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Phuket Thailand and the Amari Coral Beach Resort Review
Why a vacation to Phuket?
Phuket pronounced "Poo-ket" is just one of the many popular island destinations in the southeast asian kingdom of Thailand. Aptly named "Pearl of the Andaman Sea" Phuket does not disappoint as millions of people a year visit from all walks of life such as backpackers, vacationers, honeymooners and recuperating medical tourists descend up the beaches of this beautiful island.
The island paradise of Phuket can be reached by a direct flight from the capital city of Bangkok within a few hours. Phuket does have an international airport but most travelers arrive in Bangkok first where it is the hub of their vacation in Thailand
There are multiple alternatives to reach Phuket such as by car and Thailand's state owned rail ways. I've never taken any other mode of transport except for flying so I really can't comment on these other modes of transport. I just know it takes longer. Much longer, at least 12 hours by train.
Flying is budget friendly and sometimes you can find some great deals through any local budget airline. I always use a company called Air Asia which charges about $200 US round-trip.
For some reason Phuket's international airport seems so dreary to me. Not that airports are cheerful places to begin with. I don't know. I can't explain the feeling or put my finger on it. Even though I've been to Phuket more times than I can count it always feels like the first. But once you step outside the airport's doors you feel like you just opened the doors to heaven itself after years of purgatory.
Out of the Airport and Onwards to Paradise
Finding a cab outside is easy. There's an official desk with a taxi sign with a bunch of red and yellow taxis lined up. I noticed that they move the desk around for some reason but don't worry it's still easy to find. Do not take a taxi from guys offering. They're most likely up to no good. A trip should cost a total of 500 THB or roughly $15 US to take you to the hotels near Patong Beach. A 100 THB from airport surcharge is automatically added into the fare. Not a bad price overall since the trip will take 1 hour. And if you have more than one passenger it's a pretty sweet deal.
Tipping is optional as elsewhere in Thailand but be nice, it'll be good for your karma. Giving a $1 US to the driver won't hurt your pocket book.
Phuket's landscape is just beautiful as evident on the journey to Patong Beach which is the epicenter of all the action in Phuket. Though every year I notice that more and more of the landscape has been over run by condo developers and shopping centers. A real tragedy I must add.
Where to get the best room rates at Amari Coral Beach?
- Amari Coral Beach
If you want to book a room at this resort then I would like to recommend Agoda. They are a hotel reservation company that specializes in hotel bookings in Thailand. I use them all the time and I've never had any problems.
View outside window
Amari Coral Resort in Phuket
The hotel I stayed in is called the Amari Coral Resort. I stay there every year except the 2004 tsunami tragedy. The entire property is situated on a hill so the resort was spared any major damage. The Amari name is a very well known hotel operation in Asia and reknowned for their service and quality of their hotel properties
The front reception has the most beautiful I lobby I have ever scene. Many hotels use pictures, paintings and flowers to create a warm welcoming atmosphere. For the Amari Coral Resort the blue ocean, palm trees and gentle breeze that flows through the lobby is what gives this resort its unique charm. The architecture is simply amazing with a mixture of modern touches as well as traditional Thai accents. Oddly enough, or a modern resort the elevator needs a renovation (might be a new one by now. It didn't even have air conditioning. Luckily its just a short ride to all of the rooms below.
The receptionist speak english as well as other european languages and very friendly. I usually go to Phuket during the slow season which is from April to September. I think that's why I got upgraded to a deluxe room most of the time. So there's a good tip for you.
Now getting to most of the rooms will require a bit of walk. But don't worry there are ample supply of bell hops to help you with your bags. You'll also get a good sense of the property. Every room regardless of class have views of the beach and ocean. You'll notice that you are right rather high up but not too far is the Amari's private beach with a nice path to reach it. You'll also pass by two gorgeous pools.
The pools are great but the beach is magnificient. However, this part of the beach is a little more rocky, so its not suitable for swimming laps. But it is wonderful snorkeling because the water is absolutely crystal clear and the rocks and coral are where the beautiful fish make their homes. I wanted to take pictures, but my digital camera is not waterproof. But take my word for it.
You'll also pass by a few of the restaurants as well. There's a popular italian restaurant called La Gritta that has some very good reviews. To be honest I've never eaten in the restuarants. I only ate the breakfast that was included in the price of my room rate. They have some great varieties to choose from for breakfast. Don't miss it.
I mostly eat outside of the hotel. You can get a better feel for the local culture this way. I also believe in supporting local Thai restaurants owned by the locals and I stay away from international fast food chains. Plus people watching by Patong beach is just plain fun.
Patong Area in Phuket Island
Tuk Tuk ride down from Amari Coral Resort
Going Out To Town
Getting to Patong and its beach is very easy. For me at least. It's only about a 5 minute walk down a hill. But if you don't want to sweat then a tuk tuk is available for 200 THB about $6.00 US. Kind of pricey by Thailand standards but if you're sharing with a few people then its reasonable. I was alone so the walk was fine for me. Getting back to the Amari Coral with a tuk tuk should be round 150 THB to 200THB. I once even bartered down to 100THB, so give it a try.
