Friday, August 10, 2018

[Travel/ Food Guide] Itinerary to Phuket (普吉岛), Thailand (泰国) 2018.

One of the famous destinations for beaches is Thailand's largest island- Phuket. Facing the Andaman Sea, the strategic location offers visitors a breath-taking sea view and fine sandy beaches. Not only that the place is known for the beaches, it is also a melting pot of cultures (partly due to the great influx of Western tourists). There are plenty of things to see, eat and play on Phuket Island. Travelling to Phuket has never been easier for Penangites as Air Asia rolls out new route from Penang directly to Phuket (1 hour travel time). 

As Phuket is fairly large, it would be challenging to move around without cars. While e-hailing is an option, the fare is not too wallet-friendly... especially if you are moving from one area to another area (say Phuket old town to Patong beach). It's perfectly fine if you decided to chill at one specific location but if you are on a planned itinerary to move around the island, the best way is to rent a car. We used Hertz on our trip and for 2 full days, it costs around 2,000 THB; the fuel on the other hand, was a little more than what we paid for in Malaysia (600 THB for the trip). 

1) Patong Beach and Patong Night Walk

Patong Beach

No trip to Phuket is complete without a visit to Patong Beach; facing the Andaman Sea, Patong Beach is internationally known as the to-go-place for beach go-ers... with a wide range of activities you can partake in, or simply sun-bathing at the sandy beach. Cross the street and you will find plenty of Seafood restaurants and cafes. In the evenings, the place is turned into a wild, happening spot. Watch out for the aggressive servers though, they may pull you aside to lure you into the bar with hot girls doing the pole-dancing stunt. If this is the experience that you are looking for, the infamous Bangla Road is the place you need to check out.

Patong Night Walk

2) Phuket Town Central Market
Address: Ranong Road, Phuket Old Town.
Business Hours: 5 am to 11 am. Opens Daily.

The best way to experience local culture is to pay a visit to the local market and Phuket Old Town's Central Market is a good choice, especially if you are on the lookout for local tidbits or nuts. For nuts (like toasted Cashew Nuts, Almonds etc) or dried Cuttlefish, we recommend this Kolek Phuket Souvenir Shop near the main entrance. One of the locals told us that this is the cheapest place to get them.

Phuket Town Central Market

3) The Feelsion Cafe
Address: 445/1, Phuket Road, Tambon Talat Yai, Phuket.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 8 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 (0) 93 575 1119

Watermelon with Dried-Crispy Fish (59 THB)

Green Curry Spaghetti with Prawns (129 THB)

Seafood in Basil Sauce served with Jasmine Rice (149 THB)

Sangkaya Cake (120 THB)

Lychee Charcoal (90 THB)

Curiously housed in an industrial building with heavy metal elements, The Feelsion Cafe is one of the most hipstery ones around Phuket. The interior decor brings in many European styled knick knacks, walk nearer to the counter and you will find plenty of colorful, attractive pastries and cakes elegantly displaying there... next to it is a display fridge featuring an array of colorful homemade Ice Creams. It's a pretty charming place... especially the semi-transparent roof that allows natural sunlight to flood in... the whole atmosphere feels very dreamy. The good natural lighting makes the place a perfect spot for taking hipstery photo too. 

On the menu, it offers a series of Thai-influenced dishes; notable ones include Green Curry Spaghetti, Spicy Seafood Glass Noodle Salad, Pad Thai, Thai Pineapple Fried Rice etc... prices are slightly above average but given the cozy, picturesque environment, the place is worth a visit. Of all the food we tried, we recommend the Green Curry with Spaghetti... one of a kind combination but The Feelsion Cafe nailed it... the flavor-combo worked perfectly well. Equally good is the Sangkaya Cake... the well-known Thai Pumpkin Coconut Custard dessert in disguise, well-inflected in the form of cake. 

4) Vanich Farm
Entrance Fee: 300 THB per pax
Address: 19/540, Moo 3, Rasada, Chang Wat Phuket.
Business Hours: 10 am to 6 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 (0) 07 652 5619


Fish- Feeding

Salted Egg-Making Class

Cow-Feeding Session

Photograph Session with Horse

If you thought Phuket is all about Beaches or Shopping places, then you might want to think again. Vanich Farm is one such good example, the agro-farm offers visitors the opportunity to get closer to nature and partake in various agricultural activities. The entrance fee of 300 THB includes a duck-feeding session, a fish-feeding session, and a Salted Egg-making session. Cow-feeding session can be included with an additional fee of 20 THB. The package used to include Paddy Field planting experience but it was not available on our visit. 

