Patong Temple (Wat Patong)

The Patong you see now is nothing like the Patong of 30 years ago. Can you imagine a place with limited road access, just a small village with fishermen, farmers, rubber plantations...a place where Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet founder) says there was "an open shelter where you could camp for 3 Baht a night". How things have changed! Patong is maybe the biggest tourist trap attraction in Thailand and I am pretty sure it's the most overdeveloped beach in Thailand. However, if you know where to go, even Patong has quiet spots. There are of course some very good Patong hotels, there are plenty of restaurants and there is still an older local community, just you won't find it on the beach.

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong temple (Wat Suwan Khiri Wong) marks the entrance to Patong at the bottom of the hilly road that winds over from Kathu and Phuket Town. Where you have a temple you have a community and in the area around the temple and further along Phisit Karani road you'll see older houses and local people who are not involved a great deal in the goings on closer to the beach. The temple is a little haven of peace even with the main road outside.

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

It's a fairly extensive place with a main temple, a bell tower, monks quarters, dining hall and so on. Yes, there are monks at Patong temple. If you are awake early you can catch them as they walk along the road from the temple through the older part of Patong. Near the temple is a little daily street market selling veg, fresh fish and meat, which starts at dawn and is all over by 8:30am. Along the same street are many little local shops, though they now compete with a 7-11.

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong temple takes you back to a time when Patong was a village, when tourists had not discovered Phuket. But, look just outside and you have the new Patong:

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

Patong Temple - Wat Suwan Khiri Wong

These 2 photos above are on the main road. If you enter via the main gate you can walk or ride your bike around the grounds and will come out onto Phisit Karani road, which is the south end of the road that wiggles along the back of Patong, becoming Nanai road and is a way to avoid central Patong completely! Y'know Patong is not all bad, but I basically never hit the center unless I have a very good reason. I see Patong temple quite often, on my way to Karon Beach, climbing over the hill from Kathu, beeping my horn at the top when reaching the shrine on the hill before descending into big, bad Patong ...

Naithonburi Beach Resort at Naithon Beach

The Northwest of Phuket has some fine beaches where you can get away from the crowds. I have written about Nai Yang beach already and will be writing more on the Beaches section of this blog (after all, this is Phuket we're talking about). Last weekend after spending some time at Nai Yang, we drove along the quiet jungle road to Naithon Beach. Hopefully (weather permitting) we'll go back next weekend. I have always liked Naithon. Getting there means heading off the main roads and onto some winding back roads, and the beach still remains quiet. There is a road along the beachfront but with very little traffic. It's not a long beach, maybe 800m and there is not too much in the way of accommodation, just a few small resorts, though it is getting busier.

The Naithonburi is small and neat, not very expensive, but has facilities - a nice pool, a gym and ... Naithon beach just outside! There's a pool bar and a restaurant, one of only a few along the beach. For more dining options you'll need to take a drive! In low season, Naithon can be pretty much like a ghost town. In high season, it's a little slice of paradise.

Naithonburi Resort

Naithonburi - Online Reservation and Reviews

Naithonburi Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Naithonburi Hotel Reviews

Naithonburi Resort - Photos

Naithonburi Room

Naithonburi Pool

Naithonburi Restaurant

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Nai Yang Beach

I wrote this blog post in 2007, now updated 2013. I have to say - we have not been to Nai Yang for ages! Need another trip in that direction soon. We live in Kathu, near Phuket Town, so it's only around a 30 minute drive, would be closer to an hour if coming from Kata or Karon beaches, or 45 minutes from Patong. If the traffic is good! There are two ways we can get there - first is head directly for the bypass and airport road, quicker but not pretty. Phuket has some big, busy roads and you do need to drive on some of these to reach the quiet places! Or, if coming from the main beaches, you can just take the coastal route via all the other beaches on the west coast. Nai Yang Beach is the closest beach to the airport.

At Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang (above) - great for plane spotters! The airport is just to the North and planes normally land over the ocean, so you can see them coming in. Despite the proximity, there is no noise. Maybe you can hear engines roar a little when planes take off, but it's nothing much. I want, one day, to make the effort to walk along the beach to the point right under the flight path.

Getting to Nai Yang by the main road, you pass the Heroines monument, go through the town of Thalang, and then you have 2 choices to reach Nai Yang by turning left either on a small side road, or waiting until you reach the main airport road. The small road heads through quiet countryside - there are lots of rubber plantations and fields of pineapples in the north of Phuket - before arriving at the entrance to the newly refurbished 5 star The Slate Resort which is way down the south end of Nai Yang. Then follow a narrow road and you'll come to the beach.

