A Quick Tour of Phuket and Khao Lak
Whilst I had revisited Bangkok and the North of Thailand several times in the last few years, this was my first return to the resorts in the south of the country for over 10 years. In some cases, it was seeing something totally new to me. In others, I was content remembering how things were and listening to David’s reports on the new developments.
Despite the rain, the beach and the sea looked inviting and the quality of pavilions and villas were outstanding, along with the restaurant choices and the excellent children’s club. Not to miss Uncle Nun and Aunt Yai at Ta Khai, the local Thai couple whose homestyle recipes serve as the basis for this acclaimed restaurant’s menu.
If you are looking for an upscale hideaway, this is the place for you.
After that, it was back up north, close to the airport, to see Trisara. I had seen Trisara many years ago and it was just as impressive as the first time. In fact, probably even better, despite the twilight. Super views and spacious villa style accommodation. Ideal for couples or families with older children.
One thing I noticed about Phuket this time is how lush the island remains. Yes, there are pockets of (over) development but much of the island is green, hilly and rural. It is a pity that areas like Patong dominate the publicity for the island, it is so much better than that.
I finished the day up in Khao Lak at my base, the Devasom Resort. Since it is the green season, the government has decided to expand the road network with two lanes on each side so the journey time took a bit longer than the 60 minutes. Come later in the year, this will be all finished and the transfer will be even less.
Extremely personable – the owner even stayed to host us for dinner and to explain their plans. Always a pleasure to view resorts where you know the owners and the management as they are so obliging with the little extras for our clients.
Next was a day of relaxing at the resort. My room faced the lagoon and with a partial view of the sea (second grade up) but there are several different room options, all of which I liked and would be more than suitable for our differing clients, depending on their requirements, be it romance or family.
This is a quiet location to chill out at the beach or pool and enjoy the spa. Or if you are more active, the resort offered kayaks for exploring the lagoon and bicycles for visiting local villages.
Khao Lak village is around 10 minutes away and has expanded since my last visit. It is now three small villages, running into each other. So this is also another alternative for eating out or to buy some souvenirs.
Later that night I had dinner at the Sarojin hotel. I met the owners when the hotel was still in its infancy and since then it has been a favourite of both David and I. It still has that wonderful quiet elegance. There have been some changes – more vegetation, new refurbished brand new impressive Jacuzzi Pool Residences located on the upper floor and the newly designed beach restaurant with its impeccable service and Thai food. It does not get better than this.
You can see why The Sarojin has so many repeat clients. The attention to detail, the subtle enhancements, yet still retaining all of the original charms.
I was up early the next day and the sun had finally come out. The sea was much bluer and calmer. I took a quick walk around Devasom once more, soaking in the details finally revealed with the sun.
Thus ended my brief visit to Phuket and Khao Lak. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and remained comfortable throughout, despite the rain and delays. This is the rainy season (also called Green season, or in some cases Monsoon season which is way too dramatic). Yes, you do get heavy showers, but these usually clear quickly. At Chic we tend to describe this season as Red Flag, as the beaches do have some erosion and higher waves.
My brief trip has rekindled my affection for the area, especially Khao Lak. There are now so many hotel options there, but I was so impressed with both Devasom and Sarojin, very different appeal and price point but I can think of many clients who would be so happy at either.
I have positively reassessed my opinion of Phuket as well. Yes, the Patong area is an acquired taste, as it is proudly brash and rather tacky kind of place I might find enjoyable for an occasional night out, but not to stay. And there are also a number of resort estates, with several hotels and restaurants. But if you take the time to travel around, the island is really attractive. Much greener and rural than I remembered. Plus, due to increased tourism, the island has had to develop more infrastructure, such as airport expansion, with many more flights now going straight into Phuket, rather than having to travel via Bangkok.
There are so many things I really enjoy about Thailand. The people who are so gracious and obliging, the constant innovation, and of course the food. I grew up on a small Caribbean Island (Dominica) so I am familiar with tropical fruits and vegetables. Sadly, most of these seem to have disappeared from the Caribbean or are so difficult to find. In Thailand, the unique becomes everyday food wise. Just walking around the markets is incredible, so much choice. My favourites fruits are probably Mangosteen, Lychee and Rambutan, but you also see Dragon fruit, Jackfruit and Rose Apples in abundance.
Plus of course coconuts and bananas (much smaller and sweeter than in the Caribbean). I have not mentioned Durian, which is regarded by many in the region as the king of fruits, but to me, the pungent lingering after-smell is rather off-putting. And it’s mainly good healthy natural stuff. The Thai’s seem to be constantly eating but the majority are stick thin by comparison to those of us in the west.
In my next review, we will be exploring the wonderful Elephant Hills, then onto Krabi and Koh Lanta before ending in Bangkok. I first wanted to highlight a few amazing experiences we all have when holidaying in Thailand. A truly magical place.