Friday, January 31, 2014

Thailand, Part 3: Fun in Phuket

 
Happy Friday everyone! 
My goal was to finish sharing our photos from Thailand by the end of January, so I'm coming in just under the wire today with this final post about our time in Phuket!



When planning our trip, we knew we wanted to see Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and spend some time at the beach. However, we weren't really sure which beach to go to as there are many different areas that all looked absolutely breathtaking in the photos. We ended up deciding on the southern province of Phuket (which is actually a large island), mainly because it's one of the most popular destinations in Thailand and it also had a less expensive flight for the dates we'd be traveling compared to some other places. There are many different towns/beaches on the island of Phuket, and we had heard really mixed things about where to go. We knew that some parts were supposed to be a crazy party atmosphere (which is not really our scene) and we had heard that the town of Patong was pretty seedy, so we wanted to avoid those areas. We ended up staying in Nai Yang, which is actually a town really close to Phuket's airport. The town was very small and our hotel wasn't anything to write home about. However, the beaches were clean and quiet and so it ended up working out well for us!
 
Our hotel in Nai Yang was a very short walk from this national park and not only was the beach gorgeous, it was also a lot more woodsy than we were expecting and it was actually really pretty!

Flowers blooming on the beach :)
So I was debating about whether or not to put in any bathing suit shots in this post because, to be honest, I definitely was not feeling the most bikini ready on this trip. After it all, it was the holidays so I had not been eating the most healthfully, I have been terrible about working out since moving to Portland, and I'm ultra pale because it's winter. But then I realized those are all really dumb excuses to not share photos from a really awesome day that I want to remember. I don't want me or this blog to be ruled by insecurity or fear of what people might think, so I decided they are going up!
Cam chillin on the beach, reading Crazy Rich Asians :)

Our hotel in Nai Yang was pretty basic, but there was a larger resort right down the road that Cam and I ended up spending some time at. They had a fun poolside bar and a cute little coffee shop that we loved where went for breakfast each morning before heading to the beach :)


We were in Phuket for four days, but only had two full days on the island so we wanted to make the most of our time. On our first full day, Cam signed us up to do this sea kayaking trip in Phang Nga Bay and it was awesome! We took a large boat out to this gorgeous bay filled with caves, and we then got to explore the caves in sea kayaks. Definitely a cool experience and I'm glad we did it!

Bottled water on a boat :)
I took a million photos on the boat ride, it was too pretty not to!
Watching a traditional Thai long boat zipping by :)
Another group in their kayaks...it was seriously so cool to see these caves up close!

When it was time to get off the boat and explore the caves, Cameron and I rode in a kayak together and then there were actually guides who paddled the kayaks for our group as a lot of them were quite difficult to navigate. Some of the caves we went through were really tiny and we had a lay down in the kayak just to get through! However, they led into the most gorgeous lagoons and it was such a surreal experience to see these places that seemed so secret! (Also, one of the caves we paddled through was filled with bats hanging from the ceiling which was both cool and super creepy!)


We also went by quite a few beaches where we saw monkeys and that was incredible! They are so cute and it's really fascinating to watch them run around. Also, pretty sure they did the whole caves and monkeys thing when the Bachelor went to Thailand during Sean's season :)


Some of the lagoons had trees growing in the middle, it was amazing!


We finished up the day at a beach on Phang Nga National Park to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, it was pretty overcast so the sunset wasn't very colorful, but it was still pretty :)


The day after doing the sea kayaking, we decided to sign up for another day long trip as we wanted to see another part of Phuket's beautiful coast. We decided to do to a speedboat tour to see the Phi Phi Islands, which are a well-known group of islands about 28 miles off the coast of Phuket. The tour we chose (I can't remember the specific company we used - sorry!) picked us up from our hotel and took us to Royal Phuket Marina where we boarded a big speedboat to head out to the islands. 


The speedboat ride out was almost an hour long and it definitely wasn't the most comfortable experience I've ever had. We were going pretty fast and the water was choppy, so it was a little rough to say the least. Thankfully, no one in our group got seasick and eventually, that part of the trip ended and we got to see some beautiful islands and beaches!


Our first stop was Maya Bay (which was made famous by that Leonardo Dicaprio movie "The Beach") and as you can see it was super crowded! December is an extremely popular time to visit Thailand, and so there were lots of other tour groups around all day...a little annoying, but it was fine.


Even though the weather was a little hazy, it was still such a gorgeous spot!
And yes, Cam wore the same shirt two days in a row :)

And that concludes the boat picture portion of today's program - ha :)

It was incredible how lush and green everything was!

On our the speedboat tour, we went by a bunch of different islands including a beach with monkeys, however, our group did not get off the boat to go feed them. Our tour guide said that people frequently get bitten by the monkeys which is why their company doesn't stop at the beach!

Our tour guide is the one in the hat and he was wearing it all day because he said that to him, the weather (in the low 80's) felt freezing because that's the coldest it gets in Phuket!

The speedboat tour lasted all day and included a nice lunch...

Some spicy seafood soup and some papaya salad, which is a pretty popular food there!

The plant life in Thailand was so incredible. There's nothing like getting away from the cold weather at home to go see such beautiful things in bloom!

I lied, there was one more boat picture :)

In addition to going around to a bunch of different islands, the speedboat tour we did also took us snorkeling and it was AMAZING! The water was so clear and the wide variety of colorful fish was a sight to behold. (I don't have any photos unfortunately!) We wrapped up the day swimming at one of the beaches and then headed back. I definitely think a tour like this is worth doing if you're visiting Phuket because it's such a great way to see and do a lot of different things in a relatively short time!


Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to see much of the island of Phuket itself beyond where we stayed in Nai Yang due to the limited time we had, along with the fact that transportation to get from town to town on the island was actually really pricey. In retrospect, if we were planning the trip now we probably would have chosen to go to Krabi instead of Phuket just because we've heard it has a more laid-back, outdoors-y feel. However, both day trips we did from Phuket also leave from Krabi (since it's right across the bay) as well, so had we stayed there we probably would have still done these two tours so it really wouldn't have changed much. Also, Cam and I aren't huge beach vacation people as we usually like to be out seeing new things when we travel vs. just sitting around and relaxing. However, our time in Phuket was so great, and it was nice to have some downtime to just lay in the sun and chill. It was a great way to end our trip before heading back for one final day in Bangkok (where we did this!) and I'd definitely recommend going to the beaches if you're visiting Thailand. 

So there you have it - that was our trip! In case you missed my other posts, you can see them here: 


I've had a few people reach out to me asking questions about planning/budgeting for our trip, so I may try to put a together a more specific post about that to share next month - let me know if you have any specific questions about our trip that I haven't covered yet! What it really boils down to is that Thailand is an expensive place to get to, but it's really quite cheap once you're there. People are really kind, food is pretty delicious, the country itself is beautiful, and I'm so glad we decided to go!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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