Phuket is Thailand’s most famous holiday destination, drawing millions of visitors from around the world to its busy beaches. Since it’s an extremely popular package holiday island, with a large international airport, it has unfortunately become a victim of its own success. We had heard the island is now expensive, overcrowded, and full of drunk and rowdy farang. It sounded awful and we decided to give it a miss.
That said, we did want to visit the nearby Koh Phi Phi islands, made famous in the movie The Beach. Once again, we did some research and concluded that Phi Phi was also suffering under the strain of over-development. With every flea bag guesthouse near capacity and charging obscene rates, we quickly lost hope in this island too.
So, finally, we came up with a Plan B. We would go to Phuket, which featured better accommodation options and take one of the day trip boats to Koh Phi Phi. After a few days in Railay and Ao Nang, we boarded a minivan taking us from Krabi to Phuket, getting off at busy Patong Beach.
Needless to say, we rolled into town with pretty low expectations. And just as we expected, Patong was busy, expensive, and seedy.
We strolled through the very fancy shopping mall, checking out the water fountain show synchronized to music.
Hoping to catch a cheap meal in the mall’s food court, we were floored that the prices were more than beachside restaurants everywhere else in Thailand! Clearly, we would have to find a cheaper option. Luckily, a nearby night market provided some delicious cheaper options.
After sundown, Patong’s Bangla Road comes to life, with loud bars and ladies of the night vying for the attention of passing men.
At our guesthouse, we learned that superstar DJ Calvin Harris would be playing one of the big clubs on Bangla Road while we were here. Since we hadn’t been to a concert or dance club in a long time, we decided to pony up the very expensive door fee for the event.
We had a fun night out dancing into the wee hours – something we hadn’t done since visiting Buenos Aires almost a year before. But, since becoming insanely popular in the past few years, unfortunately the DJ set was nowhere near as good as his live band gig we had seen years before at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Oh well…
Of course, Patong’s major attraction is its beach. We spent a good chunk of time here, though as expected it was very crowded with closely-packed chairs and umbrellas stretching many rows deep.
We also found ourselves trying to dodge the parasails which were making low approaches over the beach. They actually had someone hanging on for dear life without any harness to steer. Definitely something you would never find back home!
Stay tuned for a report on our day trip to the Koh Phi Phi islands…