Phuket is not a place I imagined visiting one day. Its sulphurous image pushed me to avoid this island every time I travelled to Thailand. But it’s so easy to get there from Kuala Lumpur, my adopted city, that I thought after all… Why not! So it was at the end of November that we went there as a couple to start a week-long itinerary to cover 3 islands: Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
We stayed in Phuket for 2 days and 3 nights. As much to tell you that we have not seen everything because the island is large and it is quite long to cross it from one end to the other. So we focused on the places accessible by scooter and which attracted us the most namely the visits outside based on nature and cultural outings. We found our happiness with:
Thinking of going to Patong, we finally stopped on the Karon beach. A cute beach where we dined while admiring the view of the apprentice paddlists, the fishermen putting away their net and the Big Buddha who turned his back on us.
This Buddha, immaculate white, can be seen from all over Phuket because it is located at the top of a hill. It is worth getting there even if the road leading to the top with its many turns seems endless. The panorama is worth more than the Buddha itself in my opinion, but it remains an impressive statue to see up close.
Even though I have seen many people in shorts and tank tops, it is written at the entrance that you have to cover your shoulders and thighs. So think about it;)
Phuket’s Old Town is worth a stop. With its old houses of bright colors, it is very pleasant to walk there.
A beautiful beach on which to walk. It is the starting point for many excursions but also the arrival point for fishermen who sell their fish on the local market. You can also buy your fish to cook in the restaurants opposite… Practice!
My favorite in Phuket, a beautiful corner of nature where it almost feels like Ireland! Large cliffs that face the sea and at the end of which you feel very small. Take some time to admire the view.
Where to stay in Phuket
I had a big crush on the Pearl hotel. Located in the old town of Phuket, it amazes with its neat decoration and caring staff. We could have spent our days there between the jungle atmosphere pool, the old-fashioned karaoke bar and the beautiful Chinese restaurant on the top floor. Do not miss the magnificent mural on the ground floor on the1st floor. A real home worthy of a museum… It tells the story of the island and its main activities, especially rubber work and fishing. In the bedroom, the bathroom is separated by a glass (which can of course be closed for a little privacy) which gives it a lot of charm for my taste.
Enjoy all this for just 40€ a night! (+7€ for breakfast with all-you-can-eat buffet and lots of choice)
The taxi from the airport to the old town will cost you about 650 baths. Same with Grab. Then, renting a scooter will allow you to easily visit the island. Count about 200 baths for 24 hours.
Koh Phi Phi
2nd stage,2nd island. I return to the island of my nightmare. Remember. However, I can’t resist going back for 3 reasons: to ward off fate, to show it to Emam who is visiting the region for the first time, and obviously because the island, although touristy in the extreme, is of unparalleled beauty.
Koh Phi Phi is a backpacker’s paradise looking for a festive atmosphere based on techno, a fire show on the beach and buckets filled with alcohol. It is also the perfect place to go on an excursion to the surrounding area, and especially to Maya Bay, on the famous beach of the film “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. So I tasted a2nd time the indescribable beauty of this place. Needless to say, I’m a fan of the movie… and Leonardo by the way… so the place is all the more magical for me.
On the other hand, after 7:30 / 8 am (yes, in the morning!), the crowds arrive and you will only glimpse the site between the many boats and tourists. We left with an “early bird” excursion that left at dawn and the arrival in the cove was amazing… almost not a cat! It only lasted 20/30 minutes before it was invaded. To do again, I think I would rent a private boat to several to be on site before sunrise and really enjoy the place! Having said that… it must cost candy!
On Koh Phi Phi, do not miss the sunset from the panorama. From up there you will see how thin and fragile the strip of sand that separates the harbour from the beach. It was completely devastated during the 2004 tsunami. You can see before/after images from the viewpoint. There is still a tsunami village where you can see the scars of the disaster.
To party, meet at the Slinky bar, the liveliest bar, or at any other bar on the beach. For a bit of fun, go to the Reggae bar where you can see ‘farang’ (foreigners) trying their hand at Thai boxing in a ring.
To my surprise, I enjoyed my return to Phi Phi, I saw the island in a new light… So hey, the island is still overcrowded with tourists, it hasn’t changed… But I liked the fact that you move there completely on foot, it gives the impression of being in a small village. And I was amazed again by these crazy landscapes, all these rocks, the incredible color of the water, the karst cliffs, planted there in the middle of the sea. On the other hand, I think it is not really necessary to stay there more than 2 or 3 days because we quickly went around … and the evenings follow one another and look the same.
