Jamie's Phuket Blog

The Top 10 Hotels in Phuket 2008

Updated - this is an older Top 10 page which was compiled in 2008, but still seems to get quite a few clicks from Google - There is a new Top 10 based on TripAdvisor rankings in 2017 - see Best Phuket Hotels 2017. Also now online are the following very useful Phuket Hotel pages :

Luxury Hotels
Family Hotels
Romantic Hotels

If you're planning a trip to Phuket, you are almost certainly going to need a place to stay unless you already bought a house or have friends living here. Phuket has a huge variety of accommodation available from backpackers dorms to 5 star (6 star?) luxury resorts. You'll find a growing page of recommended Phuket hotels on the blog already, and I try to add another hotel every month or so. The hotels on the recommendation page are ones I like because of their location, or because they've been recommended to me by others, or because they offer something different. But what are the BEST hotels in Phuket?

The following Top 10 list is based on the Phuket hotel rankings on Tripadvisor in 2008. For each hotel below there are links for online reservations/rates and availability - I recommend Agoda.com if you want to book a hotel in Phuket. The review links below are also from Agoda.com - only people who have booked the hotels on Agoda can make a review, and if you take a look, you'll see honest reviews, good and bad, plus points and minus points - a very useful tool for checking for your ideal hotel.

Top 10 Phuket Hotels (2008)

1. JW Marriott Resort and Spa

The JW Marriott probably is unbeatable. If you want a quiet luxury getaway, then you can fly to Phuket and the resort is just 15 minutes from the airport on the uncrowded and as yet relatively undeveloped Mai Khao Beach. Words such as "paradise", "sanctuary" and "heaven" are not just words!

JW Marriott - Online Reservations
JW Marriott Reviews

2. Mom Tri's Villa Royale

The newer sister resort of Mom Tri's Boathouse, Villa Royale is one of the few hotels in Phuket that can be called secluded, while also being close to the main beaches. It's on the headland between Kata and Kata Noi, overlooking the ocean beach featuring beautifully designed luxury villas.

Villa Royale - Online Reservations
Villa Royale Reviews
More about Mom Tri's Villa Royale on this blog

3. Sala Phuket

Sala Phuket is a new (very new... I am not sure I had heard of it before starting this top 10!) luxury villa resort on Mai Khao Beach - just opened in December 2007. The reviews say it all, things like "breathtaking", "blissful", "Sala Phuket is amazing!"... you get the general idea.

Sala Phuket - Online Reservations
Sala Phuket Reviews
Sala Phuket - more information on Jamie's Phuket

4. The Slate

I wrote about The Slate already - it's a top class resort and has a very original look and feel with decor based on the old Phuket tin mining industry. It may not be to everyone's liking, but it's got class and it's not afraid to be different!

The Slate - Online Reservations
The Slate Reviews

5. Pacific Club Resort

Located on the hillside overlooking Karon Beach, Pacific Club's owner Eric is a chef and also owner of the Karon Cafe in the center of Karon. It's a small resort with a personal feel and great panoramic views. Well off the main road and yet only 10 minutes walk to Karon Beach. Ideal for those wanting seclusion, but still easy access to the main beach centers.

Pacific Club - Online Reservations
Pacific Club Reviews
Pacific Club Resort review on Jamie's Phuket

6. Banyan Tree

The Banyan Tree is part of the Laguna Resort complex at Bang Tao Beach. Nice. Very. It's listed in the 2008 Conde Nast Gold List of the best hotels in the world (so is JW Marriott). I rest my case.

Banyan Tree - Online Reservations
Banyan Tree Reviews

7. Cape Panwa Hotel

Another hotel already recommended on this blog, Cape Panwa Hotel seems to be a perennial favourite. I love the Panwa area, it's miles from the busy beaches, and this resort is the hideaway at the edge of Phuket. Patong is a different planet.

