HOW TO BUFFET

Recently we have been encountering people in buffets who seem to have never been to a buffet before. It is entirely possible that they haven't. They seem so lost and confused. We hear them asking each other what to do and neither seems to have any idea. I started thinking then about this article, an article on how to buffet. If you are new to buffet dining then this is for you. If you have been

Tuk Tuks and Taxis in Phuket - Your Opinions

Jamie's Phuket Blog almost always talks about Phuket in a positive way. I blog about places we have been, restaurants we like, things we have enjoyed doing as a family. I don't tend to post news stories or dwell on things that I don't like although I have written about the tsunami several times and back in 2006 I did mention the coup. Yes there was a coup in 2006 and, yes, I am aware there was another one in April 2014, but have no plans to blog about it. For news updates, weather and more, please do follow me on Twitter! And please do use the blog to get ideas for things to do, places to eat or the best hotels.

Since I blog about things that I do, or we do as a family, I have not mentioned public transport, although maybe a "general information" blog post about this subject might be a good idea. We have our own transport, we live here, so we have no use for taxis, tuk tuks, motorbike taxis or buses. Way back when I first got here to Phuket I did use tuk tuks and buses a few time, but preferred motorbike taxis as they were cheaper than tuk tuks and faster than buses! Before having any children, and when I lived in Patong for a while in 1999/2000 I could take a motorbike taxi from one end of Patong to the other for 20 Baht and a tuk tuk I am sure had a starting fare of 50 Baht in Patong. When I moved over the hill to Kathu, I remember a tuk tuk to Phuket Town was 100 Baht. It was quite affordable back then.



(above) Motorbike taxi driver in Phuket Town.

These days, I gotta say that in my opinion taxi and tuk tuk fares are nuts. I think the average rate between the airport and the main south Phuket beach areas (Patong, Karon, Kata) is about 1000 Baht now. Taxi stand near our dive shop shows a rate of 1000 Baht for 1 or 2 people, 1200 for 3 or 4 people. Now, fair enough it's a 50km drive and in heavy traffic can be a 2 ½ to 3 hour return trip. I don't think the airport fare is too bad, but 400 Baht from Karon to Patong, like 7 - 8 km? Or 200 Baht just from one end of Karon to the other (2km)? Or 1000 Baht return trip to the Big Buddha? 600 Baht to Phuket Town? Too high?



(above) Taxi prices posted outside the Karon Place Hotel next to Sunrise Divers, Karon Beach

My simple opinion is that there are too many taxis and tuk tuks, so each driver does not get enough business, and thus they have to charge more per trip, and then spend 80% of the day in a hammock. There has not been enough regulation to limit the number of taxis, plus each area has it's own little mafia cooperative keeping fares high and a taxi from Karon, for example, can take a tourist from Karon to Patong, but cannot pick up in Patong so has to return empty. But are the fares too high? Is it a rip-off? I don't know! I am basing my comments on my own financial status, so it seems a bit expensive to me, but maybe the average tourist has more money and thinks tuk tuks are a good deal and a fun part of being in Phuket?



(above) This was the last time I used a tuk tuk - back in 2010. My daughter and I were walking in Phuket Town (doing the 2010 Phuket Photo Walk), she got tired and we hailed a tuk tuk for a ride across town. I was expecting to be quoted a silly number, but the driver said 60 Baht. I think you might find Phuket Town to be a little different to the main tourist areas!

Since I don't take taxis, I wanted to get some opinions from people who do use them. I asked on my Phuket Blog Facebook Page ...

"What do you think about tuk tuks and taxis in Phuket? Good service? Had any bad experiences? Do you think prices are OK, or too high?"

Thank you to all those who left answers and comments. There were plenty of opinions, more than 100 comments in total though some were off topic! I will have to cherry pick here, can't post all comments, but you can read the whole Facebook post with all answers here. I am including all kind of comments below, positive and negative. It's a real mixed bag of opinions!

If you are a taxi or tuk tuk driver, or if you know a taxi or tuk tuk driver, you might want to read some of these comments. I know some local people read this Phuket weblog. Some good comments here and remember, this is from people who actually use the service (not me)!

We have used lots of Tuk Tuks and have enjoyed them. The drivers are always good fun but we have also found that we can get a taxi for the same price.

Good point raised actually - tuk tuks are the box shaped little things, normally red in colour but can be any colour. No seatbelts, no aircon, no doors. My opinion - they're not as safe, but people like them because you don't get anything like this "back home". You can normally find proper cars with aircon, doors and seatbelts hanging around hotels and they charge the same.

