One thing I failed to note is how cheap it is over in Thailand. You can really afford to stay in comfortable hotels for less money if western comforts are your thing (and they are mine). We stayed at the Grand Mercure in Phuket which sadly was not on the beach or even across from it. But it was walking distance to the beach and the hotel was five star and really nice (with a really good breakfast and daily happy hour) so I couldn’t complain.
It’s also walking distance to a market for shopping, some outdoor casual bars and many restaurants. It’s also not far by foot from one of the popular party streets which I’ll discuss later so it was a good location.
There are many touristy things to do beyond the beach. My group and I went to Fantasea, which is like a very mini Disneyworld with a Thai focus. You can ride elephants ( I don’t as I have ethical concerns about the treatment of the elephants), see a cirque de soleil style show (which was cute), shop, dine (the food wasn’t great, so I’d skip that), drink.
You don’t go to Thailand without getting a spa treatment. Specifically a massage. It’s one of their claims to fame as it goes back 100s (maybe 1000s) of years for their culture. So their experts and you can’t walk more than a few feet without passing a massage shop/bar/salon/spa. I like to go for a full experience so I wasn’t going to go into some “round the way” shop for a massage. I want a spa like experience. Sure it cost more but even that is cheaper than what it would be here. I went to the So Thai Spa upon recommendation from a friend. For under the equivalent of $100, I got a head to toe massage including reflexology foot massage, body scrub, and facial. This was a four hour experience (that actually went quickly) including a tea break. I fell asleep a couple of times and woke up in a panic forgetting where I was (did I get myself Taken, my dad has no special set of skills so it would have been a wrap for me). It was an overall great experience and worth the money.
It’s worth your time to do an excursion while in Phuket, my group and I did a Phi Phi islands tour where we went to the island where Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach was shot It is pretty secluded except for a few campers but a nice beach (outside of some biting fish which I was lucky enough to avoid as I raced onto shore from the boat instead of lingering in the water, others weren’t so lucky and got bit).
We also checked out a few other secluded islands including a place called Monkey Island (actually just a beach where monkeys lived, not sure if humans did too). Sounded like a mini Planet of the Apes to me so I stayed on the boat. We also had an opportunity to find Dory and go snorkeling but I got a serious case of sea sickness and skipped that part (taking a speedboat in choppy waters for an hour does cruel things to the stomach so be warned, skip this excursion if you have a week stomach and the weather isn’t great).
Phuket is kind of a party place so there are a lot of nightlife options. One of the more popular party locations are on Bangla St which houses a lot of clubs. It’s a bit seedy for my taste so not sure I’d recommend it. There are regular clubs to get “turnt up” at but there are also a bunch of girls in pasties dancing on tables and with poles type places. I don’t like partying in that type of element but to each their own. There are classier options and I’d recommend doing an online search prior to going to check out other options if big clubs and seedy nightlife isn’t your thing.
Again, like Bangkok, diversity isn’t their thing so seeing a group of black people was still a shock for many. We got a few insensitive comments from passersbys (from someone shouting “Obama” when they saw us to asking us if our hair was a “sew in”- ugh, who let the secret out about hair weaves and black women? Now everyone thinks all black women don’t have any hair, one woman refused to believe that the hair on our heads was our own (and it was thank you) and thought we were joking). People also assumed we were South African. Again not sure why so specific to that country.