Cape Panwa Hotel - Online Reservations
Cape Panwa Hotel Reviews

8. Marina Phuket Resort

I was actually surprised to see Marina up in the top 10. I had always thought it was a slightly old mid price resort - but then I have not stayed there. It's right on the south end of Karon Beach, with deluxe villas overlooking the ocean, and Dino Park right next door!

Marina Phuket - Online Reservations
Marina Phuket - check rates at HotelsCombined.com
Marina Phuket Review on Jamie's Phuket

9. Ayara Hilltops Resort and Spa (was Treetops Arasia)

Another luxury villa resort, this one with views from the hillside overlooking Surin Beach. There are only 48 villas, and I gotta say it looks like a fab place to stay. And if you stay here, splash out on the Rachavadee Suite.

Ayara Hilltops - Online Reservations
Ayara Hilltops Reviews

10. Andaman Seaview

Hey! Just down the road from where I work! Andaman Seaview is on Karon Beach, prices are decent (in fact, in low season a real steal). I think the main reason it creeps into the top 10 is value for money. Quality at a price you can't argue with. Andaman Seaview is not comparable to some of the others in this list, but it's much cheaper!

Andaman Seaview - Online Reservations
Andaman Seaview Reviews

NEW! Latest Update 2017 :

Top 12 Phuket Hotels 2018

My Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Phuket Hotels - Booking @ Agoda.com

Agree with the top 10? Stayed somewhere else that you thought was better? Do add a comment below. You'll notice that most of these are pricey resorts, 5 star, most are on more secluded beaches and many of them (like Sala Phuket or Indigo Pearl) are new resorts that have only been open a year or two. There are new luxury resorts opening every year. Phuket IS trying to push the luxury lifestyle, and it's often said that Thailand does luxury very well. If you're on a low budget, this list is not for you, but you can look here: Low Budget Phuket Accommodation. As for this list, I'd hate to disagree with the opinions of the reviewers, this certainly looks like a top 10 to me!

Wat Sawang Arom (Rawai Temple)

Many things in life are easily missed if you keep to the main roads. You gotta take time to smell the roses. Take the road less travelled, explore the side streets. There really is no hurry. The temple at Rawai Beach is called Wat Sawang Arom. It's only about half a kilometer from the sea, but is off the main road that runs from Chalong to Rawai. You can't see the temple from the road, only the entrance...

Entrance to Wat Sawang Arom

Like many of these backroad temples, I have driven past on countless occasions, but never ventured inside. In the last couple of years, mainly due to this blog and my pledge to blog all Phuket temples (eventually), I have tried to find a few free minutes in life. It's always worth the effort, worth stopping for a while and visiting a small temple.

Wat Sawang Arom is not a large temple. It was built to serve the small local Rawai community, including the Wat Sawang Arom school which among it's students are sea gypsy children who were affected by the 2004 tsunami. As I walked around one morning, the school assembly was in progress. I could hear a cute voice doing a solo on the national anthem. The temple and school were quiet except that one voice.

Wat Sawang Arom School

Wat Sawang Arom School

I do love temple architecture. There is so much detail and colour in every temple, and each temple has something different. Great for photos!

Wall at Wat Sawang Arom

Temple walls often feature the 8 spoked wheel known as the Dharma wheel. The eight spokes represent the noble eightfold path of Buddhism.

Wat Sawang Arom

Buddha at Wat Sawang Arom  External view of Wat Sawang Arom

Window at Wat Sawang Arom

Inside the temple, aside from several Buddha images, the walls are covered with painted scenes showing the life of the Buddha.

Rawai Temple - Location Map

More Phuket Temples
More About Rawai Beach
Rawai Beach Hotels

Phuket Airport Hotel

I seem to keep recommending people to book the Phuket Airport Hotel. I think the reason is because it offers something different, which is the kind of place I like! When you hear the words "Airport Hotel" it does conjour up images of a 500 room concrete block attached to the terminal.. but not this one.