I think the drivers charge way too much for distances around Phuket.
I had to go to hospital when I was in Karon and the driver stayed with me nearly all day and made sure I got back to my hotel alright. I gave him 2000Bht, I can not fault the service these guys provide.
Been visiting Phuket since 2004 - Tuk Tuks have got progressively more expensive - but never had a bad experience.... 200 Baht from Amari into Patong - Bangla adds up after a week though!
They have motorbike taxi in Phuket too. When I'm out partying and leave my motorbike home I always pay a ladyboy 100 baht and she take me home. Always the same price even if you go from Karon to Kata But if we go to Patong or longer way I always call for my taxi friend and I always pay the same price. Some tuk tuk people are not nice but if you're not happy with the people or the price just walk to next one.

Jamie says - I'm not sure I'd want to pay a ladyboy 100 Baht to "take me home" :)

I found them to be good clean dangerous fun. haggle with a friendly smile to get a good deal, only naive tourists get ripped off, and you guys stick out like sore thumbs. lol

You see some people think like this comment above, others say ...

It's a f*cking rip off and the baddest thing about Phuket.
Works well unless you stay in Kamala, there they are run by the mafia and are a total rip-off
!! I was expecting more of this kind of comment actually!

Tuk Tuks are a novelty but because of the pecking order, when queued you can't choose the one you want! Its a pain coz if you have young children they want the one with the loud music and colourful lights and bling, but you are forced to take the next one going. Leads to much disappointment with the children who drive home from dinner in a plain one to see others rock up to the hotel having a party in the back!!
Ditto most of the previous comments - 40 Baht for one hour of pootling around the sights of Bangkok - Asked for 200 baht in Phuket before you even get in the tuk tuk or they know where you want to go - Can be quite aggressive if you even start to try to barter.....Again it was all 'Land of Smiles' from the Bangkok drivers with good banter. Felt I wanted to tip the Bangkok driver....And just paid what was asked and no more on Phuket. It could be a lot better if they tried.

I also can't quite understand why taxis in Bangkok are so much cheaper than Phuket. I think maybe it's because the drivers don't lounge around in hammocks all day.

When we were in Thailand tuk tuks were a novelty. We found the convenience great. The fact that we didn't have to run the gauntlet in Patong was fabulous. From Jung Ceylon to Merlin cost 250 was a bit pricey but we still did it every day as we were not interested in a suit glasses or favours from the women on the street.
Only used one once in Patong. To get me to hospital!! Faster than a taxi and quicker than an ambulance !!
Sometimes taxi and tuk tuk are the same price so you may as well travel in aircon comfort. It depends on the size of your group too. Usually they will negotiate and people often step in to help you if you look confused lol. Our housekeeper at the villa negotiated rides out and we had a driver who was fantastic that did day trips. Its a great place and full of many wonderful people. There are a few rogues everywhere.
I found it a good service and friendly
One time tuk tuk in two yrs. I do not like always feel some want to rip you off.
Overpriced

As you see above - opinions vary, some people think it's expensive or a rip off and some say the opposite!

Very expensive charge & not friendly. When I visit Phuket I always rent a car at the airport.
We hired a car with no problems for rest of trip...air con was like heaven!!

I might just talk about hiring your own vehicle at some point. I think that if you really want to explore Phuket as I do, a car is essential, or at least a moped for shorter distances. Car hire tends to be somewhere between 800 - 1500 Baht per day depending on season, type of car and length of hire contract. Can be cheaper than a few taxi rides, but you do need to be happy driving in Phuket traffic :)

Stay in a place where you don't have to take tuktuk often, so you won't regret to spend the most of your money to them. It is the tourist himself who made the prices grow because of his stupidity to pay nearly all price only to have the confort not do walk 500m. there are good and bad drivers, but most are honest because they tell you the price before riding. there are also good and bad tourists. if it is too expensive, avoid tuktuks, stay in a better area, or even stay at home
Visited Phuket last year with my family, they (especially the grandchildren) loved the experience. Just have to negotiate with the driver before you get in. We found them very friendly and careful with the kids on board.
Complete rip off....Chang Mai from airport to hotel,about 30 minute drive in minivan with 4persons,charge 160 baht,Phuket from airport to Karon 1000 baht....Bangkok airport to inner city about 45 minute drive 260 baht.....go figure!...a disgrace what they extort from tourists. Thai government needs to address this.
love em! overpriced? hell no compared to what i pay at home
Overpriced they rip off as much they can...

It seems there is no middle ground here .. people seem to like Phuket tuk tuks and taxis or hate them!

