My cousin Hidayah asked me on MSN messenger,” Hey how many work leaves you are left with?”. I was wondering why. Then she went straight to the point, ” Want to go to Phuket?”. I went like hell yeah!!!
So, I immediately checked http://www.jetstar.com to find the lowest fare. I found the cheapest fare. It was only SGD102 after taxes and unnecessary insurance. Here’s the catch. NO BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE. Oh come on..you don’t need to carry a huge luggage to Phuket when you are just an hour and a half away (by plane) from Singapore. By the way, Jetstar Asia Airways has a 10kg cabin baggage allowance which I think is more than enough for a 3 to 5 days getaway.
ONE USEFUL TIP when you book via http://www.jetstar.com , opt for offline payment instead of using credit or debit card. You will save SGD12.00 (SGD6 per segment) on unnecessary admin charges. For offline transaction, payment can be made at SINGPOST, 7/11 stores island wide and SAM machine. Remember, bookings will be held for 24 hours to 48 hours for offline payment. After which, bookings will be
I made a booking for Phuket for 19/5/2010 till 21/5/2010.
On 19/5/2010, I made my way to the airport and met Hidayah at 0630HOURS and her boyfriend Razali who is sending her off (how sweet…NOT!). Our flight was 0820HRS(GMT+8). We checked-in and got out boarding passes and there we go!! Oooh I really love our Singapore airport but at that point of time, Terminal 1 was in the midst of upgrading but I still love it though.
At about 0940HRS(GMT+7), we reached Phuket International Airport. The airport was a bit rundown. Immigration was fast. After passing through immigration, we opted for minivan transfer from the airport to our hotel.
TRANSFERS/TRANSPORT ( from airport to hotel)
There are many transport counters to compare with. The cost of the transfer is only BAHT180 per person to Kata or Karon Beach. This was the cheapest price. Just tell the counter the name of your resort/hotel or before you leave, be sure to take down the address of your resort/hotel. It will be so much easier. For resorts/hotels around Patong Beach, it is BAHT170 person. Take note that there are also other tourists in the minivan. So the journey to your resort/hotel will probably take around 1 1/2 hours because the driver will drop off other tourists at their selected resorts/hotels.
This is probably the most expensive way of getting to your hotel. Some taxis charge premium prices from BAHT500 to BAHT1000 (SGD20.00-SGD43.00). Rates are not fixed but negotiable. Journey will take around 40 minutes.
Can’t stand being in a vehicle with other strangers? This will be good and worth every cent if you have at least 3 friends with you. The driver will flash your name on a placard (think of celebrity coming out from the arrival hall) and you will receive a warm welcome from the driver. For this option, you will have to book it in advance. Google “phuket transfers” and there are many cars to choose from. An economy limo will start from BAHT700 (1.6L saloon). Journey will take around 40 minutes.
We chose the minivan since we had lots of time to spare before our check-in time at 1200HOURS and of course,the cheapest. We passed by Patong beach which most of the the tourist in our van were staying at. Patong beach is full people so for those who need some peace, I would recommend Kata and Karon. Fret not, you can still go to Patong for shopping since Kata and Karon do not have many places to shop. Do take note, tuk tuk tend to overcharge tourists (BAHT400 from Kata to Patong). The best way is to find other tourista who are going the same way to save cost or rent a motorbike for only BAHT150 per day. Lets not lose focus because we come to Phuket for the beach, NOT SHOPPING!!
We reached our hotel MALAI HOUSE which is located at Karon beach at about 1130HOURS. The beach is just 3 minutes walk from our hotel. How cool is that. Check in was a breeze. Receptionist was very friendly. We even had welcome drinks.MALAI HOUSE is a property managed by the Sugar Palm Management. Both hotels SUGAR PALM KARON and MALAI HOUSE are closely connected. MALAI HOUSE is actually a budget version of SUGAR PALM KARON which we did not care much because it was good enough for the both of us. MALAI HOUSE has basic amenities which hotels usually offer but the room is huge which was a plus for us. SUGAR PALM has an olympic size pool and a fitness room. Guests from MALAI HOUSE can use the facilities at SUGAR PALM. On top of that, WIFI is free and they even have an in-house internet cafe which you can use for as long as you want because it is FREE!!! Do be considerate because hogging on the computer is not a nice thing to do when there are other guests around.
We got our keys and breakfast coupons for 2 nights and the bell man brought us to our room. Beds were comfy not too soft and not too hard. From our room, we could see the pool which was really nice. We could also see Karon Beach and the beautiful Andaman Sea. We put our bags down and went out for lunch. We walked around to see what we could eat and we decided to eat at an Indian restaurant which I forgot the name. This was what we ordered.
