Earlier this month, my friends and I went on a 5D4N vacation to Phuket for a well-deserved break and CG (clinical group) trip, after finishing our 4th year of med school . We didn’t do much planning for this trip, since our main goal was just to relax, enjoy ourselves and go for as many massages as possible.
We mostly googled our way around and relied on Trip Advisor reviews to pick out the best restaurants & cafes, and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and spontaneous vacations I’ve ever been on!
Read on to find out about the various cafes/restaurants we visited in Patong & our island-hopping day-trip + canoeing experience, and get links to the best online discounts to help with planning your beach vacay!
🏨Check in @ our Airbnb
🍰After You Dessert Cafe
|Day 2//Thurs||🏝️Island Hopping + Canoeing (James Bond Island, Phang Nga Bay, Hong Island)|
|Day 3//Fri||🍽️Hern Coffee and Bistro|
👾Game Space Arcade + Laser Battle
💆🏻♀️5 Star Massage & Beauty Salon
🍻The Drunken Leprechaun Phuket Irish Pub
🛍️OTOP Night Market
🍻Bangla Road Nightlife
|Day 4//Sat||🍽️The Coffee Club @ Banana Walk|
🛍️Bangla Road Roadside Markets
🛍️Jungceylon Mall & Central Patong
💆🏻♀️5 Star Massage & Beauty Salon
🍽️Rustic Eatery and Bar
Pre-trip planning + Discounted Booking via Klook
We used Klook to book our activities and logistics for this trip, since they offer great prices and significant discounts compared to other sites. I’ll be reviewing some of these later on in my post, but for ease of planning & comparing prices, I’ve linked all our Klook bookings below:
If you don’t have a Klook account yet and want $5 off your first booking, be sure to sign up via this referral link. 🙂
- Private Phuket Airport Transfers (HKT) for Phuket and Other Areas by Oriental Holiday
- Cost: SGD$40
- We booked 2-way transport between the airport and our Airbnb via luxury van (for up to 7 people) for $40 each way, which was really affordable for a large group like ours!
- 4G SIM Card (TH Pick Up) for Thailand
- Cost: SGD$6.39
- The signal, coverage and 4G speed was excellent, even when we were island hopping! They have a 24-hour DTAC counter located near the exit of the airport customs, and the efficient staff helped all of us change our SIM cards.
- James Bond Day Tour from Phuket by Longtail Boat, Speedboat or Big Boat by BJ Canoeing
- Cost: SGD$63 (for the Big Boat)
- We booked this island hopping tour for $63 per person, which was inclusive of 2-way transport to and from our Airbnb, lunch on board and canoeing
- Shopback is a site that gives you up to 10% cashback on online purchases (depending on the site) and can be used on Klook, saving you even more money on your travels. Shopback is giving $5 to all new users who sign up via this link, so be sure to use it while booking your next trip or doing online shopping!
Day 1 – Good food, sweet treats & drinks on the beach
We caught an early morning flight out of SG, touched down in Phuket at 10am, then spent the better half of the morning stuck in a queue to clear customs. After a 1-hour ride in our chartered van, we were finally dropped off at our Airbnb in Patong.
The 6 of us stayed at Happy Holiday Resort and Apartments, a 3-star hotel that we booked on Airbnb for ~SGD$200/night. It had 3 ensuite bedrooms with private balconies and a living room (which also had a kitchenette, full bathroom & washing machine), a total of 3 king-sized beds + 4 bathrooms, which was ideal for our large group. (P.S. Use this link for $45 off your first Airbnb booking!)
All the rooms were fully air-conditioned, amenities were provided (toiletries, water bottles and even cup noodles!) and there was daily housekeeping too.
Its location was perfect – it was a 5-minute walk from Patong beach, and a 5-minute walk to the biggest shopping malls (Jungceylon & Central Patong) and the Bangla Road nightlife.
We headed out for a late lunch at Number 6 Restaurant – supposedly one of the best authentic Thai restaurants in the Patong area – a mere 10-min walk from our Airbnb. It was a quaint hole in the wall establishment, crammed back to back with benches & tables. Its menu was very affordable and portion sizes were reasonable for the price.
Overall, we felt it was slightly overrated, since the quality and variety of dishes was comparable to Thai food places in Singapore.
Our next stop was the famous dessert cafe After You (located inside Central Patong), where we tried their signature Shibuya Honey Toast with vanilla ice cream. It was freshly-toasted and soaked in butter, a decadent treat and perfect for the sweltering Phuket weather.
Later in the evening, half of our group went for a massage, while the other half of us headed to the beach to watch the sunset. And yes, my phone camera roll is filled with an unhealthy number of sunset pictures.
We regrouped and decided to get a meal from a roadside stall, where everything was priced at 100 baht. Watching the hawker cook up a storm at what was effectively a one-man roadside restaurant was impressive.
After dinner/supper, we called it a day and retreated back to the air-conditioned comfort of our Airbnb.
Day 2 – Island hopping, caving & canoeing
The next morning, we woke up before the sun was even up, as a van had been chartered (as part of our Klook package) to pick us up from our hotel at 8am and send us to Ao Por Pier to begin our island hopping day trip!
We had booked the Big Boat package instead of the speedboat or longtail boat options, since it was cheaper, safer and a more relaxing experience. As someone with motion sickness, the big boat was perfect for me!
