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 The bracketed figure is submitted reviews -- reviews may not be published for editorial reasons or may be removed because the property concerned has been delisted from Travelfish or has closed.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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Laem Sing Beach
Published 11:44 pm, 10 Jul 2014
Just a couple of weeks ago, we took an afternoon family drive up the west coast of Phuket. The idea was to stop at a few beaches that we'd not seen for years. Yes, I said years. Phuket is a big place, we do have a few favourite places by the beach, but generally we're not a beachy family. We drove through Kamala beach, and stopped at Surin beach. In between Kamala and Surin there is another, much smaller, beach called Laem Sing (or Laem Singh if you want to spell it like that). There's a viewpoint on the roadside where you get this amazing view of Laem Sing. The west coast of Phuket has a lot of beautiful views.
(above) Laem Sing beach seen from the viewpoint between Kamala and Surin beaches
Many years ago, back in the year 2000, my wife and I (before we were married) used to ride our scooter up and down the coast quite often. Back then we never visited Phuket Town, we took days off and headed south from our room in Patong to Kata or Rawai beaches, or north to Kamala and Laem Sing. 14 years ago, Laem Sing had zero development - no bars or restaurants, just a few beach chairs and maybe a couple of people with coolers of drinks for sale. OK, it was low season when we visited, but it seemed like we had the whole beach to ourselves. The photo below shows a much younger me on Laem Sing beach all those years ago.
As years rolled by I was aware of websites promoting Laem Sing as "the unspoiled beach". And so it became busier, and I knew that bars and restaurants were opening there. Thankfully there is no space for a hotel. And somehow, we never went again. Preferring to keep a memory of a beach in Phuket with nothing but sand, sea and surrounded by jungle. We realised that we'd not visited Laem Sing for 14 years! So, after stopping at Surin beach we parked in the small parking area above Laem Sing. The sign needs replacing ...
And then a walk down the steps to the beach. Not a long walk, but on the way back up you're going to be breathing hard!
So, right now Laem Sing beach is going through some changes along with all the beaches in Phuket. The rules are suddenly being enforced. Rule 1 : No building on the sand. The beach is public land, not private, not to be used for profit. And so all up the west coast the bars, restaurants, massage huts, beach chairs are being removed. The beaches are being made more natural again. I am sure this is temporary. Local people will make deals and yes, in a touristy place like Phuket you need some beach chairs and drinks for sale. When we got down to the beach we found (on that very day) the beach huts and bars being removed or burned. (This means I better go back in a few months for an update!)
But looking out to sea, pretty much the same as 14 years ago! I would hope that if we visit Laem Sing again later this year, we'll find maybe a few snack stalls and drink sellers, but no large restaurants. Or you can just stop at a minimart on the way, get a few drinks and some ice and enjoy the beach.
(above) Looking out to sea from Laem Singh beach (panorama)
(above) Laem Sing looking south (Kamala is just around the corner)
Hard to believe that I can live on a small island and not visit somewhere for 14 years, but .... Phuket is not so small and well, I am not on holiday here, mostly working 5 - 6 days per week. More time would be nice. Laem Sing (after the "clean up" is cleaned up) should look something like it did many years ago. Back to being a place to visit if you want the unspoiled beach. If you want busy, there's still Patong for you!
A visit to Surin Beach
Published 5:08 am, 7 Jul 2014
It's an odd thing, but I am not really a beach person. My wife even less so. And yet we live in Phuket which is famous for it's beaches. We don't "go to the beach" very often. Our kids enjoy some beach time, but this is not something we do every weekend. There's a lot more to Phuket than beaches - and that was one of the reasons I started this blog! If we do "hit the beach" then it's likely to be a quiet one rather than one of the main west coast beaches in Phuket. Last weekend we took a little afternoon drive. We do that sometimes .. just "go for a drive" and see where the road takes us. My wife and I figured that the last time we'd been to Surin beach was in 2006. That sounds kind of crazy, but do remember, we are not on holiday here .. we have a normal life of work and school and bills to pay. At weekends we might go away, might take a trip somewhere, or more likely do the garden, kids go to music class, have an easy day at home after a week of work and school ... Last weekend I wanted to check out Surin beach because with the support of the current military leadership of the country, Phuket has developed some cojones and issues like taxi gangs and illegal building on the beaches are being tackled. I wanted to see Surin now that restaurants on the sand and "beach clubs" on the sand had been removed.
(above) The result ... no building on the beach. Only sand, palm trees and a few lucky low season visitors.
