Travelfish contributions by Batfish
The first number represents the total number of published reviews by Batfish. The bracketed figure is submitted reviews -- reviews may not be published for editorial reasons or may be removed because the property concerned has been delisted from Travelfish or has closed.
Life according to Batfish
Living in Phuket since 1999
Ooh! India, USA, Canda, Mexico, Central America, South America, half of Europe, about 15 countries in Africa from Morocco to South Africa...
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Bang Pat Fishing Village
Published 12:23 am, 22 Jul 2015
We do like taking drives off Phuket island, over the Sarasin Bridge and into Phang Nga Province. Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand, but Phang Nga is 8 times bigger than Phuket, so we are still finding new places to visit not far from home. Phang Nga has plenty of well known places like Khao Lak, James Bond Island, Lampi Waterfall and much more, but recently we've been exploring some lesser known areas. A few weeks ago we took a drive around the Khlong Kian area which is itself about half the size of Phuket and has some lovely views. To the east of Phang Nga Town, off the main road to Krabi (a road we have driven many times) you find Bang Pat. I first heard of Bang Pat about 4 years ago when I saw it on a Thai TV channel, and have always intended to stop there, but somehow never got around to it until last weekend.
I knew that Bang Pat has some restaurants, but on this little trip we decided to eat first, and then go check out Bang Pat. We had lunch at Dairy Hut Seafood, a very nice place in between Phang Nga town and Bang Pat. We've eaten there several times before. The turning off the main road to Bang Pat is about another 6km past Dairy Hut on the road towards Krabi. The turn off is not too well signposted, but it does say "Bang Pat" in English, just not in huge letters! Then there's a 10km drive on a small road through little villages, passing lots of agricultural land and lots of shrimp farms as the surrounding area becomes mostly mangroves. At the end of the road - a car park, toilets and some stalls selling food. I was surprised to see so many cars! Can this place be so popular. It was hard to find a parking spot, must have been at least 50 cars there. Then I realised it was the first weekend after the end of Ramadan. And Phang Nga is a largely Muslim area, so Bang Pat was full of local families out for a big celebration meal. I would imagine any other time it's not so busy. I was a grey day also, with some light drizzle in the air, not ideal for photos - this means I think we have to go again to get more photos and try a restaurant when it's less crowded.
Bang Pat is a fishing village built in the mangroves just at the entrance to the open sea (part of Phang Nga Bay). Seafood is the business around here - fish, prawns, crabs, shellfish. The village is on the other side of a wide mangrove creek, so you walk over a bridge, about 150 meters over to the village.
(above) Bridge over to Bang Pat - it was quite busy when we visited!
(above) View of Bang Pat village from the bridge
It's not a big village, smaller than the well known Panyee Village in Phang Nga Bay. My first thought was that it looks a little run down, although I think the grey skies did not help! We turned left off the bridge and I went off exploring the side streets.
(above) Bang Pat street scenes
We found several houses with caged eagles (or brahminy kites?) outside. See photo below. Not sure if these are being kept as pets or if they are somehow used to help with fishing. If anyone reads this who knows the answer, please do let me know!
The restaurants were very busy on this day. I think on a sunnier day, could be a very nice place to have a seafood lunch. I counted about 6 different restaurants and also saw one sign for a homestay. An article in a local news site from 4 years ago says there were 10 homestays. I think maybe that was a little ambitious, but the restaurants at least seem to be running and fresh seafood is certainly guaranteed.
(above) Restaurant at Bang Pat
(above) And all the family enjoying some exploration :)
OK, there's not a huge amount to see here at Bang Pat - it's not a day trip on it's own, but combined with a few other nearby things it's worth a visit. It would be an option for a lunch before renting a longtail boat out into Phang Nga Bay for example. We just wandered around for about 40 minutes and then with more rain coming in, it was time to drove home. From our house about 90 minutes to Bang Pat (we live near Phuket Town). Just about anywhere in Phang Nga is OK for a day trip or even a half day. On this day we did not leave home until nearly midday. And as I said, I think we need to return to try some food and see the place on a sunnier day!
