City Summary: Patong, Phuket

City Summary: Patong, Phuket

I ended up spending a week in Patong, Phuket and this was more time than I really needed. It’s amazingly cheap, but the resort town is too touristy and a lot too loud for my tastes. Read on for my summary of my time on and off the beach.

A week in Patong

Life on the road means it’s tough to find some spare time to do some writing. Either I’m out trying to make the most of the day, or I’m too fatigued and bedtime is calling. My memory isn’t always going to be everything I need it to be, so I’m going to aspire to write a little recap on some parts of my trip so far. This way I’ll capture a few of my memories and share what advice I can. First up: Patong, Phuket, Thailand!

By the way, there’s plenty of websites out there that will be much more comprehensive in travel tips and guides. So these pieces will be mainly around what I’ve personally done and seen. I recommend Wikitravel and Travel Independent for general travel advice for places.

Highlights

  • Our accommodation was incredibly cheap. We stayed at three different locations and although the quality varies widely, we had some great value for money. The one with a proper pool was perfect. Air con is a must.
  • I enjoyed the markets – cheaper food and great variety. 50 baht gets you a decent plate.

  • Big C supermarket – one of the few places to take credit card and such a great range.
  • Tropical fruits – yum. Reasonably priced and packaged up for convenience eating. Dragonfruit, mango, and melon were highlights.

  • Laundry services are alright! 50 baht per kg and they pack it up so nicely.
  • Because Patong is so touristy, there’s money exchanges and travel agents EVERYWHERE.
  • ALSO: so many convenience stores! They do these toasted sandwiches which they heat up for you that I liked.

  • We had a surprisingly bloody good burger at the Aussie-owned and styled restaurant Burger Me.
  • The mall and markets open until quite late, air-conditioned and comfortable.

  • Fried ice-cream rolls. At 100 baht (haggle down), they aren’t cheap but they are fun and a Thai original. Cute cups!

  • I always felt safe in the town (but did get all the touting).
  • Everyone speaks English in Patong and it’s easy to communicate and organise things. The locals (if they are locals at all) are polite and whether real or not, always have a friendly manner to tourists.

Lowlights

  • Bangla Street (kind of). It’s unavoidable and one of the main attractions, a mix of party scene and dump. I’m sure there’s some fun times to be had, but it had little appeal for me.

  • The beach was gross and full of scammy activities (the jet-skiing).
  • ALL THE TOUTING. Tuk Tuk, massages, fish spa, dining, everything!
  • The weather – we had so much rain. Bad luck.
  • All the restaurants feel touristy and overpriced. Stick to markets when you can or do some research to find some better restaurant options.
  • Most shops and restaurants are cash-only. And I was always short on cash.

  • The lack of public transport. The only way we could get to the airport was via taxi (expensive AF) or minivan (slow AF) and the latter felt super dodgy with a forced “stop” for upsells on the way in.
  • Tuk Tuks are basically unusable with the rates they charge. Hiring a scooter or booking a tour is the only way to get around Phuket, so I felt a bit stuck.
  • Haggling – just a pain to me, especially when it’s less about trying to get a deal and more about trying to be ripped off less.

  • Most of all – for Patong I felt a lack of authentic, local culture. For example, it’s weird to see Thai restaurants randomly selling pizza and Russian borscht just to appease tourists. Nice place, but the tourism (or over-tourism) seems to have turned it into something completely different.

Tips & Advice

  • More of a Thailand thing – take plenty of cash. Thai banks universally charge a ridiculous 220 baht fee for withdrawals so take out big amounts at a time.
  • Break big notes early, as many places might not have the right change.
  • I wish we made it out to Paradise beach (or some of the other beaches in general) had the weather been different.

  • The Big C seem to have the best prices for stocking up on anything.
  • Food safety – I tended to avoid the meats, but I never had any issues. It’s an SEA thing, but it’s all a little too relaxed for me (food being left out, lack of refrigeration, cooked things near raw things, etc).

  • Haggle as much as you can, for everything.
  • The mall is nice, but everything inside is expensive, even for Thailand. It’s pretty easy to spot what things to avoid.
  • Try the local desserts – the cake-like things were sooo good.
  • Not sure how good the James Bond/ Phi Phi island tours are. Popular no doubt, but not sure if they’re that worthwhile – apparently crowded and the weather can be an issue (at least at the time of year we went).
  • I don’t think you need too many days here, but Patong is cheap and could be perfect for some quiet time in the sun or in the pool.