Surin beach is not very big, but it has a fairly big car park right behind the beach as well as a municipal football pitch. Space is limited which is why restaurants and bars started to build on the sand. And, in my opinion, a few bamboo bars on the beach is fine, but Surin was getting silly, and it had "approval" from local officials who were allowing the development (for a price). And now suddenly it's gone! We walked along the beach from the car park to the north end where some rocks stick up through the sand. Our kids had last played here 8 years ago ...
(above) On the rocks at the north end of Surin beach
Well, back in 2006 there was a small restaurant near the rocks. Now I saw only a beach club called Zazada .. and (I did not look) I guess the prices of drinks would be more than I want to pay. The structures on the sand had only been knocked down a week before so, in places, things looked a bit untidy. I'll go again in a couple of months and see if everything is tidy! The kids found a wooden swing hanging from a palm tree ...
Kids + beach + rope swing = who needs an iPad? Well, our kids have got used to our sudden urges to take a drive. They might complain, but then enjoy the chance to explore. While the boy jumped around on the rocks, the girl walked to the very end of the beach. Maybe someday she will take the road less traveled. Crowded beaches? Where?
(above) Exploring the ends of Surin beach
After a while we walked back south to the carpark. The lack of any buildings on the beach is very pleasant. The same is happening at other beaches. I'd suggest that people bring a picnic or stop at a 7-11 before arriving at a beach these days! At Surin, without the smaller beach restaurants, not so much choice for eating. I mean, the beachfront shacks were not so cheap anyway, but compared to the beach clubs (Zazada, Catch and Bimi) they were a deal! Surin is now a BYO beach! Only thing left standing on the sand is the lifeguard shack ...
I do like the idea of keeping the beaches natural, but people gotta eat and drink! I imagine that once the whole thing blows over you will see drinks vendors on the beach, then maybe some little mobile food stalls, and then a little bamboo restaurant and maybe the whole thing will start again! Surin is a nice area to stay, there are plenty of hotels including Ayara Hilltops, Twin Palms and Manathai Resort.
• Full List of Surin Beach Hotels
If not staying at Surin, it's just a few minutes from Kamala beach or about 20 minutes from Patong beach. And to the north of Surin you find Bang Tao, Layan, Naithon, Nai Yang and Mai Khao beaches. I know ... Phuket has a lot of beaches. And if you are a beach person, it's worth exploring to find the right beach for you :)
We left Surin, heading back home via Kamala and Patong, but first ... in between Surin and Kamala beaches used to be a little gem called Laem Sing beach. Untouched. No construction. And I think my wife and I had not stopped there since about 2001! Back then, Laem Sing was a totally untouched paradise, but of course over the years a bar opened, and another and a restaurant and another one. Now, with help from the friendly Thai army, all that will be gone. Laem Sing will be the next blog post, as we stopped there on the same day. Just south of Surin is a viewpoint with a great view of Laem Sing beach. Wow.
(above) Laem Sing beach. We really should "take a drive" more often. I forget how beautiful the west coast of Phuket can be ...
The Big Buddhas of Phuket
Published 12:13 am, 3 Jul 2014
Buddhas? Surely there's only one "Big Buddha" in Phuket? The big white one on the hill? Yes, that's the one known as THE Big Buddha, and it certainly is impressive. We've been driving up that hill for 10 years since before construction began. It's not just the 45m high statue, but we love the great views over much of southern Phuket. Thailand is of course mostly Buddhist, so there are lots of Buddhist temples here, though Phuket also has large a Muslim minority and many Thai-Chinese families. You'll find mosques and Chinese shrines all over the island too, and even a Catholic church, a Hindu temple and Sikh temple!
"The" Big Buddha of Phuket
The biggest Buddha in Phuket is the big white marble covered statue on top of the Nakkerd hills in the south of the island near Chalong. It's been under construction for many years. The main statue is fairly well complete, but there's still work in progress around the edges. When it was being built we'd come up the hill for the views and some peace. Now it's part of many tour itineraries, so can be crowded, unless you visit early morning or late afternoon. The statue can be seen from much of the south of the island, and the views from the hill, more than 400m above the sea, are great.
• The Big Buddha of Phuket
• Hiking to the Big Buddha
Reclining Buddha at Sri Sunthorn Temple
Built on the roof of one of the temple buildings at Sri Sunthorn temple, just south of Thalang in the centre of Phuket island is a 25m reclining Buddha. This is not a busy temple, we've been numerous times and hardly ever seen more than a few visitors. It's right by the main road through Phuket from town to the airport, but it's behind some trees and hard to spot from the road. The temple is named after one of the Heroines of Phuket who fought off the Burmese way back in 1785. Oh yes, we got history too!
