Saturday 28 December 2019

Phuket 5D4N Itinerary under RM2K

Hello y'all! Can you believe we're just a few days shy from 2020??? Anyway, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and wishing everyone an early Happy New Year! 

I haven't been blogging much  for the year because adulting but still wanted to post something before the end of 2019. What better timing than my return from a trip just last week, at least I have something to post hahahaha! This trip was a rather last minute plan, Japan didn't happen because I can't seem to find a time to get off work! (T⌓T) Still, I'm grateful I could afford money and time to go someplace! Sharing them with y'all in this post!


Where to stay

As always, I opted for AirBnB because it is more affordable and there were very limited options in the other sites since it was such a last minute thing. I stayed at New Life Phuket Classic, a hotel at the quieter end of Patong. It's a 10 minutes or so walk away from the bustling Patong town and beach. I'm quite glad we did because it seems come Friday and the weekend, it can get really loud! We could still feel the beat of the music from our room, I cannot imagine what's it like staying closer! I also appreciate that my AirBnB contact person was very responsive. Plus we were allowed to check in earlier that what's stated and could even leave our luggages after we checked out at noon (our flight was at night).

I do have one complain, the toilet/washroom isn't exactly private you can hear others doing their business so I had the toilet kinda 'stage fright'. Probably why I had constipation during my trip
( ̄□ ̄) FML. If I gained weight from the past week, it's just cause I'm full of shit.

Staying connected 
with local SIM card

I'm a bit kiasu and need to stay connected. Glad I did this because many times I had to rely on Waze and Grab. I have to admit, this time I was not fully prepared having just worked on the itinerary (big responsibility!) two weeks prior to the trip! I booked a local sim card from Klook for RM20 and then had to reload 100TBH / RM13.90 on one day I needed to make a call to my tour group because they were late to pick me up ( TдT ) Definitely cheaper than roaming with a Malaysia sim card which will cost RM10-RM40 per day!

Getting around Phuket

Tuk tuks are one interesting way to get around but boy, are they're pricey. A 10-minute ride from Patong to Karon will easily set you back by 400TBH. For comparison, that's thrice as expensive as getting around in Penang island! So this is not the best option for those on a budget. If you insist to experience them, I'd recommend you going to No. 6 Restaurant and inform the staff you'd like to go to the No. 6 by the hill. They offer free rides to their branch well, on the hill with a view of the town and more tables so you wouldn't need to share. Expect a bumpy ride up the crazy steep hill, my friends and I had quite a shock when the tuk tuk stopped abruptly at our destination almost sending us rolling out the tuk tuk and down the hill!

Another option is to use Grab, which is best when exploring the central or east coast. You can negotiate with the drivers to stop at multiple destinations for additional fees. Price vary depending on tuk tuk drivers but the best offer we've got was 300TBH per hour so you'd definitely need to budget for that. I had to muster up some courage (because my friends weren't helpful) to negotiate with our Grab driver who was thankfully, open to that. Super grateful!

Many times during the trip I wished I had motorcycle license, it'd probably save us a lot (I've seen 350TBH per day rental deals) and is more convenient.

Another affordable option is by getting around with the local buses whether it is the Smart Bus (covers the west coast), Blue Bus (covers the central & west coast) or Pink Bus (covers Phuket Old Town). My friends and I had bought the Rabbit Card for the Smart Bus ride from the airport to Patong where our Airbnb were. We didn't utilized it until the day before we left but it got me thinking we should have experimented more to take advantage of the discounted fare! The huge downside of this Rabbit Card is there are very incomplete information online and even tourist information centers weren't helpful, therefore leading to some inconvenienced (and annoyance). For your convenience, I am listing down what I found out about the Rabbit Card, you're welcome!

What to consider 
purchasing the Rabbit Card:-

1) In Phuket, the Rabbit Card can be use for the Smart Bus with possible minimum of 170TBH. Or when purchasing items from partner stores such as McDonalds, 7Eleven, Family Mart, etc. with minimum balance of 300TBH.
2) The card can be reloaded with value of 100TBH-200TBH-300TBH-and so forth.
3) The card can be purchased at the airport's local bus stop for 300TBH whereupon 100TBH is the card fee and 200TBH is the available amount to use.
4) With the Rabbit Card, passengers are entitled for discount and fees will be depending on distances and destination. Without the card, every trip for each person will be 170TBH irregardless of the destination.
5) The Smart Bus only covers destinations along the West Coast of Phuket.
6) Rabbit Cards can be used in Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
7) The most complete details about the Rabbit Card can be found here.
8) The Rabbit Card is NOT refundable/exchangeable.

Fees by destinations for passengers with Rabbit Card

5D4N Itinerary
& recommendations

I prepped my itinerary rather last minute and somehow during the trip, plans changed to cut down on transportation cost and for the sake of exploring the part of Phuket. Besides that, my friends and I spent a lot of time walking as means of getting around. For those who choose to charter a tour van or have their own motorcycle, you'd definitely be able to cover a lot more places in a single day!