(above) Heading back over the bridge - look out for mopeds! It was a popular day for local Muslims to visit. Looks like people were having a fun day out!
Bang Pat - Location Map
A Tour of South Phuket
Published 8:39 am, 12 Jul 2015
We had some new visitors to Phuket earlier this year. My aunt and uncle were in Thailand for the first time, staying 7 nights at the Centara Karon Resort which is a few minutes walk from the sands of Karon beach and a couple of kilometers up the road from my office at Sunrise Divers. We had a couple of evenings with them visiting a few favourite places like Kopitiam and the After Beach Bar, but since it's high season I could only take one full day off that week. On Sunday 11th January I drove to pick them up from the hotel for a little tour around some of the sights in the south of Phuket before heading to the beach in the late afternoon for my son's birthday party. And, as it happens, it was also my aunt's birthday. All photos on this page were taken on the same day.
This little tour covers a lot of beautiful scenery and is only a small corner of southwest Phuket. It was one of the first parts of Phuket that I explored when not diving. It was a very quiet area then, but even now the roads are not so busy and it's a nice area for a ride on a moped with lots of possible stopping off points. It was nice to be a "tour guide" for half a day and this trip with my relatives helped me remember that Phuket really is a nice place to live! We started from Karon to the south, past Kata beach and then on the hilly, winding road along the coast to Naiharn beach.
First stop was the well known Karon Viewpoint (also called "the Phuket Viewpoint" or Kata Viewpoint). And as you can see the weather was perfect, just what you'd hope for in January. Always a great view from here looking north along the Phuket coastline. There are many great coastal views in Phuket.
From the viewpoint you drop down towards Naiharn. This area has got so much more developed in the last 10 years, lots of restaurants, houses, a few resorts, and there are banks and local businesses. When the road gets to Naiharn Lagoon, there is an option to turn right and stop at Naiharn Beach, maybe visit Naiharn temple or follow the coast round to the very small Ao Sane beach. But we headed on south. The road here is narrow and hilly. You climb from beach level up to about 50 meters above sea level where there's a wind turbine, a great view and not a lot of parking space! This is one of my favourite views in Phuket.
(above) View from the wind turbine viewpoint just south of Naiharn beach (read more about this viewpoint on the blog here). The beach on the left side of the photo is Ya Nui Beach just to the south .. and after taking in this great view on a great day, we stopped at Ya Nui for a quick drink. It's always been a fairly quiet place. The one beach-side restaurant has now gone, but there are a few places to eat and drink by the road - and the road is very small and quiet. Ya Nui has a few nearby bungalows, and other people come by car or moped for a relaxing beach day without too many crowds. And this was in peak season ...
Just a few minutes drive from Ya Nui is Phromthep Cape, which is the "end of Phuket", the most south-westerly point on the island and a very popular stop for sunset views. I actually think there are better places for a sunset, but that's another story! Certainly the views are lovely. I was disappointed this time, because the lighthouse was closed (normally you can climb up for a better view). A hike to the very end of the cape was not an option with a couple of "not so young" folks, but I do recommend it.
I did consider lunch at the Cape Phromthep restaurant. We have eaten there only once before and I do want to try it again sometime, but preferably at sunset. On this occasion, I thought we could try a place at Rawai beach, just another 5 minute drive. Rawai beach is changing too - more modern looking buildings on the beach road and a resort under construction. I chose a place called Rimlay for lunch towards the jetty end of Rawai beach (east end), next door to the well known Nikita's restaurant. Rimlay has some tables in the shade right by the sea, looked ideal and I'd say my aunt and uncle thought so too!
I had a great seafood salad and (of course) a cold Chang. We sat by the sea and I thought "damn, Phuket is a great place!". I think I'll blog this restaurant a bit later, it's certainly one to visit again. A very pleasant lunch. Time ticked by, a second cold beer was enjoyed and it was time to move on. We could have stopped at the Phuket Seashell Museum, but time was limited. We drove to Chalong and then up and up the hill to the Big Buddha. It was rather busy up there. My aunt had to borrow a sarong to cover her shoulders (they hand these out for free at the entrance). You are supposed to dress properly at temples. I saw a shirtless guy being stopped by "Big Buddha Security" and not allowed in without a shirt. The day continued to be hot with blue skies.
