Happy Thursday, guys! Let’s just say that despite the ups and downs of real life, four day weeks > five day weeks, hands down. Also we’re taking a little virtual trip to Phuket today and if that doesn’t get you in the summery vaca mode, I don’t know what will!
Hotel recap to come (update: here it is!), but we were in Phuket Wednesday-Saturday (between our stays in Bangkok). We flew Air Asia from Bangkok and the flight was just over an hour. The airline is sort of like Spirit meets Southwest…we had upgraded tickets so got a small meal (fried rice) and didn’t have to pay to check a bag, but if you’re flying “economy” definitely make sure your carry-on meets their weight limits.
Our hotel–The Westin Siray Bay–was situated on a bay on the far east side of Phuket. The happening beaches and main downtown-like area are about a 45 minute drive west. We decided to skip on that and just enjoy the resort + our excursion (more on that below), but did take the hotel’s shuttle to the “Old Phuket” area about 20 minutes away.
The main reason we even left the resort was to get me a hat, since I conveniently forgot mine in DC. We didn’t have anything planned and the area wasn’t super walkable, so we posted up in their version of Starbucks, indulged in green tea lattes, coffee, and this sweet bread snack (that’s whipped cream, and some places make it with ice cream instead), and walked around a little bit.
This was like a cross between an apple croissant and a pretzel.
One of the only parts of Old Phuket we saw was this street known for its Portuguese influence. It was stunning in an unconventionally-Thai way…you can read about the history here, but similar to Bangkok, we were surprised by the amount of European architecture. It wasn’t crowded when we were there, but it’s home to quite a few shops and businesses.
Nearby streets…the tiles everywhere were gorgeous.
Our second day was an all-day excursion to a few different islands around Phuket. We booked directly with our hotel upon arrival and went with the tour and company they recommended–the Phang Nga Bay tour with ALP Tours. It couldn’t have been better! There were about 20 of us from nearby hotels on a large, covered speedboat. Our guide was awesome, there was a well-stocked supply of soft drinks + bottled water, and the team cut up fresh watermelon and pineapple between stops!
Our tour included a tour of the caves at Panak Island and the Mangrove Forest, trekking through James Bond Island, lunch at Panyee Island, and beach time at Naka Island.
Naturally we ended up in canoe 13 (#Colgate) when we were touring the caves and I took 50 pictures of it.
These are the caves we went into…it was crazy! You literally had to lie flat in the canoe or your boat wouldn’t fit through the gaps. You can see another canoe coming out to the left…
There were monkeys, again! One of them jumped into our boat into my dad’s lap, hopped onto his shoulder, and sprung into another boat. Luckily he didn’t mind paw prints on his clothes for the rest of the day!
The view from James Bond Island. It was significantly more touristy than the other spots we visited, but still incredibly beautiful and cool, especially as a James Bond fan. The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed here!
Excuse my awkward pose and appreciate the colossal structure behind me!
Next stop: A surprisingly awesome lunch buffet on Panyee Island. I wasn’t sure what to expect and while I do like most kinds of seafood, didn’t want to get too adventurous given that we still had a few more hours on a boat and in the heat. There were veggies, tempura, and soup…not the meal I’d normally pick for a 95+ degree day with humidity, but we really enjoyed it!
Panyee Island miraculously survived the 2004 tsunami that hit most of this area. As you can see, the town is built on stilt-like things, which would have made it even more difficult for it to withstand the conditions. The structures and islands around it are actually what protected Panyee, and it remains standing today. There is a mosque, a football (soccer) pitch, and several seafood restaurants that cater to the recent surge in tourists visiting the island. It was actually a pit stop in the 19th season of The Amazing Race!
Our last stop was Lawa Island–I think! The tour either stops there or on Naka Island, which doesn’t seem to look anything like these photos. But neither does the latter, but it looks a little more likely:
Such a dream, right? We were there for two hours and didn’t have books or want to swim and be soaked for our entire trip home, so it was some QT with the fam. Couldn’t have asked for a better place to mindlessly lounge!
The rest of our stay included staying put on the resort to enjoy the restaurants, views, and pools they had to offer. Stay tuned for my last Thailand post covering the hotel and what lodging in general looks like in Phuket. It takes waterfront to the next level and deserves it’s own post!
Photos by Monica Dutia