Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PHUKET TRIP REPORTS


This page has 4 trip reports:
- Beachblogger's Nov/Dec 2014 stay at Karon and Bangtao
- Beachblogger's Feb 2014 trip to Nai Harn and Surin beginning abt 25% down page
- Julie's visit at Nai Yang in Dec 2013 starting 60% down page
- Beachblogger's stay at Mai Khao Dec 2010 70% down page


Beach Blogger's stays at Karon and Bangtao - visited in Nov-Dec 2014

KARON
I decided 3 nights at Karon after the flight from Australia would be more relaxing than my usual overnighter in Phuket Town before heading into the south Andaman.

PINEAPPLE GUEST HOUSE KARON
This place is often mentioned on Jamie's excellent Phuket Blog (see link list top right of page) so I thought I'd give it a go.

Relative position to Karon's 3300m long beach


Pineapple is located in an area just off the main north-south road - lotsa similar accommodation places, restaurants, some bars nearby. Within 3 minutes on the main road is a 24hour 7/11 with a bunch of food vebdors outside around dinner time, several banks and ATMs plus a money change counter. The beach is within 10 minutes walk.


PINEAPPLE is typical of many basic but good value guest houses in the 3 beaches area - inexpensive, comfortable, clean. What separates it is Brit Stephen who co-owns it with his Thai missus - Steve has a wealth of knowledge of the Phuket situation and communicates this well.
My room was spacious and clean with quiet aircon, adequate storage and a comfy king size bed. The area was not particularly noisy (it is off the main road so traffic noise is not an issue and there were  no late closing music bars or clubs in the area at the time). Food in the small restaurant was pretty nice and at true budget prices. 
A slight problem was the lack of a credit card facility which makes paying for more expensive daytrips a cash-eater - no problems: there are plenty of card taking travel agents in the area.

I did my usual area beach crawl. The thing that really hit me this trip was the impact of the police/military crackdown on unauthorised beach activities - the rows of thousands of sun-lounges were missing from Karon, Kata and Patong. So too were a lot of back of beach and headland restaurants and bars. Most beach vendors were missing. I thought the general impact was positive - it is now easy to get a nice patch of shaded sand in an area which previously was monoplised by sun-lounges and their venal minders. There are still plenty of legal back of beach restaurants and bars. Unfortunately the rip-off  jet ski hirers are still plying their trade. I'm surprised these dodgy, unscrupulous dudes are licensed.


Patong beach 2012 - click-expand to better see the sun lounges etc


Much the same area Nov 2014 after the clean up.


Gone - including the small back-of-beach bar from which I took this 2013 pic. Which is great for the owners of the legitimate beach bars/restaurants behind - their customers now have a sand and bay view unimpeded by illegal structures in front.


BANGTAO
After almost 3 weeks on and near Ko Lanta I returned to Phuket in early Dec. I'd never stayed at Bangtao so decided I'd spend some time there before my flight home.
This long (6km) beach on Phuket's central western coast is different to most beaches north and south of it - it is relatively undeveloped with hundreds of meters between resorts and other beachfront activities in its central and northern areas. It is not until you get north of the airport that you find comparative lengths of  nice sand not jammed with development and people.

Bangtao used to be a tin mining area, hence the lakes - there are now some very flash resorts/golf courses etc built around those lakes in central and northern areas. This upmarket region is referred to as the Phuket Laguna area.
My resort can be seen near the south end of the beach - well and truly out of the Laguna region.
Surin beach is abt 2km south of Bangtao


Bangtao is one long beach - at 6km it took me almost 90 minutes to walk to the far end which is above the left hand side of the chair furthest left in shot. I doubt if click-expanding will make this much clearer. This was shot from Bangtao Bay Resort's beachfront restaurant, although as you can see there is not too much beach down this southern end at high tide. Once past the next 300m north there is plenty of sand at all tide levels.


No shortage of sand in the south at low tide


Bangtao beach from the center - looking south....


....spin 180 degrees: Bangtao beach from the center - looking north

You are probably coming to the conclusion from the above shots that Bangtao aint exactly an overcrowded beach. Actually the Thai police/military crackdown on unauthorised beach activities make it look even less so. Check the shots below of the busiest section of the beach - the southern area in front of the Best Western:

Feb 2014 before the crackdown - no shortage of beach lounges/umbrellas

Nov 2014 after the clean up.  Actually there are still plenty of sun-lounges but now they are up behind the break-wall inside Best Western's grounds. 


