Discover Thailand – The Country of Smiles

Phuket

One of the places on my bucket list I had to tick off, was Thailand. Because who hasn’t seen and fallen in love with Phi Phi Island – that forbidden breathtaking paradise (and Leonardo Di Caprio) in the famous The Beach – Official Trailer ? I know! I know! Such a cliche! But still, the island is stunning (though overcrowded for my taste) and for any travel enthusiast, it’s a must see!

Let’s begin with the planning.

You will most probably require a visa for Thailand and if you don’t, then lucky you! Your passport must be valid for more than 6 months from date of entry and you must hold a return ticket. Don’t forget to bring one recent 4×6 photograph that you will need to attach to the Visa Application upon arrival. I will leave a link here with  the visa requirements for The Country of Smiles.

How to get there?

We booked our tickets with Qatar Airways and I recommend subscribing to their newsletter for offers but there are several carriers operating this destination and you can find good deals if you book in advance.The flight to Phuket is around 7 hours from Doha, and there are 2 flights per day.  I personally prefer to plan my own transport and hotel and it works out cheaper than booking through a travel agency. For hotels I use either Agoda or Booking.

Sawadee ka! Welcome to Phuket!

Once landed in HKT – Phuket International Airport getting to the hotel it’s piece of cake! In case you haven’t booked a shuttle prior to your arrival, there are lots of taxis outside the airport waiting for the perfect customer ;). We paid 1200 THB ($30) for approximately 1 hour drive from Phuket International Airport to our hotel in Karon Beach.

Tip: If you are a good negotiator, this is the time to showcase your skills 😉 if not, just try! Everybody does it, and you can get away with half off of the initial price on anything starting from day trips, clothes, souvenirs or taxis! I guarantee that by the end of your trip you will be a pro!

We booked a pool villa at Mandarava Resort & Spa a hillside resort, overlooking Karon Beach (along with Kata Beach are the best places to be in Phuket in my opinion), that offers a spectacular sea view while being immersed in a lavish greenery heaven.

Mandarava Resort & Spa
Mandarava Resort & Spa

Located on the west side of Phuket, facing the Andaman Sea and stretching between Patong at the north and Kata Beach at the south, Karon Beach is the third longest beach on the island. Renown for water sports, here the sea is calm during the dry season, it’s not crowded and is much cleaner and tranquil than the (in)famous Patong.

We spent the first days lounging on the beach or by the pool, indulging in Thai cuisine, getting massages twice a day (who wouldn’t for 300 THB/hour?!) and visiting the island. Oh Paradise!

Sunset in Karon
Sunset Karon Beach
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Big Buddha
Kata Beach
Kata Beach

Getting around the island is really easy and affordable – it’s up to you if you prefer the more conventional air conditioned taxis or the traditional tuk-tuk. But most of the beach resorts are small enough to walk around and most hotels are located close to the beach, restaurants and shopping areas.

Ready to explore some islands, we booked a few day trips from one of the many travel agencies in Karon village but all about that in a future post!

Tip: I highly recommend checking more than one travel agency in town for better deals. Most of them have special offers or are ready to bargain, especially if you’re a group, and from my experience I guarantee it could be even half price than what hotel are offering.

Useful phrases:

  • Sa-wat dee (hello & goodbye)
  • Khop koon (thank you)
  • Gee baht? (how much) Essential for all the shopping you’ll be doing, or when bargaining with tuk-tuk drivers.
  • Yoo tee nai…? (where is…) Extremely useful when lost!
  • Mai ow (don’t want) Useful for refusing persistent street vendors.
  • Khor tort (sorry)
  • Neung, song, saam, see, haa, hook, jet, baat, gow, sip (one to ten)
  • Lot noi dai mai?  (can you make it cheaper? ) Try this handy phrase when shopping. By speaking a little Thai you might just get a better discount.
  • A-roi (delicious)
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