The name of this dish which I totally forgot what it was. It was basically noodle soup with plenty of seafood. The price was about BAHT80 per dish. In Phuket especially along the tourist areas, there are not many road side stalls as compared to Bangkok which offer tonnes of cheap food where the prices starts from BAHT10. So expect to fork out more for restaurant food but it is still considerably cheap for fellow Singaporeans who are on a shoestring budget.
After lunch, we headed back to our hotel for a nap. After an hour of nap, we went for a swim! The pool size was fantastic but it was a tad too warm for a pool. Nonetheless, we felt relaxed. Done with swimming. We changed to our clothes and headed down to the beach for a view of the sunset. THE BEAUTIFUL KARON BEACH!! Like I mentioned earlier, the beach is only 3 minutes away by foot. Along the way, we snapped pictures with the tsunami warning sign.
Back in 2004 on Boxing Day, Almost 200,000 people died after it was hit by a deadly tsunami. Mainly tourists I believe. Coastal areas and islands in the Indian Ocean such as Nicobar and Andaman Island were much affected. Not forgetting Aceh which has the most number of deaths.
We discussed about how to escape from the tsunami if it really happens. It is important to know where the escape routes are. Fortunately, our hotel escape route was easily accessible.
Karon Beach is like any other beaches in Phuket except that it is not as packed as Patong Beach. We did not swim as my cousin was terrified of the huge waves. We just played by the beach, snapped some pictures and walked and ran along the beach.Notice how beautiful the background below is? I swear to God this was not edited or photo-shopped. The person on the picture who is jumping is none other than me! Thanks to Razali’s Sony digital camera.
After sunset viewing, we ate dinner at a roadside stall. We had Pad Thai and Seafood Salad. It cost BAHT 60 per dish. For dessert, we stopped by THE PANCAKE MAN! Thin and crispy dough filled with all sorts of flavour. We chose Banana and Nutella Pancake!
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by a travel agent and book a James Bond Island tour. It was BAHT799 but the kind lady gave us a discount of BAHT99 each. =) Our James Bond Island tour starts tomorrow afternoon!
Our trip to James bond took 1.5 hours. Our first stop was Monkey Cave. The cave was not huge but it has reclining Buddha and of course, monkeys. Full of it.
Koh Panyi (above) is not exactly an island with beaches and resorts. It is man made island made of wood and stilts. It has been there for a few hundred years. The natives of the island are Muslims.
Next up and finally, Ko Khao Phing Kan (below).This island was featured in the movie James Bond The Man with The Golden Gun. It was a hit movie in 1974 starring Roger Moore. Therefore it became famously known as James Bond Island. Notice the rock formation? Amazing right? =)
The duration of James Bond Island tour is 7 hours. Standard package can be booked easily at travel agencies along Patong and Karon Beach. Price (BAHT 799) does not include meals.
Our last day and we are headed to Koh Phi Phi (Koh PP). This was the part where I hate the most. Woke up early in the morning just to go for a tour. Our van picked us up at 7.00am and off we go to Rassada Harbour and boarded our ferry to Koh PP. It was a slow moving ferry full of tourist. The journey from the harbour to Koh PP is 1.15hrs. Along the way stopped by Maya Bay, Loh Samah Bay, Pileh Cove and Viking Cave for sight seeing.
The main highlight for the tour is snorkeling at Monkey Beach. Unfortunately, we did not manage to catch photos as our camera isn’t waterproof. Snorkeling at Monkey Beach was overrated. The coral reefs were pretty much destroyed due to commercialism. Boat operators sell bread loafs to tourist to feed the fish. I do not encourage anyone to buy the bread loafs to feed the fish as it the eco system is half destroyed.
Last stop, Koh Phi Phi! Koh PP is a must go. Koh PP comprises of 6 islands, 2 of them are the main island – Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. On Ko Phi Phi there are 2 villages and under administration of Ao Nang sub-district, Muang district, Krabi Province. The islands are surrounded by the Andaman Sea.
Our Koh PP tour cost BAHT950 per person. Price include a buffet at Koh PP and free coffee/tea/snacks on board the ferry. Tour can be booked at http://www.phuketeasytours.com .
After 3 days of fun, it was time to leave. Next trip, CAMBODIA!
Summary of Prices (Approximate)
Jetstar Asia Air Ticket : SGD102 (www.jetstar.com)
Malai House Hotel : SGD32 per night (www.sawadee.com)
Transfer from Airport : BAHT180 per person (Book at the airport)
Transfer from Hotel : BAHT500 per taxi (Agents at any tourists spots)
James Bond Island Tour : BAHT799 (booked at Karon Beach Agent)
Koh Phi Phi Tour : BAHT950 (www.phuketeasytour.com)
Food : BAHT40 TO BAHT300 (depending on your preferences)