By Alex Thomas from Warrington
The first observation on arrival at the Centara Karon Beach Resort in Phuket was the genuine friendliness and co-operation of the hotel staff.
Everyone went out of their way to ensure that we were welcomed in a friendly manner. In fact, Thai people, from our experience, are truly friendly and hospitable.
At first the weather didn’t meet our expectations. From the end of May to October is the rainy season with thunderstorms and heavy rain on most days. Nevertheless, we were determined not to let this spoil our holiday and as it turned out, overall we were quite lucky.
A short walk from the hotel to the beach takes about 5 minutes and immediately you leave the confines of the hotel you encounter Thailand at its most authentic, with street sellers, massage parlours and a variety of unusual means of transport.
You must experience a “Tuk Tuk” which is an open-sided brightly coloured vehicle capable of carrying a maximum of about 6 passengers.
Karon beach itself consists of magnificent white sand as far as the eye can see, but be wary of the currents with some limited no-swimming areas designated by red flags.
The hotel will provide a shuttle to take you to Patong, where you will experience a modern shopping mall. A few metres outside the mall you will find the original “black market” with every possible designer label you can think of at rock bottom prices. (You need to bargain heavily to obtain a good price).
In the evening visit “Fanta-Sea”, beyond Patong, which is an “ultimate nighttime cultural theme park”, styled on Disney parks, with an hour-long spectacular show with dancers, acrobats, trapeze artists and performing animals, including elephants.
The next day is a visit to the Big Buddha. Phuket’s ‘Big Buddha’ is on of the island’s most important and revered landmarks. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata, and at 45 metres high, it is easily seen from far away. The temple area attached to the landmark is still under construction.
In the afternoon a visit to the Tiger Kingdom is a must. You have a unique chance to get up close and personal to these amazing Indochinese tigers. You are allowed to go in the compounds with up to 4 large tigers whilst the handlers advise you constantly how to sit with the tigers and have photos and videos taken by yourselves. It is an unforgettable experience.
The next day visit Phi Phi Island on a speedboat carrying up to 32 passengers. The tour starts at your hotel and you are transferred to the speedboat and then whisked away to two separate islands known as Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley. Here you will see the famous Maya Bay where “The Beach” was filmed, and afterwards sail to Monkey Beach and Viking Cave. The highlight in the morning is being able to snorkel amongst the fish in the coral reef just off the island cliffs. You stop for lunch on a private beach and after some sunbathing and relaxing you return to the port in the afternoon. A full day’s excursion.
For the next day relax by the pool and in the evening visit “Simon Cabaret”. This is a larger than life show with ladyboy cabaret and Vegas-style set designs. You can meet and greet after the show but be wary of the hidden cost for just a few photos with the stars of the show!
On the last day visit Siam Safari and experience a ride on an elephant. The elephants are extremely well cared for and you can experience a 30-minute ride in the jungle with amazing views of the surrounding coastline and beaches.
A truly memorable holiday and one not to be missed.
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