It was late in the evening when I stood hand in hand with Steve staring up wide eyed at the flashing neon sign that screamed “Patong”. Behind me were the sounds of horns blaring whenever a group of tourists braved crossing the main road and high pitched whoops when they spotted half naked Asian woman encouraging tourists to stop for a drink at the bars they work for. All around us are men shoving giant plastic signs offering 2-4-1 drink deals in your faces, as well as advertising various Ping Pong shows. This definitely didn’t feel like an area suitable for children, but sure enough there were a few with their families giggling at Go-Go dancers and clamouring for light up cars that zoomed in and out of people’s unsuspecting feet. It was certainly an overwhelming sight that welcomed us to Phuket and definitely a different world from the calm area of Krabi that we had arrived from.When researching areas in Phuket to stay in my main requests were that we stay near a beach and not too far from the airport. Our hostel in Patong was only a 10 minute walk from the beach, but little did we know we would also be 10 minutes from the famous “Bangla Road”, a strip of clubs and bars; as well as a few strip clubs tucked away in the corners.
Surprisingly, we felt absolutely fine about being in Patong. It was an area that was completely unexpected but when discussing it at dinner we came to realise that it made our experience of Thailand rather wholesome. We had seen a variety of places, all with their own unique feel. In a way it was nice to find ourselves out of our comfort zone again, to make ourselves feel unfamiliar again. That feeling keeps you learning and keeps you wandering with fresh eyes.
Of course Patong isn’t just about the clubs and bars! We were surrounded by numerous restaurants, markets and a beautiful shopping mall with an underground artisan market. Steve and I spent many an evening wandering around trying to decide what treasures we could take home as souvenirs.
We have two main highlights from our time in Phuket. One was a day tour to a Monkey Temple, James Bond Island and being kayaked around the caves of Talu Island. It was certainly a popular tour but the kayaking alone was completely worth it. We had our own commandeer who took control of the steering whilst Steve and I laid back and relaxed. It’s easy to take photo’s during this part, for the kayaks themselves are very sturdy and our commandeer pointed out photo opportunities. Our fun day out came to an end after a late lunch on a Muslim fishing village that was included in the tour. If you find yourself with a day with no plans in Thailand definitely look into booking a day tour somewhere, as there are options to suit any budget.
Our other highlight was on our last day before we flew to Singapore. Steve had heard of a beach only a 15 minutes drive away from where we were staying, called Freedom Beach. We haggled a taxi to take us to this gorgeous little oasis, which is accessible down a long flight of stairs hidden in the mountain. You will have to pay a little bit of money to go down to he beach, but it’s so worth it!
Another option is to catch a longtail boat from Patong Beach (and others) to Freedom Beach but it’s more expensive than a taxi. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s difficult to access the beach if you have mobility issues, thanks to the stairs or if you might have issues climbing in and out of the boat.
Although Phuket wasn’t how we envisioned ending our time in Thailand, it was a fun way to round off the journey. And what a journey it was! I’m so happy to have such a variety of memories from our Thailand adventure, but I’m also excited to see what comes next. The journey continues!