HGAT Guide to Phuket
Aware of what happened on our last domestic flight, we packed lightly and headed to CNX airport. Thankfully, there were no issues and we were infact able to pack a whole 5kg more! We left CNX at 9am and arrived in Phuket International Airport (HKT) two hours later via Thai Smile airlines.
WHERE TO STAY
Having landed in Phuket, we were excited to get to the hotel, change into beach attire, and hit the water. Our new home, Paresa Resort, was located high up in the quiet and peaceful hills, and an approximate 45 minute journey from the airport. A little long and costly, but the views made up for it and I was excited for our villa.
Unfortunately, Paresa had given us a completely different room to what we had envisioned from the pictures on their website and not what we had wanted at all considering we were being joined by another couple. The room we had originally booked was under construction and had they informed us of this, we would have stayed elsewhere. A let down on their behalf, but as we were in Phuket already, I just wanted to enjoy the rest of the trip and not let the room be a downer.
Great view from the 2-bedroom villa. This is the kind of hotel where you can cut yourself away from everything and everyone, and just bask in luxury and sunshine.
The bathroom is forever engraved in my brain as something I will have in my house one day, including the glass cubicle for the toilet – ha!
I couldn’t get enough of the infinity pool and spent the entire first day there catching some colour.
Due to the incident with the villa, we were given complimentary spa vouchers by the staff and booked ourselves in for a couples massage.
Stunning treatment rooms with views into the green.
And an assortment of fragrances to add to your massage oil.
The breakfast room was packed with an assortment of breakfast goods from pastries to cheeses, and fruits to exotic jams, and had a beautiful view over the coast.
Freshly squeezed juices
I opted for a traditional Thai omelette which had a golden, puffy and crisp exterior with a pillowy soft inside. A great, protein-packed way to start the day.
A squidgy eggy bread which had been toasted light and dressed with a pineapple and passion fruit sauce and sliced fruits. The brown sugar cream was not overlty sweet and helped to balance the tartness of the accompanying fruit. It may not look like much, but everyone looked on in jealousy when this landed in front of me.
Hotel Paresa was a chic and state-of-the-art hotel, but it just did not have that wow-factor as promised online, their customer service could do some work, and and I found it to be quite far from the town and beaches. A good resort if you’re on your honeymoon or want a secluded getaway, but if you want to be where all the buzz is, find a hotel closer to town and the beaches.
WHAT TO DO
As we arrived on a Saturday, we made sure to visit one of Phuket’s popular hotspot, Naka Night Market, which was full of food, goodies, and even more food (but we’ll get to that in a jiffy). You can find just about everything over here; books, bags, and cute souvenirs. This is an absolute must-do and you can easily spend a few hours browsing here.
After our dreamy and relaxing massages on the second day, the only thing I wanted to do was chill by the beach and so we took the hotel shuttle down to HQ Beach Lounge on Kamala Beach.
As we were guests of the hotel, we were given credit to use towards food, drinks, and fresh coconuts.
We caught the sunset on the beach before heading back home.
On our last and final day, we booked an island hopping tour that entailed us visiting 8 different islands, including the famous Bond island, Monkey island, and Maya Bay, where The Beach movie was filmed. It cost approximately £400 for four people which included lunch, refreshments, drinks, and transport too.
We were able to relax for an hour at each stop and dip our toes into crystal clear waters, whilst sipping on ice-cold coconuts and admiring the beautiful island.
Each island was stunning with immense greenery and the surrounding waters were good for snorkelling to see the pretty, colourful fishes.
The only caveat is that each stopover was either tourist-trapping (a.k.a expensive), rammed with holidayers barging you out the way with their selfie sticks, or both. My advice would be to stop at a convenience store and stock up on snacks before you go on the tour so you do not get ripped off by the locals. We were informed by the tourguides that since The Beach movie, the untouched islands of Thailand had now become overrun with tourists and overpriced, which was a shame to hear especially after seeing how beautiful they were.
Although we managed to see a lot in three days, it was quite rushed and was not even a fraction of how much there is to see out there. Some activities we missed out on was a Thai cooking class (I am so sad I did not get to partake in one), the vibrant and electric Fantasea show (great for kids), the beautiful temples, Old Phuket Town, and a sunrise kayaking trip through Phi Phi island.
WHAT TO EAT
You’ll be able to find a variety of cuisines out here in Phuket, from Italian to Japanese and Turkish to, of course, Thai. And although there is an abundance of halal signs on the streets, especially in Kamala, the issue is finding a good halal restaurant in Phuket which serves up something different – the same problem we have in London too!
Nevertheless, we happily ate the fish and vegetarian options when we needed to, and they were pretty good, like our meal at the HQ Beach Lounge:
Insanely refreshing after a day at the beach. The creaminess of the feta combined with the sweet melon and zesty peso was incredibly moreish.
Not as good as the watermelon one, but still a good combination. The pomegranate seeds added a sweet and juicy surprise to the tart beetroot.
Thick slices of raw salmon which were great with a squeeze of lemon.
Plus an Asian-steamed seabass, pizza, friiiies, and roasted salmon.