• Sri Sunthorn Temple
Seated Buddha at Rang Hill Temple
Up a tiny, hard to find side road next to the Vachira hospital in Phuket Town, is a little secret. Somehow, I did not see this until January 2012, even though the blog had been going nearly 6 years and I love temples. My wife just casually said one day "did you ever see the temple up this road?" ... Wat Khao Rang is at the foot of Rang Hill, on the north side of Phuket Town, well known for views and the popular Tunk Ka Cafe. The golden seated Buddha is very nice indeed and I really should go back one day for some early morning photos in better light. Phuket is full of surprises, even for a long term resident!
• Khao Rang Temple
Buddha in a cave at Wat Suwan Kuha
OK, this one is not on Phuket island .. Wat Suwan Kuha, also called Wat Tham ("cave temple") is over the bridge in Phang Nga province, but is visited by many tours from Phuket. We've been quite a few times. The Buddha is quite impressive, the whole thing was built about 150 years ago by the Na Takuathung family who still live in Phuket. A visit here can be combined with a Phang Nga Bay tour. Outside the cave there are lots of monkeys. There's a 20 Baht entry fee to the cave.
• Wat Suwan Kuha
Reclining Buddha at Koh Sirey Temple
Every time we visit the temple on a hill at Sirey Island (just east of Phuket Town) we feel sorry for the place. With some funding it could be gorgeous. Please do visit and leave a donation! Sirey Island (rather like Phuket) is hardly an island, you can drive there over a small bridge from Phuket Town. The temple is up a small hill, about 200 feet above sea level - views are pretty good actually! Inside the temple is a large reclining Buddha about 20m from head to toe. We like driving around Sirey for the views and there are some small restaurants dotted around the place, plus a sea gypsy village not far from the temple.
• Koh Sirey Temple
Golden Buddha at Koh Kaew Yai Island
Not such an enormous Buddha, but an important one ... Koh Kaew Yai is a small island about 1km off the south tip of Phuket, you can see it from Phromthep Cape. Local legend says that Buddha set foot on the island before arriving in Phuket. Some monks live on the island. There is a large "footprint of Buddha" on the south side of the island, and facing north towards Phuket is a Buddha statue about 6 or 7m high. Not enormous, but an interesting place to visit - you can go by longtail boat from Rawai beach.
• Boat trip to Koh Kaew Yai
Wat Bang Riang
A very impressive temple in the hills north of Phang Nga Town near the small town of Thap Put ... quite a drive from Phuket actually, but a day trip including this temple can also include Wat Suwan Kuha and maybe a nice lunch at Tha Sai Seafood. The temple covers a huge area, with a main building on a hill and then a big Buddha and a big standing figure of the goddess Guan Yin. And quite a few steps to climb! Certainly worth a visit if you are in an exploring mood (which we often are!).
• Wat Bang Riang
Related Blog Posts
• Phuket Temples and Shrines
• Wat Chalong - Phuket's Biggest Buddhist Temple
• Sikh Gurdwara in Phuket Town
• Shrine of the Serene Light in Phuket Town
Google Map of Phuket Temples
View Phuket Temples in a larger map
Aleenta Resort near Phuket
Published 11:09 am, 1 Jul 2014
There are tourists who like to be in the middle of the action, like to be within easy walking distance of shops, bars, restaurants, tailors and tour agents .. and for you there is Patong and other main beach areas. Other visitors to Phuket are looking for a bit of seclusion and maybe a hint of luxury too, and Phuket has plenty of quiet beaches with very nice resorts in a different world to the crowds of Patong. The Aleenta Resort advertises itself as being in Phuket, but actually it's just off Phuket over the bridge and turn left. It's in Phang Nga province, far less developed that Phuket, and an area that we have explored a lot in recent years (check out blog posts about Phang Nga Bay, Bang Riang Temple and Tha Sai Seafood for example).
Aleenta is certainly a "getaway". I recommend you have transport if you stay here, hire a car to get around and explore. Or just spend a few days relaxing at the resort. Most of the rooms are private villas, ranging from one to four bedroom villas. The four bedroom place is HUGE, with 1,000 square meters of space! Some villas are beachfront and some are just behind the beachfront ones. Want a quieter place to stay? Here it is ... but don't moan that it's too far from the shops or nightlife!
