Following our exciting and food-filled Bangkok travels last October, my husband and I flew to Phuket to spend three nights at Amari Phuket. It was a short and packed trip, where we gained a good feel for this much-loved island. Here’s my experience, and a short 3-day sightseeing guide of Phuket.
Phuket is a hugely popular holiday destination. Many tourists arrive from Europe and Australia (particularly over Christmas) but also from neighbouring countries Malaysia and Singapore, generally staying for a minimum of one or two weeks. Amari Phuket is one of the most-loved resorts on Patong Beach and a great option for quality accommodation, food and service.
Phuket is a great base to explore Thailand’s surrounding islands. You can make day trips out to smaller islands, like Phang Nga Bay,Koh Hae and Phi Phi Island; I visited it many years ago and absolutely loved it. The area heavily affected by the 2004 Tsunami, though Phuket has now fully recovered from the tragic event and tourism is booming.
One thing to note (you will notice it from my photos): the weather in Phuket in October is often overcast and rainy, though still very hot. We found it pleasant and a few isolated rainfalls didn’t impact our holiday. It’s not the best time of year for scuba diving or snorkelling because of the season’s rough waters.
Your best option for getting around the city is either car or by scooter (which you can rent for less than $10 per day), as taxis in the area are quite pricey. As a whole, I found that prices in Patong and Phuket were about the same as those in Bangkok – quite high for South East Asia. I quickly noticed that Thailand is not the same cheap holiday option that it used to be twenty years ago!
Phuket is quite a large island and Amari Phuket is located upon a hill that overlooks the famous Patong Beach. It takes just ten minutes to walk into Patong, but it’s far enough to feel like you are in your own private paradise, away from the noise and crowds of the town.
The hotel is approximately a one-hour trip from the airport and around 45 minutes from Phuket Old Town.
Whilst Phuket wouldn’t have been be my first choice of holiday destination, I very much enjoyed my stay at Amari Phuket. The staff at the resort was extremely friendly and helpful. Amari is a great hotel for families or couples in their 30’s and upwards, who are after a relaxing and comfortable stay. It might fall at too high a price bracket for younger travellers who might prefer hotels in Patong beach town, where all the bars and nightclubs are.
Amari Phuket Club Suites
We took a morning flight from Bangkok and arrived at Amari Phuket in time for lunch. The hotel lobby immediately impressed me; it’s very spacious and beautiful, quite recently renovated. Towards the end of the lobby is a semi-open terrace overlooking the bay and the Samutr Bar, perfect spot for a night cap.
The hotel offers many ocean-view room options to suit all budgets and group sizes. We checked into one of the hotel’s Club suites, a one-bedroom suite club ocean view balcony.
The club suites are all perched up on the hill, so the best way to get your room is by buggy car. These leave continuously from the hotel lobby, with only a couple of minutes wait between each. You can also walk up to the Clubhouse, which would take about ten minutes at most. It’s a lovely walk down, but a little steep and hot when climbing up in the middle of the day!
Club suites guests not only have the benefit of staying in mini-villas with stunning ocean views, but they also get access to the Clubhouse, which has enough facilities to keep anyone occupied: an infinity pool, a small gym and café restaurant open all day.
The Clubhouse terrace is where we had breakfast twice during our holiday. There is a small buffet option at the Clubhouse, or alternatively guests can order à la carte dishes such as Eggs Royale or French Toast.
The Clubhouse also offers Happy Hour with free cocktails and canapés everyday between 17:30-18:30pm and we happily partook two evenings in a row. Despite the overcast sky, the sunset was beautiful and the complimentary piña colada a nice perk!
Ok, it’s obvious that I was quite smitten with the Clubhouse, but let’s talk about the rest of Amari Phuket. There are two restaurants: Rim Talay buffet & Thai restaurant located right next to the beach and La Gritta Italian restaurant, where we enjoyed authentic Italian cuisine cooked by a Roman-born chef. There were stunning views, a romantic atmosphere, good pasta and a great wine selection. This restaurant was voted as a Trip Advisor Top Traveller’s Choice last year, and I can see why.
The Voyager Lounge is an area where guests who arrive or leave before check in/out times can rest and use bathroom (even shower) facilities. I thought this was a nice touch, it’s a great option for guests arriving after a long haul overnight flight, or those who are keen to make the most of the hotel on their last day but still wish to shower before heading to the airport.
There is a FIIT centre, where complimentary gym and yoga classes are offered daily, and The Breeze Spa. Even though I didn’t try it, I can tell the location is stunning location (all separate treatment rooms sit perched on the hill and face out to the ocean!).
The coral beach at Amari Phuket is a tiny, but beautiful bay. Due to low tides, the beach can only be used a few hours per day, but when the tide is high it is the best spot to be on the resort! At the far end of the beach, there’s a jetty pier where guests can snorkel during dry season.