Here's a good comment ::: I agree, the short trips are overpriced.

I think that the drivers should not charge so much just to go from one end of the street to the other , like 200 Bht but happy to drive you round for hours up to 5 hours for just 450 Bht . I would use them 5 times a day for short travel it they were reasonable, it does not make sense they would rather b doing nothing than getting money for what would be a Max 10 min trip to go back and make more money for lots more 10 min trips. I have been to Phuket at least 20 times and the heat does get to tourists and a well priced ride for these very short trips would benefit EVERYONE
Expensive! Live on Karon beach when we are there. they take 200 for to drive to some place in Karon,300 to Kata, 400 to Patong. And in the evening they go home early....so no tuk.tuk ore taxi

Below .. I am not sure who posted this, maybe a taxi driver or friend of a taxi driver ... a little hard to understand, but I will point out one thing - whoever wrote this certainly agrees, there are TOO MANY taxis and tuk tuks, that's why they don't have enough fares and thus have to charge more per fare.

In tuk tuk and taxi side : tuk tuk and taxi they can work just only 4 or 5 month a years as now not thing no tourist and what about 8 month what they can do, not thing. if they out from work that mean can't be back to work anymore. if a lot of driver that mean not so much work too, must sheared your guest and money. they have taxi and tuktuk club for make the same price and also have price show on the sign beside the road and front of there station, the gasoline in thailand is the most expensive in the world almost 40-50 THB/lite. small car but lot of weight and go up to big mountain. Why they must to start from 200 THB. evern you go for just 1/2 Km. how many car in work please some please have much more 20 car. if you are the first one and got guest for 200 THB. and when you come back to station must to be the last again and wait for 3-4 hr. or more for run another car to have guest then you can turn to the first one again. what you think how many THB. they got and how many hrs. they should work to got a lot money. like now the 2nd car still not got guest from 10 O'clock till 21:00 pm what about another car in station if today they can't be the first much to move to the next day and next day and next day. please thing everything for 2 side not only 1 side. everything have bad and good. a lot of experience with bad guest too.

Expensive? We are staying up on the hill at Patong and we get a tuk tuk twice a day to wherever we want to go, average price is 200 baht for 5 of us, cheap cheap!
We love them and don't mind paying for the experience of traveling in them. When I compare distance for price from Phuket to Australia, great value too!
Love a tuk tuk
They are too expencive and killing the tourisem. The are noise and drive like hell.

(Please note, if spelling and grammar are bad .. I am quoting exactly as written by people who are not always native English speakers!)

Never had a problem in the last 9 trips to Phuket.
My husband and I and our 3 children used them whilst staying in Karon and thought they were WAY overpriced. It was the biggest expense of our trip. They also would put the prices up because there were 5 of us. At the tuk tuk stations all prices on display are for 4 people. What does it matter if there are 2,4 or 10 people in a tuk tuk it's still going to the same place?? That pissed me off especially with little kids. Love Phuket it was our 3rd time but it's definitely getting more expensive.

To the person who wrote this (above) - I suggest renting a car.

We have been to Phuket 4 times going back in September 5th trip, we use them everyday, long trips short trips, they can be expensive, especially short trips, but we walk try barter what we think is reasonable if they don't agree we walk to the next lot till we have someone who actually wants money. Yes you do get good ones and when you do KEEP THEM!!
Stayed at Surin Beach and it was lovely, but the taxi monopoly means you have to pay the equivalent of AU$20 to get anywhere. It puts you off the idea of staying there again.
Scooter is the way to go around Phuket, definitely.

Jamie says - I have to say, I don't thing it's my imagination, but I swear that I saw a lot more tourists on scooters/mopeds this last high season ... avoiding taxi prices? You can normally rent a scooter for 250 - 300 Baht per day. That's cheaper than a single shop between beaches by taxi. Don't want to say too much here, but I'd only recommend you rent a scooter if you know how to ride, have experience riding in traffic and please, always wear a helmet (and a shirt!).

I think prices were higher last November than the July 2011 when we were there. I found it expensive from Patong to Kata... And also the fixed price of 200 Baht from Gracelands into Patong. I think the prices for everything were def higher the second time we went. But we loved it and can't wait to go back. The men on the beach outside Gracelands are awesome as well as the guys in the little takeaway shop on the beach. They are def worth the money. Oh and we never had a bad experience. Except for once when we asked to see the shops and he took us to a souvenir shop that we didn't want anything at. That was disappointing but the only time in the 21 days all up we have been to Phuket.

