At Pentravel, it’s important to us that we experience the places we sell first hand so that when we recommend a destination, hotel, or even restaurant, you can rest assured that we’re not guessing.
Which is why we were so excited to sit down with National Training Coordinator Adele Palm to chat to her about her recent trip to Thailand and get her personal take on Phuket.
- Describe Phuket in 2 or 3 sentences.
Amazing cultural experiences mixed with great food, people, islands, nightlife, shopping and many more. There is definitely something for everyone in Thailand.
- What makes Phuket different from other destinations in Thailand?
Other than Phuket, I have only been to Bangkok. It’s not as busy as Bangkok, but there’s still some hustle and bustle. Plus, there is a beach, so you get the best of both worlds.
- What makes Phuket such an attractive destination for South Africans?
I would say the variety of things to do, as well as the cost. It is really affordable for South Africans and even once you are there your money will go a long way.
- Is Phuket best suited to families, couples, or friends, and why?
I would say for all three traveller types. Because of the different beach areas, you are able to choose one that will best suit you.
For friends that want a great time and are after the nightlife, Patong is definitely the area to be. Bangla Road is the hub for the nightlife in Patong and is very busy all the time. There are also loads of hotel options from 3* to 5* from which to choose.
Kata and Karon are ideal areas for families and couples that want to have a bit more of a chilled or romantic experience. You can definitely also still experience shopping, and there are great restaurants that do have some live music at night, but it is not so busy or crowded as Patong.
- Phuket has a reputation for being over-commercialised. What are your thoughts on this?
This is definitely true if you are staying in Patong area, but the other areas are really great and not so crowded and busy. The crowdedness also depends on the time of year that you go, but Phuket is a very popular destination so be prepared for loads of people during the year.
- Describe a perfect day spent in Phuket, from waking up, to going to bed.
Wake up and have the most fantastic breakfast at your hotel (variety to choose from western food to local Thai dishes), then hop on an organised tour to see the Big Buddha, Chalong Temple and Cashew Nut Factory.
For lunch, sit down at a restaurant and have a local dish like Pad Thai with an ice cold Chang local beer. For dessert, grab the most amazing pancake from a street vendor, and you choose what you want to fill it with. My personal favourite is Nutella with coconut and chocolate sauce – TO DIE FOR!
After lunch, hit the markets for some serious shopping – and don’t forget to barter, this is acceptable, and items are overpriced. After your shopping expedition, go for a Thai massage and then head out for dinner (yes shopping can take this long) and enjoy the nightlife that Phuket has to offer. From disco to chilling at a bar having a drink or two while listening to a live performance, you will find something to keep you busy till the early hours of the morning. Alternatively, you can go to the Fantasea show to get a taste of the local culture in a play. There is so much to do, and you will not be bored at all.
- What are your favourite accommodation options in Phuket and why?
3* The Deevana Hotel (Patong Beach)
- Fabulous 3* hotel with excellent facilities for families, couples and friends
- Beautiful spacious rooms
- The hotel is about 5 minutes from Patong beach, and they offer free shuttles to Patong
4* Patong Merlin Hotel (Patong Beach)
- Located right in the middle of Patong Beach
- Walking distance to nightlife as well as shopping
- Great rooms with beautiful views of the hotel
- Great facilities
- Great for couples with older children
4* Kata Beyond Resort (Kata Beach)
- Located right on the beach
- Walking distance to shopping and restaurants
- Beautiful pool areas with some restaurant options at the hotel
- Amazing spacious rooms
- Manager of the hotel builds a personal relationship with guests and loves to do something special for South Africans visiting his hotel
- Great option for honeymooners
3.5* Chanalai Garden Resort (Kata Beach)
- Fantastic views of Kata Beach as it is located on a hill
- Beautiful open spaces
- Have an adults-only pool section
- This would be great for families with older children, couples or Honeymooners. This resort would not be great for older people as there are loads of stairs with some floors with no lifts.
- What’s the best food to eat in Phuket?
Where do I begin? Thai, Thai and more Thai. The local food is really amazing and also very cheap – even cheaper than what you would pay in South Africa.
- What’s the transport like? Any tips?
The local Tuk Tuks are a must if you go to Thailand, but be sure to negotiate a rate with them before you start your journey as they can sometimes charge a lot of money, or increase the charge once you arrive at your destination. There are also local buses that you are able to use, and it is very cheap and easy to get around.
- What’s your favourite nightclub or party spot in Phuket, and why?
I prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of sitting at a bar having a few drinks with friends while listening to music. These bars are quite popular all over Phuket so you won’t have to search very long or far. My favourite one was an Australian bar where you can choose what music you want to listen to. The vibe at this bar is just so amazing, and the owners join you at your table and really ensure that you are having a fun time.
- What’s your favourite spa in Phuket, and why?
We only visited one in Kata, but I believe they all do the same thing at all the spas. A Thai massage is a must.
- Top 3 things to see in Phuket:
Big Buddha, Bangla Road, and Phuket View Point.
- Top 3 activities to do in Phuket:
Fantasea Show, Phi Phi Island Excursion, and a half day tour of Phuket.
- Top travel tips for Phuket:
- Barter, barter, barter! For South Africans this can be a bizarre thing and you might feel bad but the local people really enjoy this, and it is a great way to interact with them
- Be sure to do research and know what area you are staying in as some regions are hectic and very crowded
- Carry water with you when going shopping. It is very hot, and you can get dehydrated very quickly
- Take loads of money as the shopping is addictive