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Phuket Thailand Advice Please

Melbourne, Australia
4 posts
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Phuket Thailand Advice Please

Hello,

My finance and I will be going to Thailand in three weeks. We are looking for advice! We will be in Phuket for 5 days and Bangkok for 2. Advice on either location would be great! We are looking to do a day trip to the Phi Phi islands. We want to see the beautiful waters/scenery of Thailand. We also want to see sky lanterns. Please give us advice :) Thanks!

Melbourne, Australia
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1,455 posts
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1. Re: Phuket Thailand Advice Please

G'day Nicole C,

Well the Phi Phi trip might be unadvisable depending on the weather the reputable operators wont do that trip in Bad weather .. But you can still see some great places on a boat trip thru Phang Nga Bay .

also have a look at this website which contains heaps of valuable information http://cathyandgarystravelpages.com/index.htm

have fun we are back in Phuket in 13 daqys time

Cheers

Lozza and Mrs Lozza

Melbourne, Australia
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2,035 posts
39 reviews
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2. Re: Phuket Thailand Advice Please

Advice ? Ok...

Not sure of what you intend to do for money but we find it best is to take mostly cash and cards as back up. There is a local 150 baht atm fee per withdrawal so withdraw in large amounts. Check out the 28 degree completely free Mastercard (and how best to use it). Basically you load it with your own money before going, and use it to withdraw cash from ATM's. The card itself has no fees or charges, unlike Travelex that has heaps of fees and charges. Just don't drop below zero balance or you'll be up for cash advance fees. You can use it as a normal credit card but it uses up the cash you've put on it first, so it defeats the purpose. In Australia, you use Westpac ATM's for no fee. You withdraw from "credit" using the card, unlike your normal card which you choose savings.

1- TURN OFF GLOBAL DATA ROAMING on your iphone, if you take it. Better to take an old tri band phone (most are tri band)

2- Take empty drink bottles and fill them once thru customs

3- Melbourne duty free is not very cheap, but it’s easy as you can buy stuff and leave it there for pickup on the way back. Booze is cheap in Phuket from the supermarket at Jungceylon, or even 7/11. If flying thru Singapore, DF prices are much better than Melbourne.

4- In Phuket, don’t yell or get angry if you are in disagreement with hotel staff or shop keepers etc. You do, and they’ll just wipe you, and you’ll have no chance of a resolution. You may not get what you want anyway, but once you get angry, it’s all over.

5- If your room is not the best, ask politely for another one (of the same standard). Many hotels have one or two dodgy rooms compared to other rooms. You can be insistent, just not rude.

6- Don’t hire a jet ski. They are mostly hired out by n'er do wells, and they have a big scam going where they get you to pay heaps for existing damage you haven’t noticed when hiring. many hire without incident, but IMO it’s not worth the risk.

7- Beware of rip tides !

8- Tell your bank you may be using your credit card overseas. I know you are mostly taking cash, but you may use it at your hotel or major shopping centres. If withdrawing from an ATM there is a $5 fee on top of what your bank charges, so withdraw one big amount, not lots of little amounts.YOU need a credit card on check-in, they take an imprint, otherwise they will ask for $500 cash as a security deposit. You get it back when you check-out.

9- Take some elastic bands and some blutack...

10- Ignore anyone coming up to you asking to do a survey, offering free stuff/raffle tickets, or asking "do you speak English ?" as if they need help. It's all time-share salespeople.

11- if you hire or ride on a motorcycle, wear a helmet or cop a fine.

There are ATM’s and money changers at Phuket airport, even if you get there late. Change some cash, maybe $100, and get some smaller bills in your change. Plenty of money changers in the streets of Patong. The rates vary between them, but not by that much. Maybe 2% max. Generally very honest.

At the Airport you may see them giving away free Sim cards - grab one, or even one each. Their stand is just after you pass Immigration & Passport Control and enter the luggage collection area. They are not always there. Top up at 7/11, cheap call rates and one recharge lasts your whole trip. Also pick up the free advertising bags and maps; very handy and have discount cards.

To dial home, use one of the cheaper prefixes (008, 009), or the one they recommend on your sim if it’s cheaper.