From the Big Buddha, given a little more time, a stop at Wat Chalong Temple would have been next on the list and between there and home there's also the Phuket Botanic Garden and the Bird Park. A bit too much for a day! We had a party to get to, and so the Big Buddha was the last stop on this trip. We stopped home to pick up the family, headed off for the party and the day ended like this ... Perfect.
(above) Sunset on 11th January 2015
This kind of tour is something I often suggest to people. This corner of Phuket has a lot to see, and the scenery is beautiful, plus there are loads of options for restaurants and bars - if you did this as an afternoon tour it would finish nicely with a sunset at a viewpoint or the After Beach Bar. It's a very nice part of Phuket away from the busier beaches, lots of places of interest, sea views and small beaches. Especially ideal if you have a hotel around Karon beach or Kata beach. It had been a while since I'd done a little tour like this and even for me, living here a long time, it was a lovely day!
For guided tours like this or around any area in or near Phuket, ask my friends at Easy Day Thailand!
Map - Tour of South Phuket
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2015
Published 9:58 pm, 11 Jul 2015
The last Top 10 hotels list was a year ago (see here) - this is a new Top 10 Phuket Hotels list which has been based on TripAdvisor rankings as they were in February 2015. I know these rankings change daily and I have my suspicions about TripAdvisor. Are all the reviews really real? But some of these hotels have thousands of reviews, so things should average out nicely. There are again a couple of new hotels in the list, but quite a few of the top 10 are similar to 2014. For each hotel there are links for checking online rates and availability - I suggest using Agoda.com to book your hotel in Phuket. There are also links to hotel reviews - also mostly from Agoda where possible. Hotels get average scores out of 10 on Agoda so you can easily compare, but Agoda does not have any ranking lists, so the top 10 here has to be based on TripAdvisor.
2015 Top 10 Phuket Hotels1. Trisara Resort Villas
Trisara was also top last year, and if I have the money it would be my choice! Trisara offers private pool villas on a private beach just north of Bang Tao beach in the north of Phuket. Trisara is a "secluded, luxury, amazing views, forget-your-worries" style hotels. Only about 50 villas, lots of space, no crowds. Villas from 2 - 6 bedrooms, so can be ideal for families or big groups, or weddings. Or just for a relaxing trip for a couple. And yes, it's miles from any busy areas, so don't complain that you have to get taxis everywhere :)
• Trisara - Online Booking
• Trisara Reviews
2. Kata Rocks (Kata Beach)
Kata Rocks only opened a few months ago, although there was a "soft opening" .. so how does it end up at No.2 on the list? Only about 40 reviews so far, yes they are all good, but ... will Kata Rocks still be at the top of the list in a year or two. Now, one thing is for sure, I have noticed Kata Rocks is very good at social media, plus I know people who have been for events and drinks and people say it's great. Villas with maybe the best seaview in Kata. It is promoted as a SIX star resort. Well, if I am to be convinced, Kata Rocks please do invite me for dinner!
• Kata Rocks Website
• Kata Rocks Reviews
3. BYD Lofts (Patong Beach)
Was in 2nd place last year, so very consistent - BYD Lofts offers serviced apartments, with a "view over beautiful Patong" rooftop pool, near the center of the Patong Beach area. There are one or two bedroom apartments of various sizes. The right place to stay if you want to be near the center of all the action (that's Patong for you) but need a quiet(ish) place to sleep. I tend to avoid Patong, it's not my cup of tea, but for sure Patong beach is convenient for tourists, with a shed load of restaurants plus shops and tour agents near you. And bars and nightlife.
• BYD Lofts - Online Booking
• BYD Lofts Reviews
4. Point Yamu Resort (Cape Yamu)
Another new resort (opened early 2014). And an amazing location, if you don't mind being miles from anywhere! I remember a few years ago when Cape Yamu started being developed. It looked awful. A beautiful natural area, covered in a building site. Yeh, of course now it looks amazing and I'd give my right arm to stay a night here - it's not cheap! My right arm might not be enough. Cape Yamu is on the east coast, great views. There are 79 rooms and 27 private villas, Italian designed, looks like a dream.
