Kopitiam Restaurant in Old Phuket Town

We first found Kopitiam in Old Phuket Town back in 2011 when it had just recently opened. I often enjoy a little walk in the old town with it's old buildings and interesting little shops. Thalang Road is the center of the old town, and over the last 5 years especially now that many of the ugly overhead wires have been hidden, the area has become very pleasant and more popular with tourists, especially Thai tourists - if you walk down Thalang road or the little side street called Soi Romanee you'll always see young Thai folks snapping photos of each other in front of old doorways! A fair number of small cafes and restaurants have opened on and around Thalang road over the last few years and there are also some older establishments like Abdul's Roti Shop. On that walk back in 2011 we decided to try out Kopitiam. There was a table full of Phuket locals sitting outside, always a good sign for good local food! It's become a favourite place for us since then.

Kopitiam locals

(above) Outside Kopitiam in 2011

Kopitiam coffee shops are found commonly in Malaysia and Singapore - the word comes from Kopi (Malay for Coffee) and Tiam (a Hokkien Chinese word for Shop) - Hokkien people migrated in large numbers to Phuket in the late 19th century and in Phuket Town this is obvious - many people are of Chinese descent (although the families now have Thai names), many shops have Chinese signs and there are Chinese shrines in and around Phuket Town.

Kopitiam is run by the Bumrungwong family who also run the well known herb shop next door - and the family also had the Wilai restaurant which is on the other side of the herb shop. Kopitiam is also called "Kopitiam by Wilai". The Wilai restaurant is now part of Kopitiam - an airconditioned section! And it has a little secret - a passageway through the kitchen leads to the Shrine of the Serene Light which has its entrance on Phang Nga Road one block south. There's quite a bit of history here!

The Oldest Herb Shop

(above) Inside the old herb shop next door to Kopitiam

Kopitiam on Thalang Road, Phuket Town

(above) Kopitiam from the outside

The history is evident inside Kopitiam, which has kept an old feel, built in a turn of the century (20th century) style shophouse with wooden beams across the ceiling and a stone floor. This used to be the family home. You'll find decorations consisting of Chinese signs, old Phuket photos and tasteful wooden furniture. No need for aircon really - it was a warm day, but these old shophouses never seem to get hot. A couple of ceiling fans is enough. If you are too hot, well, pop over to the other side of the herb shop into the aircon!

Kopitiam restaurant, Thalang Road, Phuket

(above) Inside Kopitiam

Kopitiam on Thalang Road

(above) Outside looking to the east along Thalang Road.

And the food! I note that despite our many visits I have very few food pics! I love the Phuket style pork, the various fried noodles, the penang curry is good, you can get snacks like french fries or tofu, they do Bak Kut Teh too. And many many different drinks. All kinds of juices, herb drinks, teas and coffees. And beer too! And during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival they do only vegan food.

Penang style stir fried flat noodle, "Char Kway Teow"

(above) Char Kway Teow

Mee Hokkien, vegetarian style.

(above) Mee Hokkien

Kopi at Kopitiam Phuket

(above) "Kopi O" - strong back coffee

Butterfly Pea Flower Drink

(above) On a hot day, maybe even better than a beer - try a butterfly pea flower drink ("Anchan")!

Photo of old Phuket Ferry

(above) You can have a history lesson while you wait for the food - there are loads of old Phuket photos around the walls showing the town, tin mines, and I was particularly interested to see pictures of the old ferry connecting Phuket to the mainland - the Sarasin bridge was only completed in 1967. Before that, Phuket really was an island!

Inside Kopitiam Restuarant on Thalang Road

(above) Inside Kopitiam (photo taken March 2016)

I always enjoy a walk around Phuket Town. There's still more work going on right now on other streets to hide all the wires like has already been done on Thalang Road. The area has been considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is my favourite part of Phuket and my wife and I even joke (but in a serious way) about living in an old shophouse in town one day :)

Kopitiam Location Map (Phuket Town)

View Kopitiam by Wilai - Restaurant in Phuket Town in a larger map

Birthday oy 74 years old and still kicking

Thanks to all my friends and family who took time out in their busy lives to wish this ole man a Happy

Birthday , I'm 74 now and today's Dr. check -up said all my Numbers or normal anddddd my Dr. she said 

I was the senior Poster Man in her book , and good to go for lots more years . Yee Haa .Had a great day 

friends and family stopped by with well wishes and and I had dinner at the Jungle Restaurant with the 

LOVE OF MY LIFE Ciejay. Thanks AGAIN for the well wishes.