Re the comment above - "from Gracelands into Patong" ... seriously, some people need to walk a bit! Gracelands hotel is just 10 minutes walk from the center of Patong! I agree Patong to Kata or Karon, they charge too much.

We use tuk tuks when we are there and have always had a good experience. We also have a driver that we use for trips outside of Patong beach and he is great!.. takes us everywhere, books our day trips and suggests places for us to go exploring.
Definitely expensive but great fun to ride in! Better value if they drive you around for a few hours. The only time I've though highly of the service was with the Batman tuk tuk a few years ago. He took us to Laem Singh Beach and we arranged for him to return and pick us up a few hours later, and he was right on time.
Way way way over priced on both the taxi & tuk tuk.......they are stand over merchants.......they have this mentality that because it's quiet instead of getting of there asses & looking for work we will just sit in our little huts & put the prices up & the customer can come to us.......if you can find a good one stick with them cause they are very rare!!
Compared to the rest of Thailand they are way overpriced !

Agree. And very little alternative - buses run between Phuket Town and the main beaches, but not between the beaches. And anywhere else I have been in Thailand, you have lower taxi prices, or .. even in Pattaya, they have buses that run routes around the main tourist areas for a low price. If you could hop on a bus every 20 minutes from one end of Patong to the other for 20 Baht, it would be a success. If you really wanted to go NOW you could pay extra for a taxi. Pretty much how any place in the world does it.

LOVE the disco Tuk Tuks!
We were there 2 months ago. I thought the prices were high compared to Chiang Mai and Bangkok, but pretty much everything was more expensive in Phuket. And of course the prices were pretty much set although we did manage to bargain down a tiny bit on a couple of rides. We enjoyed the rides in the "pimped out" tuk tuks blasting music. And we had good service overall.
We gave the tuk tuk driver too much money and he was honest enough to let us know... we ended up giving him more than the fare because he was so nice about it and so honest!

OK, that's enough - a lot of comments as you can see. And to be honest I was surprised at the number of positive comments. I know very well that the taxi and tuk tuk prices have been increasing year by year. Sure, everything increases in price, but I think part of the reason the taxis are so expensive in Phuket is that there are too many of them. Plus the way they organise themselves into local groups, can't pick up in other areas outside their own group border and quite frankly there seem to be many drivers happy to lounge around all day and get a few fares at inflated prices. God forbid that if the prices were lower, more people would use the taxis and the drivers would have to work more, but would they make more money? If I can sell you one banana for 100 Baht, why would I sell you 2 bananas for 50 Baht each? I hope someone has found this interesting / useful / a fun read. If you are coming to Phuket - well, that's what other visitors think of Phuket's taxis and tuk tuks! See you in Phuket!

UPDATE - Just a few days after this blog post was written, there was a huge crackdown on illegal taxis and taxi "mafia" groups. Police and army cooperated and had a list of over 100 people they wanted to arrest. Despite many people obviously enjoying the service provided by taxis and tuk tuks in Phuket, for sure many people are not happy with the service, as can be seen from the comments I got on Facebook. This was a surprise crackdown and maybe it will help ... you can read more on the Phuket News website here, here and here.

UPDATE 2 - Uber is now in Thailand. You may know about Uber if you live in one of the many places where they operate - order taxis from your mobile. Fares better than the regular local fare. You can leave ratings and comments about any trip you take. And if you sign up using the promo code uberjamiesphuket or use the link https://get.uber.com/invite/uberjamiesphuket you get a discount on your first ride too!

Read More About Phuket

Jamie's Phuket Home Page
Phuket Hotels - Online Booking
Phuket Beaches
Day Trip to Phi Phi

Island Buffet. Baldwin, NY

Last week I wrote about a new Asian buffet that opened in Baldwin and I mentioned that I had set out for another buffet thinking that it was the buffet that I wrote the article about. I said in that article that I would go to that other buffet at some point and we did.

This may be one of my strangest articles because we did go to this buffet and we walked out. Here is why. We went on a Friday

Phuket Instagram Meet Up 17th May 2014

A couple of days ago, I met with a small group of Phuket residents in old Phuket Town for an Instagram meet up, part of the worldwide Instameet. I was surprised to see that 2014 was the 9th annual Instameet - I did not realise Instagram had been around that long! I only got an iPhone just over a year ago, but Instagram was one of the first things I downloaded. You can find me on Instagram with the username phuketblog - please do follow! I use Instagram for little snapshots of daily life. Some Instagram users are very artistic, some just take a lot of selfies. I only use the iPhone photos, though you can take photos with nice cameras and use these for Instagram. But I think it's ideally suited for snapshots taken with a smartphone, which you can upload instantly. You can read more about Instagram here.