*Day 1
Arrival in Phuket & checking into New Life Phuket Classic
Lunch at Da Number 6 Restaurant
Exploring Banzaan Fresh Market, Patong Beach & Kamala Beach
Dinner at Malin Plaza then exploring Dragon Night Market & OTOP Night Market
*Day 2
Breakfast at The Pad Thai Shop, Karon
Karon Beach
Khao Rang Hill, Tunk Ka Restaurant & Wat Khao Rang
Phuket Old Town
Dinner at Chillva Night Market, Yaowarat Road
*Day 3
7Eleven breakfast
Full-day Islands hopping around Phang Nga Bay (James Bond & 5 other islands)
Dinner at Banzaan Night Market, exploring Chillva Night Market & Bangla Road in Patong
*Day 4
7Eleven breakfast
Sightseeing at Chalong Pier & Big Buddha
Kata Noi Beach & Kata Yai Beach
Kata Night Bazaar & Night Market
*Day 5
Breakfast at Sam Chor
Free & easy souvenirs shopping day around Patong
Lunch at No.6 Restaurant on the hill
**Links to daily travelogue coming soon!

My favorite part besides the island hopping where I had the first opportunity in years to kayak (i super miss this!) is Chalong Pier and the Big Buddha. There's something about the combination of blue blue sea and blue blue sky and boats and cool breeze that is just super relaxing. I also noticed I love highlands because it's cooler which was where the status of the Big Buddha is stationed, overlooking the beautiful Chalong Pier.

What & Where to eat

Pad thai, tom yum soup and local Thai cuisines are a must! Other novel food I have tried include crocodile meat, baby crickets & sago worms, parrot fish, sea grapes and gac fruit juice. Some may sound cringe-worthy but don't let that stop you from trying! Judge only after you ate them.

Also, what's better than rolled ice cream on a sunny day. Totally recommending a mix of mango & lemon flavor! ( ̄¬ ̄)

Family Mart and 7Eleven are a common sight in Phuket, there are a branch in almost each rows of shops! Definitely do drop by to grab some burgers or sandwiches which the staffs will assist you to reheat. I super love the cream puffs that are available in original and salted egg creams, yummy!

Will post in more details in my daily travelogues (coming soon!)so don't forget to check them out!

Souvenirs shopping

My top 10 recommendations will be dried mangoes, traditional massage oil or balms, melon flavor or original milk candy, Harnn massage oil, snail body care, beach dresses, white beach tops/dresses, swimming suits, waterproof bucket bags and gold masks.

Seen in a shop along Kata Road. The dresses and tankinis are so cute!

Patong Central has the best offer for dried mangoes, at 50TBH per 100g pack (but only sold at bulk in 6-12-18) and 6-pack Siang Pure Oil for 740TBH. On the other hand, the best deals for the snail beauty products and health foot patches at Fruit Paradise, a beauty & souvenirs shop along Phangmuang Sai Kor Road in Patong. It is not far from the malls but for convenience, you can simply get them all from Patong Central.

You can also find fruits & chocolate flavors milk candies in Patong Central's Big C.

There's even a guide prepared in case you're wondering what to get!


Budgeting for Phuket

Overall, I spend approximately RM2K for my entire 5D4N trip.

Prior to the trip, I have pre-booked the following:-
Kuala Lumpur à Phuket Return Flight with Air Asia
4-Night AirBnB Accommodation
Full-day Phang Nga Bay (including James Bond Island) tour experience with BJ Canoeing Tour bought from Klook
RM246.30 / 1,772TBH
DTAC 8-day Unlimited Data Plan (also from Klook)

I brought 7,000TBH in cash, just slightly under RM1K and I'd say that was exactly what I spent! A big chunk went to public transportation, food, shopping and some donation to the Big Buddha temple. I bought few souvenirs _ 6 pack of 50g dried mangoes, 3 pack of Siang Pure Oil, 10 packs of milk candy and a dress _ so if you're a bigger spender, you'd want to consider a bigger budget. I'd also recommend you budget for tours around Phi Phi or Similan islands and experience Phuket's Fantasea, things I wished I had done.

The one extra thing I swiped with my card (because I ran outta cash) was a bottle of Choya Yuzu from the duty free section in the airport. Die die want it because I have never seen it around Malaysia! True enough, there weren't any in KLIA2 or in the supermarket!٩( ^ᴗ^  )۶

In conclusion

Phuket is a place for those who truly want to enjoy to take your time and relax. The people are welcoming, there are many beautiful islands and beaches to explore. I also feel safe walking around the island during the day and at night _ you get more hamsap stares in KLIA2 by foreigner security guards. 

Food and transportation can get a bit pricey. I think islands hopping, kayaking and snorkeling should be considered especially around James Bond/Phang Nga Bay, Phi Phi or Similan _ at least I wished I've done more!

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