The Big Chicken Restaurant

The Big Chicken has been a favourite place of mine to eat since 2008. This blog post was originally posted back then, but it has now been updated (March 2016). We used to eat there a lot, since it's pretty close to our house, prices are good .. very convenient for us, but a couple of weeks ago we realised that we'd not eaten there for maybe 2 years, as we have found other favourite places and sometimes the older places get forgotten. If you drive on the normal bus route between Patong and Phuket Town, after passing through the area called Tungtong, and passing the Phuket Country Club you'll see a restaurant that is also a local landmark. Everyone knows where the Big Chicken is! You can't miss it. There is a big chicken outside.

Big Chicken Restaurant

The actual name of the restaurant is Krua Tungtong. Not sure how many years it's been open, must be at least 20 years. I remember the first time we ate there - we figured it was a slightly fancy local place as the decor is quite decent (I mean wooden chairs instead of plastic!) and there always seemed to be nice cars parked outside. We thought it might be a bit more expensive than some other local places. Well, yes, a little bit, of course there are places to eat for 40 Baht, but although many of the customers do often seem to be well-off locals (with a fair few local foreigners) the restaurant is quite cheap. Thai dishes go for 80 - 120 Baht. You can get simple things like fried rice or chicken fried with garlic for 50 - 60 Baht. It always seems to be busy, and with a good trade you can keep the prices down.

Big Chicken Restaurant

(above) At the Big Chicken in 2016

Big Chicken Restaurant

(above) And my family eating there in 2008! It's hardly changed at all. Same decor, decent food at a good price. After a bit of a gap, I think it'll be back to being a regular place for us. You see, with this kind of restaurant, we can eat out as a family and the bill might come to 700 Baht. Can be less. Can be more. Depends of course what you order and how much you eat! I think our last bill was 790 Baht, but that included a couple of beers and a lot of food!

Tom Yum Gai

(above) Tom Yum with chicken and lots of mushrooms. My kids like to order it with extra mushrooms.

Chicken and lime sauce

(above) Chicken with lime sauce (like mayonnaise with lime) served with fried seaweed. Yum! Good if you don't like spicy food.

Aside from normal Thai food, they have a long, long list of Isaan food (northeast Thailand), and (they say) Vietnamese food. Having never been to Vietnam I can't say if this is authentic, but I had a "Vietnamese" noodle and sausage soup which was very tasty (and only 70 Baht!). The menu is about 10 pages. There's also a healthy supply of grilled chicken (Gai Yang) - which I guess is the house specialty and is why you find a 30 foot chicken outside! And grilled pork (Moo Yang) which I think is very good. A simple dish I like is Moo Yang with fried sticky rice.

Gaeng Om

(above) Gaeng Om, a kind of Isaan spicy, herby soup. You have to try something different sometimes!

Laab Neua (Laab with Beef)

(above) Laab with beef. Super tasty. I have also had the laab with fried fish and want to try more. The menu has a whole page of laab options!

Sometimes local restaurants open and close within a couple of years. There are at least 8 that I have blogged in the past that have closed down. Big Chicken is an old time favourite, very popular and I can say, to the best of my memory, that I have never had a bad meal here. Simple and tasty and here to stay.

More of our favourite places to eat in Phuket...

Laem Hin Seafood
Kopitiam in Old Phuket Town
The Beach Bar
Dairy Hut
More Phuket Restaurants

Big Chicken - Location Map

The Joy of Visiting Friends...

When friends are scattered far and wide it takes a little more effort to see them.  Sure FaceBook and Line make keeping in touch easier than in the past but to actually visit and spend time with someone you care about takes time and may include travel.  These days I really don’t have friends separate from my wife and we enjoy the company of the same people.

So every once in a while she will tell me friends are going to be in Bangkok or Chiang Mai and we are going to visit them.  I help out by booking tickets or hotels in Bangkok or driving through the mountains to Chiang Mai.  These are always exciting times and I look forward to a change of scenery and interesting conversation.

Our last trip was to Chiang Mai to stay with our friend Pom as she had a few days off from work in Bangkok.  Despite a high pressure job and a hectic fast paced lifestyle, she still finds time to spend with us and we really enjoy our time with her.  Her parents are great too and always make us feel welcome in their home.
Our host in a thoughtful pose.

This last trip went something like this.  After arranging for the care of our pets and house we got an early start.  We made one stop on the way to town to pick up something for our friend’s mother and then we were off on our roughly three and a half hour drive through the mountains to Chiang Mai.

The first stop was to drop off our stuff at the house and wait for Pom to come pick us up for a day of adventure.  I never know where we are going but she always comes up with interesting things to see, do and eat.  Our first stop since we were all hungry, was Woo - Cafe . Art Gallery . Lifestyle Shop.  While we were there my wife found a few new ceramics to add to her collection as well.

