When you visit Phuket, the only thing you have in mind is how you can make the most of your visit since it’s all the way on the other side of the world, for us, Europeans at least. The process usually involves booking some tours because that’s the best way to see all the attractions the fastest way possible. But trust me when I say that booking a tour in Phuket can be very, VERY tricky.
Things to avoid:
- DO NOT book online. All the sites I researched from home were actually almost two times more expensive than what the local agencies in Phuket were charging.
- Coral Island and especially Nikorn Marine agency should be a huge no. Coral Island is not at all what they advertise and you’ll be highly disappointed while the tour agency mentioned above offered me the worst experience of my life. A pretty lousy and rude tour guide who, once he dropped us off in the island, said that if we were 5 minutes late, “bye bye, see you tomorrow” and that he was not responsible for us whatsoever. That felt pretty reassuring, don’t you think? In addition, the water and free beverages that were included in the tour price were not given to us. Instead, we had to pay for them.
- Phi Phi Island was another pretty average experience but at least the tour agency was awesome. The popular Maya Bay was so freaking crowded that you could barely take a decent picture of it. I’d recommend a private tour VERY early in the morning so that you can enjoy the serenity and crystal clear turquoise water of The Beach instead of just looking at it.
- Try not to book tours with a pretty busy itinerary. It might sound like a cool idea to do both James Bond Island and Krabi in a day, but trust me, it is not! Not at all actually! Every tour is designed to leave you exhausted, even the half-day ones. The heat, the boat trips, the humidity, even the hotel pick-ups/drop-offs that take so much time (due to several stops to pick up more people) all add up, taking a toll on your body and leaving you excruciatingly tired with each passing minute.
- Khai Island… well, when I saw the pictures online, I was amazed. But now that I’ve been there, the google pics cause me either hysterical laughter, or anger, depending on my mood. Khai Island is not at all how they present it. Maybe it’s like that on specific dates, hours and times of the year and that is when they are able to get those great photos that, with the help of photoshop, become almost magical. Maybe. I want to believe that not everything is a fraud, even if my experience tells me otherwise.
I have some good news though! You can always choose a private tour which will cost you a bit more, but you’ll have absolute control over it. Staying longer at places you fancy, skipping whatever doesn’t interest you and go the unbeaten path are just some of the endless choices you have when you are your own boss. I always say it is about quality and not quantity and I would have exchanged all the average/bad tours I took for just one unique and custom-made tour. Also, if you happen to find a small group to split the expense, you could end up paying the same price for what they normally sell as “VIP” tours (=up to 25-30 people). Score!
- If you book a tour to Phi Phi Islands, make sure it includes a visit ashore the Monkey Beach. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that most leaflets just mention Monkey Beach but not the interaction with the monkeys. Most agencies try to give you excuses to avoid it– they blame it on tide (the level of the water) or they say the government forbids it lately, all of which are lies. Insist on a tour where you go out on Monkey Beach (make them write it in your receipt) and bring some bananas for the wild monkeys if you are brave enough.
- Suncream, a hat, a waterproof cell-phone cover and special shoes suitable for both water and the land will come in handy while on The shoes might sound silly, but the corals are pretty nasty and can definitely injure your feet if you’re not careful.
- Leave your valuables behind. You won’t be able to enjoy the water while worrying about the safety of your expensive camera or your designer beach bag. And trust me… it’s very unlikely you’ll find them at the spot where you’ll leave them if unattended.
I hope this post can help you plan your tours in Phuket a bit better and for whatever extra info you might need, leave a word or send me an email and I’ll make sure to reply ASAP!