The small family-run hotel is just one minute drive from Phuket International Airport and Nai Yang beach. Even though it's so close to the airport, the hotel is peaceful and has a secluded feel - noise pollution is minimal, as it does not lie under the flight path. Wan and the staff work hard to make Phuket Airport Hotel something special. There are only ten beautifully decorated bungalows which all face the hotel’s small swimming pool. There is free wifi available too. Nai Yang beach is about a 15-minute walk from the hotel, though if you ask nicely someone might give you a ride down to the water...

The main reason most people stay here is the location. Got an early flight? Well, do remember that if you stay at Karon or Kata Beach, it will take an hour or more by taxi to reach the airport... stay at the Phuket Airport Hotel you can lie in! Or if you just want a small, quiet, friendly hotel, this might be ideal.

Phuket Airport Hotel - Booking & Reviews

Phuket Airport Hotel - Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Phuket Airport Hotel - Reviews at Agoda.com

Phuket Airport Hotel - Photos

Phuket Airport Hotel

Phuket Airport Hotel Pool

Phuket Airport Hotel Room

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

More Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 12 Phuket Hotels 2018
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Get Social with Jamie's Phuket

Jamie's Phuket on Facebook

Now I admit to not being totally up to date with all the latest web crazes, there just seem to be so many social networking websites it's hard to keep up. I joined Facebook a while back and spent some time wondering "now what?". So I dug around, found some old friends and some current friends, played a few of the quizzes and games and then thought "and now?". Well, I reckon Facebook takes some time to grow on you, as new people join, you find friends of friends, join "groups", add photos, look at friends photos, add your thoughts to discussion boards. It's huge and I guess you could happily while away the hours and wonder where the day has gone.

I started a "Jamie's Phuket Page" on Facebook a few years ago for people who read my blogs and like them. Anyone with a Facebook account can like the page, add photos, start discussions, leave posts on the "wall", chat about Phuket... you can ask questions and I will try to answer, or maybe another member will know the answer. I try to post something almost every day. Hope to see you there:

Jamie's Phuket Facebook Page

Twitter - Follow Me!

Twitter is an odd kind of place. You can post your thoughts, what you are doing now, you can update every minute of every day... I tend to update every day, especially trying to mention the weather so it compliments my Phuket Weather blog, which gets updated every week or so.

If you join Twitter you can choose to follow people, which means you can log in and see what they have posted. You can see my latest Tweets on the left side of the page (somewhere). I have been using Twitter for years and have around 6500 followers right now. It's ideal for "microblogging" ... Like if I write "It's a sunny morning in Phuket" - that does not qualify as a blog post, but Twitter is just perfect for a one liner.

Follow me on Twitter!

Social Bookmarking

Yes, you can still use your Internet Explorer (or indeed Firefox) Favourites, but these days there are way more interesting ways to bookmark your favourite webpages, and even share them with other people. I registered for del.icio.us a couple of years ago, and now you can do things like Digg an article or StumbleUpon all kinds of things. It's commonplace for websites to have social bookmark buttons at the bottom of each page, and you can see the same on my blogs too.

So please by all means, share some of Jamie's Phuket or the Phuket Weather Blog - you can add to Facebook, del.icio.us, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon or hey you can even just press Ctrl+D to add to your computers favourites. At least I hope you will think of this blog as a favourite! :)

Nikitas Bar, Rawai Beach

If you're looking for a place in Phuket where you can relax with a cold beer and sit right by the sea away from hawkers and bar girls, well you better get out of Patong! Somehow, Rawai beach has remained pretty quiet, although it is certainly busier than when I first went 8 years ago. A few more restaurants along the beach road, quite a lot more real estate developments along the road from Chalong, all promising a sea view. It's a popular area for living, less so for hotels, mainly because Rawai is not really a swimming beach - it's too rocky and very shallow at low tide. Very beautiful area, but not a prime holiday resort location. Good! Let it stay that way!