Around 1.5h after leaving the port, we arrived at Phang Nga Bay and disembarked to tour Ao Phang Nga National Park. We had 30 minutes to venture around the quaint island, clamouring up and down the steep rock-carved stairs which led us around the island, to take pictures of the surrounding islands (including James Bond Island) and explore slippery caves. It was sweltering hot, and we were glad to return to the boat for lunch.
Refreshments were provided on board throughout the entire journey, and a full buffet spread – simple fare like rice, noodles, meat, veggies and soda – was prepared for lunch in the boat’s kitchen. The boat ambled on to our next destination while we lunched, and soon we arrived at our first canoeing location.
The canoes were each steered by a canoe guide (local canoeists employed by the tour company), and 2 tourists could fit in each canoe. It low-key felt like a Disney ride, since the waters were so idyllic and the scenery was utterly magical.
The big boat took us to 2 different caves and canoeing locations, lasting about 20-30 minutes each time. Our canoeing guides would point out special rock features along the way, and we even spotted sleeping bats in the caves!
Our island hopping itinerary ended after canoeing, the big boat took us back to shore at 5pm, and we reached our hotel over an hour later (via the free chartered van). We were so exhausted after the island hopping that we decided to call it a night.
Day 3 – Hipster cafes, VR arcades, pubs & night markets
The next morning, we strolled to the beachside restaurant, Hern Coffee and Bistro, for brunch. It was a stunning 2-storey restaurant with contemporary Thai decor, and it gave off serious hipster cafe vibes.
If you’re looking for a highly Instagrammable meal (that also happens to be delicious af), then this restaurant is perfect. It was hands down our favourite brunch spot in Phuket; we had a leisurely meal, great drinks/cocktails, and the ambience was so tranquil.
We shopped around the touristy Bangla Walking Street for a while, then popped into Game Space Laser Battle, a massive arcade along that street. It didn’t just have generic arcade games, there were also fancy racing simulators, Oculus headsets for VR gaming, ‘9D VR pods’ and an entire laser tag arena.
We spent over an hour inside, and it didn’t burn that much of a hole in our pockets. The games were largely reasonably priced and offered such unique gaming experiences that we were willing to spend a bit more.
Our next stop was the nearby 5 Star Massage & Beauty Salon, a massage parlour & spa which had its very own building. It was clean, professional and not dodgy (unlike some street-side massage shops). We opted for a 1 hour foot massage for 400 baht (~$20 SGD), lying in the comfy recliners and letting the experienced masseuses work their magic.
We went back to our Airbnb to rest before heading out to explore another part of Patong & visit the OTOP Night Market. We arrived too early and the market wasn’t open yet, so we wandered around and stumbled upon The Drunken Leprechaun, an Irish-themed restaurant and pub that was having its Happy Hour.
We ordered drinks – the pub certainly didn’t skimp on the alcohol in our cocktails – some finger food, and just hung out for around an hour chatting & watching random sports broadcasts.
Our next stop was the OTOP Night Market for a proper dinner, which had pretty aggressive touting (🌚), as well as rows of street food stalls selling everything from fresh seafood, grilled meat skewers & ribs, to pancakes and rolled ice cream.
There was some shopping to be done, but tbh all the stores were selling similar items as what we found at Bangla Road, at similar or higher prices. More notably, there were 20+ different small bars dotted around a section of the market that was dedicated to
Our last stop for the night was the Bangla Road nightlife. What was a calm shopping street by day transformed into a crowded, bright and extremely loud party street by dusk. We walked down the street to soak in the atmosphere, then headed to the beach for a quieter end to the night.
Day 4 – Shopping, massages & dinner by the beach
We spent our last full day in a leisurely manner, heading to The Coffee Club‘s Banana Walk outlet for brunch. They had Asian, Western & fusion cuisine at affordable prices, so I ordered Thai pork collar and spaghetti, which was delicious af.
We sat on the beach (and were approached by countless touts), played in the water and soaked up the sun until we felt a little sunburnt. Seeking shelter in a nearby Starbucks and shopping around for souvenirs at street-side stalls & in the sprawling Jungceylon Mall was how we spent the rest of the morning.
We patronised the 5 Star Massage & Beauty Salon again, this time for a full body Thai traditional massage (400 baht), which was equal parts rejuvenating and terrifying (to a Thai massage novice like myself). I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with back problems or joint issues, because the masseuses were literally sitting on us and cracking all our joints…
For our last evening in Phuket, we decided to dine at Rustic Eatery and Bar, a tranquil restaurant across the road from Patong beach, with offerings of fusion cuisine. I had a Thai basil & wagyu rice bowl, which was a hearty but quite oily meal. The restaurant also gave our table a complimentary bowl of cassava chips to snack on while waiting for our meals to be served.
After dinner, we walked along the beach and soaked in the sights & sounds of the sea for one last time, before returning back to our Airbnb to do some packing before our morning flight the next day.
On our fifth and final morning in this beach paradise, our chartered van picked us up at our doorstep and dropped us off at the airport. One plane ride later, our short vacation was over and it was back to the concrete jungle.
All the links to get discounted Klook tickets for island hopping, private transport and SIM cards can be found at the top of this post, and remember to use this link to sign up for a Klook account for $5 off your first purchase!
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Stay tuned for more travel posts in the coming months, as I’ll be headed to Seoul and other parts of South Korea for 3 weeks; until next time! Unfortunately, COVID killed my Korea travel plans…but you’ll be hearing from me once travel borders reopen! Stay safe and take care!
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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