Speaking of Best Western: it was next door to my resort and having 2 much bigger pools, appealed to me on account I like to swim laps; not to mention free-load at nice places. So that's what I did for an hour or so. Note the more expensive bungalows at my place seemed considerably less expensive in shoulder season but I don't think there is that much difference in high season. May be worth checking.


If you want to head upmarket from the Best Western, there is a bunch of places further north in the Laguna complex. Some are beachfront, some on lakes a short distance behind the beach. All have spacious grounds - some with golf courses etc. 
These panorama shots click-expand nicely.

ANDAMAN BANTAO BAY RESORT
I went searching for a place at Bangtao, preferably beachfront, which met my modest budget. This place's less expensive Standard Garden View rooms met that description, particularly in early Dec which was still shoulder season.

The Garden View rooms are in a small hotel-like block. This is about the best view of the garden you get - from the corner of the balcony which was some distance from my room.
My room was big, clean, serviced daily, fully featured, had a quiet aircon (the general area was quiet at night too) - pretty good value IMHO.


The more expensive rooms are in duplexes which start behind the pool and run for a good 150m behind the garden, with views thru to the sea. Looked pretty nice to me.
As can be seen, the pool is pretty small. But okay to cool down in after an extensive beach walk or similar. Looks clean but with my swim goggles I noticed some micro impurities which suggests the pool filter may not get cleaned as often as it should. However the tiles etc seemed pretty pristine, which is more than I can say for 50% of Thailand resorts' pools.


Bangtao Bay Resort's beachfront restaurant was a nice place to spend time. Prices seemed to be above the average I expect of this sort of place (it seemed to me that nearly ALL Andaman restaurants had INCREASED prices in response to lower tourism numbers high season 2014/15. Go figure the longer term impact of that genius move) but still very reasonable by western standard. The fact that many BEST WESTERN GUESTS seemed to be dining here backs up that last judgement. Note the LUNCHTIME SPECIALS MENU which was still available at least early dinner time had some genuine budget prices. The inclusive breakfast was not buffet, but my choice of American breakfast was one of the best of these I've had recently. 
Note too that beer prices anytime were reasonable.
Staff performance both in the restaurant and the resort as a whole was pretty good.


Sunset from the restaurant. The southern-most 20% of the beach at Bangtao gets lotsa sand flats at lowest tide yet is pretty skinny high tide. No problem any tide level for the remaining 80%.


There is a small main street shopping area starting 2 minutes from the resort - has the usual 7/11, small travel agencies plus plenty of restaurants to offer budget eating options. A similar strip is a little further from the beach.


Other budget eating/drinking options are to be found in a kind of beach market area the locals had set up on the northern side of the Best Western. I found prices here higher than this type of place in less upmarket areas. There were a couple of similar back of beach examples up in the Laguna Complex area.

The military/police crackdown has not stopped all unauthorised activity. I found these events organizers setting up for a wedding mid beach - I'm sure they have no-one's permission. Nice closing shot.


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Beach Blogger's stays at Nai Harn and Surin - visited in February 2014

NAI HARN
I wanted somewhere with a nice beach close to Phuket's Chalong pier betwen visits to Ko Racha and Coral Island. I'd always been impressed with the Nai Harn (Naiharn) area, so went searching Agoda for some well situated not too expensive digs.


Well situated - this is the outlook from Trattoria Del Buongustio pizza restaurant above NAIROCK resort's (aka ON THE ROCKS resort) premium rooms. Less expensive rooms are across the road  - the upstairs ones have a similar maybe partly vegetation interrupted outlook - our downstairs abode looked out over the bay through trees etc. Naiharn beach in shot starts 5 minutes stroll to the left, Ao Sane less than 15 to the right. This is a nice shot to click-expand.

Not too expensive digs - the less expensive rooms shot from Nairock's restaurant. Nairock's food was good and at true budget prices. There are two other slightly more expensive restaurants (Pier 93 and Trattoria Del Buongustio) with knockout views of the beach and bay immediately adjacent in the same structure. All give the high-end Phuket Yacht Club's guests (the side of this joint can be seen at far right - the coast road goes thru its basement car park) somewhere less expensive to eat. 
Nairock's fairly big store is immediately right of camera - many of its prices were lower than the 7 Eleven's we used extensively in other areas - big Chang beers at 55b, which is terribly important to me.

