Mention Phuket and the rowdy, energetic Patong comes to mind. The mass of beach-goers call this main stretch home on the Thai island and will occasionally flock to the nearby Phi Phi and James Bond islands. The infectious laughter, wide array of food and shopping options, as well as happening nightlife makes Patong the ideal spot for friends traveling in large groups or those seeking excitement.
But beautiful Phuket has more to offer beyond its reputation of being a party town. Here are several places where those who seek contemplation or quiet adventure will find relief.
About 20 kilometres away from town is Kata Beach. The 1km stretch is sandwiched between a row of restaurants and startlingly clear water. The beach isn’t wide. It takes probably only twenty steps to walk from the restaurants row to the water, which means everyone gets an unblocked view of white sand and blue sea.
You can rent an umbrella for about 100 baht (about three dollars), but I chose to set up camp under a coconut tree. Other than the threat of falling coconuts (make sure you’re not lying directly under a hanging fruit), all was good. I was close to the lull of the waves without needing to worry about my belongings being swept away. The beach isn’t jam-packed, and the majority of people there are content hanging out alone or in small groups. I spent the afternoon alternating between people watching and snoozing.
About ten minutes away from Kata Beach, this cul-de-sac is one of Phuket’s little secrets. It’s an uphill walk along winding streets, and then down a treacherous flight of stairs, but do not let that deter you. I returned to this spot several times despite it being out of the way, as the feeling of tranquility offered was unparalleled.
On the days I was there, the cozy little bay saw no more than perhaps 20 visitors at a time. There were some families with young kids staying in a nearby resort, a couple of hawkers selling refreshing coconut water and Thai papaya salad, and a few of stragglers taking a peaceful stroll. Here, I parted with 100 baht for a colorful beach chair and umbrella, as there were not many shady trees to sit under. It turned out to be a wise decision, as during high tide, waves rush almost to the end of the beach. Though the waves are gentle by the time they reach you, belongings set directly on the sand still run the risk of getting wet.
Being away from traffic and humans also means the animals come out to play. I spotted a few stray dogs on this beach. They were docile and friendly; busying themselves with digging up the sand and leaving padded paw prints up and down the beach.
If you’re tired of the beach and looking to plant your feet firmly on land, head toward Old Phuket Town. It is about 40 minutes and 30 baht (one dollar) away from the bustling Patong by public transport. A taxi ride takes about 20 minutes and costs 200-500 baht (six to 15 dollars), depending on your bargaining skills.
Fans of the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie ‘The Beach’ should budget time for a visit to The Memory at On On Hotel, which was the set of the iconic hostel where Richard, the main character, checked in and discovered the map to the secret island. The hotel does a tour of the room on request- so if you’d like to check the place out, get in touch with the hotel beforehand.
Coffee and Window Shopping on Thalong Road
Thalang Road is dotted with cafes and shops. Owners are eager to peddle their wares- colorful bolts of cloth, religious sculptures and much more can be found along this street. Lights are strung all over the shops, resulting in a whole street of glowing buildings at after the sunsets. Watching the colors of the lights change is mesmerizing.
Thalang Street is all about beauty in the mundane. Wandering around and striking up conversations with locals is a wonderful way to spend your day and gain some insight into the Thai way of life: hardworking, Zen, and cheerful qualities all of us could do with.
If You Go: