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Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Gold Coast
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Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hi there,

Just returned from Phuket. Had 10 awesome days of weather, with a small rainstorm as we landed, and then bright sunny days around 31 degrees C every day.

We stayed initially for 7 days at the Merlin Beach Resort just outside Patong. We had booked a Pool Access Room and had it guaranteed by our agent here in AUS. ** WARNING WARNING ** Despite the guarantee from the resort, when we arrived our room would not be available for 2 days (we had 7 nights at Merlin Beach). I had read about this happening on TA, but was assured it couldnt happen to us. WELL IT BLOODY WELL DID ! We were offered 3 full dinners and free cocktails in spite of the problem. If this happens to you, don't take the coupons.. simply get a refund on your extra room charges when you get home. The Buffet dinners at the resort at CRAP ! We still had coupons left when we left as we couldnt stomach the food. We spoke to at least FIVE other people that had the same experience. The resort gets hold of you, and then simply fobs you off when you arrive... what else can you do ? MOVE ? This was by far the worst part of the whole trip, and really put us in a bad mood. The Merlin Beach Resort REALLY needs to come clean with their policy on these pool access rooms. THEY SIMPLY SHOULD NOT OVERBOOK !

Now.. back to the good parts.

We enjoyed a couple of beach massages on the Northern end of the beach for 300Bhat, and they were simply sensational. Head to Toe, and the best value hour of our lives. We also managed to get most taxi trips to and from the resort for 200Baht rather than the advertised 300 that the Tuk Tuk Mafia wanted. We only paid 300 late at night coming home from Patong.

The resort itself, when we managed to get into our assigned room was superb. The pool access is simply the best way to utilise the magnificent pools. There is nothing like slipping out of your room and into the pool, rather than race down to grab a beach chair. Many people had towels on them by 8am. Happy hour on Tuesday in the pool bar from 4pm till 6pm saw the Aussies REALLY taking advantage of the half price drinks. It was a good session and we met some great people. The bulk of the resort was taken up by Swedes on what looked like Package Holidays. They even had their own Scandinavian entertainment lined up at night. In fact the bulk of the tourists we saw at this time of year were Scandinavians, and a lot of the smaller food places, especially around Karon Beach seemed to be owned or managed by Swedes.

NOW... a HUGE HUGE plug for Jenny and Geoff from SIMBA SEA TRIPS ! Thanks to TA we chose these guys over the rest of the tours to Phang Nga Bay, and what a bloody good decision that was ! Only 15 of us on their magnificent speed boat, tons of food, drinks and a great captain and deckhand. Jenny and Geoff made sure EVERYONE had a ball, and they made a point of chatting and getting to know us all. They run a very very tight outfit, and they make sure you don't get caught up in huge crowds of people. They really take the time to explain everything, and the walking tour of the village at Ko Panyi is a highlight. We put 4 or 5 other couples onto them after we had done the trip, and I am sure they won't regret it. next time we hit Phuket, we are booking Simba for the Phi Phi islands trip for sure ! Thanks guys, we know you read the forum, and we cannot extend enough thanks for one of the highlights of our trip !

We also did a cooking school at PUMS that has been mentioned here. Our suggestion is to do the 3 course class and not the 4. We did get to walk around the markets, but the heat in the middle of the day was daunting. The markets are a good 15 min from the place you do your classes, and we were over it by then. Also... its too hard to eat 4 dishes each !!!

Another great thing to do, and another highlight for us.

We also booked a driver suggested through Cathy and Garrys pages. We used MAI, who now has a brand new 4WD car with leather etc... His details Mai's phone number is +66 841 134 809. NUCH his wife answers the phone and is very helpful. We had a full day with MAI for 1500Baht and that was a full 8 hours. We went to Kok Chang Elephant Camp (The Gibbons were absent though), all the lookouts, Cape Promthepe, the fishing Village, Central Festival, Phuket Town shopping and we also managed to get to KRU SUWIT restaurant as suggested by a few others. That was a bit dissapointing to us though. The prices were double what we expected and there was a very limited choice of food ! The seafood prices were the same or more as we were offered in up market places in Patong. I am thinking if you went with a local, you may get better prices. The choice though was limiting, and we were a tad dissapointed. The trip there and back by longtail, and the general ambience of eating on a floating lump of foam and wood cannot be beaten though ! It was along day for us, and we had a ball, and we would reccomend MAI to anyone who needs a knowledgable driver.

We moved to the KataThani Resort at Kata Noi for our last 2 nights, and had been told it was a great 'couples' resort and smaller than MB. That was so wrong.... the resort was HUGE and was full of kids at this time of year. The beach is stunning, and probably the best we saw on Phuket, and the ability to walk over the road to a whole choice of restaurants and mini marts is great. We ate our last dinner at the resort and it was superb, but pricey by normal Phuket standards. The level of service at the KataTjani was better than MB, but you paid for it. The MB had better pools, but the beach sucked. Kata had limited shopping, but was a closer Tuk Tuk ride than Patong... so you have to weigh up the pros and cons. The wife preffered MB.. I liked Kata Thani better.

HINTS AND TIPS...

1.) a HUGE plug for a Greek place we found in Kata. Off Kata road turn into the Alley with CASADEL SOL hotel at the very end. There is an optical shop on the corner. Go down the SOI and on the right is the GREEK ISLANDS restaurant. OMG the food was superb and cheap ! Best Greek we have eaten anywhere (and my wife is Cypriot). The owner and chef are Greek.

