Have just returned from two weeks in Karon beach staying at Karon Sea Sands, with my bf.
Flew out of Sydney with Singapore Air which was excellent. Arrived in Phuket at around 7pm and got through customs in about half hour and made my way through the touts to the meter taxi stand. Cost 600 baht from the airport to Karon beach and the driver was excellent and very friendly.
Once checked in went to check out Karon and find some food, came across Red Onion and had our first of many great meals. Loved it here and couldnt recommend it enough - excellent food and very cheap! sure, service isnt amazing but they are efficient and run a very busy restaurant extremely well.
Went out to Phi Phi with Phuket Sail tours and had a great day although I was really sad at the state of Phi Phi. Its a shell of what it used to be and was really disappointing - crawling with tourists and teaming with rubbish. The place really needs to be shut down for at least a year to try and rejuvenate it but of course thats not going to happen as long as money is being made!
Found this to be true about much of Phuket. I hardly recognised the island, having not been there for ten years, which I guess can be expected of any place but there is just no environmental awareness whatsoever. Resorts are going up around every corner but walks along the beach of an afternoon are spoiled by the amount of rubbish lying on the sand, which needs to be dodged. In another ten years there will be no Phuket to go to, which is so sad because it has so many unique qualities..
Went into Patong a few times as found it to be the best for shopping. Did alot of shopping along Rat-u-thit rd at the markets and got some good bargains. Didnt buy much in Jungceylon as found it to be the same as home. We did buy a mobile phone there though for around $20 (AUD) which was great as we could just top it up when we needed to and it was much cheaper to call home rather than using our own phones.
Walked along Patong beach once and came across a woman's sanitary pad amongst the rubbish so decided not to go back!
Went to Banzaan and bought Phuket lobsters then took them to Hemingways and had them cooked - delicious! Four phuket lobsters (came to roughly 600g) cost around 500 baht and then it is 40 baht per 100g to have them cooked.
Hired Panya Kamman for a half day tour and went to Big Buddha, shooting range, cashew nut factory, Wat Chalong temple and had one of the best lunches at a little restuarant just down the road from Big Buddha, best papaya salad that I had eaten.
Went to night markets which was pretty good, mostly for food. Ate the most amazing Moo Grob (crispy pork) at a stand which I was sure we would get sick from but didnt have a problem. Also ate plenty of shrimpcakes and sweets and ice tea.
We hired a bike which we would have been lost without. We were able to go down south to Promthep and Nai Harn and go to Kata beach whenever the beach was too rough at Karon, was an excellent and cheap way to get around. Would not recommend it though if you didnt know how to ride a motorbike or dont have an international drivers licence - we were stopped twice at police checkpoints to have our licences checked. We had to take a tuktuk and taxi on a couple of occasions and they are so overpriced, but didnt have any other problems, drivers went exactly where we asked them to.
We ate at some great restaurants including The Green Chilli, restaurant with no name and Lucky Tom's. Also had a great burger at Hard Rock - a disgrace I know but I wouldve paid anything for a burger by that point! Also had PLENTY of banana pancakes, they were amazing and will be sorely missed :-(
We took TravelBug and I didnt have any problems, even though I brushed ny teeth with tap water and wasnt overly picky about what I ate from food stands, however my bf was sick on and off throughout the trip, mostly after a day at Phuket Thai Cookery School, which we pinpointed it down to undercooked chicken which then sat at room temp for 30-45 minutes while we had to cook another dish. Guess if your going to get sick, your going to get sick but I think it helped when eating spicy foods as we didnt have any 'backlash' haha.
All in all a good holiday, another travel experience, but cant say that I would go back in a hurry. We just found it too overpopulated with tourists and were disgusted at the lack of care given to the environment to preserve it so money can be made for years to come. We also got very sick of the constant harrassment. Lots of people I saw just flat out ignored all the touts, but I felt guilty so would always smile and say 'no, thank you' but this got very annoying.
Thanks for all the advice and info leading up to the trip, will have to start planning the next holiday somewhere else in the world!