At Nai Yang Beach

At Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang is a beach of many parts. The central area has other hotels aside from The Slate, such as Nai Yang Beach Resort. It is quite crowded down here at times with little restaurants right on the beach such as Batik Seafood - crowded but quiet. You can sit down right by the sand and enjoy a drink.

At Nai Yang Beach

(above) My Mum, Dad and my kids at Nai Yang Beach

Further south are a couple of slightly more remote hotels - L'esprit de Nai Yang and Imperial Adamas Beach Resort. Inland there are a number of smaller guesthouses which are ideal for a stay close to the airport.

At the other end of the beach, closer to the airport, is protected National Park land. It's very green, trees everywhere. Quiet, clean, no food stalls or restaurants except a few tiny stalls selling eggs and drinks. There are normally lots of longtail boats in the water, with fishermen coming and going, and local kids splashing around. It's a popular area with locals for picnics... so when I say "clean", well not everyone packs their rubbish home with them.

At Nai Yang Beach

At Nai Yang Beach

At Nai Yang Beach

Recommended Hotels around Nai Yang

Nai Yang Beach Resort
Phuket Airport Hotel
Indigo Pearl Hotel
L'esprit de Nai Yang
Imperial Adamas Beach Resort
More Nai Yang Beach Hotels and Guesthouses @ Agoda.com

Nai Yang Beach - Location Map


View Nai Yang Beach, Phuket in a larger map

Restaurant Tips: Chili

Now this restaurant is a real locals/expats place. Well off the tourist beaches, Chili is found right on the main airport road, just past Boat Lagoon on the left side as you head to the airport. I can't imagine many tourists would stop here, and true enough if you want a nice view this ain't it!

For a 2009 update on Chili, scroll down to the comments section...

Chili restaurant

We stopped there yesterday after a drive round the Northwest of Phuket. We'd been to Nai Yang Beach, driven past Naithon beach and stopped at Layan Beach. All these beaches will be on the blog soon! It was a wet afternoon but fortunately we could park right outside and the staff came running out with an umbrella for us. Inside the restaurant is nothing fancy, but spotless and airconditioned (we turned it off yesterday, as it was not a hot day at all).

I ate the most delicious Massaman curry - 80 Baht for a dish which could feed 2 people, but I admit to being a greedy guts. My wife had a fish curry, my daughter had some excellent spaghetti. There was only us in the place, they do get busier in the week actually especially late afternoon. The fancy British International School is nearby, as is the "Chuan Chuen Lagoon" village (lots of very nice houses) - many of the kids and families eat at this place after school. Fish and Chips is a favourite, but I really suggest you try the Thai food here.

Inside Chili restaurant

If you're in that area, I'd also suggest stopping at Boat Lagoon (unless you don't like boats). Boat Lagoon is an odd place. You step into Europe and out of Thailand. There are swanky waterside apartments, a hotel (we have used the pool there), and lots and lots of boats. There's a nice little cafe called The Bakery where you can get fresh bread, salads, coffee, cakes etc.. I have done a piece on Boat Lagoon for this blog.

Restaurant Tips - The Beach Bar (Cape Panwa)

We are always looking for quiet, out of the way places to eat (preferably with sea view), and I know there are more to find yet! I should note that the restaurant tips on this blog are not necessarily the "best" (i.e. the fanciest and most expensive) restaurants in Phuket, they are places that we like. Many of them we visit regularly, and The Beach Bar might become one of our favourite lunch spots. We tend to look for places which are off the tourist beaches and won't cost a kings ransom for a meal. Now there are a few places in Patong Beach that I like, and I should add a little section for these in the near future - even there you can find little hideaways - but in general we keep off the main beaches.

Beachside entrance to The Beach Bar

The Beach Bar is located in Cape Panwa, just 100m along the beach from the Panwa Beach Resort. To get there, take the road from Phuket Town to the Aquarium (Sakdidet Road), and turn off onto a small side road on the right which has a sign to the Novotel. It’s a narrow road going through a quiet Muslim village and you may wonder if you took a wrong turn, but keep the faith… You pass a road heading up to Khao Kad viewpoint and will pass a small restaurant overlooking the sea on the right (we have also eaten here and it’s decent). Then you come to the Novotel, and just after this there’s a right turn onto a steep dirt road down to the Beach Bar.