2.) In the JungCeylon Shopping centre in Patong, right out the back, in the big alcove with the food places is an Italian place.... Once again, hard to beat anywhere we have ever eaten Italian. Can't remeber the name, but look for the Hogs Breath and walk back 50m

3.) The cheapest T-Shirts we got were in the BANAAN BAZAAR right behind JungCeylon at 150Baht. Most vendors started at 350Baht and came down from there.

4.) Make sure you have a Banana Pancake from a street stall. I had 3 in one day. YUMMY

5.) Bangla Road doesnt really get into 'PARTY MODE' till at least 11pm, so don't bother going until then. The Tiger Bar on Soi Bangla had 1000 people in it the Friday we went out, we've never seen such a party atmosphere !

6.) The Red Bulls - the ones in the tiny medicince bottles are GREAT if you feel a bit tired. I swear they are twice as strong as the cans we have back here !

I'll add bits and pieces as I thing about them, but thats a good start.

We can't wait to get back there now.

OH.. and Patong still stinks in parts ! They need to upgrade the system methinks :)

Cheers

Wayne

Perth, Australia
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1. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hi Wayne

Glad you and your wife enjoyed your trip, pity about the hotel bookings, it's really not good enough.

Lee

australia
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2. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Great report Wayne. Its a shame about the room puts a real damper on the start to your holiday.I have emailed our hotel to confirm our booking so will take copy with us. We are staying in Kata though.Bez

Perth, Western...
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3. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hi Wayne,

Sorry to hear about your accommodation problems, what a disappointment. Good that you warned everyone else.

I heard that Mai had a new car, he just got it a couple of weeks ago. Glad to hear it's so nice. He's a great guy, isn't he?

Chantal (Ringo) has been recommending that Greek restaurant to me for a while. We'll have to get there for a meal when we head back. I'm Greek, so would enjoy having some good Greek food for a change.

Yep, Patong (Poopong) really does smell, doesn't it? I can't believe they didn't change the system after the tsunami, rather than replace what they had before.

Gold Coast
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324 posts
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4. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

The Greek place was a real find.

I had the Kleftiko (Lamb) and was really suprised at how good it was. Also had the Kalamarikia (Calamari). The wife had the Grilled chicken with the Roast Potatoes (Lemon tang to them). All the food was great. A bunch of Scandinavian tour guides walked in just after we started eating and they looked like they ate their often.

Cheers

Wayne

Miranda, Sydney
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5. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hi Wayne,

It's always so good to read everyone's JBR's - some forum's don't even know what a JBR is! Sorry - you did write "Trip Report"

We also stayed in the Pool Access room at the MBR last year - that was THE BEST thing about the whole place - we were lucky we got into our room straight away.

Glad you had such a great trip, but disappointed you didn't meet Charlie & Lum Yai at Kok Chang - they make the place very original.

Cheers,

Sandy

Gold Coast
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6. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Charlie was actually on the bar when we arrived, but some Swedes had him to themselves. We thought by the time we did our 20min Trek and get back we could have a pat, but he was gone. The 30+ other Scandinavians that had arrived when we got back may have put him off a bit ?

:)

Australia
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7. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hi Wayne,

Thanks for a great report, sorry to hear they stuffed up your room!

Wonderful to hear another great plug for Jenny and Geoff. My husband and I are going to Phuket in April and have booked both phi phi and phang nga bay day trips with them so can't wait.

We are planning to go to Kok Chang for an elephant ride too? Did you find the 20 minute ride was long enough? What's the scenery like on that ride for taking photos? I know you can choose from 20, 30 or 60 munite rides and not sure which one to go with?

Thanks

Sheridan

Gold Coast
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8. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hi Sheridan,

To be honest, we didnt see much except for Rubber trees on the 20min tour. The hour long one goes right to the top of the hill with views.

We just wanted to ride the elephants for the experience, and we knew wed be pushing to get all the sites in within 8 hours that we had MAI driving for us.

Cheers

Wayne

Perth
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9. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hi Wayne,

That was a fantastic read and full of interesting information.

What were the highlights for you with regards to food , shopping and sightseeing?

Also what was the exchange rate?

Cheers,

Stewie.

Gold Coast
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10. Re: Phuket Trip 10th-19th March - Report - LONG !

Hmmmm.. Highlights.

Sightseeing - The day with Simba at Phang Nga bay. The day we booked Mai and toured around at our leisure - I made the itinerary and he made some suggestions.

Food - The GREEK place by far ! but we had some good cheap meals in Patong and some good seafood on one of the Soi's off Bangla Road. We really wanted to go to Floyds at the Bursari but never made it. The Fishermans Cove at the KataThani was awesome too. Our last dinner there was terrific (but cost $160) We did have entree and mains consisting of 2 x live lobsters though - BURPPPPP ! and shared a Creme Brulee.

Shopping - Its all the same same but different ! (People who have been will know what I mean). Wifey got 3 handbags for what she said were a bargain price. We bought about 20 T-shirts and wished we'd have found the Banaan Bazaar behind Jungceylon earlier ! And DVD's were everywhere for 50 baht if you got 20 or so. I'm NOT a big shopper, so this aspect of the trip for me was a bit lost. I did get an 8 gig SDHC card for AUS$80 on the top floor of the back section of Jungceylon which I thought was a good price as it was a genuine Kingston brand.

I really jsut love the place, the people and the ambience. I'm not much of a beach goer, but looking out at Kata Noi you couldnt help but get lost in the moment.... and the sunsets... OH LORDY ME !

I hope this helps ?

Cheers

Wayne