I heard about this Instameet a couple of weeks in advance and marked it on the calendar. Some people have mentioned to me that they wished they had known about it. Sorry I did not mention it myself, aside from a couple of Tweets. I had no idea what would really happen or if anyone would turn up, but I am sure there will be a similar meet up again! I found out about the Instameet from following the username phuketstagram on Instagram. The phuketstagram username is being run by Amy who lives in Phuket and also posts as girl_with_bear. I saw this notice below and thought it would be a fun Saturday afternoon.



We met up at Baan Chinpracha House, a mansion built by a Chinese-Thai family at the turn of the 20th century at the peak of the tin mining boom. I've been a few times before, and always find the old part of Phuket Town fascinating. I arrived a little late, paid the 150 Baht entry fee, saw a collection of shoes outside, but no sign of any people! Was I too late? But then a friendly face appeared - Tim works at the Cape Panwa Hotel, writes a blog too and can be found on Instagram at timinphuket. And inside were half a dozen others including the aforementioned Amy, all having a guided tour that I'd turned up late for :) We all took a few photos of course (more of these later) including some group shots that were later uploaded ...



(above) At Chinpracha house with some Phuket Instagram users!

A walk around the old town on a very hot afternoon was an option to take more photos, but I was happy to say that a drink was decided to be a better course of action. We walked a couple of hundred meters down the road to a cafe attached to the Thai Hua Museum. I like this section of Krabi road, it's always quiet and there's a shortcut here down to the central market. I snapped a photo of a coconut seller who posed on his motorbike as we walked to the cafe ...



Once we were all sat down with a coffee (or beer) we could have a good old chinwag. A couple of the Phuket Instagrammers I was already following - Woody (who just changed his Instagram username to tekewadoon) and Nui (on Instagram as nuisy_arunsri), and Fiona from Australia (serendpty2 on Instagram) and we all chatted about Phuket and photography and art. I admit to being not very arty, whereas Fiona for example creates very arty Instagram images, so does Woody. Mine tend to be quite straightforward, what you see is what you get! A beer turned into 2 beers and somehow 3 beers! A young Russian couple joined us, they had planned to be at Chinpracha House, but were even more delayed than me! You can follow Ludmila at headmade_tv on Instagram. And then before we knew it the museum and cafe were closing :) I think another Instagram meet up for Phuket people would be good, a chance to meet people, take photos, compare photos, get some ideas ....

Having been in old town and experienced the history at Baan Chinpracha, my favourite photo of the day was actually the sign to the toilet at the cafe which I noticed as we were leaving .... ladies beware!



And now a selection of people's photos from Saturday 17th May ..... see you on Instagram!



(above) Floor tiles at Chinpracha House



(above) Old gate at Chinpracha House



(above) Those tiles again with added Instagram feet



(above) Phuket Instagrammers!

Related Phuket Blog posts ...

Walking in Old Phuket Town
Phuket Museums
Phuket Photo Walk (2010)
Phuket Old Town Festival

Flaming Grill and Supreme Buffet, Baldwin, New York

This is a new buffet that we found in a way by happy accident. One of our regular readers emailed to let me know of the reopening of an Asian buffet in Baldwin, New York. The buffet that he told me about was renamed Island Buffet. I put that tip in the back of my head. A short time later in the local newspaper there were coupons for the grand opening of a new Asian buffet in Baldwin, NY. I just