View of The Beach Bar from the beach

Now, it’s not the fanciest of places, but we found it friendly and it’s right by the sea, and the food is good and inexpensive. We went on New Years Eve for lunch and decided to go again today! The location is very quiet. There’s not much traffic down Cape Panwa and most of what there is sticks to the main road rather than the side roads. The beach is, shall we say...uncrowded… but is not really any good for swimming as it’s way too rocky (see photos). I guess the place gets some customers from the Novotel who have taken a walk along the beach. We noticed the same Australian couple in there yesterday and today (so they must agree with us!)

View along the beach at high tide. Not very crowded

View along the beach in direction of Panwa Beach Resort< We ate Tom Yam, Fried chicken with garlic, mixed vegetables, sweet and sour chicken, 2 lots of fried rice (hey, we’re 2 hungry adults and my 5 year old daughter normally eats a full adult portion), sank down half a dozen cokes, and the bill today was I believe 460 Baht (I think that could have fed 4 adults, but hey! It’s New Year!) Happy New Year from Phuket! Signs on the beach at low tide

Update: February 2007. We've been to the Beach Bar quite a few times in the last 2 months. It really is a relaxing, unpretentious, friendly place. The owners are so nice (it's a family thing) and the last couple of times a friend of the owner has been there playing guitar - things like the Pogues and Cat Stevens. I had to blink when I heard him singing songs like "Dirty Old Town"! The owners son worships the guitar man, and when we were there this last weekend, his dad had just bought him a guitar - see below. Apparently he always wanted to be a football player, now he wants to be a singer...

Update: November 2007 - after being closed for ages, The Beach Bar is now open again, just moved about 20 meters along the beach closer to Novotel. We just went again on 24th November (See entry on Phuket Weather Blog).

Guitar Man at the Beach Bar

The owners son helps out...

Both the owners sons join in!

** This blog page is from 2007 - for an updated page on this restaurant see The Beach Bar, Cape Panwa

All Seasons Resort - Naiharn Beach Phuket

I tend to recommend hotels away from the main beaches, though there are some quiet spots even in Patong. One of our favourite areas in Phuket is the Chalong/Rawai/Naiharn triangle, in the South West of the island. You'll find many posts on this blog relating to places around here such as Chalong Temple and the Baan Krating Jungle Beach Resort. The All Seasons Resort is located just off Naiharn Beach, which is to the south of Kata and just North of Phromthep Cape.

The All Seasons Naiharn Resort price is very good for what you get. Nice rooms, lots of facilities, a great location. Of course if you want more dining or shopping options you'll need a taxi or your own vehicle. Kata is about 15 minutes away, Patong 30 minutes.

Naiharn beach is never going to be that busy since most of the land is owned by a temple and monastery behind the beach. The roads in this area are narrow and winding, with lots of hidden views. The road down to Naiharn is not a big one, so as far as Phuket goes, you're off the beaten track. Nevertheless the beach can be a bit crowded during the day, as Naiharn is often touted as a good place to get away from the crowds, so the crowds do sometimes flock here to get away from themselves. If you want really quiet, in the same area you have Laem Ka Beach plus Ao Sane and Yanui beaches. Ao Sane is just a couple of minutes away but it's location is well hidden as you must go through the The Nai Harn Resort to get there!

All Seasons Naiharn Resort - Booking and Reviews

All Seasons Resort Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
All Seasons Resort Reviews


All Seasons Naiharn Resort - Photos

All Seasons Resort Room at All Seasons Resort

Pool at All Seasons Resort Restaurant at All Seasons Resort

Phuket Hotels - More Information - Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
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Danang Seafood Phuket

Update August 2008 - Danang Seafood is closed. But never mind, next door is Kan Eang 2 Seafood, which is still a decent spot.

Danang Seafood is a place we have eaten many many times, one of many seafood restaurants around Chalong Bay. Right next door is Kan Eang Seafood. These restaurants are close to Chalong Jetty. The entry road is just a couple of hundred meters down Chao Fa road from Chalong Circle (towards Phuket Town).

Danang Seafood Entrance

Danang Seafood

Danang is hardly ever busy unless they are doing a wedding or something, and it does tend to be more locals eating there than tourists, though its not as "local" as the seafood retaurants near Phuket Zoo (such as Palai Seafood, Tang Kae Seafood, Pran Talee Seafood) or Laem Hin Seafood on the east coast. There are tables right by the sea and others undercover, though still open air. We will normally go for a seafront table, though the lighting is a bit dim at night. The view is over Chalong Bay, lots of boats, Chalong Jetty and some of the islands.