After a fair amount of driving around we found ourselves at a popular place called the Grandcanyon Chiangmai.  It is the kind of place you are unlikely to find in a more highly regulated country.  It is basically an old disused quarry which has filled with water and is now a tourist hotspot.  Access is through very narrow lanes, barely wide enough for two cars to pass.  There is no organized parking so you do your best to find a place in the dirk on the side of the road.  Some people are there to take pictures while others relax in the water and the more the adventurous launch themselves from the cliffs into the water far below.

From the Grandcanyon we went for a two hour massage in the Nimman area of town and bought some groceries at the Maya Mall.  For dinner we stopped at a local roadside diner near the house.

The next day it was my turn to drive and we headed for the mountains where four wheel drive was more appropriate.  The plan was to first visit The Giant Chiang Mai to have coffee in the giant tree house but they were closed for renovation and we had to change our plans.  We ended up going to Mae Kam Pong and having coffee at a small but popular shop, Chom Nok Chom Mai Coffee, perched precariously on the edge of the very narrow and steep road overlooking the forest below.

Not far down the mountain we stopped again for lunch in a tiny little roadside village.  Again parking was an adventure in itself as we struggled to find a safe place to park the SUV.

The Teentok Royal Project was our next stop on the way down the mountain.

Upon returning to Chiang Mai we decided to stop at the Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai for a light snack at the bakery courtyard.

The next morning we had time for one more stop before the long drive home and ended up at the Anantara Chiang Mai right on the river.  Pom caught her flight back to Bangkok and we enjoyed our drive home through the mountains arriving home around sunset greeted by our cats and dogs.

Living where we do, these trips and a chance to see distant friends mean a lot to us.  Tomorrow we are flying down to Bangkok for a few days but after we get back to Chiang Rai I am guessing we might need a little down time.  Besides there is nowhere like home.

Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016

This 2016 Top 10 Phuket Hotels list is again based on TripAdvisor hotel rankings, this list as they were in February 2016. I know these rankings change all the time and, well .. Trip Advisor ... are all the reviews really real? Well some of these hotels have thousands of reviews, so I think on average it should be about right. There are again a couple of new hotels in the list, but many of the top 10 are similar to 2015. For each hotel there are links for checking online rates and availability - I suggest using Agoda.com to book your hotel in Phuket. There are also links to reviews for each hotel - also mostly from Agoda where possible. Hotels get scores out of 10 on Agoda so you can easily compare, and reviews can only be left by people who have booked the hotel, but Agoda does not have any ranking lists, so this top 10 uses TripAdvisor rankings.

Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016

1. Trisara Phuket Villas & Residences


Trisara has amazingly been top of the top 10 for 3 years running, so I guess it's no fluke! And it's also not cheap :) Oh, I'd love to stay here a few days! Trisara has spacious private pool villas by a private beach to the north of Bang Tao beach in the north of Phuket island. Trisara is a "private, luxury, amazing view, relax and unwind" style hotel. Only 48 villas, lots of space, no crowds. There are also some "private residences" with 2 - 6 bedrooms, ideal for families or big groups, or even weddings. Or just for a relaxing getaway for a romantic couple. The location is miles from any busy areas, so you will need your own transport or get taxis everywhere.

Trisara - Online Booking
Trisara Reviews

2. The Chava Resort (Surin Beach)

Chava Resort

The Chava jumped into the top 10 last year at number 7, now pushing for top spot. Surin Beach always has something in the top 10. The Chava Resort is actually a collection of 2 - 5 room apartments (they call it an "apartment resort"), some are run by the hotel, some privately rented. Rooms are enormous, not normal hotel size, good for families and small groups. Again, it's a place with views, slightly up in the hills, not by the beach but really only a few minutes from the sea.

Chava Resort - Online Booking
Chava Resort Reviews

3. Andara Resort and Villas (Kamala Beach)


Up from 6 to 3 ... Andara is a 5 star resort, on the hillside near Kamala Beach with luxury villas. It was rated highly on my best family hotel list, and with individual villas and private pools, will suit couples as well as families. Andara resort is in the hills, not right by the beach. Some (not all) of the villas have superb sea views. There is a trend of non-beachfront luxury the last 5 years. Maybe because the beach areas - certainly the main beaches - are too full, and also because beachfront land is impossibly exppensive. If you want luxury and seclusion, it's there, but not necessarily right by the beach.

Andara Resort & Villas - Online Booking
Andara Resort Reviews

4. BYD Lofts (Patong Beach)

BYD Lofts

2nd place in 2014, 3rd in 2015, 4th in 2016 - BYD Lofts seems to be keeping up standards if you want something near the heart of Patong Beach close to the action and in the middle of the busiest beach area in Thailand - this hotel offers serviced apartments (again, you see - apartments, rather than just rooms), featuring a rooftop pool (and a view over the beautiful concrete jungle of Patong). There are one or two bedroom apartments of various sizes. I hardly ever visit Patong, it's not my style, but for sure Patong beach is very convenient for visitors, with huge numbers of restaurants plus shops/the Jungceylon Mall and tour agents near you. And bars and nightlife.

