Jamie's Phuket Blog

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The Phuket Night Run 2018

Something different! Last weekend, on the night of February 17th, my wife and son and I took part in a big local fun run - the Phuket Night Run. Thousands of people took part, mostly just for fun although there were some more serious runners. It was a big event actually, bigger than I anticipated with nearly 3,000 people registered according to the official website. There were 3 different runs - 10.6km, 5.4km and 3.2km - something for everyone. We signed up a couple of months ago (our daughter signed up too, but in the end she had a more important party to go to that night!). For me, a bit of a challenge. I have been doing more regular exercise over the last 6 months, but before that I admit to spending too many years being lazy, drinking too much beer, doing very little exercise and getting bigger / fatter. I reached a peak weight of about 116kg last year, which was already down to 110kg before the night run. My aim is to reach 99.9kg by the end of 2018. Most of my exercise is walking, but I am trying to add in some running. Near our house is the Bang Wad Reservoir, very popular for local people to go running, cycling or just walking the dog.

At Bang Wad Reservoir

(above) Bang Wad Reservoir, Phuket

Signing up for this was a bit of a challenge for me. I did not actually expect to run the whole 5.4km that we signed up for. I know it's not far, but I have become too unfit and this is a stepping stone. When I was a kid, I was a fast runner. Nothing amazing, but I was a decent club athlete, won a few medals here and there at local and county events in Sussex, England. Our team (Crawley) took part in the national young athletes league and we reached the national finals many years. That was a long time ago! I kept pretty healthy with cycling for many years and lots of travels and scuba diving, but the last 10 years I have been mostly sitting in an office and getting fat. And (scary) I'll be turning 50 next year. Ouch. Time to get fitter before it's too late!

There seem to be local fun runs in Phuket every few weeks. My dear wife has been much more dedicated than me. She's got very fit over the last year .. she could barely run at all a couple of years ago, but now .. I can't keep up! So I really do need to get fit! She did a 10km run at the Phukethon in December 2017. I was amazed!

Phukethon 10km Finisher

(above) My wife after the Phukethon 10km run in December

Saturday evening .. 3 of us drove into Phuket Town for the start of the Night Run about an hour before the start - our 5.4km run was scheduled to begin at 10:35pm. Parked the truck near Wat Mongkhon Nimit temple on Dibuk road just a few hundred meters from the start at the Limelight mall. The road outside the mall was closed to traffic and the whole area was very very busy. A rock band was playing as we arrived to get everyone warmed up.



As you may see from the video above, it was busy! We found a few friends who were also taking part, and bought a couple of drinks. Stay hydrated!

Ready for the Night Run

(above) My wife and a couple of friends who were doing the 10km run. That has to be the challenge for next year!

The band switched to an aerobics work out to get people really warmed up ...



(above) Warm up routine for runners and walkers at the Phuket Night run. It was so busy! Phuket people love these fun runs! And this was a Saturday night in Phuket Town. The organisers made this into a night out, not just a run! Plus there was a charity involved - part of the entry fees for runners was going to support the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. People could also run dressed as gibbons, though I don't think I actually saw any.

Phuket Town Night Run Crowd

(above) The start ... Blue shirts for the 10km runners who started first. The 5.4km runners were in purple and the 3.2km folks wore orange. The 10km runners set off 5 minutes before the 5.4km runners including us .. we squeezed in right at the back of the 5.4km runners. I think next time we'll try to get nearer the front because the first few minutes we were walking slowly - so many people! Took about a kilometer for the runners / joggers / walkers to spread out. At this stage I am a jogger. I wondered if I could jog the whole thing, but was not averse to walking a bit too! So I tried to take a few photos on my iPhone during the run, but it was mostly a bit too dark. The picture below was taken maybe 5 minutes after the start. I seem to be following a giraffe.

