Over the weekend, I joined the TAT for a beach and food tour in Phuket. The beach part was to Phi Phi Islands in Krabi province where we went to learn about what will happen when they close Maya Bay for four months in June. The food part was in Phuket Town. Due to the unique fusion of food from various nationalities who have settled on Phuket island, UNESCO named the town as a City of Gastronomy. Michelin also announced this weekend that Phuket and Phang Nga will be included in the next edition of their food and restaurant guide.
Date of trip: 13-14 May 2018
Good morning from Suvarnabhumi airport. Today I’m flying down to Phuket on a TAT media trip. The main purpose is to join a press conference for the ‘Pre-Announcement of The Michelin Guide’s Arrival in Phuket’. We will also visit Maya Bay to find out how tourists will be affected by the closure next month.
For the first time I drove & parked my car at the airport to find out the cost & effort compared to a taxi. Parking next to the terminal is 250B/day. Petrol there & back will probably cost 70B. So, 570B for two days. Taxi would be at least 620B. It took me about 20 minutes from the time of entering the car park building to reaching the check-in counters. The long term parking lot is easier to find a space and cheaper. But you have to catch a shuttle bus back. I would definitely do this again for a 2-3 day trip.
Boarding Thai Airways TG203 From Bangkok to Phuket. Flight time is just over one hour.
Good morning from Phuket. The weather looks good. Partly cloudy with an expected top temperature of 30°C. It should remain dry today but there’s a chance of rain tomorrow. We’re heading straight to the pier for a boat trip to Phi Phi islands.
We’re at Boat Lagoon on the eastern coat of Phuket for our private boat trip to Phi Phi island. Travel time is about one hour. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/QkZ6GBt1GxP2
These are the latest photos taken in Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh island in Krabi. There’s been a lot of contradiction in the media about the shutting of the bay & so I wanted to see for myself. To be clear, it will most likely close, but NO official papers have been signed yet.
Park officials say that the plan is to close Maya Bay for four months every year from 1 June to 30 September to give the environment time to recover. But to be clear, it’s the whole island that will be off limits and not just Maya Bay. So, this includes the famous beach.
The beach gets about 4-5,000 people a day which is beyond capacity. The plan in the future is to limit this to 2,000 people per day, but they don’t know yet how to do this. However, they still plan to close the island for four months every year to allow the coral to recover.
This is Loh Sama on the other side of Phi Phi Leh island to Maya Bay. Some people were floating the idea of building a longer pier so that all boats can dock here. But it’s very rocky at low tide and there would also be a bottleneck to get on the island.
It is no longer allowed to fly drones in national parks in Thailand without advanced written permission from HQ in Bangkok. When you submit your request you also need to show your drone license. On Phi Phi islands they are very strict. The fine is 1,000 Baht. I was able to obtain permission to fly my drone.
Drone photos of Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley. Phi Phi Ley is the most popular stop for tourists in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. 1.65 million tourists visited this park in 2017.
We ate lunch at Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort on Phi Phi Don island. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/RgWypG8BHsK2
After lunch today on a Phi Phi Don, we visited the nearby Bamboo Island. The beach here is another popular stop on boat tours from Phuket. It can get quite crowded during the morning. Imagine what these two islands will be like after they close down Phi Phi Leh.
Drone photos of Bamboo Island, which is a short distance to the north of Phi Phi Don island in Krabi province. This is a popular destination for day trippers from Phuket.
This is what I have learned so far about the four month closure.
If you’re in Phuket Town on a Sunday evening, make sure you visit the Walking Street on Thalang Road. It’s open from 4pm to 10pm. Lots of handicraft and of course delicious food. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/m4meQ5ciqbA2
Dinner tonight was at the Tu Kab Khao Restaurant on Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town. Everything was delicious, but the best for me was the crab curry served with thin rice noodles (Sen Mee Gaeng Pu) and the braised pork belly (Moo Hong). Map: https://goo.gl/maps/3rNr3MQYiMo
DAY TWO: Good morning from Phuket Town in Southern Thailand. Today we are doing a food tour of the old town. Phuket was recently named by UNESCO as a ‘City of Gastronomy’ due to the distinct flavors of its local dishes.
