food that we could enjoy since most of the food had meat.. In the city, we just stuck to the big brands like Subway and Pizza Hut. Highly recommend trying the Thai Pineapple Fried Rice - served in a pineapple shell.
We landed in Bangkok in the morning and boarded our flight to Phuket. From the Phuket City airport to Patong took us about an hour. Checked in at around 11 30 a.m. at the hotel.
After freshening up, we decided to head out to the Jungceylon Mall, which was just a 15 minute walk from the hotel. Post lunch, we ventured out to the streets behind the hotel (near the hard rock cafe in Patong) and this is where we decided to book our tours for the next two days.
You can opt for the BIG BOAT TOUR or the LONG TAIL BOAT TOUR. There is a difference in price but basically the same tour on two different kinds of boats. I would recommend the BIG BOAT TOUR.
Note: there will be plenty of agents around - they are all similar. We did a lot of walking around before finally going with one random tour operator (since we figured the rates are pretty much the same with all of them). Expect to spend upwards of 1500 Baht per day per person.
After booking tours, you should be back to the hotel by around 3 p.m. After taking a breather, we went down to the Patong beach to catch the stunning sunset views. Para gliding is an option but it is expensive here.
At 9 in the evening, we had a booking to do the Phuket Fantasea show. We also booked this show with the tour agent. It was a nice way to spend a few hours outside the city. The show goes on until midnight - you will be dropped back at the hotel.
JAMES BOND ISLAND
Pick up next morning was at 8 30 am from the hotel. We spent the day exploring the caves, rocks and 7 odd islands in Phang Nga Bay.
After a short boat ride, we made our way past picturesque islands before dropping anchor in Phang-Nga Bay. We spent a good few hours exploring the grottos and caves in Khao Ping Kan. The island got its name due to the enormous "leaning rock" found here. The limestone rock wedge has literally split down the middle and now lies on its other half.
Post lunch, we set out on our canoes. An eerie silence descended over us - everyone was quietly admiring the scenery. The limestone caves soared above us as we glided around the bay hearing nothing but the gentle splash of water against the paddle.
KO PHI PHI ISLANDS
Another day, another stunning Island.
This was a very relaxed day with lots of swimming, sun bathing and scuba diving.
After breakfast, we rented a taxi from the hotel (ask the reception to help you with it) for 3 hours (around 300 baht) to check out few local attractions.
Our first stop was the peaceful and utterly gorgeous BIG BUDDHA TEMPLE. The 45 meter high statue is a definite highlight of this place. It is free to enter.. expect to spend about an hour here.
Our next stop was the stunning LEAM PHROM THEP view point and check out the Karon beach on the way here. This is the southern tip of Phuket. There is just a small flight of stair until you reach the view point.. on the left you will see shops and elephant museums.
This is easily the island's most photographed view point. Did a short 0.3 mile walk to the top and the panoramic views were stunning.
Spend the rest of the day walking around in Old Phuket City and explore the shopping areas if you are interested. Relax or get a Thai Massage done (haggle hard and pay no more than 500 -1000 baht). Grab dinner, rest and get ready to head back home.
Tip: if you have the energy, I highly recommend checking out Karon beach for incredible sunrise views.
This was our first island getaway.. we made the most of our short trip. There is, of course, a lot more to do in Thailand including temple hopping in Bangkok. We preferred not to do that since we so rarely do islands.. just wanted to focus on that.
A lot of people only do the Patong beach.. but there is so much more to see and enjoy in Phuket.
Give yourself four to five days to hit all the major spots. I also highly recommend doing tours to these islands. It's easy and affordable to join a tour than planning to do it yourself
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