Phuket Town Night Run 2018

Oh, and people could also run in pyjamas / night clothes which is why you see a couple of guys in boxer shorts in this picture! Prizes for the best pyjama runners! The route for our 5.4km run took us looping around Phuket Town especially the old town area. We headed south to the clock tower (Surin Circle) and back up Phuket Road to the old town. I was doing my best to keep up with my wife and son, and I think after about 3km I was thinking .. maybe I can jog all the way .. or not .. and then (thankfully) my boy said "Dad, can we walk a bit?" so we let Mum run off ahead as we walked and jogged round the streets of old Phuket Town - along Phang Nga Road, Thalang Road, Krabi Road, Dibuk Road .. I know these old town streets very well and it helped and made the distance feel shorter. As it was Saturday night, people in pubs and bars were cheering all the runners, plus dancers were on stages at a couple of places around the town - it was a very jovial atmosphere! A real fun run! And I saw a couple of friends along the way waving hello :)

Phuket Town Night Run 2018

I was hoping to find that one of the 'official' photographers had taken a photo of me, or us, or any of us .. but among nearly 1000 pictures on the Night Run Facebook Page, the only one I found is above - you can see me and my son at the back of this little group running along Thalang Road in the old town I did also find someone's video where I run through the frame about 12 minutes in!

My attempted selfies during the run were not much good! My dear wife who finished some minutes before me and the boy did manage to snap a picture of me at the finish ...

Night Run Finish

It was a good evening and I am determined to get fitter and do another fun run in the future. The next Phukethon is in November, so maybe I could be ready for a 10km run? You have to aim high!

Phuket Town Night Run Finishers

(above) The family after finishing the 5.4km Phuket Night Run. Well done, us!



Top 12 Phuket Hotels 2018

It's 2018! And time for me to update the Top 10 Phuket Hotels list, but I've made it a "Top 12". There is only 1 new hotel in the 2018 list - much of the top 10 is similar to 2017 although slightly re-arranged. For each hotel there are links for checking online rates and availability - try using Agoda.com or Booking.com to book your hotel in Phuket. As for all previous hotel top 10 lists on the blog, I base this on Trip Advisor rankings which may not be perfect and they do change all the time. You'll find links to reviews for each hotel - mostly from Agoda where possible. Hotels get scores out of 10 on Agoda so you can easily compare, and reviews can only be left by people who have actually booked the hotel, so you can see if real hotel guests agree with the TA ratings!


1. Trisara Phuket Villas & Residences

Trisara

Trisara was top of the top 10 for 3 years running, dropped to number 2 last year and is now back on top! I would really really love to stay here a few days and do nothing at all! Are you listening Trisara social media manager?! Trisara offers private pool villas by a private beach to the north of Bang Tao beach in the north of Phuket island. Trisara is what I'd call a "private, luxury, superb view view, relax and unwind" style hotel. Only 48 villas, acres of space, no crowds. There are also some "private residences" (houses) with 2 - 6 bedrooms, ideal for families or big groups, or even wedding parties. Or just for a relaxing getaway for a romantic couple. The location - many miles from any busy areas, so you will need your own transport or have to get taxis everywhere.

Trisara - Information and Booking
Trisara - Reviews


2. The Chava Resort (Surin Beach)

Chava Resort

The Chava hit the top 10 in 2015, hit number 1 last year and now number 2. Surin Beach always has something in the top 10. The Chava Resort is actually a collection of 2 - 5 room apartments (this seems to be called an "apartment resort"), some are run directly by the hotel, while some are privately owned and privately rented. Rooms are really enormous, not normal hotel size, good for families and groups. Like Trisara, it's a place with sea views, slightly up in the hills, not by the beach but really only a few minutes walk from the beach.

Chava Resort - Information and Booking
Chava Resort - Reviews


3. Andara Resort and Villas (Kamala Beach)

Andara

Andara remains firmly at number 3, same as 2016 and 2017. This is a 5 star resort, another resort on the hillside, located near Kamala Beach, another one with luxury villas. It also features on my best family hotel list, but with individual villas and private pools, will suit couples as well as families. Andara resort is in the hills, not right by the beach. Some (not all) of the villas have great sea views. There is a definite trend of non-beachfront luxury in recent years. Maybe because the beach areas - certainly the main beaches - are too full, and also because beachfront land is very, very expensive. Cheaper to get land in the hills. If you want luxury and seclusion, Phuket has plenty of it, but not right by the beach and not in the main tourist areas.

