Having been bitten by the globetrotting bug, I headed to Phuket, the mecca for beach lovers, over my summer break. I’d only ever visited Phuket during cruise vacations, so this was the first time I had the opportunity to explore more of the beautiful beach town. It was also my first trip abroad with the squad (4/6 of us!), so I was even more hyped for this trip.
The trip was extremely spontaneous, having only planned it 2 weeks in advance when our schedules miraculously lined up and gave us a 4 day window for a vacation together.
|Day 1//Sun||Flight from Singapore to Phuket
Phuket Weekend Market
|Day 2//Mon||Island Hopping with JC Tours: Phi Phi Island + Maya Bay + Khai Island|
|Day 3//Tue||Patong Beach
Shopping at Patong
|Day 4//Wed||Flight from Phuket to Singapore|
We hopped on an AirAsia budget flight and within 1.5 hours, we had arrived in Phuket! Thanks to our prior booking with JC Tours, a free airport transfer was provided. We were expecting a small car to pick us up from the airport at very best, but like celebrities (jk), one of our names was written on a placard and we were escorted to a minibus to be taken to our Airbnb! It was just 4 of us in a 16-seater minibus; barely an hour into our arrival and I was already loving Phuket.
After a 45 minute journey from the airport to Phuket Town, we finally arrived and were warmly welcomed by our lovely Airbnb host at the condominium.
We stayed at this Airbnb listing, and our host Tony was absolutely stellar with his hospitality and service. The entire condominium seemed to be occupied by Airbnb travellers rather than locals, and it had facilities like a gym, pool, cafe and a laundromat, making it a safe and cheaper alternative to 5-star resort hotels.
Our host ensured that we were well settled in, and offered to arrange for cheaper transportation (with his personal contacts) to any destinations we wished to commute to. And throughout the trip, he would check in on us to ensure that we were satisfied with the place and replenish daily necessities.
After chilling for a while, we headed out to the nearby Phuket Town for dinner and night market shopping!
We had dinner al fresco at a really affordable Thai restaurant that was just across the road from the Phuket Weekend Market, which is open on Saturday & Sunday afternoons till around midnight.
The night market sells literally anything you could want to buy, from touristy singlets to coconut bowls to pet gerbils or kittens. The prices are not particularly cheap, so remember to bargain!
The whole market should take at least 2 hours to cover; it’ll take 3 hours if you get distracted by the array of food stalls selling street food. From normal Thai snacks to fried insects or freshly-made sushi (with flies buzzing around), you can get a taste of Thailand in this market alone. All the food is really cheap, but the hygiene standards (and number of flies!) leave much to be desired, so I would suggest only eating cooked/warm food.
The next morning, we woke up at the unearthly hour of 6:30am, to get ready for our island hopping trip. It was pouring torrentially that morning, but nevertheless, we were still hopeful that the trip would turn out well. JC Tours provides free pick-up and drop-off for all its customers, so a van came by our Airbnb to send us to the pier. By the time we were on the speedboat, the weather had cleared up, although the waters were still choppy. The ride for the first leg of our trip was around 30 mins, the shortest journey between any of our stops.
This was our speedboat package, and we had booked it in advance through our Airbnb host, who helped us get the best possible price (1800 baht/SGD$70). Our boat was honestly quite crowded, since the package was on the cheaper end.
I found a similar package (island-hopping + snorkelling + lunch) on Trazy for SGD$45 with stellar reviews from fellow tourists, so I’m a bit miffed that we didn’t discover this when we were booking our day-exursion…hopefully you’ll be able to save yourself some money by buying your island-hopping package from Trazy instead!
If you have more money to splurge and want a private boat for your group of friends, I’d recommend a more expensive but more exclusive tour, like this all-inclusive premium sunrise tour for SGD$159. I didn’t personally try either of the two packages linked above, but you can click on the links to read customers’ reviews and make the decision yourself! 🙂
Our first stop was Khai Nai island, where tourists could pay around SGD$60 for a full scuba diving experience. You would normally need a license to scuba dive with oxygen tanks, but since regulations in Thailand are more lax, all you need is money for this experience. I’m not a great swimmer, so I didn’t dare to try this, but I watched as instructors led small groups of divers and taught them the basics of diving; it looked relatively safe and fun, with whole families – kids & grandparents included – diving together.
Strangely, there were a lot of cats on the beach, and I spent a great deal of our time on this island playing with them…instead of enjoying water sports. 2 of my friends went jet-skiing, while 2 of us stayed behind to snorkel with the full-face snorkelling masks we had rented from the tour company; the regular snorkelling masks were provided for free, but we didn’t know how to breathe with them. 😛
After about 2 hours on the island, we hopped back onto the boat, amidst worsening weather, for an hour-long ride to Phi Phi Island. It was insanely choppy and since we could not look out at the sea (the boat windows were at ceiling-level), I may or may not have thrown up during the boat ride…thankfully they had plastic bags on standby for the many tourists who threw up.
We finally arrived for a buffet lunch on Phi Phi Island, famous for its steep white cliffs and gorgeous greenery. There were resort hotels on the island, so booking an overnight stay on the island is also an option if you want more time on these pristine beaches!
After that, it was a quick ride to the nearby Monkey Bay, which has…monkeys. Jokes aside, the waters by the bay were filled with brightly-coloured fishes and endless reefs, perfect for snorkelling. Be careful not to step on the corals as it’ll hurt both your foot and the coral.
We managed to get cute pictures next to the monkeys, who were quite tame and chill around humans.
We then headed out to the Viking Caves, where we saw other tour groups canoeing (our package didn’t include this). If you’re interested in canoeing, I’d recommend booking a one-day package to Phang Nga bay & James Bond island for SGD$53, which offers canoeing. I low-key regret not choosing that package, because canoeing allows you to get closer to the caverns and is a great option for non-swimmers who still want to be close to Phuket’s beautiful waters (please wear a life-vest at all times!!).
At the lagoon, our boat dropped anchor and we were given 30 minutes to swim around. We tried very hard to get a nice picture in which we weren’t floating off in different directions, and the other very nice tourists offered to help us take the perfect shot.
And before we knew it, it was 4:00pm and time to head back to the mainland. The same minivan sent us back to our lodging, and we just rested for the remainder of the day.
Day 3 was our last full day in Phuket, so we made the best of it by heading straight for Patong beach!
We had lunch at the famous Patong Seafood Restaurant, only to find that it was overpriced and served poorly-cooked & very stingy portions of food. 0/10 would visit again. 😦
After lunch, we walked down the touristy Patong shopping street, and then headed for a foot massage. We spent almost 2 hours there just resting and enjoying the massage, and then it was back to the beach!
We had initially wanted to go parasailing, but the dark clouds and drizzle forced us to head indoors. We bought gelato and headed to an indoor pool parlour, where we played a few rounds of pool before dinner.
We had steak for dinner at Wine Connection, an affordable restaurant specialising in steak. I had a large cut of sirloin steak for only 540 baht (SGD$22), around a third of the price I would have paid in Singapore. It was delicious and really great value for money.
We headed back after our rather late dinner, to pack and get ready for our morning flight home.
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If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series