The tuk tuk driver will take you north of Thaweewang Road. To your left you'll see Patong Beach. To your right you will see a bunch of hotels and a large variety of shops such as souvenir, restaurants, laundry, clubs, bars and spas and massage.
For a good reference point, the majority of the action happens between Thaweewang Road and Rat U Thit Song Roi Pee Road (Rat U Thit for short). Street signs are new and clearly marked in english. So if you are afraid to wander around too much, then staying between these two major roads will ensure you won't get lost. Not that its easy to get lost in Patong since it is quite small.
The epicenter of the nightlife action in Patong is concentrated in Bangla Road, which conveniently starts at Thaweewang Road and ends at Rat U Thit Road (though there are other nightife venues in the surrounding area). You can't miss this his half kilometer stretch of road because it is jam packed with tourist. When I mean jam packed I am not exaggerating. There are literally bars stacked on top of bars, everywhere you turn or throw a rock there's a bar.
Walking down Bangla Road you will see a lot of businesses geared towards male clientele. Almost every single one of the bars are basically prostitution fronts where you can hire a Thai lady for short time or long time. Now some of these bars have woman dancing on stages and some come up to you and some wait for you to come to them.
If you're a female don't let these types of bars put you off. Woman from all over the world are also seen in such bars just to have fun and party. I've personally met many woman who come from Asia and all over Europe in groups just to relax and have a good time.
That's the great thing about Patong in Phuket. You can see a great mixture of people from all over the world from young to old. When I first visited to Phuket I didn't expect to see so many senior couples who curiously watch the go go dancers strut their stuff. Everything is all in good fun.
You see even the implied sex for sale you see evident all around the bars of Bangla Road are all kept behind doors. So you won't see live sex acts inside these bars.
Remember, prostitution is technically illegal and so is public ludeness. But it happens as the laws are never enforced. Bars and establishments don't want to have to deal with the local police in such cases so owners and management will comply.
A Walk Through Bangla Road
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Beach Tours and Outer Island Excursions
If I only mentioned Bangla road as the only source of entertainment on Phuket then I've really committed a serious injustice to the island's most beautiful beaches. Phuket's outer islands in the Andaman Sea have been consistently rated in major magazine publications for it's beauty. They are rated for the best recreational diving, snorkeling and all around water sports.
Originally it was the backpackers who came to Phuket's unspoiled beaches for a vacation paradise suitable for Hollywood celebrities. Soon word about Phuket's tranquil beaches and virgin sand spread like wildfire and first class hotels and services sprang up virtually overnight.
Phuket's main beach is called Patong beach. This is Phukets longest stretch of beach and can get very crowded in high season. The water quality of Patong Beach is not as good as the outer lying islands that can be reached by tour boat.
Tour agencies offer you a choice of many different itinerary options that usually include a lunch in the middle of the day. Excursions usually last for half a day. Do not book your tours in Bangkok. Book them when you get to Phuket. You'll save around $20 US or more. Tour agencies are easy to find in Patong, they're usually mixed in with travel agencies so you'll see signs all over.
Once you make your tour reservation the agency will pick you up along with other guest from other hotels and drop you off at a central meeting point near the speed boats that take you to the islands of your choice. You can also rent snorkeling kits if you don't have a set for about 200 THB ($6 US). Once everyone has arrived you meet your guide and off to your speed boats.
One of the most famous island stops is Phang Nga Bay, made famous by a James Bond flick called "The man with the golden gun" after they filmed there.
Then they'll take you to a popular snorkeling spot where you can feed a wide variety of tropical fishes that swarm around you with bread. Sometimes they'll even nip you if they mistake your swim trunks as a piece of bread.
The lunch included is not that great in my opinion. It's a buffet style meal with rice and a couple of classic Thai dishes followed by fruit. Water is free and offered on the boat while soda pops and beer you have to pay. The prices are reasonable.
A trip itinerary usually includes a snorkeling or kayak trip and maybe even both. Prices range from 1500THB to 2500 THB. There are extended boat trips that take up to 2 days but I've never tried that out before.
End of tour
Well this is the last stop. If you are planning a trip to Phuket then I hope I've helped you out. Obviously there are a lot more places to visit in Phuket as well as a whole lot more beaches to swim and sun in. So I will be creating more hubs in the future with more information.
Better yet go out and explore on your own. Learn a little bit of the language no matter how silly you think you'll sound. The locals will treat you better just for the effort. I always believe strongly that when you do leave home (I mean far away) you should consider yourself a traveler, not a tourist.
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- Amari Coral Beach Resort in Phuket Thailand
You can check current rates and read updated guest comments by following the link above.