Readers' Submissions

Phuket – Newbie Tips and Advice from a Newbie! Part 1

  • Written by Anonymous
  • November 24th, 2010
  • 8 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

This advice is from myself a newbie to Phuket, some may laugh at it…don’t care, I see things as a newbie and learnt as quickly as I could. Had my beautiful partner there too, which obviously helps, two heads is better than one. Amazing what newbie eyes see after two weeks, no, not the seasoned campaigner, but some insight just the same.

The Airport

We arrived at Phuket, and were met with the usual reception at the airport, a multitude of taxi / courier company representatives touting their cheap fares to Patong Beach.

TIP…sit outside and wait before committing to a taxi, they all show you laminated price guides that look pretty and official, but of course you can haggle.

I had a smoke or two and watched. The persistent nags went away and we had our choice. Do we get the bus or taxi?

Mmmmm…I watched the buses to Patong and although it was about a quarter or less of the price, geez I saw them pack them in, and I wasn’t comfortable about the safety of the luggage. Maybe a bit paranoid, but on the first day didn’t want to take the chance. Great for backpackers though I am sure, you would deal with this.

We got the taxi instead, didn’t haggle just picked the nicest least annoying nagging cabbie, one of a few who didn’t spoil my smoke with overly persistent nagging. It was 600 baht, the usual rate, maybe I am wrong but I don’t care, it was carefree no bullshit. He was cool, and our accommodation was hard to find and he went out of his way to find it, he was on a mission.

The Motel

We arrived at our accommodation at Patong beach.

TIPat the motel if you build the trust and treat the staff well, they look after you.

I know this only after being nonchalant at another motel…we got bad service, we had not bothered to show respect and thanks, and accordingly we got below average service, when you needed something they were nonchalant and seemingly did their least to help. I know this varies, but if you remember that they are not just servants, and are humans and deserve respect that is all you have to do (just think of those who don’t do this, that is what they seem to be used too). It makes it much easier later on if you have a problem, they will go to further lengths to satisfy you. Trust me, it paid off for us, they befriend you and look after you, most of the time anyway.

By the way, we booked this motel and it was great, good price and clean, called “The Seeker”, had to give em a plug cos they were great. BUT…if you are on foot and looking for your next motel…

TIP…ask to see the room, and when you do check the toilet. We found that if the bathroom was clean that was a good sign that everything else was, it seemed to be the telling point for the room.

We learnt this quickly along the way, the motel looked beautiful, the price was reasonable but at the higher end…but the toilet was atrocious and the shower looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for weeks, and I am a seasoned traveler and have seen a bit but it was bad!

The Motorbike

Booked it thru the motel.

TIP…it might be 10% dearer thru the motel but they seem to source reputable suppliers and deal with any bullshit that you would put up with thru street suppliers, try your motel first if you trust them.

The bike arrives, the motel shows you what to do, and when you finish they send it back. Much less hassle! No scams it would seem, none of this – you need to pay this, to fix this, etc. Just on the motorbike by the way, it is not a moped, its much harder than you think at first, but with a little practice you get used to it.

Getting around on the motorbike/car

Well if you have read this site you will know the basics but one thing I learnt over time was…

TIP…hang to the left in the emergency lane if possible on corners which allows the polite drivers coming the other way to overtake on the corner without coming near you, and seems as though they expect you to do it! If not rely on their skill!

Just on their driving skill, they would have to be the most crazy but yet proficient and skilled drivers in the world as they deal with near misses skillfully on a regular basis. Those who say they are mad, yes maybe true, but they are much better drivers than us, they know where everyone is most of the time in chaotic traffic and have had much practice in this.

TIP…be predictable, this seems to be the trick, they will adapt most times!

We got a car later, and it did feel safer, but you gotta do the motorbike for the experience.

Patong Beach

This was a classic. First day, we pull up to Patong on the motorbike and walked onto the beach, barely stepped a foot on the beach before we were harassed for a sundeck. 200 baht sir, a bit different from Australia where you just plant down where you want but took the offer just to relax. Or…so I thought. We sat down and then had an endless procession of street sellers walking in front of us…how relaxing…no thanks, no I am fine thank you…just piss off will you!…no I don’t want a necklace!. This was different on other beaches in Phuket though I might add, you can actually relax.

Grocery Shopping

Being the typical Westerner I got two beers at the 7-11, amongst other things. It didn’t take too long to work out that you could get just about anything from the local stores and Tesco for half the price!

TIP…don’t fall for it 7-11 is overly expensive and you can get most for half the price from the locals, the language barrier is there but would much rather give them the money, if not Tesco is a good bet (no, I am not being paid but Tesco you owe me big time).

Massage

First day and I wanted a massage to relax at the motel, and no, not a happy ending type. Deary me, she started with my feet and I nearly, I mean, I almost kicked her in the head with the reflex actions from her hard touch. Lonely Planet describes Thai massage as ‘brutally relaxing’. For me that is true but for others no doubt they would love it, just my words of warning for those who expect the gentle touch, but I admit I am oversensitive for this type of thing, sure many would love it.

Restaurants

For those who know where the seeker motel is there is many restaurants in a group of shops within walking distance in a square. Pulled up on the motor bike and had menus shoved in my face from everywhere, pissed them off and picked the busiest restaurant (apparently that is the tip). Had the best meal and service of my life, the food was divine as was the service. Made the comment to my missus that I felt sorry for the restaurant next door cos they were the least busiest of the five and that we should try it tomorrow night. I could see the female cook going out of her way to entertain her few guests.

What a mistake when we went there next night! Yes that same nice cook smiled, wooed us etc. Then after my partner picked her fish I saw her staff do the switcheroo at her instruction! Didn’t say anything but the rest of the meal was just crap compared to the one five meters away, right down to when you finished, next door we got the most beautiful fruit salad for free when we finished without asking, at this one same thing except it was spoiled fruit. Need I say more!

TIP…look for English menus and prices…if you can’t read the prices on the menu cos they are in Thai ask before you order, otherwise they size you up and they name there price. Got stung once, on the forth day and never again, lets just say they never got a tip! Assholes.

TIP…they can spot a hungry Westerner from 200 meters away by looking at your face and hence you get hassled, look like you are on your way somewhere else and pick your restaurant from the corner of your eye, certainly don’t rub your stomach! Keep a poker face at meal times and make your choice.

Sunglasses

Just a short one on this, bought some on the first day which broke on the first day, another on the second day which broke on the second day.

TIP…Look for sunglasses with plastic that bends in the arms of the sunglasses without breaking, trust me, the one you can bend the arm around your finger, they don’t break! And last a long time.

Shopping and Haggling

I won’t go on here. Yes they will offer you overpriced goods initially, half that, third that for an offer. I found it varied, but when I said ‘mate just tell me your best price’ after a time with a look that I was going you get just that.

TIP…just ask for their best price and make like you are moving to the next shop. And remember, these people don’t earn much so don’t spend most of your time being a tight ass, you know it is a good deal so why take 2 pennies off em in an offer to make yourself feel better you have saved a buck.

Yes these are just newbie comments, but please appreciate I read this site before I left, studied up and did the best I could with my partner to have the best time.

PART 2 will cover our tip thru the tourist sites in Phuket and over to the mainland. The highlight is the happy ending for a plane load of Aussies!


Stickman's thoughts:

You titled this submission beautifully – you sure do sound like a newbie!