After the visit, rest your feet at the Farm Cafe; we recommend trying their Corn Milk... lightly sweetened but packed with bold corn flavors. We were told by the locals that some travel far, all the way here just to purchase their Corn Milk. 

Menu at the Cafe

Fresh Mulberry Juice (35 THB)

Fresh Corn Milk (25 THB)

5) Central Festival Phuket
Address: Wichit, Phuket.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

If the shopaholic in you calls for a tour in the mall, visit Central Festival... a mall that needs no further introduction. It is the second largest mall in Phuket, after Jungceylon at Patong. Central Festival Phuket is a little outskirt of Phuket Town, it has 2 inter-connected building, both offer free parking facilities. The mall houses some interesting international fashion brands and convincing restaurants.

6) Chalong Bay Rum Distillery 
Entrance Fee: Free
Guided Tour with Tasting Session: 450 THB per pax (starts daily at 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm, 5 pm and 6 pm)
Address: 14/2, Moo 2, Soi Palai 2, T. Chalong, Phuket.
Business Hours: 11 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66 (0) 83 181 9845

Rum & Raisin Ice Cream/ Chalong Bay Chocolate (100 THB per scoop)

Chalong Bay Mojito (190 THB)

Chalong Bay Rum (60 THB per shot)

Chalong Nachos (120 THB)

Cocktail lovers would be delighted to know that there is an award-winning Rum distillery in Phuket; the place churns out delicious Mojito endorsed by many cocktail aficionados. Approximately 20 minutes drive away from Phuket Town, Chalong Bay Distillery is the only distillery in Phuket. It uses Thai-grown Sugarcane in the making of Rum. Visitors can partake in various activities such as a 30-min guided tour around the distillery with tasting session or cocktail-making session, or simply chill out at the restaurant/ bar. You can also beat the sultry heat by having their signature Rum & Raisin or Chalong Bay Chocolate Ice Cream.... we had ours with a shot of Chalong Bay Rum... for the extra boozy touch. To nibble, we recommend their Chalong Nachos... served with a tropical Salsa consists of Mangoes and Pineapples. Chalong Bay Rum Distillery is one of the must visit places whenever you are in Phuket.

7) Promthep Cape
Entrance Fee: Free
Address: Rawai, Phuket.
Opening Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Far South-West of Phuket is a famous sunset viewpoint, it's at the most south of Phuket, overlooking Andaman Sea. The place is the perfect spot to photograph some great nature photos or simply a selfie with breath-taking scenery as background (you will have to risk your life for a perfect photo though). Though it is most packed in the evenings (many visit the place for the sunset), the evening breeze is soul-healing. Entrance fee is free if you must know.

8) Baan Rimlay 
Address: 44, Rawai Beach, Phuket.
Business Hours: 10 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66(0) 91 789 3292

Grilled Squid (250 THB)

Fresh Surat Thani Oyster (70 THB each)

Papaya Salad (70 THB)

Tom Yum Goong (200 THB)

Braised Glass Noodles with Crab (250 THB)

There are myriad of options available when it comes to Thai Seafood restaurants in Phuket but we specifically recommend Baan Rimlay at Rawai Beach... approximately 40-min drive away from Patong. The place is certainly far away from the tourist area... but offering quality food at much affordable rates. A short drive away from Promthep Cape, Baan Rimlay is a Thai Seafood restaurant next to the Sea, diners can indulge in authentic Thai food while enjoying the windy Sea Breeze and beautiful sunset.

The menu is rather extensive but we recommend starting the meal with some juicy, plump fresh Surat Thani Oysters... followed by some crunchy, addictive Thai Papaya Salad. Though not the best, Rimlay's Tom Yum Goong is a value-for-money order due to its generous serving and copious amount of Seafood. Also not to be missed is the Grilled Squid served with lip-burningly hot Chili Dip... if your heat tolerance level is low, sprinkle the Squid with Salt and they do the same wonders. 