• Point Yamu Resort - Online Booking
• Point Yamu Resort Reviews
5. The Shore at Katathani (Kata Noi Beach)
Katathani has been around for many years on Kata Noi beach. The Shore is their newer luxury "pool villa" development, opened in 2010. And it sure looks good! Pool villas, some with seaview (note: the view does vary from villa to villa), all with private pools. As I said, this "private villa" thing seems to be the trend in the last few years. A great hotel for couples. I see lots of honeymoon reviews.
• The Shore at Katathani - Online Booking
• The Shore Reviews
6. Andara Resort and Villas (Kamala Beach)
A 5 star resort, on the hillside near Kamala Beach with luxury villas. It was rated number 1 on my top 10 family hotel list, providing relaxation in comfort for the whole family, and since it's individual villas with private pools, will suit couples as well as families. I'd happily stay here, thanks! Well, I'd happily stay at any hotel on this list, but I don't take freebies, don't work for a big web hotel booking company and don't have the cash! Andara resort is not right on the beach - it's in the hills. Many of the villas have superb sea views. I can see that there really is a trend of non-beachfront luxury these days ... Maybe the beach areas, certainly the main beaches, are too full .. if you want luxury and seclusion, it's there, but not necessarily by the beach.
• Andara Resort & Villas - Online Booking
• Andara Resort & Villas at HotelsCombined.com
• Andara Resort Reviews
7. The Chava Resort (Surin Beach)
The Chava has jumped into this top 10 list. There's always something in the list at Surin Beach! Chava is actually a collection of 2 - 5 room apartments, some are run by the hotel, some privately rented. Rooms are huge, not normal hotel size, good for families and small groups. Again, it's a place with views, slightly up in the hills, but still only a few minutes from the beach
• Chava Resort - Online Booking
• Chava Resort Reviews
8. The Baray Villa by Sawasdee Village (Kata Beach)
The Baray Villa has just 14 luxury villas, which are run by the Sawasdee Village Resort (one of the older resorts in Phuket), and yet are separate from the resort. Villas are 2 floor with huge rooms, jacuzzi, direct pool access, set in tropical gardens, with a spa available. Reviews make the villas sound fantastic! It was number 1 in 2012. Been around a long time, and still a good one!
• The Baray Villa - Online Booking
• Baray Villa Reviews
9. Anantara Phuket Villas (Mai Khao Beach)
Mai Khao Beach is still one of Phuket's quiet places and I think it will stay quiet because beachfront land is just too expensive now! Mai Khao about 10km long with maybe 10 resorts plus a few small bungalow operations. Anantara was on my Romantic Hotels list, a lovely getaway, if you can afford it. Worth renting a car if you plan to stay at a more remote hotel, cheaper in the long run than taxis and gives you freedom to explore, although I imagine people staying at Anantara will do a lot of relaxing, not much exploring!
• Anantara Villas - Online Booking
• Anantara Reviews
10. Amari Phuket (Patong Beach)
The Amari Resort has been around for a long time, one of the first big resorts in Phuket about 25 years ago. It has a superb location right at the south end of Patong Beach away from the crowds, very nice place to relax but you can walk to the busy center of Patong in 10-15 minutes. When a hotel has been around this long and makes the top 10, I think you can say it's a quality place!
• Amari Phuket Resort - Online Booking
• Amari Phuket Reviews
OK, that's the Top 10 best hotels in Phuket as of February 2015. It'll be different next week, but this top 10 is what I'm putting online! Have you stayed at a hotel that's not listed, but you think it should be? Phuket has a huge mix of old and new resorts, big hotels and small guesthouses, villas for rent, hillside, beachfront, busy areas, quiet areas... There's something here for everyone, but doing your research does pay off especially with regards to location. There is a trend in recent years for new luxury resorts in more remote areas and for sea view hillside (not on the beach) villas. Land prices and rents are so high these days in Phuket, it's hard financially to open a small hotel or guesthouse, and those that do open will be on back streets. Phuket is slowly heading upmarket. Older tourist areas like Soi Bangla in Patong are being redeveloped. Out with the bars, in with aircon shopping centers and new resorts. And dotted around the coast, many new 5 (and 6!) star resorts have opened in the last 10 years.
