Exploring Phuket by motorbike – the best way to see the island | Thailand
Okay it’s official, all the snow and grey skies is making me lose the plot. I actually can’t deal with what has easily been the longest and coldest winter of my life. So to stop myself from packing a bag and jetting off to the other side of the world, I’m going to distract myself by blogging about what was one of my favourite recent travelling escapades. Back in December, the boyfriend and I decided to go to Thailand – his first Thailand experience and my eagerly awaited return to the country that started my solo adventure. Unfortunately the weather hit us badly when we were there, with Koh Tao being completely flooded – think knee-deep rivers where the roads should have been, crazy storms and the beach disappearing – so pretty dramatic! We decided after a short visit to Koh Samui to stay at a luxury 5* resort, we desperately needed to spend our last few days in Asia in the sunshine and on the beach, so after checking the weather for the whole country, we decided Phuket was our safest bet. I had actually been there three years before and stayed in the Old Town, where we were excited to visit, but this time I was keen for us to stay by the beach and explore more of the coastline.
Deva Patong Suites Hotel provided us with a home for the week and we had a great time staying there, we got a great deal through Booking.com and ended up paying about half of the usual room rate so even though we were treating ourself a bit to a proper hotel, we were still pretty well within our budget. Since it was our last few days of travelling, I wanted us to have a really nice room walking distance from the beach and all of the restaurants and nightlife. Now we booked in Patong – I will say that Patong is absolutely disgusting and overpriced. I personally would never want to stay there again, but it was perfect for this trip as it gave us great access to all the surrounding beaches and to great night markets for food. Our priority when we were staying there was to squeeze in all our last minute Thailand treats – shopping, food, massages, boxing matches and biking. Patong was a perfect place to do that and we even managed to see the International Grand Championships Muay Thai boxing match at the stadium on our first night – something I really recommend! Don’t pay for the VIP tickets, you get a better view up in the stands. Read on to find out more about our motorbike adventures.
Exploring Phuket by Motorbike
Phuket has to be one of the best places in Thailand to explore by motorbike – despite being a very touristy area, the roads are actually much easier to navigate and much less busy than I would have imagined. Basically it’s one straight road to explore the coastline, and it’s easy to pick up a tourist map from any of the travel agents around the area, or even your hotel. Boyfriend made sure to go find us a good bike to hire, after checking the prices at several places we found they all had a standard rate and we decided to go with our hotel. I studied the maps and worked out a route for us for the next few days, we were keen to get out of the busiest part and to explore some of the more beautiful, and more peaceful beaches. Trust me, if you’re happy to ride a motorbike, it’s the best way to really explore Phuket and to get away from the dreaded Patong. If you hate bikes, why not jump on the local buses? They’re cheap and pretty reliable.
We spent around three days driving, sunbathing and exploring the beaches on one section of Phuket – from Kamala Beach all the way down to Rawai Beach taking in viewpoints and the coast along the way. There are lots of other routes you could choose, heading up North or over to the East, we decided to explore the South East of the Island. Read on for more about each place we stopped.
One of the cutest little areas – much more family-oriented than Patong and with a huge, beautiful beach with some of the clearest water I had seen in Thailand. Lots of little restaurants along the beach, much more holiday budget than backpacker, but nice if you fancy a treat, plus there are lots of great juice stalls on hand. And if you want to spend your money wisely, get a massage at the first massage stall on the beach – a woman there gave me the best Thai massage with oil of my life! A Russian man was concerned I was being bent in ways I shouldn’t bend, but holy heck it was incredible and he got one straight after!
This one doesn’t quite have the breathtaking Thai beauty of Kamala Beach, but it does have a certain charm. Retaining more of the local flavour, there are some local traders there, and the usual restaurants. The beach is quite and peaceful, but sadly not really suitable for swimming or water activities due to the rocks. We stopped off to walk around but didn’t spend much time here.
Patong Beach is busy. Think the home of Russian and German tourists, lots of people selling stuff, jet skis racing through the water and music from the nearby bars. But, it is clean. Something which did amaze me considering the sheer number of people on the beach. It is a nice beach and convenient if you’re staying in town, but if you love peace and quiet or are looking for somewhere more family friendly, avoid.
Karon Noi & Karon Beach
Another little gem we couldn’t resist when driving along the coastal road, think pristine sands, glittering waves and palm trees – just another hint of paradise. We ended up lazing away an afternoon on the far end of Karon Beach and we loved the little stretch by the cliffs. The waves are huge here and crashed on to the beach, so we joined the small crowd floating around in the crystal waters. The beach itself was clean and with plenty of space for everyone, so it never felt crowded, and it was in short walking distance from shops/restaurants.
Kata Beach & Kata Noi Beach
Kata Beach is supposed to be lovely, but I was really disappointed. Full of tourists, this was the dirtiest beach we came across. The water was murky and had lots of debris and rubbish floating in it, and the beach was covered in whatever had washed up. I think perhaps we got unlucky the day we went there because I have seen pics of it looking beautiful, perhaps a dodgy tide, but this one is definitely worth visiting at night. We went for a drive one evening and found a huge market stretching the length of the promenade filled with food stalls and shopping. We ate our bodyweight in amazing food and fresh fish – definitely make the most of this – and there was even some live entertainment from local children.
Yanui Beach & Rawai Beach
Two tiny little stretches of beach we actually spotted from the viewpoint mentioned below, both were just a tiny slither of land and looked pretty much empty every time we went past. Sadly we didn’t have the time to go down and explore more, but I read a bit online about them and they sound like fabulous little places to escape the crowds and to relax for the day.
Phromthep Cape Viewpoint
A perfect place to watch the sunset – think a really breathtaking view across the ocean right at the southern tip of the island. Sitting in the shadow of the lighthouse, its the perfect place to end a da of exploring by bike. Don’t fancy riding that far south? Why not catch the sunset at the view point just past Kata Noi Beach? It also has an amazing view and one well worth driving out for.
Have you been to Phuket? What was your highlight? Any other beaches I should check out next time?