9) La Fayette
Address: 75/27, M.3, Kamala Kathu, 83150, Phuket.
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +66(0) 99 401 7017

Mille Feuille (130 THB)

Mango Smoothie (150 THB) and Bottled Water (20 THB)

With a name like La Fayette, one would get an idea that the place is associated with France... the bakery churns out eye-pleasing French-influenced Pastries and Cakes. The place has a modern industrialized setting... with comfortable couches and chairs. A great place to have a respite from the sultry hot tropical heat.

Though it offers Western-French mains as well, we thought their Cakes are more worthy to have a look. Mille Feuille, something unusual caught our attention. The fine pastry sheet possessed buttery fragrance with slightly sweetened cream, the combination was amazing. We had the Mille Feuille with a large serving of Thai Mango Smoothie.

10) Malin Plaza
Address: Patong, Kathu District, Phuket.
Business Hours: 2 pm to 12 am. Opens Daily.

Malin Plaza opens till late so if you are in dire need to have a supper fix at Patong area, this is a decent option. There are plenty of Seafood choices around, though mostly barbecued items; there are some new, playful Thai delights as well. Prices are typically more expensive than Phuket Town but that can't be helped due to touristy area. Malin Plaza is a short 5-min drive away from Patong Beach.

11) Banzaan Fresh Market
Address: 181 Rat 11, Thit 200 Pee Road, Patong, Phuket.
Business Hours: 6 am to 9 pm. Opens Daily.

Stir Fried Squid with Basil

Stir Fried Pacific Razor Clams

Fresh Oysters

Steamed Scallops

Grilled Tiger Prawns

Many tourism websites recommend Banzaan Fresh Market as one of the must-visit places in Phuket... we beg to differ. Step in the place and you will be cornered by aggressive proprietors that converse in Mandarin... attempting to lure us in like any mainland Chinese tourists. The absence of local Thais does signal something.... a tourist trap. The place works as a wet market on ground floor and a food court on the second floor. Visitors typically buy the fresh seafood on ground floor and proceed to upper floor to cook.

We bought 2 Tiger Prawns, some Scallops, Pacific Razor Clams, a Squid and 2 Oysters. The offer price was 1,700 THB and we thought it was insanely expensive. We were about to leave and they counter-offered us at a price of 1,000 THB. We recommend slashing the price by more than half in negotiation. 

The damage does not end there. The cost of cooking the Seafood was 250 THB. We do value the freshness but the taste did not shine. We found better bargains at other Thai restaurants outside of Patong. We recommend avoiding this place. 

12) The Pad Thai Shop
Address: Soi 12, Karon, Phuket.
Business Hours: 8 am to 7 pm, closed on Fridays.

Shrimp Pad Thai (50 THB)

Braised Beef Noodles (70 THB)

Grilled Chicken Meat Balls (10 THB per stick)

Pad Thai carries the equal status as Penang Char Koay Teow; for the best, authentic Pad Thai, make your way out of Phuket Town or the clamoring Patong... to Karon, approximately half an hour drive from Phuket Town. Pretty much self-explanatory, The Pad Thai Shop is a Pad Thai specialists; the place has been featured by many international food critics or netizens. Visit the place during lunch hours and you will find troubles in securing a seat; thankfully, placing an order is hassle-free thanks to an English-speaking native (whom responsible to collect orders from foreigners). 

Patience is required for the Pad Thai. We waited for about half an hour before our plate of Pad Thai was served. Huge portion with great depth of flavors... savory, spicy with a hint of Lime acidity. The texture is great- not too bouncy but definitely not slouchy, sprinkle some Chili flakes to add in more depth to the dish. To add on the variety, try their Grilled Chicken or Beef Meat Balls. Though the Braised Beef Noodles is a decent choice, their Pad Thai is more superior in our opinion.

12) Jungceylon Mall
Address: Tambon Patong, Phuket.
Business Hours: 11 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

Strategically located within walking distance from the tourist-centric Patong Beach and behind Banzaan Fresh Market, Jungceylon Mall is the largest mall in Phuket. It has quite an extensive list of international brands and most of the time, expect to see alluring discounts. Big C Supermarket can also be found in Jungceylon, you can basically find all the necessities over there. 

Have Fun Exploring Phuket!

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