Andara Resort & Villas - Information and Booking
Andara Resort & Villas - Reviews


4. BYD Lofts (Patong Beach)

BYD Lofts

BYD Lofts remains very popular - it's been in the top 5 for the last 5 years. Unlike the top 3 on this list - if you want a room near the heart of Patong Beach, close to the action and in the middle of the busiest beach area in Thailand, BYD Lofts offers serviced apartments with the hotel featuring a rooftop pool (and a view over the beautiful concrete jungle of Patong). There are 1 or 2 bedroom apartments of various sizes. I rarely venture into Patong myself - not my style, but Patong beach is very convenient for visitors, with huge numbers of restaurants plus shops/the big Jungceylon Mall and tour agents near you. And bars and nightlife too.

BYD Lofts - Information and Booking
BYD Lofts - Reviews


5. Navatara (Rawai Beach)

Navatara

Navatara first appeared on the list at number 7 in 2015, up to 6 last year and now creeping up to number 5. Navatara opened in 2013, but with hotels opening all the time I'd not even heard of it until doing the top 10 list in 2016! Navatara has just 37 rooms, is built "Thai style", some rooms have direct pool access, all rooms look pretty big! A small, Thai style resort away from the main beaches, but not too far - sounds like what a lot of people ask me to recommend! Not by the beach, about 500m from Rawai beach and a few minutes drive from Nai Harn beach and Phromthep Cape. A very nice corner of Phuket.

Navatara - Information and Booking
Navatara - Reviews


6. Como Point Yamu

Point Yamu Resort

Another very new resort (opened in 2014) with a great scenic location, if you don't mind being miles from anywhere! A few years ago when Cape Yamu started being developed we took a drive to explore and I was not happy. A beautiful natural headland covered in concrete and cranes. Of course now it looks totally amazing and I'd be very happy to stay a night or three here. Oh, by the way - it's not at all cheap! Cape Yamu is on the east coast of Phuket (a long way from the main west coast beach areas), and the views are truly superb. There are 79 rooms plus 27 private villas. With this kind of resort you always see reviews from people who have not looked at a map. YES, it's a remote location. For sure there are not many restaurants around this area, for sure if you want to see Phuket or eat out you need a taxi or a rental car. What you pay for seclusion and luxury.

Point Yamu Resort - Information and Booking
Point Yamu Resort - Reviews


7. Renaissance Phuket Resort (Mai Khao Beach)

Renaissance

Renaissance is one of the Marriott owned resorts north of Phuket Airport at Mai Khao Beach. Renaissance has been on this blog before as part of the Best Luxury Phuket Resorts list and was also in the Top 10 Hotels for 2017. Mai Khao beach is still really quiet and unless you stick to only the various Marriott hotel restaurants you'll need transport or taxis to get to other places. Rent a car, explore, drive just a few minutes from here and you're over the bridge into Phang Nga province. Ideal for a few days of relaxation and not going anywhere or a quiet base for exploring the Phuket area!

Renaissance - Information and Booking
Renaissance - Reviews


8. Amari Phuket (Patong Beach)

Amari Phuket

The Amari Phuket Resort was one of the first big holiday resorts in Phuket, opening way back in 1984. I'm surprised an old hotel like this can make the top 10! But the Amari keeps renovating rooms and adding to the resort and they have a couple of very well regarded restaurants. Great location to relax at the far south end of Patong Beach - far enough away from the madness, but you can still walk to the busy center of Patong in 15 minutes. A brand new "ocean wing" opened in 2016. Last time I looked at Amari, everything looked perfect. If you ask me to suggest a hotel in Patong - this one!