BYD Lofts - Online Booking
BYD Lofts Reviews

5. Point Yamu by Como Resort (Cape Yamu)

Point Yamu Resort

A quite new resort (opened 2014). And a great location, if you don't mind being miles from anywhere! A few years ago when Cape Yamu started being developed, we took a drive to explore the area. It looked terrible. A beautiful natural headland covered in concrete and cranes. Of course now it looks totally amazing and I'd be very very happy to stay a night here. Oh, by the way ... it's not cheap! Not at all! Cape Yamu is on the east coast of Phuket, and there are great views. There are 79 rooms plus 27 private villas. It looks amazing. Did I say that already?

Point Yamu Resort - Online Booking
Point Yamu Resort Reviews

6. The Shore at Katathani (Kata Noi Beach)

The Shore at Katathani

The Katathani Resort has been a fixture for many years at quiet Kata Noi beach to the south of Kata beach. The Shore is the newer luxury "pool villa" development, which opened in 2010 catching the popular wave of private villa style hotels - as you may see from this top 10! And these villas look great. They are all private pool villas, some with seaview (note: if you ready the reviews you can see that the view does vary from villa to villa). A great hotel for couples. Most of the reviews are from couples and I see lots and lots of honeymoon reviews. Well, you have to spoil yourselves once.

The Shore at Katathani - Online Booking
The Shore Reviews

7. Navatara (Rawai Beach)


And the surprise new entry for 2016 .. I've not heard of this place, but it's been open since 2013! I can't keep up with new hotels! Navatara has just 37 rooms, is built "Thai style", some rooms have direct pool access, all rooms look pretty big! A small, Thai style resort away from the main beaches, but not too far - sounds like what a lot of people ask me to recommend! Not by the beach, about 500m from Rawai beach and a few minutes drive from Nai Harn beach and Phromthep Cape. A very nice corner of Phuket.

Navatara - Online Booking
Navatara Reviews

8. Amari Phuket (Patong Beach)

Amari Phuket

The Amari Phuket Resort has been open for a very long time. It was one of the first big resorts in Phuket, opening way back in 1984. For an olde hotel like this to make the top 10 is quite an achievement. Great location to relax at the far south end of Patong Beach away from the madness, but you can walk to the busy center of Patong in 15 minutes. A new "ocean wing" just opened in January 2016. They do keep on improving and last time I looked it, everything looked perfect. Yes, please!

Amari Phuket Resort - Online Booking
Amari Phuket Reviews

9. Pen Villa (Surin Beach)

Pen Villa

Pen Villa was a new entry on the 2013 list and then moved out of the top 10. It's back! Again, a smaller resort, away from the beach (Surin about 700m away). It looks quite simple from the outside, but certainly seems popular, it's a family run place and quite a bit cheaper than the rest of the top 10. Reviews on Agoda are good too.

Pen Villa - Online Booking
Pen Villa Reviews

10. The Surin (Pansea Beach)

The Surin

And to round out the top 10 another Oldie but Goldie. The Surin (formerly called The Chedi) reopened with the new name about 5 years ago, but The Chedi had been there for nearly 30 years already, with it's ridiculously good location on a private beach between Surin and Bang Tao beaches. And it's not ridiculously expensive. Actually the beach is not quite private, it's shared with the Amanpuri.

The Surin - Online Booking
The Surin Reviews

So, that's my Top 10 hotels in Phuket as of early 2016. Have you stayed at a hotel that's not listed, but you think it should be? So you better review it big time on TA,. Phuket, now that it's been on the mainstream tourism route for about 30 years, has a mix of old and new resorts, big hotels, small guesthouses, villas, apartments, hillside, beachfront, busy areas, very quiet areas... There is actually something here for everyone and any budget, but doing some proper research is important especially checking hotel location. Look at a map. In recent years many new luxury resorts have opened in more secluded areas and the trend is for sea view hillside (not on the beach) villas. Land prices and rents are so high that beachfront is a mega investment. Phuket has a big luxury market now, but at the same time small guesthouses and "backpacker price" places are flourishing.

Check agoda.com for hotel booking. Lots of reviews on agoda for most of the hotels listed here and certainly do read the reviews, but do think carefully also about what suits you - location, resort size, hotel style, price(!), do you want something for couples, or suitable for families / kids, close to the airport or close to nightlife etc. Some like it quiet and secluded, others want action. If you get it wrong, doh! If you have any questions, please do ask on my Jamie's Phuket Facebook Page. See you in Phuket!