Time to Try Thai

With Chinese New Year almost upon us, this month we offer a getaway suggestion to a Thai paradise.

Take a ride through the jungle on the back of a pachyderm or alternatively earn your stripes in the tiger kingdom. 

For this travel suggestion we focus our compass on the south-region of Thailand, by way of Phuket. Regular direct flights are available from all nearby airports and if you get a return for around 1,000 RMB you are doing well. Just under four hours will get you to the local airport, with transport needing roughly one hour to get you closer to the action. Going rate taxi price is around 185 RMB or 50 RMB for a shared van.

What to Do?
Most visitors to Phuket make a beeline for Patong beach. Patong’s infrastructure is geared towards tourists and has everything a visitor needs, with hotels ranging from budget prices of 100 RMB per night to over 1,000 RMB. Although slightly crowded, it is straddled by numerous other beaches to the north and south. For animal lovers, take a ride through the jungle on the back of a pachyderm or alternatively earn your stripes in the tiger kingdom. If staying overnight in Patong, the infamous Simon Cabaret show is very entertaining, or brave the madness that is Bangla street. This street is not suited for children, as there are many dancing-girl bars in the area.

Best Beaches
Along the west coast, the clear Andaman sea ebbs at the shore of some of the most idyllic beaches in the world. To the north of Patong are the beaches of Kalim, Kamalla and Surin. More stretches of sand beckon even further north. To the south lie the glorious and easily accessible beaches of Karon and Kata. If hiking is your thing, try Freedom beach just before Karon Noi, but make sure you have plenty of water. Looping around the southernmost point of Promthep Cape (renowned for its sunset view) will take you back up the east coast, past Rawai and Friendship beach up to Phuket bay near the main port and the old town district.

Island Hopping
There are many islands nestled primarily along the east coast of Phuket. More notably Koh Khai, Racha and Similan islands. There is also the ‘James Bond Island’ where parts of the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” were filmed. I opted for the well-known Phi Phi island tour, where the Leonardo di Caprio movie “The Beach” was shot. The tour was reasonably priced at 585 RMB per person, with lunch thrown in.

Local Cuisine
Go for the seafood dishes, try Tom-yum soup with many variations of yellow, green and red curry to accompany. Be a bit more extravagant further through the trip and try some parrot fish and mantis shrimp. Durian and Mangos are widely available, however be aware most hotels do not permit these to be taken in the rooms.

One final word of advice, if hiring a motorbike be careful, the roads and traffic are treacherous. A bike can cost as little as 50 RMB per day to hire, but you will need to pay up to 10,000 RMB if any serious damage occurs. Taxis are fairly priced and widely available. A few extra days on top of your weekend are required for this adventure.