(above) Beach at the Aleenta and view from a room
There are several restaurants and bars on site. Maybe you can wander up the beach and find a local place, but otherwise it's a bit of a drive to find other dining options. I can recommend Thanoon Seafood right by the bridge on the Phang Nga side. There's a spa at the hotel and yoga, and they do weddings too. Yeh, I would stay here if I was about 10 times richer :)
Aleenta Resort - Booking & Information Links
• Aleenta Resort - Info, Rates and Reservations
• Aleenta Resort - Reviews
Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking
• Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
• Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2014
• Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com
Markets in Phuket
Published 2:38 am, 1 Jul 2014
Before coming to Thailand, I traveled quite a lot in Africa plus North, Central and South America. Aside from such things as diving, local tourist attractions, food, drink, beaches, mountains, festivals and enjoying the company of other travelers and locals, I always enjoyed finding local markets. I would go out of my way if I heard of an interesting market. A market is a great place to sample real local life, no matter where you are. The market is the center of the town or village, and despite the arrival of many big shopping centers in Phuket over the last 12 years, the local markets here are still busy. There may be big stores like Tesco Lotus, Makro, Big C, Central and many minimart style shops like 7-11, but the market (Talad) is still the place to get fresh local produce, or a place to hang out and meet people. Phuket is a bigger place than most people realise and there are countless small local markets. I have blogged a number of interesting markets and plan to do more, since (for me) a market is an essential part of life in the local community. Here's some of Phuket's markets...
The Weekend Market
Probably the market that most tourists will visit is the weekend market just outside Phuket Town. Locals call it Talad Naka (since it's close to Naka Temple) or Talad Jatujak Phuket (after the huge Jatujak market in Bangkok - the market in Phuket is much smaller!). It's held on Saturday and Sunday starting in the mid afternoon, carrying on until about 11pm. Best time to go, a bit before sunset. It is quite big and once you are in the maze of stalls, easy to be not quite sure which way to go! Lots of food stalls selling all kind of snacks and drinks, lots of clothes, arts and crafts, DVD's/CD's, plants, pets, mobile phone accessories, and it's great for people watching.
• Phuket Weekend Market - More Information
Phuket Town Main Market
The main market in town is a very busy place! It reopened in 2010 in a new building on Ranong Road in the old town area. The old market was .... old. And smelly. I never went inside! But the new market is well worth a visit. The streets all around the market are also a market, it's a very busy area and is also where you can get local buses to destinations all around the island.
• Phuket Town Market - More Information
Kathu Fresh Market
Kathu is my area. The main market is big and seems to have got busier over the years even though the main Tesco store is only a few km away and Tesco even opened a mini store in the area. Kathu is the area between Patong and Phuket Town and is a mainly residential area but with quite a lot of history as the tin mining industry was centered here in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The market is on daily, all day. It's a fresh produce market with stalls selling fish, shrimp, meat, vegetables, chili paste, eggs, flowers, ready made meals and a lot more! Nice to visit early evening, get some food from one of the many food stalls and watch the world go by.
• Kathu Market - More Information
Karon Temple Market
A very easy to visit market if you stay near Karon beach ... the Karon temple market takes place in the temple grounds on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the late afternoon/evening. It's a mix of fresh produce, snacks and food, clothes and a few tourist-aimed stalls selling sunglasses or swimwear. It's the main local market in Karon. There's another market a couple of miles away in Kata on the back road away from the beach.
• Karon Temple Market - More Information
Phuket Town Indy Market
The Indy Market near the old section of Phuket town only started in 2010, meant as a place for kids/teenagers to hang out in a safe, smoke free environment. It's not huge, most of the stalls sell arty items and clothes and there's some food and drink stalls too. It is indeed very popular with the youngsters. There is often live music too. The Indy Market takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings (so does not clash with the Saturday/Sunday weekend market). Certainly worth a visit combined with dinner or drinks in Phuket Town. (update) I've heard that this market will be on Wednesdays too.
• Indy Market - More Information
"Lard Yai" Walking Street on Thalang Road
The Walking Street on Thalang Road in the old town started in late 2013 and has become very popular as a place to hang out on Sunday evenings, helping to promote the old town. There are lots of food and drink stalls, clothes and art for sale and entertainment too with performers and music every Sunday.
• Sunday Walking Street Market - More Information
We have used the Expo market quite a lot, bought shirts, pants, Thai souvenirs, computer games. It's an aircon indoor market, open every day near the center of Phuket Town. It's not been mentioned specifically on the blog, but a good place for clothes and souvenirs.
Local MarketsPhuket covers an area of over 500 square km, and there are many local areas and small villages within Phuket, and all have some kind of market. Try looking for fresh seafood at Rawai beach, or check out the big Banzaan fresh market in Patong near the Jungceylon shopping mall - and there's another market in Patong on Nanai road (the back road). Oh and the touristy "OTOP" market. I drive past a small market in the Chalong area every day and there are regular local markets in the Bang Rong and Cherng Talay areas of Phuket. All over the island! Worth a look at any market for a taste of the real Phuket, to pick up some snacks or fruit and see something away from the organised tourist route.
Phuket Markets - Location Map
View Phuket Markets in a larger map