Thailand, Part 4: Phuket

01/13/2013

This is one of a series of posts about our honeymoon to Thailand in December 2012, which consisted of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Phuket, and a long layover in Tokyo. Scroll down to the bottom to see pictures, and click on any of them to see an enlarged version. This was tapped out on my iPad, so forgive any typos or sentence fragments.

12/26 – Travel Day! We said goodbye to Pai and the northern part of the country, and headed all the way to the other end of the country. Our driver picked us up and drove us back through the mountains, right to the Chiang Mai airport (a 3 hour drive, plus I’m assuming a return trip for him, for ~ $100).

Short layover in Bangkok (same greasy pizza as the last time at BKK), then headed to Phuket. Flying economy class on Thai Airways beats any US carrier. Had to wait some time for our driver to show up, which had Alex and I wandering up and down the sidewalk looking at all the people holding signs. Our driver showed up, and drove us the hour’s drive across the island, through Patong, and up the mountain to our hotel.

Centara Villas Phuket is a cluster of 40 or 50 villas on the southern face of the hill separating Karon and Patong beaches. Like beaches on the eastern shore of the US, each beach has a very different persona. Karon is one of the nicer beaches (in very relative terms). It’s built on a steep hillside, with stairs and paths connecting the villas together. It’s a hard walk to continuously go from the bottom to the top, but to compensate they have tuk-tuks that, with a quick call, will come pick you up and take you wherever you need. They also have twice-daily shuttles into Karon and Patong. We booked a Spa Villa, but on checkin they upgraded us to a private villa with a pool (yay honeymoon!). We were completely secluded, and from anywhere in our villa we could look out across Karon beach. Fireworks seem to be legal in Thailand, as every night we saw people lighting off fireworks on the beach, and releasing lanterns.

12/27-12/30 Nothing. No excursions, no sightseeing. Lots of pool time and reading. We ate most meals at the hotel, venturing into Karon a couple times, once to pick up snacks and drinks for the room, and once for dinner. Karon resembles the typical scuzzy beach town – lots of dive bars, bad restaurants, and general sleaze (and Karon is considered one of the better beaches). We also took advantage of the spa, both of us getting Thai massages others had raved about.

12/31 – We had booked a trip through Viator to go to the Phi Phi islands, a pair of picturesque islands. We got to see the islands, go swimming, and do a bit of snorkeling. We went by speedboat, which was fast and very bumpy. While the islands were beautiful, the tour ended up being a big disappointment. The whole point of taking a speedboat is to have more time on the island, but they took up the time with a long lunch (kept trying to get us to buy sodas and beer), and a stop on some random beach with nothing but a bar and a tourist-trap shop. If you want to go to Phi phi, avoid Viator and go with something off Trip Advisor or your hotel.

The tour company dropped us back at our hotel at 5:30. The hotel was doing a big dinner and program for New Year’s Eve, but we had opted not to do that. Instead, we headed to Karon beach for dinner, and we had seen promotions for some big beach parties with some good DJs. After dinner though (Bamboo Kitchen, the best Thai we had the entire trip), we were uninspired, and decided to celebrate New Years watching the fireworks from our deck. It was the right call, as the entire night, from 10 until the wee hours of the morning, we could hear all the celebrations, and watch the entire beach light off fireworks.