The food is good, inexpensive, service is normally fast. I'd say don't eat the beef - always seems to be very chewy, but anything with fish or prawns is good. I tend to eat things like Thai salads (Yam Gung Seab is a favourite - dried shrimp salad), but a whole fried fish with lemongrass is a nice treat! There are also chicken and pork dishes, but not a lot if you are a veggie. Sitting there with a satisfied belly and a cold beer looking over the bay is relaxing and peaceful.

I always suggest people get off the main tourist beaches sometimes for lunch or dinner, it can be worth the effort! Phuket is still 10% tourist, 90% local. You don't need to go far, but you do need to go!

View from Danang Seafood

Seafront tables at Danang

Pineapple Guesthouse (Karon Beach)

Phuket is blessed with many fine hotels and resorts, and these have somewhat taken over much of the beachfront property on the main beaches. Gone (long ago) are the days spoken of by Tony Wheeler in his intro to my well-thumbed Lonely Planet South East Asia On a Shoestring - he says Patong (in 1974) had no resorts but had "an open shelter where you could camp for 3 Baht a night". Well, every dog has it's day, and you can't stop progress. It's the same story all over the world. Backpackers discover a place, then guesthouses, beach huts, restaurants, bars and all the essential services quickly mushroom, then the place is found by "flashpackers", then independent (but not poor) travelers, then all hell breaks loose and Lo! You have a tourist resort, much hated by the common backpacker.

Thailand is all this and more, amplified 100 fold. Thailand is the original Lonely Planet Destination, and is still far and away the most popular backpacker destination in the world, although as Alex Garland wrote - "One of these days I'm going to find one of those Lonely Planet writers and I'm going to ask him, 'What's so f***ing lonely about Khao San Road?'"

Phuket is considered too expensive and too "touristy" for backpackers. Personally, as a resident who stays away from the tourist areas, I disagree, but as a resident you have a rather different perspective. Personally I find Koh Tao and certainly Phi Phi more touristy than Phuket in that there is nothing there other than tourism. Phuket has a large local population and was already a busy and relatively well off province before any tourists arrived. What backpackers mean by "touristy" is "a place too upmarket for a low budget traveler". But we are all tourists. I am a tourist and I have been here since 1999.

Excuse the rambling prelude. Accommodation prices in Phuket do tend to be a little high for your average backpacker, but there are options, especially in Phuket Town, where the On On still has a flourishing trade and there's a hostel near the market. Near the beach is a bit trickier and you may have to pay 10 dollars a night (wow!) for a cheaper room. In the Karon Plaza area at the Southern end of Karon Beach are several options like the Bazoom Guesthouse, Kangaroo Guesthouse and more. Also here you can find the Pineapple Guesthouse, which is run by Steve, a very nice English guy and his wife Lek.

Room at Pineapple Guesthouse Steve, Lek and Gina

Karon Plaza is built around a small temple, and can be a little hard to find! From the beach, head up the road past the Orchid Resort and you'll find the entrance to the Plaza next to a tailors. Pineapple is just round the corner from the little temple next door to Mama Noi restaurant, opposite the Siam Commercial Bank. The rooms are fairly simple, but all have bathroom, and all aircon rooms have cable TV, a fridge and minibar. The prices start at just 450 Baht in high season, and way lower in low season. You can always try asking for a long stay discount too. A dormitory was opened in 2009 - beds at 180 Baht per night!

Pineapple Bar Room at Pineapple Guesthouse Room facilities

Karon Plaza is a quiet area. I would recommend Pineapple if you like early nights but also like to be near a bit of life. Near Pineapple is a great little bar/cafe/art gallery called Nakonnai, run by the original Thai Bob Marley (his name is Mon). He built the place himself. Also in the plaza is Sunrise Divers, where I am the manager.

So, if you want a good lower price option in Phuket, I suggest you try the Pineapple Guesthouse. It's just 5 minutes walk from the beach and there are loads of places to eat around the area, including Mama Noi (next door to Pineapple 2). You can get a very good full English breakfast and other English style dishes like Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans right there at the guesthouse, and Thai dishes too (but only in high season). There are a number of small local restaurants on the back road nearby and there are always stalls selling fruit, fried chicken, drinks, corn, somtam and more depending on the time of day.