- Ferry Phuket – Koh Phi Phi : 400 baths
- Maya Beach Tour “Early bird” (more expensive than tours that arrive later): 600 + 400 for entry to the national park
- Access to the panorama: 30 baths
Where to stay in Koh Phi Phi?
Twin Palm Bungalows: we chose to stay in the bungalows located just behind the Slinky bar. Quiet level, we saw better, since we enjoy the music as if we were in the bar until 2am … but we wanted to be at the heart of the party and to be close to everything. The bungalows are super cute with their small deckchairs on the terrace which was very useful to us when it rained ropes (very often in November). We paid 700 baths a night. It is best to book in advance as we got the last cottage.
Step3. 3rd island. Direction Koh Lanta where I really wanted to go for a while. And the island did not disappoint me. Again, in this rainy weather, I could have thought I was in Ireland.
For fans of the TV show of the same name, know that Koh Lanta was never shot on this island but on a neighboring island. However, this does not detract from the attractiveness of the island, quite the contrary.
Mu Koh Lanta National Park
The unmissable of Koh Lanta is its national park. It is not very big but the landscape is beautiful. The beach is surrounded by cliffs that plunge into the sea, one of them overlooked by a lighthouse. There are hikes to do by sinking a little deeper into the jungle but given the weather, we abstained.
Khlong Chak Waterfall
An easily accessible waterfall (if you remove the slippery mud in the rainy season) after a hike through the jungle, it is not refused. The path leading to the waterfall is really nice and you can walk directly into the river to reach it as it is very shallow. The waterfall is really nice and there was almost no one there when we went there, right in the middle of the afternoon.
On the way to the waterfall, you will come across an elephant park. I can only encourage you too much not to succumb to the temptation of an elephant ride that would boil down to encouraging the mistreatment of these animals. To learn more, (re)read my article “Why I won’t ride an elephant anymore”. Nothing prevents you from stopping to observe them along the road but their sad eyes and big chains may make you sad in turn.
The Mangrove Forest
My favorite on Koh Lanta… The visit of the mangrove and its surroundings by longtail boat. We were taken to places as beautiful or almost as Phi Phi… small coves surrounded by cliffs that we could access by kayak, a spectacular cave, and then the magnificent mangrove, filled with yellow and blue crabs with a claw, monkeys who start swimming to join the boat … The only thing that didn’t help me anymore is that the staff encouraged tourists to feed the monkeys to attract them. I didn’t want to participate, but that didn’t stop the monkeys from coming to eat quietly on my shoulder using my head as a plate:’D
Travel Koh Lanta by scooter
Apart from these 3 main places, it is definitely worth renting a scooter to walk along the coast and stop from beach to beach, all more beautiful than the others. Koh Lanta is also full of hikes to do and caves to explore but we missed the weather (both weather and time).
Ferry Koh Phi Phi – Koh Lanta: 300 baths
Ferry Koh Lanta – Phuket: 600 baths
Be careful on a scooter, the roads are very hilly, not always in good condition and therefore sometimes dangerous. Count 250 baths for 24 hours.
Where to eat
A restaurant that I recommend: the Zureena which makes the best coconut shakes in the world!:D Just in front of the restaurant is the agency from whom we bought our tour in the mangrove. Tour that cost us 600 baths per person.
Where to stay
We chose the Sunmoon Bungalows because we love bungalows and it has a very nice environment surrounded by greenery where monkeys come to chop some bananas in the early morning. Taking a small path, you will find yourself on the beach in 3 minutes on foot. The restaurant offers very good Thai food. We paid 500 baths a night for a bungalow with hot water. It is possible to rent scooters on site.
Total budget for 8 days:
We spent surprisingly more than we had imagined, without doing many extras. These 3 islands are very touristy, transport and accommodation are quite expensive.
As a couple, we spent 22,539 baths or 581 € (if that’s not precise!). This includes everything including souvenirs and dozens of coconut shakes, but not the Kuala Lumpur – Phuket plane which cost us around €85 each.
To conclude, in 1 week you can already make a nice itinerary in Thailand from Phuket. But don’t underestimate travel times and don’t try to overdo it. 3 islands to visit in 8 days seemed to me to be a good pace but more would have been the race.
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