A How to do --The art of Hammocking

HAMMOCKING-- bringing back a oldie

















After 10 years of trail and error , I now consider myself and expert in the Art of Hammocking . You don't just jump in a hammock and lay down and think that you have mastered it , hammocking is like riding a bike , learning to canoe, or kayak you can't just jump in, you might just fall right out , it takes control , thinking, and planning and a little common sense. First you have to come to a understanding that a hammock is a piece of canvas, ropes platted or, bamboo strips interwoven to make a banana shaped container to hang between two, trees , poles or ,on a frame which ever one you have available( myself I like it somewhere with lots of shade, a tree if possible .This banana shaped basket is tied at either end with some kind of rope or chain, and will swing easily in the breeze, and being banana shaped and swinging in the breeze you don't just jump in , you have to walk up slowly and turn with your back to the hammock some where near the middle of the banana shaped swing (that's what a hammock really is ) and slowly lower yourself down in a sitting position as close to the middle as you can figure out , and then with one sweep swing a leg over the other side like you were riding a horse and then very slowly lay back and then bring your legs up onto the hammock , remember that the hammock is banana shaped and your head and legs are going to be higher that the rest of your body, (now you are in), this takes a little getting use to and some folks with back problems just can't get the hang of it . All the while you are laying there enjoying the rocking motion of you hammock , you have to be careful, not to make any sudden moves ,or over you head looking as you might just roll out of the banana shaped contraption you are laying in .Many folks I know have fell out and bruised or some have even broke a wrist or fingers trying to catch themselves , some like me have landed on their elbow and bruised or cut it pretty bad and required a hospital visit. When I told the nurse how it had happened , she told the others and they had a big laugh , my friend said I should have told them some macho story , like I fell off my motor bike trying to avoid an accident with a dog or something , anything BUTTTT I fell out of my hammock . ha ha ha .
If you have followed my advise and instructions very carefully , you too may someday become as good as I am at the art of napping in a hammock or just relaxing and watching the world go by in front of you , remember don't try to look to much to the sides and especially not behind, as you might just roll out. OH I almost forgot , if you like the rocking motion you have to learn how to hang one leg over the side from time to time to give yourself a push to get the rocking going , and then bringing it back up into the hammock , you can't leave it hanging over as the side of the hammock will cut of the circulation to your leg and it will go numb and when you get out of the hammock, very slowly just like you got in but in reverse, your leg will be asleep and you will fall on your face , I almost did that one to , BUTTT now I'm and expert and that comes with , time and experience and being Retired in Thailand and Loving It . 
I am posting a few pictures of the Art of Hammocking for your viewing and hopefully enjoyment. Malcolm

Golden Corral Now Has Nightly Features

Gone is the buy a lobster with your buffet feature at Golden Corral buffet restaurants. The new feature is a feature that changes every night of the week and they are calling this Weeknight Dinner Spotlights.

Every night of the week will have a different feature - Monday nights are Shrimp and Seafood, Tuesday nights are $2.99 Kids Nights, Wednesday nights are Wing Fest, Thursday night is Best of

What to do on a Rainy Day in Phuket

Yes, it rains in Phuket! And it never ceases to amaze me that tourists seem shocked when the rain falls. Surely this is a tropical paradise with year-round sunshine and blue skies? Not exactly. You can get rain any time of year, although some months are drier on average than others. I have been doing the Phuket weather blog in conjunction with this blog since 2006, you can find a lot of weather info there, including archived weather reports for the last 7 years, Phuket rainfall averages, live webcams, lots of weather forecast links, and regular updates with photos. At the time of writing this page, it's June 2013, low season is here, aka wet season or monsoon season. It all sounds rather wet and scary, but actually much of the time you get decent weather in low season, just (on average) not as much sun as high season. It can be well on impossible to predict daily weather, and if anyone asks about weather in the next 5 months I say "some sun, some cloud, some rain, some nice days, some OK days and sometimes you will get a sh*tty rainy day!". Low season is OK, most of the time the weather is good, or at least not-too-bad! And low season has one big advantage - hotels in Phuket are much cheaper!

Storm approaching Karon Beach Phuket

(above) Here comes the rain - July 2012 at Karon Beach

The photo above is typical of some low season days - you might get rain like this, a quick heavy downpour lasting an hour, and then the rest of the day could be fine. Some days are like that, some have no rain, some are just grey and drizzly in a very Glaswegian way, and sometimes, maybe 3 - 4 times per year you get days and days of grey, wet days in a row .. and if your holiday happens to coincide with those days, sorry! I get a lot of comments on the blogs, and on my Facebook page from low season visitors saying they had mostly decent weather. If you come to Phuket from May to October, you can expect some wet days and obviously you won't be hitting the beach or wanting to go out sailing or diving on those days. It's the high season tourists who are more shocked by rain. Sure it can rain in December or January, peak season. Phuket is tropical, green, and you don't get all that green without rain!

Coconut Trees in the Wind

(above) Wet, windy and very green!

So, be prepared. Don't worry if it rains! Not every day is sunny, but every day can be great! Have a small umbrella handy, and figure that some days very rarely might be a total washout when you can consider a massage, a movie, a beer and a long leisurely lunch! I know it's kind of hit and miss, and sometimes you might book a tour and have to go out and get wet anyway, but hopefully the sun will come out. ... a dry bag is a good thing to have. This happened to us a few weeks ago on a trip to Koh Tachai Island - we got soaked on the way there, but later it was all blue skies.

