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Thailand, home to pristine beaches, friendly locals, cheap alcohol and, well, ladyboys.
Stories continually arise from the beautiful Asian country, both good and bad, but I’m here to tell you how to have an amazing holiday in the gem of the country: Patong.
Located approximately 45 minutes (by car/bus) from the Phuket airport, Patong is a lengthy stretch of beach complete with nightclubs, hotels, restuarants and markets.
So you understand the prices I put forward, one australian dollar in Thailand equates to roughly 33 Baht.
To use this in terms we all recognise, a beer from 7-11 costs about 45 baht. Yeah, let’s say $1.50. Nice, eh?
Just be aware that flights are the most expensive aspect; the rest is cheap as anything if you’re aware of the surroundings.
Firstly, you’ll want to stay in a nice hotel, correct? My recommendation is the Mercure, within walking distance to the beach and close to all the market shopping. With friendly staff, 24 hour room service, a huge pool bar with plenty of happy hour cocktails and a buffet breakfast like no other it does get hard to leave the hotel at times, which is ideal.
Price wise, I paid $700 australian for 14 nights, taking advantage of a ‘pay 7 nights, stay 14’ deal. Such bargains are on all the time.
But, let’s be honest, you don’t travel for the hotel. I’ll start with the top 10 aspects of a trip to Patong, Phuket in no particular order.
1. FantaSea – Billed as ‘The Island’s biggest show’, this theme park/circus is unlike anything you will see elsewhere. Inside the walls are elephants, great places to eat, souvenior shops and carnival games, all of which complement the amazing stage show.
Incorporating high flying stunts, animals and Thai culture, you’ll be amazed by the scenery and storyline. A highlight for me was when a performing elephant evacuated his bowels all over the set! A free shuttle bus will take you from your hotel to the park.
Entry fee: 1,500 Baht per person ($45.00)
2. The Big Buddha – Located atop one of the highest mountains and seen from miles away is the enormous Buddha construction. A spiritual experience that draws locals and tourists regularly, it is best to catch a tuk-tuk (an open Thai taxi) for the long and scenic climb. Entry is free, with donations appreciated, but a word of advice for female travellers: if you don’t cover up your body, they will cover it up for you to show respect to their god.
3. Patong Zoo – Many people comment on the cruelty of the animals as they are drugged up for the safety of the tourists, so keep that in mind before organising the trip. The zoo itself is not extremely large by any means, but contains all the native Thai animals and allows petting and photos.
The elephants and monkeys have dozens of tricks, and holding a python across your shoulders is not only heavy but ensures you’ll need a change of underwear. I put this attraction here because it is something that must be seen, whether for positive or negative reinforcement, and the kids love it.
Entry fee: 500 Baht ($15.00)
4. Jungceylon – Everyone loves a decent shopping mall, and Patong boasts Jungceylon. Containing a bowling alley with a bar, a cinema complex with the latest films, a 4D virtual indoor ride, a simulated shooting range, restuarants galore and endless shopping, this is the ‘Highpoint’ of Patong (for those of you who live in Melbourne). Bring lots of Baht.
5. Elephant Trekking – There are many places to do this common event, so I’d choose one that takes you across the jungle and onto the beach. Price ranges between 500-1000 Baht ($15.00-$30.00) but is an experience that you won’t forget (and neither will your groin region). The elephants spray you with water, stand on two legs and pick up pace on command. Nobody leaves Thailand without a photo atop such a powerful creature.
6. Phi Phi Island – Probably the best experience in Thailand. If you’ve seen the film ‘The Beach’ with Mr. DiCaprio you would know what to expect, having been filmed there. The speedboat takes about one hour to reach the jaw-dropping destination, and I’ll admit it is a rocky ride. A few of the people with lesser (and greater) stomachs lost their breakfast, but a sense of comradery develops between the crew.
Other attractions are seen on the way, such as Monkey Island or James Bond Island, and are worth a look. Brief sessions of snorkeling break up the length of the trip, yet nothing compares to the first sight of Phi Phi. Jump on google and ask for a picture. Stunning! Expect to pay around 1200 Baht for the trip ($35.00-$40.00)
7. Splash Jungle – To give you an example of this waterpark, I’d compare it to Wet N Wild with less rides and less queues. Located next to Phuket airport, Splash is a day of fast waterslides, alcohol in the pool and relaxation as you float around a lush environment. Bring Sunscreen!
Not having to wait any more than a couple of minutes for a ride is great compared to its Aussie counterpart. There are basically two rides that truly test courage; a sharp drop that sends you into a circular room and another steep fall that includes some backwards action. The other slides are enjoyable but these two stand out among the crowd.
Entry fee: 1200 Baht, including a shuttle bus ($35.00-$40.00)
8. Thai Boxing ‘Mai-Tai’ – Warning: There will be blood. I saw a girl in the front row get splattered with red after a fighter kicked his opponent in the head. Not for the faint hearted, this Thai-style battle is a must see. Trust me, you will be reminded about it on every street.
If you escape Thailand without the phrase ‘Tonight, Tonight, See Thai Boxing’ stuck in your head, I’ll shout you a Chang. Most nights consist of 7 fights, ending in a championship bout usually between a champion Aussie and a challenging Thai.
Entry fee: Depends where you want to sit, but about 1200 Baht ($35.00-$40.00)
9. Patong Beach – Now, obviously you will go to the beach regularly, but I feel it must be discussed. The sight from any point of the beach is awesome, enclosed in this weird concave of beauty. It’ll cost you 200 Baht for a seat (well worth it) and the locals will position your umbrella, bring you food and drink and even wipe the sand from your bronzing body. Full days can be spent here, with crystal clear water, nice waves and the chance to go hangliding or parasailing. You’ll have to get used to the salespeople, who walk past with some interesting goods!
10. The Crazy Nightlife! – Oh, my favourite part. Did I save this ’til last on purpose? Probably. I love a drink, who doesn’t? And if you’re here on holiday then chances are that big nights will follow. Bangla road is the spot for the party, filled with nightclubs, bars and the like.
Yes, you will see a ladyboy or ten, but they are Thailand’s third gender and part of the culture. Offerings of ping-pong shows are common, but not ideal for a travelling couple. Animals spring out of nowhere, the ring of a bell means an entire bar has to shoot tequila and the bartenders drink with you.
My advice? If you want to enjoy a night out with all the events, stick with your mates. I met heaps of Aussies over there whom I stay in contact with now, and it’s good to have the right company. The drinking doesn’t stop like it would in Australia, the owners will never cut you off. Take this as good or bad, but either way, the stories you leave with will surpass all great parties prior.
While I’d love to continue, I feel this may be the longest post Student View has ever seen. Feel free to comment below with any other questions, thanks.