Our first breakfast stop was for roti with curry at Bang Don restaurant (โรตีบังดล) on Thalang Road in Phuket Town. (It is marked as Roti Phuket Muslim on google maps.) The shop opened more than 70 years ago and is now run by the second generation.
The highlight of Bang Don in Phuket Town is obviously the roti served with various curies such as beef and chicken. They also have a Massaman version. All very delicious and it’s worth a visit. The shop is open every day from 7am-1pm. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/mc3Bxkb53f32
Our second breakfast stop was for some Dim Sum at Koo Khawn restaurant (คู่ขวัญ) in Phuket Town. Dim Sum are bite-sized steamed dumplings with a variety of ingredients. They are open every day from 6am-11am. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/57rtDXaGqtB2
Koo Khawn restaurant in Phuket Town is also famous for Mee Sua noodle dishes which are salted noodles made from wheat flour. Their Khao Tom rice soup is also good. This restaurant is highly recommended for breakfast or early lunch.
Our next stop was a brief visit to Keng Tin on Phuket Road in the old town. This is Phuket’s oldest traditional Chinese bakery as it has been around for 100 years. A good place to buy snacks as they have over 30 types of desserts. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/XFgbFjwn8eo
Our third and final stop for breakfast was at Khanom Chin Mae Ting restaurant (ขนมจีน แม่ติ่ง) on Satun Road in Phuket Town. Khanom Chin is fresh, thin rice noodles. They are often served with a curry and fresh vegetables. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/MNaoUn9o5uD2
Khanom Chin Mae Ting restaurant has seven different curries such as crab, fish, chicken & jungle curry. The way it works is that you buy a plate of noodles for 30B/35B and then you add as much curry & fresh vegetables as you like. Open daily from 6am-1pm.
Resting back at the hotel after that mega breakfast food tour of Phuket Old Town. But it’s not over yet. We are going for a lunch food tour in about an hour! I will need to fast tomorrow for sure.
This is the google map list for all the places that we have visited so far on this trip in Phuket, in case you want to go to any of them yourself: https://www.google.com/maps/placelists/list/12Oj9-hf7lePxSU8I4GmOCRr0vHE?hl=en
Our first stop on the lunch food tour was at O-Tao Yao Yentafo restaurant (โอวต้าว เยาว์เย็นตาโฟ) on Pathipat Rd in Phuket Town. This is famous for Oh Tao (โอวต้าว) which is made of tapioca flour, fried oysters, egg & taro. It’s a bit like Hoi Tod, but a lot dryer.
Other popular dishes at O-Tao Yao Yentafo in Phuket Town include giant fish balls, pork satay, fresh spring rolls & various noodle dishes including the signature dish Yen Ta Fo which comes with a pink soup. Open daily from 11am until late. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/dXafpMrPjeu
Our final stop on the lunch food tour was at Ji Jai Bang Niew (หมี่หุ้นกระดูกหมูจี้ใจบางเหนียว) on Soi Takua Thung, just south of Phuket Town. The popular dish here is Mee Hoon Ba Chang (หมี่หุ้นบ่ะฉ่าง), which is thin Hokkien noodles in a pork spare rib soup.
Unfortunately I have to cut the trip short & fly home. I have school tomorrow. So I left the others at Chaomae Ya Nang Shrine. Next they will visit Thai Hua Museum, Walking Street in Phuket Town, Chin Pracha House, dinner at Tunk-Ka Cafe Restaurant, and then cocktails at Zimplex.
Sunset at Phuket International Airport.
Boarding Thai Airways TG218 from Phuket to Bangkok. Flight time is just over an hour. (Please don’t let me forget that I parked my car at Suvarnabhumi airport. I don’t need to take a taxi!)
The Michelin Guide Thailand arrives in Phuket and Phang Nga with a new extended edition to be launched in November http://www.thaitravelblogs.com/2018/05/the-michelin-guide-thailand-arrives-in-phuket-and-phang-nga/
That’s a wrap on my two-day Phuket Food & Beach Tour. I hope you enjoyed my pictures and I’ve inspired you to visit. You can see the archive of all my recent trips here: http://www.thaitravelblogs.com/category/latest-trips