Our Superior Double downstairs room was cool (no heat soak from the roof) had plenty of space for 2 people and gear, an effective aircon, good hot water and was quiet. The big bed was firm but pretty comfy, lights okay for reading. At $us45 high season it was pretty fair value given the position.


Nairock beachside buildings at left - closest is the Pier 93 restaurant. The highest balcony belongs to Trattoria Del Buongustio restaurant, with Nairock's premium rooms below. Nairock's restaurant is closer the road, slightly elevated above Pier 93's. Check the pontoon far right - this has been set up by Pier 93 as a landing spot for boaties moored in the sheltered bay (charge 100b). A pretty good deal - they can use their tenders to tie up here, have a nice meal in one of the restaurants, stock up in the budget priced shop and even hire one of the many motorcycles Nairock has (300b a day 2014) to check the island.
I snorkelled around the pier and rocks - some okay fish but nothing to get excited about.


If you follow Nairock's headland road thru Phuket Yacht Club's basement car park and past the beach it heads inland - less than 5 minutes from Yacht Club is this small commercial strip - mainly restaurants and touristy shops plus a fresh food market on the right (sadly corrupted by cashed-up Russian tourists and asking more than Australian prices for mangoes etc). Closer to Yacht Club is a Thai Military Bank ATM and cash exchange booth with very competitive exchange rates.


Nai Harn beach from the inland exit of Phuket Yacht Club - this is a pretty nice beach. There is no shortage of beach lounges as you can see but still plenty of room for a towel/sarong on the sand, even at high tide (you can see the tide mark in this shot). The water doesn't get too shallow most parts at lowest tide - it's just a matter of wading out a bit further. Water tends to be very calm in high season. 
The beach has been packed every time I've visited - there are maybe 4 or 5 midrange or better hotels in the beach area plus a host of similar and cheaper places in the general Chalong/Rawai area - this is their main beach. It and the lagoon behind are also popular with Phuket Thais on weekends and holidays - the lane which runs behind the beach and around the lagoon has a bunch of cheap eats stalls etc.


Towards the southern edge of the beach is the lagoon entrance - I thought this was a real nice place for kids etc. Note it may not be so good in low season after heavy rain - I can picture a heavy outflow of not so clean water colliding with rough surf which is often a factor in wet season.




Nai Harn is a great place for people watching. No shortage of topless Russian g-string babes, but because this blog is a family site you desperate dudes miss out on a pic. The inked bloke at top is a Yazuka according to THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (who is a Nippon-nerd). I dunno, he seemed to have all his fingers. As usual we came across a wedding couple - these folks spent hours posing for shots.


About 10 minutes walk in the other direction along the headland road from Nairock lands you with this outlook of Ao Sane (closest) and lower mid-range Baan Krating's 2 smaller beaches.


I've liked Ao Sane since I cycled over from Kata beach in the 80s. It is way more popular with daytrippers these days but still has the neat beachside restaurant (abt 1/3 across from right margin of pic) with the cheapest bungalow restaurant beer I've seen in several trips. And it still has the budget bungalows although a few have aircon. Prices etc on the main Phuket page. 
Snorkelling off the beach is better than Phuket average with clear water plus some nice big boulders which tend to attract fish and a bit of fringing coral. These "panoramic" shots look best click-expanded.


Ao Sane from the western end.




SUM UP
I personally think this is one of the nicer areas of Phuket and a great alternative for people seeking somewhere less over the top than Patong and similar. Of course if like us you want a nice beach area close to Chalong pier, this is the logical choice.
If you are on foot (THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE is not a motorcycle fan) there are some easily reached alternative beaches to Nai Harn and if you have a moto other nearby gems like Yanui to the south-east are quickly reached. In the opposite directionalong the hilly road towards Kata there are several elephant camps for all you pachyderm tragics.

SURIN
A couple of weeks later we wanted the closest nice beach to the pier at Bang Rong in Phuket's north-east after visiting Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai. It had to be one I'd not stayed at before - Surin won out.