Amari Phuket Resort - Information and Booking
Amari Phuket Resort - Reviews


9. The Surin (Pansea Beach)

The Surin

The Surin (formerly called The Chedi) reopened with the new name about 7 years ago, but The Chedi had been there for nearly 30 years already, with it's ridiculously good location on a private beach between Surin and Bang Tao beaches in the north of Phuket. I'd stay here! Another that is a little remote but you can get to Surin or Bang Tao for restaurant options. And it's not ridiculously expensive. The beach is not quite private, it's shared with the very fancy Amanpuri.

The Surin - Information and Booking
The Surin - Reviews


10. Ayara Kamala

Ayara Kamala Resort

And the only new entry into the top 10 - Ayara Kamala Resort - not quite at Kamala beach actually, it's on the headland south of Kamala along with several other properties/hotels and villas. Great views, quite exclusive, just a dozen or so villas. The area is called Millionaire's Mile. A couple of kilometers to walk to Kamala beach, I assume they have some kind of free shuttle!

Ayara Kamala - Information and Booking
Ayara Kamala - Reviews


11. The Pavilions (Layan Beach)

Pavilions

Just sliding out of the top 10, but worth a mention, The Pavilions was included a few years ago on my Top 10 Romantic Hotels list. The resort promotes itself heavily as a couples paradise - with individual villas, plus 2,3 and 4 bedroom villas. Located on a hill with sea views looking towards Bang Tao and Layan beaches, but not really near the beach at all. There are apparently 2 award winning restaurants and (quote from their website) the largest hotel pool in Phuket.

The Pavilions - Information and Booking
The Pavilions - Reviews


12. The Shore at Katathani (Kata Noi Beach)

The Shore at Katathani

The Katathani Resort has been open for many many years at quiet Kata Noi beach to the south of Kata beach. The Shore is their newer luxury "pool villa" development, which opened in 2010 catching the popular wave of private villa style hotels - as you can certainly see from this top 10! And these villas look great. They are all private pool villas, some with seaview (note: if you read the reviews, you can see that the view does vary from villa to villa). A great hotel for couples. Most of the reviews are from couples and I see lots and lots of honeymoon reviews. Well, you have to spoil yourselves once before real life starts!

The Shore at Katathani - Information and Booking
The Shore at Katathani - Reviews


That's the Top 12 hotels in Phuket as of early 2018. Have you stayed at a hotel that's not listed, but you think it should be? Go and give it a big review and get it's ranking up! Phuket has been on the mainstream tourism route for well over 25 years now and you can find a mix here of old and new resorts, big hotels, small guesthouses, villas, apartments, hillside, beachfront, busy areas, very quiet areas. It's not a cliché .. There is actually something here for everyone. Doing some research is very important especially regarding the hotel location. Look at a map, please! In recent years, as you may see from this list, many new top class resorts have opened in more secluded areas and the trend is for sea view hillside (not on the beach) villas. Land prices and rents are so high that beachfront is a mega investment. Phuket has a big luxury market now, and most of this top 10 could be called luxury by my standards (!) but at the same time small hotels, guesthouses and "backpacker price" places are also plentiful.

Check agoda.com for hotel booking. There are many reviews on agoda for most of the hotels listed on this blog, and please do read the reviews, and do think carefully also about what suits you - location, resort size, hotel style, price(!), do you want something for couples, or suitable for families / kids, close to the airport or close to nightlife etc. Some like it quiet and secluded, others want noisy fun. If you get it wrong, you might end up leaving a bad review because you chose the wrong place for you.

Questions - got something to ask? Please do ask on my Jamie's Phuket Facebook Page. See you in Phuket! Happy Travels!



