Asian adventure- Phuket-Railay Beach- Krabi-Bangkok-Hong-Kong-China tour.
Phuket Tour Itinerary- The Big Buddha, Karon viewpoint, Calcio Restaurant (Kata), Kata beach, Surf house, Tesco.
Day Tour Information
Cost- 2200 TBH- £50 (from Mai Khao as it is further out) or 1800 THB-£41.
Time- 8 hours. We arranged to be collected at 9am which meant that we had our driver until 5pm (you can arrange whichever time suits you best- so if you wanted to see a sunset somewhere you could arrange to be picked up later). You can also add extra hours onto the tour if you want at a cost of 300 THB per hour (£6.85).
Tour- Panya sends you suggestions of places to visit and you can taylor it to wherever you want to go. We had researched where we wanted to go and so planned our own itinerary. Even though this is advertised as a ‘tour’ on their website, it is in fact just a private driver (which was fine by us) and not a tour guide to show you around each place. Our Itinerary- The Big Buddha, Karon viewpoint, Restaurant recommended by driver for dinner, Kata beach, supermarket (we needed to stock up!) and if time Ton Sai Waterfall.
We wanted to see some of the sights of Phuket and looked at the various options of getting around. Mopeds were a big no no for us (especially with the kids!). We looked into hiring a car, but after doing this tour we are really glad that we didn’t! We had searched on Tripadvisor to try to find the best option for a family getting around Phuket and discovered a forum discussing private day tours. Lot’s of names were recommended, but the name that kept on cropping us was ‘Panya’ at PPKK Tours. I messaged him via Facebook messages and he explained our options and sent me links to the various tours they offer. We booked two tours with him- a Private day tour and the Speedboat tour to Phang Nga Bay. We didn’t have to pay any money upfront and I just messaged him when we arrived in Phuket to confirm our room number.
We received a message the day before, confirming what time we would be collected, who our driver would be and the reg of the car. The driver (Mr Porn!) picked us up on time in a mini van which had welcoming air con. He was very friendly and spoke a little bit of english. He confirmed where we wanted to go and we were off!
The Big Buddha
First we headed for The Big Buddha, which sits on the top of Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata.
It was about an hours journey from Mai Khao, but the drive was really interesting and a chance for us to see a bit of Phuket. The road up to the Buddha was particularly exciting, with real elephants on the side of the road! (for elephant treks.) There is a carpark at the top where our driver waited for us and a few little shops/stalls selling drinks and snacks. I was handed a scarf on my way in, to cover my shoulders with (as it is a religious place). It is free to get in but there are donation boxes placed around.
When we arrived we could hear the practising Buddhas chanting their prayers for at least the first 30 minutes of our visit. They are situated in the area under the Big Buddha, where you will also find stalls selling souvenirs and offerings that you can buy to give to the Buddhists.
The views all around are amazing- out across the bays and Phuket. The Big Buddha is situated at the top of a number of steps, and there are more viewpoints at the top, a Golden Buddha, a number of shrines, gold hearts strung up amongst the trees containing messages and names and the smell of incense burning. The steps leading up to the Big Buddha only take about 5 minutes to walk up, but theres so much to see and take in here, that I would suggest allowing 30 minutes to 1 hour for your visit.
After the Big Buddha we headed to Karon viewpoint, which offers amazing views over Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beaches. It is located between Nai Harn and Kata Noi beaches and has a small car park. Our driver parked up and waited for us again and we walked round the back of the mount and up the steps.
My top tip for this place is to buy a coconut from the lady at the small shop down the steps to the left.
These tasted amazingly fresh and are the best we’ve ever had! You can drink the refreshing coconut water whilst enjoying the views and if you take your coconut back to her, she chops it in half and gives you a spoon so that you can scoop out and enjoy the flesh (so delicious!). There is a seating area at the top of the steps and a number of benches around the outside of this too. Allow about 30 minutes for this visit.