Our search on Agoda for a reasonably priced place (remember I'm at heart a budget bungalow guy) found SURIN SABAI CONDOMINIUMS up a short soi from the main road (4025) that enters the Surin Beach area from mid-island. Nearer the beach 4025 turns left and heads down the coast past Kamala, Patong, Karon as the 4233.
Surin Sabai Condos is a very nice place. Our (least expensive) studio room was well equipped with the usual midrange inclusions plus basic cooking facilities. The room was a bit smaller than we expected but perfectly adequate for 2 people. It was comfy and quiet. The balcony had a nice outlook over the attractive public pool area (high rollers have their own condo pools). Wifi was good in the lobby. The small gym was pretty well equipped and didn't seem busy after mid-day. The Euro manager was a gem - he seemed to bend over backwards to give us a late 1800 check out (this is of course bookings-dependent).
I pinched the top shot off Agoda's booking site - it's a bit misleading; the place is bordered each side by similar joints.
Note that Surin seems to have dozens of similar places plus quite a few nice resort hotels. There is budget accommodation - I saw signs for rooms upstairs from shops etc along 4025, particularly a bit further from the beach. But a search online indicates that these tend to be walk-in.


I got Cap'n Philllips to park the Beachblogger family tinny out in the bay just in case Sabai Condo didn't work out.


Sabai Condo doesn't have a restaurant but budget, sub-budget and more expensive restaurants are available starting 2 minutes away in the main drag. (4025 is unusually quiet in this shot). The coffee shop 30m to the right of the soi had particularly nice budget meals and good fair priced coffee. There are a 24 hour small Tesco-Lotus supermarket store and a Seven Eleven in this area. It may pay to check the cashier at the former - she tried to double charge one expensive item in a multi-item purchase.
7 minutes stroll behind camera and then 3 minutes to the right at the big intersection gets you to the beach. There are some very good sub-budget eats joints in the carpark where you first hit the beach.




Cheap yummy eats in beach carpark including sit-down restaurants.


Surin has become popular with Russian visitors and the beach was more crowded than I'd previously seen with heaps of sunlounges taking about 90% of the dry sand area. The least crowded sections were at each end. A lane runs along the back of the beach with many restaurants and bars; their prices above average Thai budget levels but still attractive by western standards. However at the far southern end there is a beachside restaurant with good budget priced food - although you should maybe make triple-sure the waiter delivers exactly what you ordered.


There are also some very cool beach clubs behind the sand. This one is towards the northern end of the beach.
Okay snorkelling for novices at the other (southern) end of Surin beach.


The south end was a good place to free-load on typical Ruskie beach girl glamour shoot. Judging by the poses all these babes have worked for Russian Playboy.

LAEM SINGH
10 minutes stroll south up 4025 gets you to the southern path down to rather attractive Laem Singh beach, although it sure is popular these days (but less crammed than Surin). 3 minutes further along 4025 sees you at a viewing pagoda from which this pic was shot.


Another 15 minutes south and you are on the sand at Kamala - look for the near-end access at the small road bridge on 4025. This long beach was considerably more relaxed and more cosmopolitan than Surin.


I just had to spend some time at this Kamala north end beach bar.

BANG TAO
Bang Tao is in the opposite direction to Kamala from Surin - north. Take the road behind the beach at Surin which curves right after 10 minutes, beach access maybe 15 minutes. This is shot from the busiest southern end - the beach is narrowest here (particularly in this high tide shot) and has best access for daytrippers - thus things are pretty crammed to start with. Bang Tao is known for high end places but there are some good lower-midrange resorts down this end which your booking site should be able to find. Only half the 6km long beach is seen in this shot - it is one looong beach.


No way was I going to walk the full 6km. I got this far, about half way. You can see crowding is absent - actually only the first 300m from the south end is packed. Overall Bang Tao is considerably more relaxed than Surin and Kamala. I have a lower midrange joint at the southern end picked out for my next stay in Phuket (if I'm not travelling solo which means bottom budget).


I turned 180 degrees from the previous pic to give some idea of the distance to the other end. A number of high-end resorts mostly behind the beach with huge grounds, sometimes golf courses etc takes the central 60% of Bang Tao. Part of the Laguna complex.


Bang Tao has my kind of beach bar too.

PANSEA
Pansea is between Surin and Bang Tao. This beach is hard to access because the high-end hotels behind restrict access (they don't own the beach - the King owns all beaches and he allows all locals and guests to use his beaches, so if you have a boat or rock-hop around the headland you can get there). I hate rock-hopping so I only went this far to get a shot. The going was pretty easy to here (hint: stay high from the north end of Surin) but I'm not sure if further progress is easy. Beach sure looked sweet and not crowded.