PHONE CALLS

If the Aussie landline number is 03 12345678

To ring drop the 0 from 03 and dial 008 61 3 12345678 (or 009 61 3 12345678)

For Aussie Mobile numbers e.g. 0412 345 678

To RING drop the 0 (from the first 4 digits) and dial 008 61 412 345 678

To TEXT - drop the 0 and dial +61 423 45678. To get a +, hold the key down till it changes.

Read your manual thoroughly as it tells you how to make the cheapest calls. Often they’ll have their own special international prefix to use instead of 008 or 009.

For someone ringing you in Thailand:

Your new Thai mobile number will start with 08, so for anyone calling YOUR MOBILE from Australia they would drop the 0 and add in “+66” then your new number (that’s when they are calling you from a mobile) eg your number is 086 943 9922, they would dial +66 86 943 9922.

From a landline at home to your hotel they would call you on 0011 - 66 - 76 - then the local number.

To call a local number in Phuket, you have to dial the local number but they usually list it as an international number. For Phuket to dial someones business number you’d dial 076 not just 76 like from outside the country eg dial 076-360400, even if the number is listed as 66 76 360400

Hopefully you’ve organised driver pick up at the airport at about 800 baht total one way, otherwise you can catch a regular taxi as your cheapest option. Touts at the exit door will try to get your business, but they often charge 1,000 baht and sometimes make you stop at travel agencies on the way to your hotel. Ignore them and walk to the Taxi rank. I’ve never caught a taxi but below is how to do it. You can’t get a metered taxi back to the airport, you have to haggle with a driver or pre book. Should be about 800 baht. Trip takes about 40-45 minutes.

Airport taxi to Patong:

Walk out of the arrivals hall and immediately turn right - walk about 40-50 meters.

You'll see the metered taxi stand straight ahead - with a big sign - difficult to miss it.

They will charge you a 100฿ "airport tax" that is a legitimate fee.

You go the office, tell them where you are going and they tell how much it will be and get you a driver with an air-conditioned car. Have the address of the place you are going handy. They will all know Gracelands. To Patong Beach about 500฿. Prices may vary as petrol prices go up

and down.

A tip of 20 baht is appreciated, 50 is welcomed, and 100 is for big jobs or great service. All day tours, we tipped 200. You don’t have to tip at all, but some Porters are starting to hang around until you do. I normally tip the driver 50-100, and the Porters 20 if they hang around, otherwise 50. It’s not like the USA where they demand it; you really don’t have to tip if you don’t want to. But I like to leave my loose change out for the cleaning lady, and definitely tip your massage lady. You pay 250 baht for an hour massage, and she might get half, probably less, the rest goes to the business. I always tipped them 50-100 baht, unless they were useless. Be aware, if you are male and go on your own, even to a regular massage place, they might ask if you want a 'happy ending'.

Tuk Tuks: from anywhere to anywhere in Patong itself is a maximum of 200 baht. They will ask for more, but just tell them nicely that sorry, you know that is the standard fare. Gracelands to Jungceylon you used to get for 150, or even 100 baht, but not so much anymore. All day tour, anywhere from 500-1000 baht. We paid 400 one time for 4 hours, 800 another time for 6 hours, 1000 in a nice big van. They stop off at jewellery stores etc to get petrol vouchers, which keeps the price down. Go in for a look, no reason to buy anything, no pressure. Great way to look at a few sights, and go shopping in Phuket Town and elsewhere. See the Big Buddha, but maybe give Wat Chalong a miss unless you like lots of temples. It was a bit interesting I suppose. Go to Kata Viewpoint, ride an elephant at Kok Chang not far from there, best place to do it. There’s bungy jumping out of Patong, zip lines thru trees, a lousy zoo, an alright butterfly and insect place.

You may pay more or less, but Patong to Karon 300 baht one way, 600 return, and they’ll wait for you or give you a number to call them. From karon, can be a different story, drivers there are harder to deal with. Patong to Kata, maybe 400 baht each way / Didn't do it last trip, may have gone up. You might even get better if you book return. Just depends. Phuket Town eg for the night markets, or to Central shopping centre, 600-800 return, and they wait for you. There is a local bus called a songthew that’s really cheap. You just flag it down and ask how much. It’s only about 25 baht per person for many journeys, but it doesn’t go direct to Karon or Kata, only to Phuket Town. You can use it up and down Patong as well, but we never did.