Cooking Class at Amari Phuket
During our stay at Amari Phuket, were invited to join a private Thai cooking class with Rim Talay’s Executive Sous Chef. It was a true pleasure to cook and discover the secrets of authentic Thai cuisine!
Learning a little bit more about the history of Thai cuisine, we saw the influences from neighbouring countries’ culinary traditions. These have been developed and fused in Thailand over time, creating this truly original cuisine. Thai cooking often possesses a unique sweet-sour signature, which really is quite incomparable to Western dishes.
One of our favourite dishes from the class was Tom Yum Goong (Thai prawn soup). Neither me nor my husband could believe how easy it was to make it (with the help of the chef and all the best authentic ingredients). I’ve been hoping ever since that Sandy will cook it for me one day!
For dinner we returned to Rim Talay restaurant to experience the Seafood Night. Offered every Wednesday at Amari Phuket, this is a grand buffet menu (charged extra, rather than included in the B&B rate) that offered everything from seafood barbecue to sushi, appetisers, noodle stir-fries, desserts and ice creams.
Phuket Old Town Exploring
While Patong Beach is extremely touristy and lacks any quaint charm, Phuket Old Town more than makes up for it. It’s very pretty, lined with colourful historic buildings and old Thai-Chinese cafes.
We were surprised to discover how the town’s history is interweaved with Chinese traders emigrating from Penang in Malaysia. It really is a fascinating history, which we learnt more about on our visit to the Thai Hua Museum.
Next, we paid a visit to the Chinpracha house, which is a Thai-Chinese home now turned into an open house museum. It’s a short visit as there isn’t a tour guide on site, but I love peeking at the old furniture, kitchen tools and pictures on the walls.
Following this visit, we headed to Dibuk road and explored more of old town ad Talang road, a place filled with lovely cafes, restaurants and shops. We stopped at RUSH coffee shop for a flat, and with a title of the best speciality coffee roasters in Phuket, we weren’t disappointed. This café is a great working space for digital nomads.
With a stop at Café’in, we had to try the local dessert ‘Ow-ew,’ which is a locally made jelly in honey syrup. Overly sweet, but also very refreshing in the steaming heat of the day.
Phuket Island Leisurely Exploring
We started day three with a one-hour yoga class on the terrace of the Voyager Lounge. I’m a big fan of hotels that offer complimentary gym classes, especially morning yoga sessions, which can really invigorate you for the day ahead.
Following the class, we enjoyed the buffet breakfast at Rim Talay. It was a decadent full spread, with continental food, egg stations, fresh fruit and juice, Thai and Asian food, hot noodles, dim sum and even a pancake station.
We then opted to explore a bit of the island on our own. We hired a scooter (less than $10 for the day) and drove to Kata beach to spend half the day swimming and reading in the sun.
Kata is a quiet, laidback beach. It doesn’t contain any of the food chains that you’ll find in Patong. On the way back to Amari Phuket we stopped at one of the many, many, Thai massage parlours and chose a one-hour traditional Thai massage (for around 300 baht).
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
On our last evening, we returned to Phuket old town to visit the Jui Tui Shrine and take part in the Vegetarian Festival celebrations. It was a real treat to observe how the locals paid respect to the Gods. I particularly enjoyed our visit to the Chinese shrine with Warinrat Watcharapirak from Amari’s PR team, who showed us how to perform these traditional prayers with incense sticks.
This important festival is held annually for around ten days every year and celebrated by the Thai-Chinese community (who, in Thailand, are primarily located in Phuket). The festival was created after a wandering Chinese opera group came to Phuket and fell ill with malaria. To heal, they followed a strict vegetarian diet and prayed to the Nine Emperor Gods. Miraculously, they fully recovered. Created to celebrate the Gods and health, the festival grew from there. Now, thousands come from across Asia to abstain from meat and stimulants during this time, to obtain good health and peace of mind!
Eating local food in Phuket old town during Vegetarian Festival is a must, as this is where the largest night market with food stalls in Phuket is held.
Because this festival involves a commitment to cleanliness and purity, one thing worth noting is that when attending, people must wear white clothes (typically Thai cotton pants and a t-shirt). It’s important that tourists respect this tradition as well.
After a taste of the street food, we headed to restaurant Tu Kab Khao for a delicious dinner of Thai-Chinese dishes such as: Yum Phak Kood (a paco fern with prawn spicy salad dish), Bai Liang Phad Khai (stir-fried Baegu leaves, served with eggs), Kang Liang Goong Sod (Thai mixed vegetable soup with prawns), Nam Prink Pak Ruam (a chilli dip with vegetables) and Mhee Hoon Kang Pu (crabmeat curry with rice noodles).
And so, that’s how we ended my three-day visit to Phuket! If you are a first time visitor to the Thai island, I am sure these recommendations will make a great start for your trip.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Amari Phuket. All opinions are my own.