Wanting to have something halal and different to eat, we asked the hotel to book us dinner at a good Italian restaurant for that evening. They ended up reserving a table at La Gritta at the Amari hotel; a cosy Italian situated by the water with plenty of positive and raving online reviews. Excited at the prospect of having halal Italian, we got ordering.
A hunk of burrata that had been topped with shavings of truffle, but strangely submerged in a thick flavourless soup/sauce. It turns out that the soup was made using beans, but it was heavy, stodgy, and did not add anything whatsoever to the burrata.
Thin slices of raw beef that, again, did not have any depth or flavour, and instead lay under a thick layer of spinach, clumsy chunks of parmesan, and a drizzle of balsamic. We seasoned this ourselves with some salt and pepper.
Nicely presented, but the fish was quite mushy and did not taste fresh.
Not the greatest start to our meal, and we became quite anxious thinking about how our mains would turn out. Luckily, they fared better.
Really craving a good piece of meat, I had ordered a fillet steak that had been cooked to a delightful rare and served with peppercorn sauce. The sauce was a little watery, but the steak was cooked really, really well and exactly to how I wanted it. It melted in the mouth and had a good smoky flavour; not the best steak I’ve had, but a good contender.
BW was insitent on ordering this ever since he lay eyes on it on the menu, and lucky him, he had the best dish of the night. Large raviolis that had been stuffed with a wagyu mince mixture, and smothered in a mushroom cream sauce.
On the chef’s recommendation, this simple pomodoro was ordered. And although it was in dire need of some salt, it was decent enough to be finished but not something we would order again.
The total bill amounted to approximately £100 for four people, so £25 each. Personally, I would not recommend La Gritta, and perhaps it was my mistake of wanting Italian when in Thailand!
If you’re looking for good halal, there are numerous stalls in Naka weekend market but perhaps a little limited in what type of food they offer. You can find several sausage stalls:
Plus curry stands and biryani stands too:
Several snacks like fried potato sticks, sushi, grilled corn waiting to be slathered in melted butter, and freshly roasted chestnuts.
For you dessert lovers out there (holllaaa), there is no shortage of sweet treats.
Cute chocolates too.
These Thai ice cream rolls were fabulous! They start by pouring a milk-based liquid, plus two toppings (I chose Oreos and cornflakes!) onto a huge frozen flat surface. Once smooshed together, they’ll spread it out, and scoop into rolls. Add a drizzle of caramel syrup for good measure and ta-da, your dessert is ready!
Mini Thai pancakes being freshly made by a cute old lady.
Hot crispy rotis being filled with garlic and cheese, bananas and sweet milk, or some good old chocolate.
An abundance of cream cookies sandwiches and colourful mille-crepe cakes
Phew, we definitely ate a lot that night.
After a long day of island hopping, we opted to have in-room dining on our last night and ordered a Thai feast filled with satay, green curry, and chicken wings!
As much as I enjoyed the short stay in Phuket, I wish BW and I had stayed longer so that we could explore the island more and really discover the island. There is no doubt that Phuket is full of tourists and everything is extremely overpriced, and although they had some beaches that rivalled the Maldives with their emerald water and white sand, I would lean more towards Krabi or Koh Phi Phi if I was to return to Thailand.
Sadly, our Thailand trip had come to an end, and it was time for us to pack up our bags and head home (with a short stopover in Dubai included!). Even though it was slightly rushed with us jumping between three cities in 9 days, I loved every day that we were there and felt that we covered a good amount of ground throughout the trip. Would I return? Of course, but I would split my time between Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai) and Bangkok, or do a beach island for the full stretch (Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Koh Phang Ngan).
TIPS for HKT
—> Do not forget to ask your hotel if they can cater for halal before your trip out there
—> Make sure you book your hotel according to your holiday needs. Look at a resort if you want to be away from everyone, or find a hotel close to town so you can be next to the beach.
—> Book a few months in advance to make the most of the early-bird specials floating around.
—> Be sure to haggle when shopping; they’ll take a while to shift but they mark up the prices by a lot.
—> Wear respectable clothing when visiting the temples. Men will have to wear long shorts and t-shirts, whilst women cannot show their shoulders or knees. You can rent a cover-up at the temple if need be. Also wear easy slip-on shoes are advisable as you will have to take them off when entering the temple.
—> Research the attractions thoroughly so that you do not get ripped off and go with a reputable company.
—> Make sure you check beforehand what the weight limits are on domestic flights
HOTELS in HKT
—> Hotel Paresa – 5*
—> Amatara Resort – 5*
—> Avista Hotel – 4*
—> Royal Paradise Hotel – 3*
MOSQUES in HKT
—> Patong Mosque
—> Masjid Nurul Islam
HALAL RESTAURANTS in HKT
Bangmud Seafood Floating Restaurant
Anwa Lookchin Pla
Kusuma Halal Thai Seafood
Golden Kinnaree Buffet
Ghadafi Halal Food Restaurant
Little Marina Restaurant
Mai Khao Beach
Garden House Cafe & Bakery
Dirham Halal Restaurant
Maimoon Halal Shabu
Rayaan Oriental 1
Royal Indian Restaurant
Mueang Phuket District
Khan Baba (II)
Ali Baba (III)
Ghadafi Halal Food Restaurant
Ban Sang Duan
Dubai Sheeshah Restaurant
Hawa Kitchen Thai Halal Food