Jamie's Phuket Review of 2017

So, how was 2017 for you? A bit odd? To many changes in the world? I know this is a Phuket Blog, but a review of 2017 has to mention a few world events. Like last year I feel a bit helpless, blogging about our nice trip to Krabi or finding an interesting temple that we'd not seen before. The country I live in, Thailand, had an odd year. King Bhumibol passed away back in October 2016 and most of 2017 was officially a period of mourning. Some big events and festivals were cancelled or toned down, such as the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which is normally crazy, but this year all the big processions - with accompanying face piercing and firecrackers - were cancelled. The King's funeral and cremation was held at the end of October 2017. In addition we're still in political limbo here, with the army in control (and I would say doing a decent job, others might say being a bit autocratic), and elsewhere in the world we have to deal with the Trump-child as US President and my home country, having voted dumbly to exit the EU, now seems dangerously close to being up shit creek without a paddle. And a lot more bad news, too much. Mass shootings, wars, starving in Yemen, Rohingya in Myanmar, the continuing presence of Islamic extremism, oh dear I should stop now.

Also odd because the high season was not great for the dive shop (Sunrise Divers), I think mainly due to a shift in tourist demographic - more Chinese tour groups and Russian package tourists coming here, there's less room for the independent tourists who like to dive! If you dive, please do contact me at Sunrise Divers! Also odd because our kids, who turned 16 and 12 last year, changed to a new school with different holiday dates. And I took another trip to England to visit my poor old Dad in the dementia home. And for the Phuket Blog, a bit of a slow down, I'm too busy in high season, and also with the kids being older, we can't always drag them out for family days exploring Phuket and the surrounding area!

So this is a little review of what was blogged here on Jamie's Phuket Blog in 2017. The blog is not my life. We do many things that are not blogged. We had trips this year to Chumphon, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi, Bangkok ... Yes, I have been thinking of a new "Jamie's Thailand" blog! In the low season from about late April to October I had way more time to take trips and blog. We visited Krabi 2 times on short 2 night trips from Phuket. We found new viewpoints, new restaurants, and with our travels in other parts of Thailand, I remain sure that Phuket is the place for me!

January - just like right now in 2018, not much free time - early January is a very very busy time for diving. I did my usual update of hotels - see Top 12 Phuket Hotels 2018. And later in January we managed a trip to explore Thai Muang Beach, a little north of Phuket Island. A lovely beach with no hotels, just a few small restaurants and a marine research center. A place to come back to with a picnic in 2018 :)

Thai Mueang Beach

(above) Thai Muang Beach

Sometimes, if we have no free time for longer trips or new blog posts, I update old posts. We visited Koh Sirey Temple (just east of Phuket Town) in February. They have added a replica of a famous golden rock, the original of which is found at Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myanmar ...

Copy of Kyaiktiyo Pagoda / Golden Rock at Koh Sirey Temple in Phuket

The first few months of the year were just too busy for blogging, and I was very happy to reach April and start to take some holidays. We had a very relaxing trip away from Phuket to Chumphon, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi and Suan Pheung, but (unless I start a Jamie's Thailand) these areas won't be blogged. But in late April we made a 2 night trip to Krabi. So close to Phuket, about 2 1/2 hours drive from our house to Krabi Town, but we've never bothered to explore Krabi before! And we really enjoyed the trip including the Emerald Pool and the Tiger Cave Temple. We immediately started planning another Krabi trip!

krabi-town-1

(above) Food stalls by the river in Krabi Town

tiger-temple-1

(above) Tiger Cave Temple after climbing 1,237 steps!

Our low season officially starts in May and for the next 5 months I had a lot more time .. but less money! Which is more valuable? My heart says time is more valuable, but we've got school fees to pay, and we moved our kids to a more expensive school this year! But I really did enjoy the low season this year. Actually quite busy with the dive shop as we launched a new web design which needed plenty of time, but in low season I took weekends off so we could take some little trips or at least have a "home day" and a "going out day".

Over the years I have blogged a lot about temples, and last year did a page about mosques in Phuket. This year the urge hit me to look for churches in Phuket. I knew of a couple, but found many more!

Phuket Church

(above) Church in Phuket Town

We found some new viewpoints in the summer. And the weather this low season was often very nice .. up above Naiharn beach, reached by dirt road and a short hike, we found "Pa Hin Dum" which means Black Rock Cliff. I'd heard about it a few years ago, but back then the landowner didn't want to let people know, but now there are signs up. And the view looking south across Phromthep Cape and the islands is great ..

