Monday, 2 July 2007

Getting to Phuket

Phuket! What does this jewel in the Andaman Sea conjure up? Land of the sun, sand, smiles and some other "s" words that never fails to result in sniggers and raised eyebrows whenever I mention I'm going to Phuket. This, bearing in mind, that I'm a girl! Nevertheless, hairy old angmohs with young nubile Thai girls aside, let Pinkelle show you how to have good, clean and cheap fun in Phuket!

From KL:

Phuket is just a hop, skip and jump away! Only 1 hour 15 mins by flight, I should be headed there a whole lot more often than just once a year! We went by Malaysia Airlines this time, courtesy of someone's airmiles (thank you! ) and for once got served food instead of having to buy overpriced nasi lemak! Hurrah!

I thought I heard some options being offered but by the time it reached me, it was only vegetable fried rice with 2 fishballs and some chicken slices, served with a fruit compote and juice. Not having eaten airline food for a while and starving from having no breakfast, this went down very well indeed!

Note to self: Never take seat 15 on a 737 flight - you get served last while those behind you will get their food first!

Arriving in Phuket:

Phuket International Airport is not a very large airport. When you arrive and exit Customs, you'll find a few booths offering accommodation and transportation services. There are lots of taxis available into town for at least THB500-THB600 (RM50-60) a trip but if you're a bit of a skinflint like me, head for the Limousine Service desk on the right of the exit gates. They do minivan services into Patong, Phuket Town and the various other beaches for a flat fee.

Phuket has 3 main beaches - Patong, Karon and Kata. Patong is the main "happening" beach where most of the tourists head to. Lots of cheap accommodation, bars, entertainment (both good and not-so-good!), name it, they have it all! Karon and Kata are quieter beaches with a smaller town area so you may not have as many choices as Patong. So it's really what you're looking for.

A trip to Patong is THB150 (RM15) per pax and you hop onto a minivan that'll set off once it's full. Lots of tourists and backpackers use this option so you shouldn't have too long a wait. The only downside of using the minivan is that they will stop a short distance away at a tour centre where they will try to sign you up for accommodation, if you don't already have one, and other tours. Wait till you reach the beach, there's a whole lot more competition and better prices there! If you already have your accommodation, just give your hotel name to the tour people and wait a little while.

Once they've sorted out the hotels, you'll be on your way again, trundling over the steep hills and terrifying roads of Phuket Island! The driver will drop you off at the doorstep of your hotel which if you're lucky, you could be the first or if unlucky, the last left on the van! It'll perhaps take you about an hour to transfer from the airport to your hotel this way so if time is essence and you're dying to hit the beach ASAP, opt for the taxis.

A teaser of what's to come....

Stay tuned!

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