I modified this Google Earth image to clarify location of the places mentioned. I forgot to put in the NORTH symbol - like any correct map it's straight up.

SUM UP
I enjoyed my stay at Surin. The packed beach didn't worry me on account I'm a people watcher - those Russian girls sure are gorgeous and even the big beefy blokes in their bright yellow Speedo budgie smuglers with beer bellies bulging over the top are good value - and great incentive to hit the gym back at Sabai Condo. Some people criticise Russians as gruff and unfriendly - I'd say more like impersonal. The younger ones seemed very polite. And most are couples and families - a marked lack of groups of male yahoos which characterise many of the visitors from my country and good ol' Blighty seen at Patong etc.
Surin has a number of attractive nearby beaches if  you are on foot (THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE isn't a motorcycle fan). I didn't mention the famous FANATASEA entertainment/dining complex is at nearby Kamala - no need to walk etc, they have their own pick-up vans.

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Julie's Trip Report on Nai Yang, Phuket - visited December 2012




Nai Yang is barely a 10 minute drive from Phuket Airport, making it an ideal location for those coming from a long flight, or in our case, coming from a long haul back to Phuket before flying home. Having done something similar last year staying in Patong, I wasn’t expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there are Russian menus everywhere, and lines of sun-lounges on the sand, but the place has a very different vibe. Everywhere I looked I thought that my family back home with small children would really enjoy the place, which I didn’t feel at Patong.


Going in the right season is critical, and December was perfect. The sea was calm, no waves to knock you over, lots of clean sand, no broken coral or nasty sharp objects to avoid when wading. There was plenty of room in front of the sun lounges (half the price compared to Patong) where you could sit on your towel on the sand if you prefer. Or simply move along the beach away from the sun lounge area.

Behind the lounges is a long line of competitively priced restaurants, and behind them, shops selling clothing and souvenirs. 

Plus a few bars fronting the street.

The street behind the beach has some markets at night, at least one ATM, a few dive shops and a large convenience store selling groceries, fresh fruit, souvenirs and a big selection of alcohol. The roadway is quite narrow and traffic has to crawl, which is a good thing for pedestrians.


Accommodation right on the beach is very pricey in high season, but we found a comfortable, much less expensive resort, Nai Yang Boutique, up a laneway 5 minutes from the sand. It also had a little convenience store right opposite reception. Late checkout was available at 100 baht/hour past 1200, which can be a boon if you have an evening flight home. One advantage of not being in the heart of the action beachfront was the loud disco noise from the late night bars hardly reached us.


WANTED - MORE PHUKET TRIP REPORTS TO KEEP THIS SITE UP TO DATE. 
IF YOU VISIT AND HAVE TIME, PLEASE SEND A FEW SHOTS WITH CAPTIONS TO lajolla22@hotmail.com

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BeachBlogger's Trip Report on Mai Khao Beach - visited early Dec 2010

10+ km of golden sand backed by casuarinas immediately north of the airport.

Mai Khao is the longest, least developed and one of the nicest beaches on Phuket. There are only about half a dozen resorts along here and the Sirinath National Park bans even sunlounges within about 30m of the sand so that develpment is unobtrusive.
The above pic is looking south towards the airport - the beach past the runway becomes Nai Yang Beach and goes another 4km - that is the headland between Nai Yang and Nai Thon far background. There is a similar amount of Mai Khao Beach behind camera.

Mai Khao beach from the north-north-west. I modified this GOOGLE EARTH image to show the major features mentioned on this report. I measured 10km of beachfront from the airport runway to the turn of the coast near bottom of image, but some websites talk of 14, even 17. I suppose if you go from that minor headland SOUTH of the runway which separates Nai Yang, to the bridge to the mainland, you would be around 14km at least.
Near section of beach-hinterland looks developed but this is GE's overlapping images - if you go to the site and enlarge you'll see it is pretty rural.
I've seen the northern most (closest in image) part of Mai Khao referred to as Sai Khao.
Details might be clearer if you click image to expand.

Most of the resorts are midrange to high-end, but there are a couple of budget places.I stayed at one of the budget places, SEASIDE COTTAGES AND RESTAURANT about half way along the beach. People are always asking for beach bungalows on Phuket. Apart from its near neighbour (down page) thes are the only the budget ones I know of.