Entrance to Nikitas Bar, Rawai Beach

It must have been about 8 years ago that I first had a drink at Nikitas Bar. This place is a Phuket legend... been on the beach in Rawai for over 15 years, and is still small, friendly and most importantly does not rip you off for a beer just because you are sitting by the sea! My wife and I used to head for Rawai often, a couple of times per month, for drinks or lunch. We don't go so much these days as we live a bit far away - I can't really justify a 30 minute drive each way just for a cold Beer Lao. But we do like Nikitas. You'll find it near the east end of the beach just after the road turns to the right when coming from Chalong. It's a rare find in Phuket these days to have a small, quiet bar on the beach.

Nikitas Bar, Rawai

We last went a couple of months ago, got a friend to look after the kids for a few hours, so my wife and I could have a rare moment of peace and romance :) Candles light the tables, the waves gently caress the shore, I kid you not. We plan to go again next week - my in laws are visiting and we do like to dump the kids on them at least once every time they come! Oh, and they do food too (including pizza), not just drinks. I totally recommend a visit to Rawai beach and while you're there, do have at least a drink at Nikitas.

More about Rawai Beach
Nikita's Website
Rimlay Restaurant (next door!)
Real Estate - Buying a House in Phuket
Rawai Beach Hotels

Phuket News - Where to find it...

I try to keep up and post some of the latest Phuket news stories on my Phuket News page, along with some not-to-be-forgotten old news stories. There's not normally any "big" news in Phuket, but if you want to get a feel for what goes on, it's worth checking the news before you travel, and not just the weather!

You can follow me on Twitter, I will post news, weather and related Phuket information as and when I find it, and I tend to be online every day and Tweeting often - Follow me on Twitter @jamiemonk.

There are a number of local newspapers and magazines in Phuket, mostly they are just dressed up advertising, especially with regards to restaurant "reviews" and property news. If you want real news, there are several choices.

The Phuket Gazette has been around since 1993, when Phuket tourism was still (relatively) in it's infancy. I've been reading it (mostly online) since I came here in 1999. Sometimes the news is thin on the ground, sometimes there are 5 articles per day. The Gazette has more than just news - there's an extensive classified section, a job section, "issues and answers" and the "queer news" too. The news is mostly local, often reporting on crime, local politics, environmental news and tourism issues. The print version of the paper has some extra articles. It's not a bad read and only costs 20 Baht.. or is it 25..? Not sure, I am on the computer every day, so I use the online version.

A newer paper and online site started in 2011 called The Phuket News - I reckon equal to the Phuket Gazette, certainly worth reading both!

Phuket News Online

If anything big happens in Phuket, you'll probably find it on the BBC or CNN well before the Phuket Gazette gets it's gears in motion. If I want to make sure I have not missed something, I tend to use Google News, which searches just about any news source you can mention. A search for "Phuket" right now gives results ranging from "Sail World, Australia" to the "Jerusalem Post, Israel".. mind you, it's not all cutting edge news. I see the Google News search tells me "Kimi Raikkonen invests in Phuket Beachfront Villa"...

The national newspapers will also report on news that has a bearing on Phuket. Let's not forget that Phuket is not some Utopian holiday isle.. it's a province of Thailand, so some national news updates might be worth reading now and then... You can try the Bangkok Post or The Nation. There are a couple of Thai language websites such as Manager Online that probably have even more news... but you will have to learn Thai first!

Forums and Chat Rooms - there are some very active forums, of which Thai Visa would be the best for news and discussion. You may also catch something on the Lonely Planet Thailand forum, or the Trip Advisor Phuket forum.

Latest Weather News - Best place to look for weather reports and links to weather forecasts, radar, satellite images, webcams and more - my Phuket Weather blog.

So, there you go. If you're coming to Phuket, or just love Phuket and want to know what's going on, there are plenty of news sources. Mostly the news is pretty local and won't affect visitors, but if anything really big happens you'll find it here on Jamie's Phuket and probably on TV too!

Wat Thepnimit

Wat Thepnimit (or Thep Nimit) is about 3km outside Phuket town on the road to Chalong (Chao Fa Road) in Tambon (sub district) Wichit. You can't see the temple from the road, though the entrance is quite obvious. The temple is behind Thepnimit School. When I visited yesterday morning, kids were arriving for school...

