Vacation Home Specialist
June 26, 2014

My journey driving to Phuket started from the 90-minute ferry ride over from Koh Samui, Thailand, where I am currently based. The drive from Donsak pier on the mainland side of Thailand to Phuket takes approx 4-5 hours only, with stunning views all the way through, especially passing by Krabi, which has some of the most beautiful caves and sights to be seen in Thailand (more details for Krabi coming soon on the next trip).

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Once arriving in Phuket, we drove to a villa called The Xian Villa, which is set in the middle of Bamboo Forest in North Phuket, 15 minutes from the International Airport of Phuket. This stunning villa really gives you a feeling of being secluded from the real world, but is only a 15-minute drive in any direction to civilization, and perfect for some if that’s what you are hungry for. The Xian Villa offers a Chef at your disposal, working on a grocery cost system, so it comes recommended for dining in for most of your meals for your convenience so you don’t have to travel much.

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Our arrival at the villa was met by the friendly villa staff who made sure we were comfortable and knew our way around the massive estate. The Xian Villa is set right in the middle of the jungle so I wouldn’t suggest it  for families with small children or the elderly. It is the perfect spot to get away from all the noise and just really feel at one with nature.

Our next stop was Kamala. Arriving at the Samsara Villa Estate gave me a real feeling of being like royalty as you enter a 24-hour, security-gated community with nearly 10 stunning luxury villas overlooking the bay of Kamala and the busy town of Patong in the distance, which is only a 10-minute drive away.

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Fah Sai Villa 8

First and most important with a view and setting like this was to fly into the pool at our villa, Fah Sai VIlla 8 – Samsara, relax with a cold beer in hand and think about where we wanted to eat for dinner in the Patong area close by. The drive to Patong is easy and down a winding road along the hills, with the ocean to the right and stunning views all the way there. Once approaching Patong,  all I could think about is sampling the famous burger at the American restaurant next to the ocean called “Joe’s”, as I currently reside in Thailand and have my fair share of local Thai food regularly, which I love. Joe’s restaurant has a great selection of local Thai dishes as well.

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Joe’s Downstairs

After watching the sunset fall over the water directly in front of the restaurant, I headed into Patong to do some late evening shopping.  Patong is massive with many local roadside shops where you can bargain for anything from Armani suits, tailor-made, to smartphone accessories, etc.  Patong also has a massive shopping mall with numerous restaurants, shops and spas right in the heart of the town called “Jungceylon”.  If you are looking to have a few drinks, I recommend heading to the beachside strip, which has many bars and restaurants all along the beach, but be prepared to pay about 25% more as it’s the most popular area in Patong. If you have rented a car/bike for your trip, I don’t recommend trying to park in the center area or to drive around at night as there are many accidents caused by tourists and locals that either aren’t great drivers or have been drinking in the sun all day. I strongly recommend jumping in one of the Jeepney taxis (pictured below) and bargain for a reasonable price to jump around Patong if needed.

Early the next morning, I headed to the area of Surin near Kamala where I stayed, which has many lovely villas and beaches I needed to inspect. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive there through the mountains and stopped for some breathtaking views of some more secluded beach spots, away from the hustle and bustle of Patong.

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The area around Surin is popular for surfing and a more “chilled” atmosphere than the busy areas around Patong. The beach has many nice, local types of fresh foods and fresh fruit stalls for local, low prices. You can enjoy a traditional Thai massage right on the beach for only approx THB 400-500 for one hour.

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After a long day of visiting villas in the area it was time for me to make my way over to Kata, where I was to spend two nights before heading back to Koh Samui, at a beautiful villa called Baan Kata Keeree. The villa has a magical setting, just a few minutes’ walk into the center of the trendy beach town of Kata. You can find nice, low-priced local restaurants or stylish, more upscale eateries and drinking spots overlooking the ocean. The villa has stunning views onto the ocean with beautiful gardens and relaxing areas all around the property, especially at sunset, which sets directly out over the ocean in front of the villa. Baan Kata Keeree is great for families. It has a dedicated kids’ play room and is a nice choice for guests of all ages wanting to relax in a beautiful setting and be a few minutes’ walk from the action of Kata. If you enjoy snorkeling there are some great spots with nice, clear waters right below the villa.

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If you enjoy relaxing in the villa for dinner, I highly recommend dining at sunset as the Chef can prepare amazing local food at grocery bill costs. I personally did this and was pleasantly surprised at the quality and price. You can also choose to have a BBQ dinner overlooking the ocean while sipping cocktails.

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After spending a wonderful evening watching the sun go down with my belly content, I headed to the master bedroom to get some sleep, with only the noise of the waves crashing down onto the rocks below the villa…pure bliss.

Early the next morning after getting a good night’s rest, I headed out to inspect the last villas on my list for my trip. I explored the beach of Kata a few minutes from the villa, and the nearby beach of Karon, which both have soft, white sand and actually aren’t very busy, considering. You can just relax on the beach and soak up the sun, rent a surf board and ride the waves, or try some parasailing  if you are up to the challenge.

I was ready to have an early night as I had a day of driving back to Koh Samui ahead of me so I needed some much-needed rest. If you are planning a trip to Thailand soon, I strongly recommend staying out of the Patong area and staying in one our peaceful and lovely villas right on the doorstep of trendy or local towns like Kata or Surin; or stay in one of our villas a short 5-10 minute drive into Patong, like the Kamala area, if you are looking for abit more action.

I will be back in Phuket again soon…after all, it’s only less than a day’s trip for me from Koh Samui with the ferry ride included, and I have only merely scratched the surface of what the Phuket villa scene has to offer!

Here are some useful tips when traveling to Thailand, which I hope you will find helpful:

– Never exchange money at local “Exchange” shops or at the airport…always either pull out money from your credit card or exchange at a trusted bank in the daytime.

– Always agree on a fare for taxi rides before you get in, otherwise you may be in a situation where you will have to pay more than you should.

– Always check prices on menus first when eating/drinking to avoid discrepancies.

– If you rent a scooter like many tourists do, always wear a helmet as there are many police checkpoints, for tourists mainly, and you will be forced to pay a fine of approx THB 500+.

– When bargaining for goods with street vendors, start with half the price of what they say.

– Always wipe your bottle/can down before drinking.

– If you need a sim card for your phone, I suggest buying only from 7-Eleven or similar convenience stores  and ask for a top-up “ Happy tourist” sim card.

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