Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint - Wow!

There are lots of great views around the Phuket area (see Hills and Viewpoints for more). We have a mix of hills and ocean here (the name "Phuket" comes from the Malay word Bukit which means Hill), and if you climb a hill you can get some great sea views. The highest hills in Phuket are over 500m above sea level, but just a few kilometres from the sea. I do like finding new viewpoints, and earlier this year, I saw an amazing view on Instagram, posted by a Thai photographer. I could see that it was in Phang Nga, just north of Phuket island, and I recognised one of the small islands in the view, as I'd taken a photo of the same island in 2015 while exploring a corner of Phang Nga province that we'd never looked at before. So I figured the photo must be taken from a hill in that general location. Over the last few months I have seen many more photos taken from the same viewpoint, and some showed a sign saying "Samet Nangshe Resort". Really? A resort? We'd just been there 6 months earlier and I'd not seen any resorts under construction. Well, this had to be checked out!

We drove over the Sarasin bridge into Phang Nga province and took the same road as before towards the small village of Klong Kian and then started looking for the viewpoint. We saw several signs saying Samet Nangshe, so we quickly realised this place was being promoted a bit, at least locally because I'd not seen any photos taken by foreign tourists, only Thai people. I was expecting a tiny sign and a little dirt road which our (not 4WD) truck might struggle to climb, but we soon found what we came for and were surprised to find it looking quite busy. A large carpark off the road and quite a few little stalls selling drinks and snacks. And there were several cars already parked there. Looks like a local landowner has decided to make some cash from the view! You don't see any view from road level. A dirt trail, which is wide enough for a car (but we only saw people walking), snaked up the hillside. It was a hot afternoon so we bought some bottled water and then paid a 30 Baht "entry fee" (no extra charge for the foreign guy) at a bamboo kiosk at the bottom of the path. It only took a minute of walking uphill to see the view.

Samet Nangshe View

It was not a hard climb up, but not too easy either! It was a hot afternoon and the track is quite steep. Here's my wife and daughter stopping for a breather ...

Path up to Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

I do wonder if they might make a real road up here sometime. The dirt path is fine for walking and you can see there are steps carved into the dirt, though I wonder what this will look like in the rainy season! We moaned a bit about the heat and the steep path, but couldn't moan too much as we had companions for the walk, much smaller than us ...

Kids walking up to Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

(above) Kids walking up the path to Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. OK, if that little one can do it, let's walk! Actually it's only a 10 minute walk, probably less if you are very fit and healthy. Then you reach a small open area, with a stall selling drinks, and a view ...

View from "Level 1" at Samet Nangshe

Ah! So there is the "resort" sign I had seen on Instagram! And certainly no sign of any resort or hotel here. That is quite a view. Phang Nga Bay is full of small islands, we have done many trips in the area by boat, but it all looks different from up high. I would like to take a helicopter flight over this area, that would be amazing. My family were quite content to see the view from here, but ... just before reaching this viewpoint the path splits and a sign points the other way and says it's only 200m to a higher viewpoint. We could see this higher viewpoint from where we stood. I'm going for it! Anyone else? Just me? Sure it was a bit hot walking up, but nothing serious. So I left the family and headed up. Not too tough really, only another 10 minutes, but it was steep and I was breathing hard near the top - it was a very hot afternoon!

But, wow. Sometimes you do get these WOW moments. No matter what photos you have seen, or how much traveling you have done before. Wow!

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

View from the top .. and there is no way a single photo can capture the full view. I realised this already, as I had seen photos, but the reality is more. And this is the start. We'll come here again, because the view is looking east. And the photos I saw of the sunrise were spectacular. I want to see that sunrise. Phang Nga Bay is a beautiful place.

Samet Nangshe View Panorama

(above) And looking slightly more to the north across Phang Nga Bay. Wow. One more wow! The view here was fantastic. No way to show everything with one photo, and even though I had seen photos, the real life view was a fantastic thing to see. Nice to know that I can still be impressed by our local scenery. We will return! To get here in time for sunrise we'll have to leave home about 5am. I think an early morning will be very much worth the effort. Of course we said the same thing about Khao Kai Nui viewpoint (also in Phang Nga) that we visited 4 months ago. The Monks are not naturally early risers!

