We flew from Bangkok to Phuket on a Thai Airways afternoon flight—a huge jetliner suitable for cross-Atlantic flights with maxed out air conditioning. Everyone one on the flight was a tourist like us—not necessarily a good sign, but not unexpected.
When we arrived in Phuket, we took a metered taxi to our hotel. The Tavorn Beach Village resort was beautiful and peaceful, with a private beach, huge buffet breakfast, and gorgeous swimming pool. We were happy to have such a lovely place for our first Thailand beach experience.
There were only a couple of problems: first, the drinks and food were all resort prices (= very expensive!), and second, we were relatively cut off from everything else. To get to the nearby Kamala Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand with more moderately-priced restaurants, we were forced to take a taxi to and from the hotel for a flat fee of 300 Baht. This seemed quite steep, considering we’d paid about 60 Baht in Bangkok for the same distance. Unfortunately, when we tried to bargain with the taxi drivers and tuk-tuks to return to our hotel, they refused to go any lower than 300. I found this extremely frustrating.
Cost aside, we enjoyed lazing around the hotel pool and participating in their happy hour "buy one, get one free" deals. On our second day, we also took a free hour-long Thai class. Learning how to say "hello" and "thank you" in the local language is always helpful!
One of the amusing quirks of the resort is the bunnies hopping freely around the island. We ate our dinner surrounded by the cute little guys, which felt like being in the middle of a Disney cartoon. There is also a mini petting zoo with more rabbits and a couple of hundred-year-old tortoises, which are very amusing to watch.
Nearby Kamala Beach had a long, lovely stretch of sand. We had lunch and dinner there, and I treated myself to a pedicure, which was administered by two ladies while I laid down on a matt (new experience for me!).
For the rest of the day on Kamala Beach we rented some mats and an umbrella and spent the afternoon gazing at the sea, reading, and dipping in the ocean. Around sunset we positioned ourselves strategically at a bar where we could have a cocktail and watch the sky turn pink, as we chatted with a German journalist who was writing a food article about Thailand. Finally, we went back for an early night to catch the morning ferry to our next stop, Railay Beach.
In summary: a few tips
- Although the Tavorn Beach resort was beautiful and comfortable, I don’t think I’d stay here again as it felt difficult to get anywhere else and I don’t like being dependent on a hotel for all of my food. I can see that it would be great for families or couples who want to just stay in one place for a while and decompress—as long as you aren't bothered by the resort prices.
- Kamala Beach seemed to have plenty of smaller, more laid-back hotels on the beach with rooms available. If I were to go back to Phuket, I’d probably try one of those.
- Another option is to avoid the touristy-ness of Phuket altogether and fly from Bangkok to Krabi - prices are quite reasonable and from there you can still take ferry boats to the Andaman islands.
- About flying, keep in mind that Air Asia doesn't include any checked luggage, but Thai Airways provides free checked baggage and a nice sandwich meal, which is a good deal for an inexpensive flight.
Click here to read Part 2: Railay Beach.