For full information and booking, you can visit the Pineapple Guesthouse website:

Pineapple Guesthouse Website

or book online at Agoda : Pineapple Guesthouse

Low Budget Places to Stay in Phuket (on my We Love Phuket blog) - good listing of guesthouses

• More Hotels in Phuket - Agoda.com - also has some lower budget options

Koh Sirey Temple (Wat Koh Siray)

Koh Sirey (or Siray or indeed Si Ray) is a rather forgotten corner of Phuket, located to the east of Phuket Town, over a small bridge past the Rassada Ferry Terminal (from where you get boats to Phi Phi and Krabi). We first went exploring in Koh Sirey many years ago and it was very quiet. Now there are quite a few "seaview developments" and one resort - the Westin Siray Bay which only opened a few years ago.

Koh Sirey Temple

Much of Koh Sirey is undeveloped with lots of rubber plantations, coconut trees, a sea gyspy village, a few big houses, a school, a fair number of locals and a temple on the hill. The temple is just past the school. You pass through an entrance by the road up a slight hill to an open area, turn right and the road carries on up. Not much parking space (park where you like, it is unlikely to be busy) and head up the steps lined by 2 dragons. Inside the temple (if it's open) you find a large reclining Buddha. We've been maybe 6 or 7 times over the years. It's really nice but could be amazing with a bit of investment. On a hill, great views, big Buddha .... win!

Reclining Buddha at Koh Sirey Temple

Big Buddha at Koh Sirey

You can also walk around the outside of the temple - the road winds right around the temple which is surrounded by plenty of other Buddha images. It's really quite beautiful.

Buddhas

Sirey Temple Road

And the views ... Although the temple does not sit on a big hill (only about 60m above sea level) there are some great views all around. Phuket is full of great views!

View from Wat Koh Sirey

View from Sirey Island Temple Phuket

Koh Siray Temple

Certainly worth a visit - we should check out Koh Sirey again soon, there are a couple of restaurants by the sea and I'd like to take some photos around the sea gypsy village one day. But the temple is certainly nice, with one of the lesser known Big Buddhas of Phuket!

Sirey Island Temple - Location Map


View Koh Sirey Temple, Phuket in a larger map

Metropole Hotel (Phuket Town)

Most visitors to Phuket naturally want to stay by the beach, which tends to make the beach areas rather overpopulated in some areas (Patong in particular). Now, there are many quieter beach areas, but some of the quiet beaches have very limited accommodation choices. The town (now officially called a city) of Phuket has a number of good value places to stay, where you are a short bus ride from the beach, but out of tourism central. Phuket town is where normal local life goes on, and is for example a great base if you come for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, or if you're just stopping over a night before traveling on to Phi Phi, Krabi or Koh Lanta by ferry. Also, since it's not by the beach, you get a good hotel for a good price.

•; A walk around Phuket Town

Leaving aside the backpacker places such as On On (a miracle it doesn't fall down) or the Backpacker Hostel by the market, there are many good mid price hotels such as Casa Blanca, Chinotel, Merlin, Pearl, The Taste and more.

The Metropole

The Metropole Hotel is located in central Phuket Town a bit south of the old town, and has 248 guest rooms. Dining options available to guests include the Fortuna Pavilion Chinese Restaurant, the Metropole Cafe serving International and Thai dishes, the Lobby Lounge with live entertainment, the poolside bar, and the executive cocktail lounge. You're also close to plenty of local restaurants, bars and shopping centers. Recreational facilities at the Metropole Hotel include a swimming pool, traditional massage center, and fitness center.

Metropole Hotel - Booking Links

Metropole Hotel Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Metropole Reviews

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

More Phuket Town Hotels
Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Phuket Views from the air

Well, time to get blogging again. I've spent a week away in Malaysia, diving at Sipadan with the turtles. It's worth getting your camera out on the flight, and if you fly these local routes with Malaysia Airlines, try to get seat 14A or 14F which are behind the emergency exit and have extra legroom, and are window seats so you can get some great views. Here's a few below...

Phi Phi Don Island

Some islands in Phang Nga Bay

Northern Phuket - you can see part of Bang Tao Beach and Naithon Beach

Back on solid ground now, back to work and not much time for blogging. Hopefully we'll go exploring this weekend. On the photo above of Northern Phuket, in between Bang Tao and Naithon, is another beach, which I believe is called Layan beach. I want to go there....in the meantime, I'll try to add on a couple of hotel recommendations. We're in peak season now, and the weather is great. But a week of travel and diving has left me tired.

If you get the chance, I do recommend a stay at Borneo Divers Resort in Mabul. Air Asia has some great deals from Phuket to Kota Kinabalu at the start of next year, and from there it's just a short hop to Tawau, from where you are looked after. I'd like to go back with my wife.

Update November 2008...

More views from the air here... we took a seaplane flight to Phi Phi and back..

Flying from Phuket to Phi Phi Island