Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket

A Day Out From Phuket

Last weekend I had a little job to do for the dive shop .. a customer had left his rather expensive dive torch here last year, but he'd booked another trip departing out of Khao Lak and I needed to drop his torch off at the boat operator's office in Khao Lak. Am I not kind? Well, from our house it's about 100km to Khao Lak and we've done several little holidays in Khao Lak over the years. Good for a night or two, a bit of vitamin sea, some quiet beach time. So on my day off from the dive shop, I thought we could make a little family trip with some stops on the way. Just the 4 of us, plus one extra friend of our daughter. It normally takes about 45 minutes from our house to reach the very north of Phuket and drive over Sarasin Bridge. It was a lovely, hot, sunny high season day and we had planned to leave late and stop for lunch on the way at a place called Nern Khao View Talay just north of the small town of Khok Kloi. But the restaurant was closed for a wedding! However, no worries as nearby is the Wat Khao Waterfall which has a restaurant right next to it called Krua Klang Dong.

Klang Dong Restaurant at Wat Khao Waterfall

We have eaten here before, it does very tasty local food at a good price although we do prefer the slightly fancier Nern Khao View Talay! The restaurant was busy - lunchtime at the weekend - and we had to wait a little while for a table before ordering too much food as we normally do! And then we take some home with us for later! A couple of the dishes we ordered ...

Gaeng Som

(above) Gaeng Som (sour and spicy southern Thai style curry)

Yam Gung Siap

(above) Yam Gung Siap (salad made with crispy dried shrimp)

I might write a separate blog post about Krua Klang Dong, it's a nice place to eat near the waterfall, it's quiet, food has been tasty every time we have been here. Wat Khao waterfall itself is not huge, but when we came in low season it had quite a flow of water. This time (dry season) - not much going on, but still people splashing around in pools.

Wat Khao Waterfall

(above) A rather dry Wat Khao Waterfall. High season is not the ideal time to visit waterfalls! We planned to stop at a bigger waterfall later. I hoped that either Lampi or Ton Prai waterfalls would be worth a visit. But first we carried on to Khao Lak about 45 minutes drive from Wat Khao Waterfall. We could have stopped at Thai Mueang Beach on the way, but we'd spent a long time eating so needed to dash a little.

Dropped off the torch for our customer and we drove down Soi Nangthong to the beach. We have stayed at the Nangthong Bay Resort before which has a nice restaurant by the sea - it looked busy! We just played around on the sand and rocks for a while. There are miles of beaches around Khao Lak and compared to the busier beaches in Phuket it feels very relaxed. Phuket does of course have quieter beaches, but Khao Lak just seems more peaceful. I think because the main road is set back from the beach, with just some small side roads leading down, so you don't really see any cars.

Khao Lak 25 February 2018

(above) At Nangthong Beach looking north

The kids at Khao Lak

(above) The kids let me drag them out for a day :) We used to do this more often, but the kids are getting older and have their own things to do, friends to hang out with .. plus in high season I have only 1 day off per week and I often appreciate a lazy day. When we get to low season I have more time for days out! Sometimes we do just like to "take a drive" with some vague nearby destination in mind.

On this sunny day we left Khao Lak after 3pm and drove south again. Ton Prai Waterfall is about 30km from Khao Lak and by the time we got there it was about 3:45pm. The national park staff at the entrance said they have to close by 4:30pm so we walked as speedily as possible along the path from the parking area to the waterfall, about 650m up and down steps and picking your way through tree roots. A few tourists were walking the other way towards the exit. We arrived at the waterfall and the only other people there were 4 Thai teenagers who asked my son to take a photo of them, and they left, so we had the waterfall to ourselves :) Always good to arrive at tourist attractions either early morning or late afternoon to avoid any possible crowds.

Ton Prai Waterfall

Ton Prai Waterfall

(above) Enjoying Ton Prai Waterfall. And still plenty of water in the hot season!

On a hot day, the water in the waterfall was surprisingly cold! We splashed around for about half an hour before the walk back to the rangers station where thankfully they have some drinks for sale. I am not advertising, but a cold Coke does wonders on a hot day like this :) Time to drive home again. I like having these days out with the family. I like family time. I like having my kids around. We got home just before sunset - photo below was taken near home.

Sunset 25 February 2018

(above) Sunset on the road, 25th February 2018. This is the kind of day we enjoy. No particular plan, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the company of family and it makes me very happy to be living here in Phuket!

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 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 Im trying to add in some running. Near our house is the Bang Wad Reservoir, very popular for locals 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! You can find a list of some upcoming fun runs and more serious runs in Phuket here.

Phuket Town Night Run Finishers

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

Best 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 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 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 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 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)


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!