Fortune favours the brave! Some days if you see a bit of rain, just go out anyway! Try to follow the blue sky, and if the rain pours, find a place to sit with a drink and a smile. Normally it does not last long. I know it's different for me .. I live here, so I can afford to do nothing on a rainy day .. but many times we will just head out in the car and drive out of the rain, because rain can often be localised. It can be raining cats and dogs on your hotel in Patong, but could be a nice day in Phuket Town :)

But given that most people won't fancy a day out in the rain, or maybe won't want to book a day trip on a boat if the forecast looks bad, it's good to know that you can do things in Phuket which won't involve getting too wet. Or you can just go off on your trip to Phang Nga Bay or Khao Sok anyway, probably have a good, if wet, time!

Rain in Khao Sok

(above) Rain on the roof of our bungalow at Khao Sok National Park

So my message is ... most of the time, never mind a bit of rain. Go out, carry an umbrella and a dry bag. I think most people will agree, but of course some days really are wet, and although it's "only water" and the rain here is warm .. I think we'd all prefer a dry sunny day to be out sightseeing. So, I better recommend some indoor activities. Please don't mope around your hotel room looking out the window. Too wet to go out, too wet to play ball. Rain always looks worse from indoors. Once you're out, it's not so bad, we used to tell ourselves in the cycling club :) OK, so, enough rambling, hope you get the idea that the rain is normally not so bad. But yes, you may need some indoor ideas. Something more than just drinking a beer and trying to find a decent channel on the hotel room TV (good luck!)

Watch a Movie

As I have 2 kids, if we get stuck for something to do, and the weather really is bad ... we check what's on at the cinema. There are multiplex cinemas at the Jungceylon mall in Patong and the Central Festival mall just outside Phuket Town. Add in a couple of hours shopping and eating (the malls have places to eat too, a favourite of ours is the Fuji Japanese restaurant in Central), and you have a half day out. You can find the movie schedules online : Jungceylon and Central Festival.

Phuket Aquarium

We've been here so many times! Cheap entry fee, lots to see, and maybe if you take a taxi from the beaches you can fit in a visit to a viewpoint like Rang Hill or Khao Khad Viewpoint too if it's not too rainy. The aquarium is mostly indoors, though there is a nature trail outside leading to the turtle breeding center.

Phuket Aquarium - More Information

Arapaima at Phuket Aquarium

Museums in Phuket

Although the tourism in Phuket is mostly centered around the beaches, Phuket has a number of good museums, all are indoors, making an ideal place to visit on a wet day. There's the tin mining museum, the Thai Hua history museum, the Seashell museum, Chinpracha House (an old mansion in Phuket Town). Phuket has a lot more history and culture than most people realise!

Phuket Museums - More Information

Tin mining diorama

(above) Inside the Phuket Tin Mining Museum

Trickeye Museum (3D Art Gallery)

In Phuket Town, right near old town. A drizzly day ideal for a wander around with an umbrella, and you can shelter for an hour or more at the 3D art gallery called the Trickeye Museum...

Trickeye Museum

Phuket Town Volcano!

Massages and Spas

Something people associate with Thailand, either in a health-related way, or a more "nightlife" related way. You will hear the word "Massage" called at you from the street in Patong. Especially if you are a single male. I'm not really into massage myself, never feel so stressed that it's needed. My wife and I did get membership a few years ago at the Royal Phuket Spa, we had a very nice massage there in a room for couples. And the Raintree Spa in Phuket Town is recommended too. Of course many hotels have their own spa / massage services too. It's pretty much impossible to open a new hotel now without adding "and spa" to the name :)

Beach massage at Karon Beach, Phuket

Visit a Temple

If it's just a bit wet and grey, get the umbrella out and get away from the beach, visit a temple. Phuket has plenty of them! Chalong temple is the most visited, but there are temples near all the main beaches, and many more all around the island, some with interesting histories.

Phuket Temples - More Information

Wat Phra Nang Sang

(above) It doesn't have to be a sunny day to visit a temple!

Old Phuket Town

A couple of the museums are in the old town, so it would make sense to take a walk too (with umbrella). Along Thalang Road and the surrounding area there are lots of cafes and restaurants, small shops, old houses ... some of the streets have covered walkways through the arches, at least for small sections. Not ideal for a really wet day, but a drizzly day .. sure. Museum, coffee, lunch, museum, beer, enjoy the old town... we walk here often! Stop by a restaurant like Kopitiam for some local food, enjoy the smells at the herb shop next door, try a traditional Muslim Roti, and take lots of photos!

Phuket Herb Shop

(above) Chinese Herb Shop in Phuket Town

More Ideas for a Rainy Day

In the evenings there are plenty of shows you can watch (indoors) like Phuket Fantasea or the Simon Cabaret ladyboy show, or the new Siam Niramit show, or some Thai boxing in Patong. During the day, maybe a Thai cooking class, or some shopping at one of the malls, or (mostly for ladies) visit a beauty salon, or how about a Yoga class?