Thepnimit School, Phuket

The temple was very quiet, as the local temples normally are. It's not a large temple, but as always I found some points of interest (if you like temples!). The main building was locked, as they often are - the local temples are not normally open 24-7.

Wat Thepnimit

Prayer bell

Normally the temples have a kind of bell tower. Here the bell was in something like a pagoda, brightly painted with pictures of lotus flowers.

I had read on another website a story about a new chedi built at Wat Thepnimit about 3 years ago to house what is described as "Buddha’s relics". It seems many local people helped to build this new golden Chedi which is about 8 meters high and very golden indeed!

Chedi at Wat Thepnimit

The Monks houses here looked very simple and there were cats and chickens running around all over the grounds.

Monks house at Wat Thepnimit

You find "holy trees" all over Thailand with cloth tied around them and Buddha images placed among the roots. Here's one at Thepnimit temple:

Buddha image at Wat Thepnimit

Some of those cats I mentioned decided I was worth following. Maybe they are used to someone bringing them food. One cat would not sit still for a photo. If I moved back a meter to take a picture, it followed...

Cat at Wat Thepnimit

Then found a friend...

Cats at Thep Nimit temple

More Phuket Temples

HotelTravel.com - A Phuket Success Story

A few months ago, I had an email from HotelTravel.com asking about advertising or setting up partner links with this here Phuket blog. Which was nice. HotelTravel.com is a big banana on the internet, and I had been wondering if they had any affiliate program, as it's a top quality website and always seems to pop up in Google searches... they must be doing well, I thought.

HotelTravel.com Phuket Hotels

The HotelTravel.com website is very easy to use, rates are low and there are live agents waiting to chat - and I mean there really ARE live agents.. I always thought that was a bit of a con, the live agent button, normally redirecting you to a call center in Bangalore or something, but I have seen the HotelTravel live agents! Rather than do everything by email, I printed out the partner agreement and visited their office which is right here in Phuket. Only when I saw the offices did I realise what a big company it is. This was impressive! It looked very modern and efficient, I was quite taken aback, as things in Thailand don't always look so sleek!

So I have busied myself adding some links to HotelTravel on my Recommended Phuket Hotel pages. You can also search for worldwide hotels using the HotelTravel.com search box at the top of this page. On the hotel pages on this blog you'll find several links to different hotel booking websites, making it easy to compare and find the best deals. Online is the way to book these days.

Now, what's this about a success story? Yes, HotelTravel.com is based in Phuket, and employs more than 200 people, but it's the story about how it started that makes us all wish we had our hands in a pie like this! There was an article in the Phuket Post newspaper recently about co founder Blair Speers and a genuine rags to riches story...

After a long holiday in Phuket, Mr Speers says "I arrived at the airport with 250 baht in my pocket. I bought a drink and then went to check in. There I realised that the airport tax was more than I had in my pocket. There was nothing for it. I had to beg or go back. I only just had enough to get a taxi back to the house!"

He started a school teaching English, but was cut short by the landlord suddenly tripling the rent on the building - and that's typical round here - the landlord sees you doing well and wants a slice of your fortune thank you.

He was then all but broke again, his girlfriend started doing laundry to make ends meet and his motorbike was repossessed. But you know, if you have faith, things turn around.. and he got a job with PlanetHoliday (now part of Agoda.com), but lost the job when he got sick. Bummer. Then, out of the blue an old friend (who had some money) got in touch, they chatted, and in March 2000, HotelTravel.com started with it's online Phuket Hotel Reservation service. The internet is a funny old thing. If you are just starting to get into it now, well, you might make a living. If you got in early enough, and worked hard, well done to you.

HotelTravel.com is now, as I say, a big cheese.

Poor me - I never had even a hotmail address until 1998! Spent all my time diving and backpacking, oh why didn't I start a hotel reservations website!?

Phuket Hotels by HotelTravel.com
Thailand Hotels at HotelTravel.com
Phuket Post - Story of HotelTravel.com