Hotel booking ... I recommend you check agoda.com for booking - I use this myself for holidays. On the subject of reviews, by all means read them, but do think also about the hotel features and what suits you - location, resort size, room style, price(!), good for couples, or kids, close to airport or nightlife etc ... one person's heaven may be another person's holiday nightmare! Some like it quiet and secluded, others want action. Some want great views, some need beachfront.... Any questions about Phuket, please do ask on my Jamie's Phuket Facebook Page. See you in Phuket!
Exploring New Roads - Klong Kian, Phang Nga
Published 3:55 am, 1 Jul 2015
On some weekends we don't do much, just odd jobs, homework (kids), have a lunch out maybe, take it very easy. Sometimes a long sleep in is very much appreciated. But even with a late wake up call, there are plenty of hours in the day for doing something more interesting. My wife and I like to just "go for a drive" sometimes, maybe with a vague destination in mind, or maybe we just follow our noses. The kids will be like "Do we have to? Can't we stay home and rest and play video games?" But very often these random drives end up being plenty of fun and I like to think that the kids also like the idea of exploring new roads. They might just end up going backpacking for years like I did :) Well, on a recent day off, we were not up too early, had noodles for breakfast about 11am and then thought "What now?" I had been looking at a part of Phang Nga province for some time on the map, a large area about half the size of Phuket that we had not explored at all. Phang Nga is the province just over the bridge from Phuket and we have done a lot of drives around this area in the past. The area I wanted to explore is just over the bridge to the east, a big bulge sticking out with the main road to Phang Nga Town looping around it. On the map it looked very quiet and I was not sure if the roads were that good, but we have a pick up truck which can handle a few rough roads!
The area is part of Takua Thung district and during the afternoon we passed through 3 different sub-districts (Tambon) - Lo Yung, Klong Kian and Tha Yu. We had 3G coverage almost all the way and had Google Maps on the phone to check directions. Proper exploring :) We took a right turn just a couple of km after the Sarasin bridge, and off onto new roads. Started off as a good road, then hit a few km of road building with many large trucks coming the other way, but it soon settled down into lovely green scenery.
The roads were actually very good all around the area except when we deliberately hit some dirt later. Lots of rubber plantations and lots of pineapples growing around here.
(above) Pineapple fields. A lot of Phang Nga (and northern Phuket) is rural / agricultural.
Our first stop ... My wife was driving and I was navigating using Google Maps. I wanted to find somewhere with a view back over the water to Phuket. We skirted one larger fishing village and ended up passing a smaller one, which was rather dirty and stinky with the road ending in dirt next to a small jetty and a view of Phuket island about 3km away.
(above) Looking over to Phuket. We could see planes coming in to land. The nearest part of Phuket is called Laem Sai, an area we explored a couple of years ago on another little drive :)
(above) Our first stop, on a Phang Nga back road. Nice views, guaranteed no tourists!
Onward! I could see that the village of Klong Kian had a sizeable jetty, and looked to be the largest community in the area. Took about 20 minutes to drive there from our first stop. Just before the village, the road climbed up to around 75m above sea level with a great view ...
Down the hill to reach the jetty that can be seen in the photo above. And it's a fairly big one, about 400 meters long. I am guessing some Phang Nga Bay boat tours use this pier, so maybe it's busy in high season. We saw a restaurant (open, but empty) and a large car park (with 1 bus parked). Lazy family decided to drive down to the end of the jetty rather than getting exercise. At the far end was space to park a few vehicles. One minibus was waiting there. We enjoyed the quiet and the seaviews.
(above) Looking down Klong Kian jetty
(above) Local kids riding bikes at Klong Kian jetty
A mangrove canal enters the sea next to the jetty and there are many longtail boats moored up the canal. The Thai word for canal is "Klong" (คลอง) and this area of Phang Nga has many mangrove canals. Much of the northeast coast of Phuket is also mangroves.
(above) Up the klong at Klong Kian. The little walkways to the boats are made from scraps of wood.
