No matter how much you read up on a place, chances are you’ll get there and find a few things different to what you expected.
So, here I am in Patong, having worried myself an ulcer about things like hotel accommodation availability and warnings that it gets seriously busy. Everything books out on the Internet, I was told. Not so, because there’s a host of budget hostels and hotels and more upmarket hotels to choose from.
Anyway, travelers are generous people, so here is my top travel tips for a terrific time in paTong.
- Phuket has low, medium, high and peak season. The boundaries of these seasons may depend on which part of Phuket you find yourself in. November is medium season, and apparently any day now it’s going to go into high season. Peak season starts somewhere in December.
- When you walk into a hotel, ask for the price for one night first. Then negotiate the price down. When it can’t go any further, tell them how long you’re staying – there’s usually an additional discount if you’re staying 3 or more nights.
- Behind the Jung Ceylon Shopping Centre is what looks to be a relatively new strip of accommodations (where the other Starbucks is, the one that is not at the front of the mall). Off season you can get THB 500 per night (or less for more nights) or even in high season we negotiated THB600 for 4 consecutive nights at the Little Buddha Guest House.
Alcohol & Bars
- Beer in Carrefour cost THB 25 for a can THB 35 for a small bottle. Alco-pops like Smirnoff Ice or Bacardi Breezers are THB50. A big bottle of Tiger is THB59 at 711 and THB49 at Family Mart.
- Tuk-tuks may be the alleged cheapest form of transport, but they charge a set fee regardless of the distance. Walk; it offsets the cheap beer. Also, its per tuk-tuk, not person, so find some friends and share the cost.
- If you’re walking, it’s beneficial to move around in couples. Taxis / tuk-tuk / t-shirt / tailor touts hassle women less when they’re with men, and the hordes of ladies offering massage hassle men (don’t grab at all) less when they’re with a woman.
- Starbucks doesn’t have free wireless. It’s better to discover this BEFORE you buy a coffee. They provide wireless through a third party who will charge you THB 150 per hour.
- One place I discovered with free wireless, other than the hotel where you stay, is at the Jung Ceylon Shopping Centre. Coffee World is a collection of outlets. Simply buy anything from Pizza Corner, New York Deli, Coffee World or Cream and Fudge Fudge Factory and settle down to otherwise free-but-relatively-slow wi fi access. They also have workstations in the corner, not sure if they charge for this. Annoyingly, there’s no plug-points inside.
- Some lady boys are hotter than the girls. Lady boys have Adam’s apples – unless they’ve had it shaved down. Then you’re in trouble. But they always have big/rough hands and feet. Pay attention and here it pays to be a good listener and let her talk until you’re confident it’s not a male voice in disguise. They also walk with a confidence that borders on arrogance, which you won’t see in the Thai women.
- Top Tip: Get to know a lady (and confirm the fact) before you start to drink. Life-time nightmares (and ridicule when your mates find out) are to be had when the morning glory you wake up with isn’t yours.
- People who come into contact with other people’s genitals in exchange for money do not consider themselves prostitutes; they think of themselves as breadwinners, because their earnings will likely feed a family somewhere.
- Bar Girls, whether they are working girls or not, have health books and by law are required to have an STD and AIDS test done every 2 weeks (we were there 1 night during a fortnightly health inspection). Of course, this does not mean it’s OK to have unprotected sex with them (a lot can happen in 2 weeks), however, freelancers or the working girls on the road not attached to bars, avoid this health requirement altogether. Draw your own conclusions.
Tiger Shows (Ping Pong Shows)
- It’s a soft rip-off and not really worth it, unless for a laugh. When you peak in to have a look first, relatively good-looking (clothed) girls will be dancing on stage in-between shows. When showtime starts, they disappear and a usually not-too-attractive and relatively heavy (fat) woman will appear to do the tricks.
- We tried the show in Soi Sea Dragon, opposite Rock In Dice bar. There’s no cover charge, but the drink prices are much more expensive to make up for this.
- If you walk in without a tout having brought you, you will get a menu from which a beer (in our case) costs THB 300. If you arrive with a tout, you’ll get a menu on which the same beer is THB 500, because the tout works on commission.