Related links on Jamie's Phuket

Phang Nga Bay Tour
Tours with Easy Day Thailand
Khao Kai Nui Viewpoint
Exploring Phang Nga Province
James Bond Island
Phang Nga Islands and Caves Tour

Samet Nangshe Location Map

Cheap Eats - Gomen Restaurant in Kathu

I think this blog has made it clear we're not a rich expat family dining at 5 star restaurants. Sure we can splash out a bit now and then, but in any case, I am really not into restaurants that serve food based on it's artistic impression - a few slender vegetables balanced on a fish fillet with dribbles and drips of sauce as decoration. No thanks. I want a plate of food. Good, simple, tasty food. And preferably our meal won't cost an arm and a leg. For a family of 4, it would be rare that we spend over 1,000 Baht on a Thai meal for all of us. Plenty of our favourite restaurants will cost us way less than that. A beer or 2 adds to the bill. Lunchtime I normally just have water with a meal. And many times we like to find small street-side restaurants for a meal. These kind of places are common all over Thailand. Sometimes a meal will cost as little as 40 Baht (rarely less these days). Basic meals with rice and a fried egg on top here in Phuket normally 60 - 80 Baht. And maybe add on 20 Baht for an iced tea or soda.

Gomen is one of these cheap streetside restaurants that we often frequent for lunch. Not far from our house, it's located just off the Kathu Waterfall road near the Phuket Wake Park. It's basically the ground floor of a house, a little family run restaurant for local residents in the area, plus people using the wake park know about it too! There's no sign in English outside - the sign says โกเม่น อาหารตามสั่ง, Gomen Ahan Tam Sang - that second part (Ahan Tam Sang - อาหารตามสั่ง) means "food made to order" and is commonly seen on small local restaurants. You also see small restaurants in Thailand called Khao Gaeng - ข้าวแกง - These have ready made food usually sitting there in pots or trays and you order rice with one or more toppings.

Gomen Restaurant (โกเม่น อาหารตามสั่ง)

(above) Gomen restaurant entrance

Gomen Restaurant (โกเม่น อาหารตามสั่ง)

(above) Gomen restaurant

If full the place might be able to seat 30 people with tables inside and out. I've not seen more than about 10 at one time, but this kind of place that opens every day 12 hours a day makes good business, once word gets around the neighbourhood that the food is cheap and tasty! You can order pretty much any basic Thai dish with rice, plus they specialise in Khao Kha Moo (ข้าวขาหมู - stewed pork leg with rice, a very common staple) and you can get noodle soup here (Kuaytiaw - ก๋วยเตี๋ยว).

Gomen Restaurant (โกเม่น อาหารตามสั่ง)

Gomen Restaurant (โกเม่น อาหารตามสั่ง)

(above) Seating at Gomen restaurant.

Of course there are plenty of restaurants like this in Phuket, I am not suggesting you need to take a taxi from wherever you stay and find this particular small restaurant. I am saying : if you want a good, inexpensive plate of real Thai food this is the kind of restaurant to look for and this one is now on my blog because it's close to our house and we eat here quite often.

A few of the dishes we have eaten here recently ...

Fried chicken with garlic on rice with a fried egg

(above) Chicken fried with garlic, with rice and fried egg

Fried crispy pork with kale

(above) Crispy pork fried with kale, with rice and fried egg (yeh, I do tend to ask for a fried egg (kai dow) on top evry time!)

Kao Lao - noodle soup with all the added bits, but no noodles.

(above) Kao Lao - this is like noodle soup, with all the other added ingredients, but no noodles.

If you happen to be exploring the Kathu area, visiting the waterfall, going wakeboarding ... this place is worth looking for! Other restaurants nearby include Maireab Zaap Ver and The Big Chicken. I wish you happy eating!