View from Black Rock Viewpoint in Phuket

(above) View from Black Rock Viewpoint

And then on one of our "explore Phang Nga" days we went looking for a viewpoint that I'd seen on Instagram near the amazing Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. We found it - Kuan Ta Eiam - maybe not quite as amazing as it's near neighbour, but we had the place to ourselves, and I liked that. Meanwhile, at Samet Nangshe, there's a small boutique resort with a restaurant and overnight camping option and I have a plan for next low season!

Kuan Ta Eiam Viewpoint

(above) At Kuan Ta Eiam Viewpoint overlooking Phang Nga Bay

In July we were in Krabi again for another 2 night stay which we enjoyed just as much as April and I think we'll be doing more Krabi next low season! We visited the Emerald Pool again, but learned from last time and went early so we had the place almost to ourselves.

Emerald Pool Krabi

(above) Emerald Pool, Krabi

And this time we visited Railay Beach and Phra Nang Cave Beach. Very nice. Very.

railay-beach-5

(above) Railay Beach, Krabi

In September I had a 2 week trip to England to see my dad in the care home and visit family. Not long after coming back to Phuket, my cousin and her family visited from Australia. Unfortunately for them it was just about the wettest week of the low season! But it didn't stop us ... we had a day out in Phang Nga Bay including James Bond Island and Panyee Village and had to shelter in a cave while a storm blew through!

My Boy at James Bond Island

(above) My boy at James Bond Island

Koh Panyee Floating Football Pitch

(above) Floating football pitch at Panyee Village

In October we weren't doing too much. Kids had started a new school, King Bhumibol's cremation was on the 26th, so October was a quiet month all over the country really. I skipped the vegetarian festival this year as it was more or less muted in respect for the King. My friend Amy wrote a very nice blog post for me about the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. There are not many "guest posts"on this blog, as I do try to keep it personal, but with limited blogging time available I'm open to more!

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

(above) At The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

In December we had one of our "exploring" days in Phang Nga province to the north of Phuket. I had heard about a temple, did some Googling, figured out the location (probably) so we took a drive around some quiet roads and found Tham Paya Nakarat Cave Temple, and it was worth the visit for sure.

Tham Paya Nakarat Temple in Phang Nga

(above) Tham Paya Nakarat Cave Temple. I still enjoy these days when we drive around amazing scenery and find something new. We should do more, but the kids are getting older and have their own things to do, and when I am busy with the dive shop I get lazy on my days off! I have been doing more exercise this year, trying to fit in a walk / jog around Bang Wad Reservoir a few times per week ...

Bang Wad Reservoir in Phuket

(above) Bang Wad Dam and Reservoir in Kathu, Phuket

But my wife has been taking fitness very seriously. And in December she did the Phukethon 10km run. If you'd told her she could do that 2 years ago she'd have laughed. Now I have to try and get fitter and do a run with her in 2018!

Phukethon 10km Finisher

(above) My wife after the Phukethon 10km run. Can I get fit enough to do a 10km in 2018?

I'm writing this at the end of one of the busiest weeks I can remember in the dive shop. I was glad to have a few days off over Christmas and New Year and have some family time. We still love to visit The Beach Bar at Cape Panwa - we went for dinner on December 25th and again for New Year's Eve!

Christmas Day 2017 in Phuket

(above) Christmas Day sunset in Phuket

Me and my family

(above) The Monk family, January 1st 2018

2018 ... I'm getting a good feeling. Started so busy at work, kids have settled into the new school, my wife and I are getting older but fitter, we're planning a big UK trip for the family later in the year, it's going to be a good year. Bring it on! Any questions about Phuket, please do ask on the Facebook Page. And please do follow me on Twitter and Instagram! And find lots more photos on Flickr.

Previous Yearly Blog Reviews : 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010