As a welcome back post after a couple of months of traveling I’d like to introduce my lovely boyfriend Tom with an article on one day in Phuket. I thought I’d give you a quick intro as you’re going to hear more from him on the Who Needs Shoes platform. Aside from his great writing, he’s also on the same adventure as me. He’s a freelance digital marketing consultant with a passion for all things travel and adventure. We’re like two peas in a pod: budget backpackers with the aim of exploring as much of the world while we can! From now on, you’ll be able to hear more about Asia and various other parts of the world from another person’s point of view, enjoy. 🙂
Getting from Ko Phangan to Phuket
After calling Ko Phangan home for a month, it was time to keep moving. Our next destination? Phuket. Both Sarah and I had mixed feelings about Phuket. Based on what we had read on blogs and heard from fellow travelers, the city seemed to be too commercial for our taste. But, as we booked our flights to Bangkok from there, we decided to spend one day in Phuket and give it a shot.
The Budget Way of Getting to Phuket from Ko Phangan
We left Ko Phangan at 7:00 in the morning. The ticket to Phuket, including the boat and bus, cost us 450 Baht (about US$12) [Note: make sure you book it at least one day in advance]. After what seemed like an endless boat ride, we arrived at Donsak port in Surat Thani.
The trip involved several stops in random stations. This was a sales strategy to let locals sell merchandise to tourists. If you’re hungry or thirsty, you will have a chance to eat several times. You’ll find local Thai food for a reasonable price. Friendly warning- in most places, they will try to sell you an upgrade to your bus. It’s not actually an upgrade, just a ploy to get you to spend more money. We found out that they were only trying to trick us into paying more money for what we already had. We got on the “nicer bus” despite not paying extra. Needless to say, our lack of cooperation to pay more did not impress the more pushy locals, but hey-ho.
The bus dropped us off in the outskirts of Old Phuket Town. After a short 200 baht (about US$5) taxi ride, we made it to our final stop: Patong Beach. We arrived in Phuket at 7:00 pm, the same time as the so-called “faster” bus, so we took a taxi to our hotel, ate food, and got some shut eye.
Sightseeing Options for One Day in Phuket
We woke up early the next day and decided to make the most of our one day in Phuket. We started in Patong Beach. Patong Beach is the most commercial, westernized part of Phuket. It has several high streets packed with themed bars, restaurants, and other entertainment establishments. Bangla Walking Street in particular has everything a person needs to have a serious party! Patong Beach itself was a long, pretty beach packed with tourists. We walked up and down it watching the water sports taking place.
Top Cat Bar
After sitting on the beach for awhile, we headed further into town to get some food. Sarah settled for a street barbecue and I picked up a snack at a 7 Eleven [FYI- if you miss Western food but are on a budget, the 7 Eleven stores sell awesome toasties for about a dollar a pop!] We found a small bar tucked away in an alley named Top Cat Bar. They were playing live rugby on TV, sold cheap cold beers, and allowed us to bring food in with us.
Taking a Bus to Old Phuket AKA Phuket Town
After food and a full half hour of rugby league, we decided to head to Old Phuket, also known as Phuket Town. Taxis quoted us about 500 Baht (about US$13) to take us there (one way!). So, being the cheapskates that we are, we found the local bus stop and took a 45-minute ride for 30 baht (less than US$1). It was quick and painless and took us to the main roundabout in Phuket Town.
This is where our one day in Phuket adventure really started. We were happy and surprised to see more locals, and older, more colorful architecture. We hopped off the bus and found a taxi driver who offered to take us to a few of the attractions for just 200 Baht (about US$5). As we only had one day in Phuket it made sense to jump in so off we went!
The Local Taxi Tour
The local taxi tour consisted of 8 different stops: 7 attractions, and one duty-free superstore that is an attraction in itself. Most of the stops had souvenirs and other products for sale. We quickly realized that Phuket is the go-to place for shopping in Thailand.
It wasn’t the most cultural of all tours but it did show us the way Thai businesses work and the different products they have available. The taxi drivers get paid extra to bring you to certain attractions, but it’s definitely worth the time. Plus, you’ll spend a lot less money this way.
Siam Pearl and Gem Shop, and Wangtalang Gems International
Our first stop was the Siam Pearl and Gem Shop. Now let me warn you, this store is not for the faint-hearted shopaholics. This immense shop is full of beautifully crafted jewelry. All the stones are real and cost a fraction of the price of anywhere else in the world because they are mined in Phuket.
I don’t want to sound cheap but fellas, if you’re looking to tie the knot, flying to Phuket and buying a ring will cost you significantly less than buying it at home. Yes, it’s that cheap! Wangtalang was our fifth stop. It offered the same as Siam Pearl and Gem. Although a slightly bigger selection, prices were higher, and the saleswomen were very pushy.
Wat Khao Rang Samakkhitham Temple
The second stop of our one day in Phuket, and probably the most impressive, was the Wat Khao Rang Samakkhitham Temple. Wat Khao Rang Samakkhitham Temple is home to the first sitting statue of Buddha in Phuket. Wat Khao Rang Samakkhitham Temple sits on a slope overlooking Old Phuket. It provides a peaceful retreat to locals from the hustle and bustle of the Biggest Island in Thailand. Not frequented by tourists, it’s a local secret that is worth checking out.
Crocodile Skin Shop
Thailand is popular for manufacturing crocodile skin products. Although we knew that, we were not ready for what came next. We arrived at the crocodile skin shop and walked into any vegan or eco-warrior’s worst nightmare.
Shoes, belts, bags, and even small purses made from crocodile feet. Even from an avid meat eaters point of view, the store gave me the creeps. It’s interesting to see the variety products that are manufactured from one single animal but it can make your stomach turn. Needless to say, we went through the store as quickly as possible and made our way back to our trusty taxi driver.
One of the least exciting stops (for me) was the duty-free shop. Although I had little interest in it, there was everything in there! It took us about half an hour to walk through the whole thing. At the end, there is a pretty nice food court serving both western and local food and huge statues of elephants to take pictures with. If you want to shop for branded watches, sunglasses, or anything else designer, this should probably be your go-to place.
The Pearl Shop
We made a quick stop at The Phuket Pearl Shop which specializes in, you guessed it, pearls! Besides seeing pearls, you’ll get to see the shells they come from. Another great place to get cheap, real pearls for the family back at home :).
Cashew Nut Factory
The last stop of our one day in Phuket before heading back to the old town was the cashew nut factory. I had a feeling we would be walking into a dark, loud, automated manufacturing facility. However, I was pleasantly surprised as it’s actually a combination of a store and a factory. When you go in, you go straight to where the cashew nuts are processed. At the front of the store, there are a dozen or so women sitting in front of hand-powered tools roasting and cracking the cashew seeds open.
The women put the cashew nuts in containers and cover them with an array of flavored coatings. Needless to say, we moved into the store and got tasting. My favorite flavor is the honey and sesame cashew nuts. But, you’ll be able to try chocolate, honey, durian, lightly salted, spicy, tamarind, and more. There are free sample jars for you to taste before you buy anything, it’s really interesting and a great snack break!
Back to Patong Beach
We ended our one day of Phuket back in Phuket Old Town. We hopped on the next bus to Patong and walked back to our hotel. Despite only having one day in Phuket, we had a lovely time filled with activities. That said, it would have been nice to see some of the other attractions the island has to offer. As a result, next Monday, we’ll be sharing a second post on some of the attractions we didn’t have time to see but wished we had so that you don’t miss out! Stay tuned for our second post on “Things to Do on Phuket Island”.
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Thanks for reading!
All the best,