That's my closest-to the-beach (30m) traditional thatched bamboo bungalow far left - 500 baht with outside bathroom in high season 2010. I think this is a bit dear but the fact is the Andaman is getting expensive and Phuket is not being left behind. Tents were set up for some late arriving guests who requested them.
My bungalow was clean, just big enough for 2 people and their gear, with a comfy bed and pillows. Outside bathrooms were 30m away behind the restaurant containing good cold water showers and western toilets. Very clean.

Rather good seaside restaurant presided over by relaxed host Malcolm and his Thai family.

Food and beer were 10-50% higher than typical budget bungalow restaurants. Quality and size of portions were very good and service excellent. User reviews on the web are very complimentary here and the place got a steady stream of customers from other resorts. I am usually price sensitive but despite cheaper food 150m away I ate all my meals here.
That's one of the 3 aircon bungalows to the right - 1800 baht when I visited. Shot may be worth clicking to expand.

These are the slightly bigger, more expensive (600baht) outside bathroom bungalows built behind the restaurant. A bigger bathroom block was at the end of the walkway behind camera.

Taking it easy at Seaside Cottages

Immediately south (airport side) of Seaside Cottages is a newly opened medium sized midrange plus place Piraya Resort which seemed to be running at about 2% occupancy in early Dec. Next to it was Mai Khao's other budget property MAIKHAO BEACH BUNGALOWS seen above.

Pictured are their least expensive fan bungalows with bathroom at 900baht Dec 2010 - they had similar with aircon for 1200 - and a few bigger aircon rooms with hot water for 1500. Their restaurant prices were maybe 20% lower than Seaside Cottages but didn't seem to attract the same number of diners.

On the southern side of Maikhao Beach Bungalows this huge development was going in. Malcolm told me it was the new HOLIDAY INN. He seemed underwhelmed that his quiet little location might become too busy - but the fact is there is a heap of beach around here - the next 1 km south is undeveloped. And National Parks will ensure no rows of beach lounges.

After at least a km of deserted sand backed by casuarina trees further south I came to this new place which seemed 85% finished - it is the beach wing of MAIKHAO DREAM. I had a wander around - those buildings seemed to be very nice private pool villas.

Actually the above is an extension to the existing village wing of MAIKHAO DREAM which is some 400m up a side road which runs from the beach right of the shot above to Ban Mai Khao.
You can see the existing wing in the shot below. This extends beachward down the side road about 150m - but it seems the whole 400m belongs to this outfit and the new development was taking this whole section - not just the beachfront zone.

Ban Mai Khao - that's the established part of MAIKHAO DREAM at left, side road to the beach takes off to the left front. Not much else here apart from a pretty good general store, a dozen or so houses and a school. Um, I think there was a dive shop - doesn't strike me as prime dive country. You can get to Seaside Cottages and neighbours by following that road for about a km and turning left. Nice rural countryside around here - mainly fruit trees, vegetables, some rubber, grazing - but not intensively farmed. There is an historic Wat somewhere close, but I'm not big on temples.

Back on the beach, there is no development on the NORTHERN side of Mai Khao Cottages for a km or so and then you come to the very swish ANANTARA - at 22k odd it ought to be swish.

I was unaware of this place until almost on top of it because once again there were no beach sun lounges. I could see a couple of small catamaran sailing skiffs on the sand a few hundred meters further on which I took to be outside another top end joint JW MARRIOT. There are another 3 or 4 kms to the north end of the beach and island with another 2 expensive places - SALA and RENAISSANCE.


THATCHATCHAI NATURE BOARDWALK

I borrowed Malcolm's bicycle and fanged about 7km north to the boardwalk which is part of Sirinath National Park.

This is about 1km past the big SECURITY CHECKPOINT which all vehicles entering and leaving Phuket on the main road must pass thru. Continue on the outward lanes past the beachside seafood restaurants and turn right at the sign about 400m on.
There is a visitors' centre with lots of info and a restaurant - the boardwalk with educational signs runs for about 600m thru the mangroves. While I was there a Farang girl was helping to complete website additions about the kayak routes which they plan to introduce soon.

