Travelfish Guide to Phuket
Phuket, pearl of the Andaman Sea, with golden sands, beautiful smiles, blue skies... Phuket is blessed with powdery, palm-fringed white beaches, sparkling island-dotted seas ... delightful turn-of-the-century Sino-Portuguese architecture.. la la la. You know it's the same kind of poetry on almost every website, the same cliches, some of which are true in a way, but certainly there is the idea that Phuket is indeed perfect. I have to say this: I love living here, Phuket is great, but Phuket is not perfect. I hear this many times: "I was surprised by... (insert comment here)". Somewhere out in the mass of websites and guidebooks is the truth. I hope my Phuket Blog paints a fair picture of Phuket, though as you may notice, I don't write about the bits I don't like! I keep the blog positive and prefer to talk about the things that I do like.
Back in August I did a quick review of the new Lonely Planet "Encounter" guide to Phuket, which is a nice little book, well researched, a good deal more up to date than your average LP guide book.. Lonely Planet "Shoestring" bearing backpackers walk past my office every other day looking for a guesthouse that closed 2 years ago. Sometimes they come in and ask and are AMAZED to find that the Bible is wrong!
So, I am happy to say that you can get a well researched, up to date, easy to use, recommended-by-Jamie guidebook for Phuket for just a few dollars. Well, "book" is the wrong word. Actually you can buy a 37 page pdf file by making payment online and the "guidebook" can then be downloaded. And it's good. It knows things I don't know, it has reviews of guesthouses and hotels, it says this about Patong: "a seething mass of tourism, squalor and unrestricted development, a mess of hotels, bars, restaurants, travel agents, massage parlours, tailor shops and touts. Patong is everything that tourism in Thailand should not have become." Amen.
You see? This guidebook does not pull any punches! Compare to the No.1 website about Phuket, which says "With its wide variety of activities and nightlife, Patong is an ideal place to party and play.".. although admittedly Phuket.com does try to hint that Patong is not perfect... "the steaming hot streets, neon lights and chaotic atmosphere of Patong can be overwhelming for the new arrival".. yeh, still overwhelms me 9 years later!
So, where can you get this Phuket guidebook? The website to look for is Travelfish.org, which has been silently growing into an internet giant. If you are looking for SE Asia information, Travelfish is a very good starting place. And the range of guidebooks includes Phuket, Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Koh Samet, and various guides in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Travelfish is certainly backpacker oriented - the accommodation recommendations are for lower budget travelers (Note to Travelfish - you should include Pineapple Guesthouse in Phuket!). The Phuket guide includes some general info, local transport info (local buses, not taxis - this is for backpackers!), and extended info on different beach areas and on Phuket Town. The information is tightly packed, no wasted space, ready to print. It may not suit the luxury traveler, but on the other hand, if you are looking for a very nice hotel and want to explore some of the real Phuket, this Travelfish Phuket guide is certainly worth a look!
Thanks to Stuart of Travelfish for sending me a copy to read. It's good, I say again. The price of a few beers for a guidebook? If you're coming to Phuket, you should head to Travelfish and download the Phuket guide.
• Travelfish PDF Travel Guides - Get them here!