We asked our driver to recommend somewhere for us to go for lunch, and he dropped us off at Kata beach where there is a beachfront restaurant called ‘Calcio’. It looked directly onto the beach and offered shade and roof fans. The service here was fab and the food was nice. We ordered smoothes to drink- the lemon smoothy was VERY lemony (which our youngest loved), but the other 2 (mango and coconut & pineapple) didn’t taste like what you would get at home, but were still okay. The children ordered pizza and spaghetti bolognese (all the way to Thailand and they order Italian!), and we decided to try some Thai food. I had Phad M.Mamuand chicken and cashew nuts and the hubby had Massaman Beef Curry.
He said that his was delicious and wasn’t too spicy. Mine was also very tasty and they were all very big portions- they actually would have been enough to share for lunch time!
We used the ATM that is on the same little street the restaurant is on and we walked up to take photos of the cool elephant fountains. We also bought snorkles, masks and a football from the shop opposite (although we totally forgot to haggle and realised we got a bit ripped off!)
We had told the driver that we would be an hour and a half at the beach as we wanted to eat and have a swim. So after our dinner, we headed onto Kata beach.
There are sunbeds to hire here, but as we didn’t have long, we headed over to a stretch of sand just past the sunbeds. There are a number of little shops in the corner of the bay and a surf school. We had a swim but didn’t go out very far as the currents seemed really strong and there were red flags up (even though there were loads of people swimming!). We just let the kids try out their new masks by diving into the waves. We then headed back onto the road just up the steps from the beach as Jake had seen a surf simulator that he was desperate to have a go on.
Surf House-Kata Beach
This is a surf simulator which is situated inside a bar/cafe right opposite the beach. It costs 1000 BHT for 1 hour, but a lady was handing out 10% off flyers just outside and when we went in they offered us it at 800 BHT per person for 1 hour. Our driver was picking us up, so we were limited for time so they let us pay 500 BHT for half an hour each. You can also purchase different kinds of passes such as a 7 day pass, which would be cool if you are staying in that area. We had to sign an electronic waiver and the kids just wore their swim shorts (and Callum wore a t.shirt). The session before ours only had about 3 people on it, but the session we booked on had about 15. This meant that they only got 3 goes each in the half an hour they had, but they did enjoy it and it was a fab experience for them! They got to choose between body boards (laying down) and small surf boards (standing up) and there were instructors guiding them how to do it. There was an outdoor shower and parents could sit and watch in the cafe area right in front.
Our driver arrived half way through the boys Surf school, but he was more than happy to wait for us. By the time the boys finished their Surf lessons, it was time to start heading back to the Mai Khao end of the island. We had asked him to take us to a supermarket on the way home so that we could stock up on snacks and drinks. There are no shops near to where we are staying and the nearest shop, which is a shuttle bus ride, is really expensive.
We were really surprised when he pulled up at a Tesco! I believe you can also get a Tesco delivery, which would be really handy where we are staying!
After Tesco we headed back in the direction of our hotel, with the plan to visit Ton Sai Waterfall on the way. However, it started to rain and we could tell that the kids had had enough, so we told the driver to leave the waterfall and head straight back to the hotel.
We arrived back at about 4pm so would have had just enough time to fit the waterfall in if we had wanted to.
We found having our own driver, the perfect way to get around Phuket. We could spend as little or as long at each place as we wanted to and we could go to the places that just interested us. Our driver was prompt, well mannered, flexible and spoke enough english for us to be able to understand what each other was saying. The van was clean, comfortable and air conditioned, it had seat belts and he drove carefully (sometimes when we have been abroad we have found that the taxis etc have driven like lunartics!). We felt that we had enough time to see all of the things that we wanted to see (apart from the waterfall- but when travelling with kids you have to accept when they have just had enough!). It was really interesting just driving around and seeing Phuket life too- kids going to school, street sellers, people piled on the back of various modes of transport, scooters everywhere, shrines, elephants etc. A fantastic experience for all of us!
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Can you recommend anywhere else thats worth a visit in Phuket? We would love to hear from you!
Read about where we stayed in Phuket here and read my top 10 tips for travelling long haul with kids here. For other days out try Slash Jungle water park, James Bond Island and Mai Khao Turtle Foundation.
Thanks for reading and Happy Travels!