Simon ladyboy cabaret and Fantasea, I’d give both a miss. Some like them.

Tours to Phi Phi and elsewhere you haggle over. Phuket Panwa canoe trip to James Bond Island was good value at 1400 baht, and I've read some paid less. Pamphlet price is a joke for most things eg a short tour said 1200 baht per person and we got it for 800 baht. If you want the Rolls Royce tour with the big boys like simba or PST, it's well over 3,000 baht now for Phi Phi or Phang Nga bay, but few (practically none) complain about the tour.

Shopping: First day go to a little place called Jindas to get an idea of prices. Not too far from Gracelands. They don’t start with a bs price like most other places, and will give you a further discount if you buy a few things, 10-20%. Eg T-shirts are 150 baht. Jindas is 2 doors down from the Sailor Bar, on the beach road (though in the bit where it is not opposite the sand), directly opposite La Salsa. If you are walking south from Gracelands, you pass Thara Patong hotel, but if you hit McDonalds, you’ve gone too far. La Salsa is easy to spot. Jinda's very hard to spot, only has (or had) a small sign hanging from the ceiling inside, but usually full of people.

Then there is Otop markets, and Jungceylon, a big shopping centre, walking distance from most hotels.

In proper shops at Jungceylon or retail stores elsewhere eg a Levi’s or a sports store, ask for a “tourist price” and they often give you 5% off. Take your passport when you buy and you can claim back GST, but it’s a pain and we never bother. One department store does it instantly (Robinson’s ?) so do bother there. You have to spend over 2,000 baht to get it, in one day. Phuket Town has a shopping centre that’s worth a look called Central, and a couple of others, and have night markets on Sat and Sunday. Pretty much the same stuff you’ll see at Otop Markets, sometimes at better prices. Worth a look.

See here for price guide: cathyandgarystravelpages.com/phuket_shopping…

There are internet cafes around all over, average 1 baht per minute, but some are faster than others.

Your room will have a room safe. Reception will have safety deposit boxes. I usually leave most of my cash and passports in the safety deposit box (don’t lose the key !!!). Last time I just kept them in my room safe. Theft from room safes does happen, but it’s very rare.

The room safe always has an inner lip up the top front inside the safe. Roll your money up inside an elastic band and wedge it in there, and push it up against the roof of the safe with some blutack, so it can’t be seen. Leave $20 on the floor of the safe so they think that’s all there is.

EATING: lots of places are good and usually you won’t get sick. Cheap places we liked are Sabai Sabai in Soi Post Office and S&G opposite it, and wai Thai on the beach opposite Finnegan's. Soi Post Office is off the Beach Rd, past Bangla Rd if walking from Gracelands. If you get sick of Thai, try Italian from Da Marios, south off Bangla Rd, down the last laneway before the road Jungceylon is in (or first laneway left off Bangla Rd if you are going from Jungceylon towards the beach). Nicky’s Handlebar also popular, on Rat u thit rd, not far from you. Special night, Mom Tri’s in Kata Beach, Joe's Downstairs, or our new fave, sam's Steakhouse (not just steaks) but all relatively expensive. Savoey or Patong Seafood on the beach Rd, can be great off the menu, but DO NOT order seafood by weight off the ice at the front. It's way too expensive and also often not fresh. Apparently, best thing for seafood is to go to BANZAAN market behind Jungceylon, buy it there, and go upstairs to a restaurant, or next door to Hemingways and they'll cook it for you for a small fee. And everywhere I ate, the crab dishes were good.

One night, you could have a drink at the Ska Bar on Kata Beach, then Mom Tri’s. Go to Mom's or The Boathouse at happy hour (b/w 4 & 6 ?) for half price drinks.

And have the pancakes off the street for dessert, just pick a good one that doesn’t burn them (watch them, a lot overcook them).

If you want some good photo's of Patong, go to the Courtyard Marriott hotel opposite Otop next to Hard Rock cafe, entrance via side street, take a lift to the top floor where the rooftop pool is, and take some shots off the roof. Just walk in like you are staying there, no one will question you.

Sky lanterns are on most beaches at night and can be purchased cheaply from people selling them on the beach.

Enjoy.

Edited: 27 May 2013, 14:57
3. Re: Phuket Thailand Advice Please

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