After a few days in Krabi, I started getting itchy feet and was keen to explore somewhere new - Phuket was close by and happened to have an Emirates office, which I needed to reorganise my flights so the decision was made, so after waving my goodbyes I headed out on the open road again. I was intrigued by Phuket, I had heard so much about it, but often far. Ore negativity than positive comments. Actually many people had recommended I skip it altogether, but I was keen to see and judge it for myself. After a bit of background reading, I realised I couldn't stand the thought of staying in Patong or the other beaches like Karon, so I chose to stay at Phuket Backpacker in Phuket Town. This was the best decision I could have made, the hostel was great - really welcoming and cheap. It was also right in the centre of everything with the market right across the road, bars, restaurants and massage parlours lining the streets. It was also in a great position for exploring the rest of the town including a collection of local temples and shrines, the old town and Khao San.The town has a lovely bohemian feel which was really perfect for me after weeks of being on the islands. It was such a different atmosphere and was definitely far more Thai than other areas I have been which was brilliant. I feel like I really had an opportunity to spend more time with the locals and seeing how they live rather than being constantly surrounded by backpackers and tourists. If you want to see more of the Thai way of life then Phuket Town is for you. My favourite thing about the area was the countless coffee shops and cafés which provided me with the perfect places to sit and enjoy my time there, particularly catching up with emails and blogging. After being on the islands and having such awful wifi in so many places, this was a great place for catching up with home and was actually the first time I had spoken directly to family and friends for about a month!I would spend my days exploring the town, heading to Karon on the bus if I fancied a day at the beach, or chilling in cafes and writing. It was heaven. There was so much to do in the town and I was even lucky enough to find out two other travel bloggers (Jules and Christine of Don't Forget To Move) were in town so it was a great opportunity to meet for drinks and a night of singing along to Thai cover bands, raiding the big weekend market and exploring the area. These guys and a couple of others were the only backpackers I really spent time with which was nice, after a busy few weeks it was great to have some quiet time to myself inbetween hanging out. Can you believe a solo traveller was desperate for time alone? I really had missed writing and it was great to have some time to do more of it. It was also a really interesting way of meeting expats - I met a couple of guys in the coffee shops who actually lived in Phuket after moving here a few years ago. They were working remotely from the coffee shops at their own pace and it looked like a pretty good way to live your life.I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed Phuket Town, but I would really recommend it after being there. Perhaps the other parts of Phuket are a lot more tourist and seedy, but this is a great way to spend time with locals and to experience a different side to Thailand. I found it a far more welcoming place than Bangkok, which although a fantastic experience, was a little much to take in. Phuket has a slower pace and a more relaxed atmosphere which is refreshing, it takes the best elements from the busier places and blends it with the peaceful and chilled attitude of the islands.
I enjoyed Phuket Town so much that I can't fit all my experiences into one post so I have two more coming up for you guys on what I got up to there. These are just my first impressions of the place. As for recommendations of where to go and what to eat, I would definitely say stay at Phuket Backpacker in Ranong Road as some friends stayed elsewhere and had to walk a distance every time they wanted to do anything - my hostel was right in the centre and cost just 250 a night. If you stay there, you simply MUST try the mango sticky rice on sale at the stall at the entrance to the market across the road - it is easily the best I have had yet in Thailand and I have to admit I ate two portions in one day! For the best breakfast, coffee shop and place to catch up with your emails or blogging, The Gallery cafe is right around the corner and the food is delicious, the walls are full of art and it is never busy which is perfect if you want some peace and quiet. Also, don't miss out on a walk around the Old Town, the buildings are beautiful and definitely worth a look, it is just one street behind the market.
What were your experiences of Phuket like? How does Phuket Town compare to Patong?