Gomen Restaurant - Location Map

Phuket Airport | Useful Information about Phuket Airport

Back in 1999 when I arrived in Phuket, the airport was considerably smaller and quieter than it is now. Although Phuket was already a very popular tourist destination, and had been steadily growing since the 1980s, the airport had way less flights and way less arrivals and departures compared to now. I'm not quite sure where the figures come from, but the Wikipedia page on Phuket Airport has lists of passenger movements and flight movements. Back in 1999, the total passenger volume was about 3 million. This had increased to nearly 5 million by 2004, but dropped back to just over 3 million in 2005 (due to the tsunami on 26th December 2004). But by 2007, passenger volume was up to well over 5 million and it's been increasing ever since. The 2017 figure was over 16 million, with over half from international flights.

The airport was overstretched and getting rather outdated with just 1 terminal until the new international terminal opened in September 2016. I flew to the UK that September, out of the old terminal and back into the new one. Wow, a huge difference! Suddenly Phuket airport looked modern! The only issue seemed to be (and this continues to be an occasional issue) the lack on enough staff at immigration. There can be long queues sometimes .. with millions of people entering Thailand through Phuket airport .. there can never be enough staff! But at least the airport is bigger and more modern now. With the opening of the international terminal, the domestic terminal had 18 months of renovations that finished in June 2018.

Phuket International Airport

(above) Inside the new International terminal at Phuket Airport

Phuket Airport Location

This is something that many people don't realise. I know many people arrive at the airport and expect to be a short taxi ride from their hotel. Customers heading to the dive shop where I worked at Karon beach were surprised that the taxi can take 90 minutes. Phuket is bigger than you may realise. The island has an area of over 500 square kilometers and the airport is way up in the north of Phuket. From the airport to the main beaches on the southwest coast is a ride of 40 - 50km and at busy times, traffic in Phuket can be a bit slow! Sure if you choose a hotel at Nai Yang or Mai Khao beaches you are way closer to the airport (but further from the main tourism / nightlife / shopping centers). The runway starts right by the south end of Mai Khao beach, which means you can watch planes taking off or landing from the beach :)

Plane Takeoff at Mai Khao Beach, Phuket

Getting To Your Accommodation

There are plenty of taxi options from the airport to hotels anywhere on the island. My suggestion - pre-book an airport transfer. So nice after a flight to see a taxi drive holding up your name and head straight to the hotel without having to worry about arranging anything on arrival. My friends at Easy Day provide a very good airport transfer service either from the airport or back to the airport. Their rate is around 1000 Baht one way or 1600 Baht for return transfer. That's a fixed rate for any hotel, so a very good deal for hotels further away from the airport! If you book a taxi on arrival from a desk at the arrivals area it might work out a few Baht cheaper to some areas in Phuket. BUT getting back to the airport is trickier. If you get a taxi from outside your hotel for sure the asking rate will be more than you paid to get to the hotel. So that deal offered by Easy Day is a good one!

Phuket Airport Taxi

(above) Phuket Taxi Service by Easy Day Thailand

There is a lower budget option - a shared minibus service. Normally about 200 Baht per person and will depart when full .. then take longer to get anywhere as you're dropping people off all over the place and I do hear these cheap options try to make extra money by dropping everyone at tour agencies along the way. If you are a single, low budget traveler, this may be the way for you.

OR how about hiring a car? Many major rental agencies have services at the airport (Budget, Hertz, Avis for example). You can rent a car for about 1000 Baht per day. Good if you want to explore larger areas and not just stay by the beach and take a few organised tours. I know the traffic can be a little nuts, but if you are an independent tourist, consider renting a car. Be sure to have an international license.

Phuket Airport - The Future

Something will need to be done here in Phuket .. the numbers can't keep rising forever, but already the airport is a bit too busy even with 2 terminals. There is no space for a second runway in between the sea and the hills, but .. plans are afoot to maybe build a second airport a little north of Phuket island in Phang Nga province - see news here. Now I think the idea is that this would serve Khao Lak .. hard to see how to get everyone on the right flights. If that new airport got built it could be a 2 and a half hour drive to the south of Phuket, so things would need to be managed very carefully. Let's see what happens ...

Flying in to Phuket

(above) Flying in to Phuket from the east looking north across Phang Nga Bay

Related Links

Phuket Flight Radar - Live Air Traffic
Phuket Airport - Flight Arrivals and Departures
Phuket Airport Transfer Booking
Hotels Near Phuket Airport

Phuket Airport Location Map