We moved on from Klong Kian. I was worried we'd have to drive back the way we came, but the road carried on north and from consulting the map, looked like we could get back to the main road at the village of Tha Yu. Again we had no particular plan, just drive and see what we could see ... And we found a little gem! About 7km north of Klong Kian, I could see a fishing village on a mangrove canal that looked big enough to be of interest and maybe with some views. I can't see the name of the village, but it's marked on the map on this page. We drove to the end of the village and found a long wooden floating jetty with many longtails tied up. Looking on the map, it might be possible to take a boat from here out into the bay .. something we might try on our next Phang Nga Bay trip!
Not a bad view, but rather restrictive, being up a klong. A local guy told us that we'd find a better view along a dirt track leading closer to the open sea. The track looked to have been built IN the canal with stones and mud. But it was mostly dry and he said we could drive it, about another 500 meters ... just one worrying muddy patch (we don't have 4WD) leading to a patch of land where building work was going on including a community center.
We drove along the dirt track above to find the beautiful views below ...
Worth the trip! I knew there must be some views like this and I want to explore this area further, although there are few roads in the mangroves and at some point, to see the best of Phang Nga Bay, you have to take a boat. Maybe not too many people plan on taking trips like this, just exploring. I prefer this to visiting well known attractions, although of course there are plenty of tourist attractions worth visiting. An afternoon like this on the back roads is what my wife and I enjoy sometimes, and glad to say the kids enjoyed this afternoon too.
More things to see in Phang Nga
Wat Suwan Kuha (temple in a cave)
Holidays in Khao Lak
Koh Yao Noi Island
Klong Kian Area, Phang Nga - Location Map
Lucky 13 Sandwich near Rawai Beach
Published 9:13 am, 22 Jun 2015
Most of the time I do prefer cheap and simple Thai food, but living in Phuket with it's many tourists and many different nationalities means that, if I am in the mood, there's plenty of good non-Thai food! Growing up in England, the sandwich was an almost everyday meal or snack. Sandwiches taken to school for lunch, sandwiches from the cafe at work, sandwiches in a backpack on a hike ... But living here, noodles or rice are the main staple diets. We do sometimes have some bread in the kitchen at home, make the occasional cheese toastie, but it's often more of an emergency snack. However I do like a good sandwich, and by "good" I mean better than I can make at home, something a bit fancier, not just cheese and ham.
Lucky 13 opened at the end of 2012, and I have meant to try it for ages! But Rawai is not that close to our house (about 25km) and although I guess its only about 7km from my work at Sunrise Divers (Karon Beach), I tend to grab quick lunches close to the dive center. On a totally free day back in March 2015 I was passing by Lucky 13 on the way to Rawai beach and decided to try it. Lucky 13 is easy enough to see near the Seashell museum on the same side of the road.
There's seating outside or inside (with aircon), I have now been twice and there's not been a crowd either time. I think it's maybe better known by people who live here, especially people living in the Rawai or Naiharn area. They also deliver, you can phone and order, or order online through their website (www.lucky13sandwich.com). A good local trade is what you need here. The menu is pretty big, some of it covers the wall inside, lots of sandwiches to choose from, also a lot of different drinks and they do burgers and breakfasts too. Apparently it's open 24 hours. I wonder how much 3am trade they get?
Sandwiches ... plenty of choice, some cheaper than others. Starting price about 150 Baht up to about 250. I like the choice of breads ...
(above) Salami, sun dried tomato and pesto (with plenty of salad) sandwich
(above) Beef striploin with mustard mayo (and salad) sandwich. I went for ciabatta on both occasions, how fancy! They are pretty big sarnis, certainly enough for lunch. On my second visit I was given a loyalty card - free sandwich after buying 10 .. not sure I'll get to 10 any time soon. But will pass by again for sure, maybe try a burger or one of their breakfasts. Oh, there is a Lucky 13 outlet in Patong too. I am less likely to visit that one, Rawai is so much nicer!
More about the Rawai Beach area
Rawai Beach Information
Phuket Seashell Museum
Visiting Koh Kaew Island
Lucky 13 Sandwich - Location Map