Between the SECURITY CHECKPOINT and the BOARDWALK the main road comes very close to Mai Khao beach (sometimes this section is referred to as Sai Khao) and there is a line of at least half a dozen local seafood restaurants which are very popular with locals on weekends. The beach and island ends at the mainland side at the top of this shot - well actually the beach curves to the right around to the bridges which carry the main highways off Phuket island.

MOTOR BIKE EXCURSION
I also hired a moped from Seaside Cottages for 300b and cruised the coast south of the airport - a whole bunch of beaches including Nai Yang, Nai Thon, Surin, Laem Singh and Kamala. This is a pretty relaxed bit of coast, some nice beaches largely separated by steep hilly headlands. The coastal road isn't too hard to follow apart from a section north of Surin - maybe take a map which I didn't. Duh.

One of the highlights of my excursion was a session of pier-launch surfing at Surin Beach.

Unusually for high season Andaman there was a bit of swell running (a nice little storm the night before) so I walked out to the appropriate spot on the floating pontoon pier and dived onto passing waves. This proved trickier than I thought and only worked about 3 in 8 attempts. The idea is to WAIT LONGER than my surfers' experience suggested and then dive SHALLOW. Much easier just swimming onto the wave - 100% success rate. That separate pontoon a bit further out contained slippery dips and other kids' attractions - I had a ball.

At Leam Singh I did a typical tezza freeload on glamour-shoot.

Then the sweetie took her top off. I'd like to say I respected her privacy by taking no further pix, but the truth is I got distracted by a genuine 1972 Dewie Weber malibu the local life guard rode into the beach at that moment. You have to trust me on this.


GETTING THERE

FROM THE AIRPORT - Seaside Cottage has a local driver will pick you up for 400. This is about the same as the airport "limos" to Nai Thon, a similar distance the other side of the airport. I'm thinking an airport taxi might be about 250, but finding the joint might be a trick. Seaside Cottage's webiste has instructions in Thai script you can copy for your taxi. I used SC's driver to go to the airport around 2000 for a departing flight - careful local lady in late model aircon Toyota.

FROM PHUKET TOWN AND FROM THE MAINLAND - there are a few songthaews to Ban Mai Khao from Phuket town but the 40km has gotta take 90 minutes+ and probably there are not many services after early afternoon. The best bet is to jump on any bus leaving the island and hop off where route 3016 leaves the highway between distance markers 36km and 37km (look at the 100m SMALL markers on highway dividing strip). This intersection is on a major right angle bend with a big sign for Priyaya Resort on the highway - so difficult to miss even I didn't.

Hard to miss turn off - that's the run-off lane stretching away from camera - you have 4 lanes of divided highway to the right. I pinched this shot off Seaside Cottage's website. If coming from the mainland it's slighty less than 3km from the SECURITY CHECKPOINT.

I jumped off a bus from Phang Nga (I think it originated at Trang) and started trudging along the sealed 3016. After about 2km an old dude on a bike picked me up - we turned at the sign for SEASIDE COTTAGES at the right-angle intersection about 2.5km in and followed the road another 2km to it's very end. Near the end it zags around the new developments and turns into a dirt track the last 200m. I gave the old bloke 50baht for a Pepsi or 3 (mostly Muslims up here).
I now notice SC's website is showing the short-cut along the dirt track. Malcolm described this to me as the "track thru the jungle", but it looks okay on GOOGLE EARTH. Maybe Malcolm has put up a sign at the turn into this track - it saves about 2km. I didn't notice any sign when I came thru. Then again I'm not noted for my keen observational skills - apart from bikini babes.

Nice end of the day shot for end of the Trip Report.

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5 comments:

  1. Excellant peice and we will get there ths november, cheers Mike n Ali

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  2. Expect that the costs of accommodation in Phuket are much higher now because it's being commercialized..

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  3. I personally like the bridge and the cottages. it gives the 'rural' appeal which i think is the best atmosphere to find if you're looking for real relaxation~ :)

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  4. Thank you nice article.
    your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!
    I love here Surin Beach Hotel This hotel is very nice clean and the people are friendly. VERY nice hotel with helpful staff.
    And I really love white sand, crystal clear waters at Surin Beach too.
    Thank again.

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  5. I alone like the arch and the cottages. it gives the 'rural' address which i anticipate is the best atmosphere to acquisition if you're searching for absolute relaxation~ :)Day Trips Phuket | Phuket Day Tours

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