There are several things I look for in vacation spots. Beauty, culture, food, and uniqueness just to name a few. Phuket, Thailand offers all of those things in mass abundance and more! Add those facts with a relatively low crime rate and a shockingly low cost of living and you may have just found your next amazing vacation destination!
Phuket is an island in the Andaman Sea, just off the coast of Thailand. It is a very popular vacation spot for those surrounding the Indian ocean, especially for Australians. However, to Americans it, remains a well kept secret. Many Americans who have heard about it seem to dismiss it due to the cost and length of travel. But remember, traveling is the only thing you spend money on that will actually make you richer! If you can make this trip happen, I promise you that you will never forget it.
Phuket boasts all the culture of mainland Thailand with great cheap food, beautiful Buddhist temples, plus it throws in a little extra twist down off the main strip, Bangla Road, where absolutely anything and everything goes.
Quick, guess how many women are in the photo to the right? The correct answer is 1. Bangla road is simply the craziest strip of concrete I have ever stepped foot on. It's only about 7 blocks long, but I never made it from one end to the other in less than a hour. Every night of the year, tourists and locals alike jam pack Bangla. And if you think you are going to find some peace on one of the many alleyways along the strip then you are in for a real big surprise! The only alleyway I can write about and keep it somewhat clean featured topless women (I think they were women anyways) dancing in the windows, several entrances to the notorious "Ping Pong" shows, and establishments like the B---job Bar which is exactly what it says it is.
During the day, Bangla is not quite as active, however there is still plenty of wild experiences to be had. For instance, people putting their pets on you like slow lemurs (which can be deadly by the way), huge lizards or better yet just pay about $4 US dollars and get an hour long foot massage! I opted for the massage option every single day I was there. Sometimes I even opted for two a day, one in the morning and another in the evening! Can't beat it.
As you probably can imagine, the food off of Bangla Road was also amazing. One thing I always say, wherever in the world you may be, do as the locals do and in the cities of Thailand, many Thai eat directly off the street. The food is delicious, cheap and it gives them more room to live in their small homes without having to set aside space for a full kitchen.
That is Pineapple Seafood fried rice with a Dragon Fruit milkshake in the first photo. Cost of that set me back about $2.50 U.S. dollars. The second photo is one of the many markets you will find just walking around. I would usually go around to different vendors each night and try something new. If you don't like it, take another 30 Baht (equal to about $1 US dollar) and try another item. I don't know what exactly I ate many nights, but I thoroughly enjoyed each visit to the market. The third photo is a lychee drink. Lychee is a fruit from China, which smells like flowers and tastes very sweet. Red and spiky on the outside, white and yummy on the inside. Try it, if you haven't already. It's just one of the many items you typically won't easily find in the U.S.
At the end of Bangla Road is one of the world's most famous beaches, Patong. It is a beautiful stretch of white sand along on the Adaman Sea filled with fun things to do and interesting people to meet.
After a couple of beach days in Patong, I decided to rent a scooter and explore the rest of the Island. It was an adventure I will always remember for sure, and if you have the time, I highly suggest you do it as well. The rental was about $3 US dollars a day and you can add about another US dollar for each bottle of gas that you would like to take with you. I'm glad I grabbed a couple as they came in handy later. Gas stations are cheaper, however they are very few and far between.
My first stop on the road trip was Bang Pae, a natural waterfall where you can swim with the locals. The hike there is a little difficult, the water was freezing, and the rocks can be very dangerous, however I had a blast out in the middle of the jungle. I could even hear Gibbons howling in the distance. It was a pretty awesome experience.
After I cooled off, I set back out on the road and just took in all the amazing sights of Phuket. Two things to remember when driving a scooter in Thailand is always move to the front of line at stop lights (yes, bypass all the stopped cars) and don't forget to drive on the left side of road. That second piece of advice is crucially important to keep in mind at all times, if you don't like putting your life in big danger! Oh, and pull over to enjoy the views. Thailand was recently ranked as the second most dangerous country to drive in. Don't let that stop you, but there is so much to pay attention to while driving that you will want to get off the road so you can have a minute to safely take in the stunning sights like these:
On the way back to Patong, I noticed my front tire was feeling a little wobbly, so I pulled over to check it and sure enough it was going flat. Luckily, a man with an elephant on the side of the road was happy to help. He had a phone and called another guy who got me back on the road with a new tire. I think he charged me like $3 US dollars, but I gave him about $10 and even bought some bananas for the elephant! The vast majority of Thai people were so awesome and super friendly, I just loved them as a whole. Same goes for the elephants there as well. One even gave me a massage...yes, an elephant!!! (see pic below)
I made it back to Patong Beach that evening just in time for another gorgeous Thai sunset, before hopping a boat for the Phi Phi Islands the next morning. More on Phi Phi is coming soon in an upcoming blog. So, be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, I will just leave you with my last image from Phuket. Enjoy!!!