There are several things that I wish I’ve had known prior to going for Phuket. Tips given by farangs (omputeh) from reviews and forums on the internet although mostly helpful, are not entirely useful. Hence, this blog entry.
Rent A Car
There are plenty of car rental services all over Phuket especially in main tourist areas (beaches). In Phuket, they drive Hondas as if they were Protons so you can easily rent a 2009 Civic for RM120 per day. GPS is normally charged at RM20 per day. Why is renting a car a must in Phuket? Because tuk tuks and cabs are bloody expensive. Everything in main areas of Phuket is overpriced from sebiji air kelapa to sepasang selipar getah. A one way trip to the airport may cost up to RM100 and can only fit 4 person. If you’re travelling with a big group, you’ll have to take 2 cabs or a minibus at least. For minibus/van, the fare is about RM18 per person. Unless you want to makan tidur lepak clubbing in only one area, then perhaps you should use the cab. But if you’re an adventurous type of person and love scenic places, rent a car. Phuket is the size of Singapore, you can simply drive around the island in just one day, non-stop of course. The main beaches are dull, overpopulated and dull so it’s best if you go to the less touristy beaches. A 15min tuk tuk ride from Karon to Patong sahaja sudah costs about RM30. Crazy kan? During our 4 days in Phuket, we’ve visited almost every beach along West-coast of Phuket sampai ke East-coast and the hidden pearls of Phuket are definitely the smaller beaches with lesser pubs bars and hotels. The water was crystal clear, the crowd was just nice as to not make you feel sesak nor rasa takut sebab terlalu secluded. Theres a beach right after Nai Harn beach which we think is the finest amongst all. They even have kayaks for rent for RM10 per hour which is considered cheap since you couldn’t get much with RM10 in Phuket. Please bear in mind that you will need a GPS to go to these places. Also, always bring extra clothes and towels because you might not know when you might wanna stop at random beaches and terjun dalam laut :)
Stay in Cheap Hotels
Unless you’re on a honeymoon, a cheap room would be sufficient. You won’t be spending much time pun dalam bilik. Their budget hotels are adequate, clean and near to everything. For honeymooners, book decent hotels through Agoda.com cos their rates are the best trust me. For budget travelers, youngsters, backpackers, no need to book in advance. Simply go to Phuket and walk around to find cheap rooms. There are gajillions of cheap motels. You can check out the rooms first before checking in. Budget hotels rate ranges from RM50 to RM70 per night for a 2 pax room inclusive of breakfast.
Where to Stay?
For those who look for great nightlife, pubs, bars, thai chicks, stay in Patong. Sangat happening. And pricey too. From souvenirs to thai massages, semua slightly more expensive than other areas. Kami berpendapat bahawa kemantapan suatu pantai adalah berkadar songsang dengan tahap ke-happening-an kawasan pantai tersebut. Since Patong is the most happening cum most famous spot in Phuket, the beach is also the dullest, at least for me. Karon jatuh di tempat ke dua. My suggestion would be, if it’s your first trip to Phuket and you’re only there for a couple of days, stay in Patong. Everything is very accessible and there are some halal restaurants in Patong. Siang hari, pergi ronda along coastal roads of Phuket. Malam, lepak di Patong.
Where to Change your Ringgits?
Although most people (including me) would think that the exchange rate in Malaysia is better than in Thailand, that is not quite true. We bought Thai Baht at the airport for 8.8THB per ringgit. When we get there, they were selling THB at 9.0 – 9.2THB per ringgit.
Where to Get Halal Muslim Food?
To our surprise, Phuket is 80% populated by Muslims. It wasn’t obvious at first since as claimed by the locals, unlike Malaysia, in Phuket only few of the local muslim population wear hijabs. Along the roads, you will see several mosques especially if you use the coastal road from the airport. They live in villages outside of touristy areas. Rawai is quite distant from Patong/Karon but it is a Muslim populated area where you can find halal food stalls along the road. They also have halal seafood at the beach area. In Patong and other touristy areas, most halal Thai food you can find are actually cooked by Arabs or Indians. We couldn’t find any Thai restaurants owned by Thais. Only Indian/Pakistani/Iranian restaurants serving Thai food. Good news is, in Jungceylon, there is a building called Silang Boulevard. On the ground floor is the food centre where you can find several halal food stalls. Original Thai mari. And cheap too. About RM10 per dish. Again, let me remind you that RM10 is considered very cheap. We ate twice in some Indian restaurants and both times the bill amounts to >RM120 for a meal of 5 person. Another good news is, their McDonalds in Jungceylon serve halal McFilet and McChicken. Anything chicken is halal. So nuggets, chicken burgers, are halal. Their McValue meal costs about RM16 to RM19. Buy McSaver burgers if you’re on a tight budget. RM3/4 for burger only. This morning when we were driving to the airport at 6+ A.M along Thalang area, there were plentyyy of Muslim makciks wearing tudungs selling breakfast in stalls along the road, near a mosque. And there were pakciks with kopiahs on their motosikals probably on their way back from Subuh prayer. It was so Malaysia-like at that time.
In Phuket, their main motto on the road is Go Ahead When Safe. Go left when safe, go staright when safe etc. but more often they practice Go Ahead Even When It’s Not Safe. Despite the many junctions in pekan pekan utama (Patong Karon Kata etc), they don’t have any traffic lights. You’ll have to be braaave and confident when driving. One lane in Malaysia is equivalent to their two lanes and finding parking slot is multipain in the arse. They don’t have much parking spaces. You’ll have to be smart enough to spot empty spaces that is barely enough to fit your car by the roadside. Take note that they park their vehicles only on one side of the road. Police depa rajin saman orang for wrong parking. Petrol stations close quite early around 9-10 PM. Petrol price is RM3.1/ltr for RON95 and RM3.8/ltr for RON91.
- The Thais/Nepalese in main areas especially Patong tak pandang kita orang Asian ni. They sometimes treat you rudely esp. the sales people. I hate the bellboy in our hotel. blardy muka mintak pelempang when he sees us. Perhaps he would’ve been friendlier had we gave him tips. Boleh blah ahhhh *emo tak abis lagi*
- She-males are all over the place from 3AM to 6AM in their micro skirts and 10 inches heels waiting for customers.
- Best car rental rate is from NatureCarRent. Jazz/Yarris/Vios for RM100 per day, GPS RM15 (optional). Ask for Beti.
- Try Banana Pancake. They’re basically roti canai pisang je but who would’ve thought makan roti pisang panas panas tepi jalan malam malam could be quite enjoyable.
- Sunset isn’t as pretty as I had hoped it to be. Sunset from Kata beach is okay I guess since there are boats parked by the beach. I love silhouettes of boats during sunset.
- Go to any convenient shop, buy Meiji Nata de Coco yogurt. sedap wehh. RM1 je lak tu. it’s basically vanilla flavored yogurt where in Malaysia you can only get such flavor from Cold Storage imported yogurts atau Calci-Yum which are quite pricey hehe.
I hope that this article successfully finds you Malaysian googlers who are planning to visit Phuket and hope you’ll find it useful!
ps: Prices mentioned are using 10THB=RM1.00 assumption.