Tours and days out can be booked with my friends at Easy Day Thailand. Never mind a bit of rain. As a friend of mine used to say on our bike rides many years ago, "you won't dissolve". And remember the rain is warm here! Having said all this, there are occasional days when we just stay home, but then maybe the rain stops and we quickly dash out to make something of the day. You only live each day once.

Clouded Hills, Phuket 24th November 2012

(above) View from Rang Hill in Phuket Town. It does not have to be a perfect sunny day to get a great view and have a nice day!

If you're worried about the weather, keep up with latest news by following me on Twitter and check the Phuket Weather blog now and then too! But really, don't worry too much. Weather in Phuket is rarely that bad, and there's always things to do. We don't get typhoons, though sometimes in low season it can blow quite hard. Even in low season it's more sun than rain, just carry a small umbrella and a dry bag with you :) And enjoy Phuket. And .. as a bonus, in the low season, the hotels are really cheap too!

Oh and you might want to buy one of these ... a plastic raincoat, normally about 20 - 25 Baht in a shop :

Raining? Get a Plastic Raincoat!

OCB's Two Day Easter Feast

Old Country Buffet this year had a two day Easter "Feast". It started on Easter Saturday and went though Easter Sunday. The meal featured carved ham and carved Prime Rib and the price was raised to $13.99 for this buffet meal.

We decided to go on Easter Sunday. The meal was being served all day until closing and we arrived at about 6:30 pm. There was a short line to get in and once we paid we

Easter Adventure


Our party consisted of me and Emily and our Australian friends James and Angela. Our trip began in the flooded, gridlocked streets of Dar Es Salaam where twice we had to give up on our taxis, getting out to walk in order to make it to the train station on time.

We were taking the TAZARA express, a three day trip across the Tanzanian countryside and on to Kapiri Moshi in Zambia. The station would have been quite a sight when it was built in the sixties but as with many of these well intentioned projects there hadn’t been the investment to maintain it and it was now a leaking relic. There have been very few occasions when I’ve refused to drop the kids off at the swimming pool but that station bog was extraordinarily grim. I crossed my fingers that the train would have improved facilities particularly because we were in ‘first class’, though these things are relative and the cost of the ticket  for the trip was only 100,000 shillings (£40). If we arrived within a week we could have no complaints at that price.
On boarding the train we were pleasantly surprised to find the standards were much better than in the station, we had a cosy cabin to ourselves with top bunks that folded up to create our living space. Also the toilets, although basic, were bearable.

The train left on time or 2 hours late depending on whether you live in Africa or Europe and we spent the remainder of the daylight hours staring out of the window enjoying the verdant countryside passing by as we sipped cold beer. We were very happy; it was a promising start to our adventure.

The next day was spent staring out of windows and playing a few games of Bridge, all very relaxing until later that evening we reached the border from Tanzania to Zambia. The process should be straight forward as the immigration officers come onto the train and do the stamping in your cabins. That is of course only if your papers are all in order. Emily’s weren’t, she’d overstayed her tourist visa by one week and her work visa hadn’t yet come through. We’d forgotten this and now we were staring at the largest most intimidating man and he was licking his lips thinking ‘pay day’. He started with his spiel saying the fine is $600 and how dare Emily think she could behave outside the rules. It’s the same with a lot of misdemeanours in Tanzania, we weren’t in any danger of having to pay the full amount but a sizeable donation to the immigration officers’ beer funds was in order.  I won’t say exactly how much we paid but it put a fair old dent in our holiday funds. That said, it was only money and it was our own silly fault not to have checked so we carried on to the (much friendlier) Zambian check point already smiling again and over the hiccup.

Emily had her head out of the window nearly all of the last day, waving at local children who ran alongside as the train chugged through small villages. She would have made a good royal; she was most content just smiling and waving.

We left the train at 8pm, with some sadness but also excitement at the thought of a shower more substantial than a baby-wipe wash. The minibus from Kapiri Moshi to Lusaka insisted they could drop us off at our hostel which of course they didn’t. They didn’t even take us to Lusaka, instead stopping at a town en route where they found a coach heading to the city that could squeeze us on. All part of travelling in Africa and splitting a taxi four ways from the bus station was not expensive.


After a night spent in the Lusaka backpackers we spent 9 hours on a bus to Livingstone. And that’s all I have to say about that day as we were early to bed in preparation for one of the highlights of the planet Earth: The Victoria Falls.