Phuket Thailand, "must see"?

Started Aug 29, 2013 | Discussions
AuroraProject08
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Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
Aug 29, 2013

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

Thanks!
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wklee
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 29, 2013

I haven't been there for some time. One of the attractions is at Phang Nga Bay near Phuket where the 007 movie "The Man with the Golden Gun" was filmed.

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andrzej bialuski
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 29, 2013

If you are going on a Honeymoon, stay away from Patong. It is a place for which Thailand is infamously and unfortunately famous for.  Girlie bars and horny freaks from all over the world.

I've been on Phuket a few times and loved and hated it.

The island is very large and has several communities fitting every taste and preference.

For Thailand photos go to my website below.

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andrzej bialuski
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to andrzej bialuski, Aug 29, 2013

One more observation about Phuket:

Depending on your budget, personality and level of adventurism and imagination, you can stay in a place for $30 per night or $300 per night and be happy or disgusted by either one.

These are all available on Phuket.

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Jack Hogan
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Phee Phee Islands
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 29, 2013

AuroraProject08 wrote:

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

Take a day trip to Phi Phi (or phee phee) Island  - a long day, but outstanding.

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andrzej bialuski
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In reply to Jack Hogan, Aug 29, 2013

Jack Hogan wrote:

AuroraProject08 wrote:

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

Take a day trip to Phi Phi (or phee phee) Island - a long day, but outstanding.

I tend to disagree on this one.  Phi Phi island is famous for taking part in a famous action film.

It attracts mostly tourists.  Very little of Thailand to see here except of course beaches, island and bars and restaurants for tourists from all over the world.

I spent 2 days on Phi Phi and swore to never do it again.  Yes, its beautiful, but its not how I want to remember Thailand.

Very touristy place.

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GordonBGood
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 30, 2013

AuroraProject08 wrote:

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

You have received some pretty good advice from Andrzej Bialuski as to a visit to Phuket Thailand but perhaps you'd like to hear the view of a Canadian who has actually lived in Thailand for over 20 years and can speak, read, and write the Thai language. Perhaps my advice is even better than that of Thai people, of which this forum has a few members, in that I can temper my comments from the Western view from which you are coming.

You don't provide many details of your stay in Phuket as to how long you will be there, into what hotel your travel agent has booked you, etcetera, but I'll make some assumptions: that your honeymoon is two or three weeks, and that you have been booked into one of the major beach hotels such as on Karon or Nai Han (hopefully not Patong as Andrzej has said, if so, try to change it as even if you want to visit, you can make a trip there to see why you don't want to stay there).

As to accommodation, it really doesn't matter much where you stay as a hotel room is a hotel room. With my experience, I would probably book into a middle priced "resort" type accommodation perhaps about a block off the beach in order to get a more relaxed atmosphere at better prices (perhaps about $50 per night), and would likely stay on Karon if I wanted a more touristy busy atmosphere or more likely a beach called Nai Yang near the airport for a more quiet experience. But, of course, I likely wouldn't choose Phuket as a place to honeymoon and the main reason I would go there would be to visit friends who live there, as I dislike the heavy traffic and crowds of the more touristy venues.

You should realize that you are not going to Phuket in the top "high" beach season as the season on that side of the peninsula is just getting close to the end of the peak rainy season, the seas are likely to be a bit rough, and the days will likely be partly overcast. Even if you wanted to visit Phi Phi Island, although it is likely to be quieter than usual, the very best thing to do there - snorkelling - is not at its best (if it ever is any more). If you really wanted to do beaches, you should be headed for the Gulf of Thailand side although here we are just headed into the beginning of the rainy season. If you really wanted to do diving and snorkelling, the Andaman side into the new year is a better time. So while if your dream was to experience beautiful European style beaches (topless and/or bottomless, which is not at all Thai BTW), you may be disappointed, but you can likely experience what Thai families want to see in a beach - an absence of foreigners where they enjoy the beach in the evening after the sun has dropped below its peak with their clothes on! In my mind, visiting Phuket in the "low season" is a good thing!

So what to photograph in Phuket? In my opinion, if you came to photograph the "sights" you are wasting your time and your luggage allowance in bringing your camera gear as all of that has been done professionally 1000's of times and you may as well just buy postcards or even better a book or two of Phuket plate photographs, which you can do without even leaving the US or at least in the Phuket airport. Other than the obligatory silhouette image of the two of you against the Phromthep sunset, which you can get someone to snap with your cellphone, there isn't really much worth photographing unless you plan to do some really interesting things that it's worth capturing images of you. The really interesting things to photograph are the people in their natural settings and you are unlikely to see much of that in Phuket that isn't staged (usually for a price) in the main tourist areas. If you really want to see how people live, get to know your hotel maid or the guard or your masseuse (the ancient massage kind), perhaps meet their family and try to experience how they live including their schools, home life, clinics and hospitals, etcetera. The good thing about this time of year is that it isn't peak money making time and people will be willing to take time with you in chatting and getting to know you as well as allowing you to get to know them, at least up to a point.

On my first trip to Phuket with my family over 20 years ago, we didn't stay at a hotel but rather at a sparsely furnished monthly rental apartment with all three children ranging in age from nine to thirteen, and rather than eating on the beach or in hotel restaurants, we ate where the Thai hotel staff eat about a block behind everything, meeting many local people in the process. In other words, even though we knew not a word of Thai, we tried to live something resembling a Thai lifestyle and got an experience that we never would have had staying in the Karon Sheraton.

The list of things to bring should also include things to leave behind: To leave behind - preconceptions about Thai society and what is "right" or "wrong" according to Western standards; to bring - an open-minded attitude that can accept what life is really about here as in, yes, we have corrupt politics which may be just somewhat worse than what you are used to, and yes, we have what you might call "prostitution", but the local people think of all of that as just "getting by" and that nothing is entirely bad nor entirely good but just a way of "getting on". Thus, with the right attitude one can experience the bar scene even on Patong beach and gain an experience in the so doing, which might include learning the life story of a person of one of the "tween" genders, which when there is not money pressure can be illuminating.

To truly enjoy Thailand, which is her people, one must learn to go "Zen", not get frustrated by laws, traffic habits, construction or service standards, or any other little thing; to show anger is to contaminate the ambiance of other's space and will distance you from those who would naturally help you, especially as we all know it is futile, and to truly be at peace one learns to step back and sincerely smile, realizing that you truly are experiencing Thailand in all her glory with your beloved. The sincere smile will generally erase all difficulties you may have, and Thai people love to help those who truly need it.

So where would I go on my honeymoon if I were to happen to pick Phuket? Although I have not been there for about 10 years, I would look into Nai Yang beach for quiet, taking day and/or night trips to the other major beaches, would likely stay in the "Turtle Beach" bungalows operated by the Thai National Park Service (which were completely destroyed in the tsunami since I was last there but I understand have been rebuilt). If that were not available, I might stay at one of the new "Resort" type hotels if I were on your budget, or at one of the "Residence" type ones if I were on mine. On those days I did not make day and/or night trips to the Phuket Town itself or one of the other beaches, I would relax near the beach near the food outlet of my friend "Jit", the "SomDtum" lady and her family, eating her spicy papaya salad ("somdtum") with barbecued catfish with turmeric and sticky rice. Almost every afternoon or at least every other day I would have an ancient massage at the shop of my friend "Daeng" (means red) from the province of Buriram, which if still there is just about 10 minutes walk from either the Nai Yang beach or the Phuket International Airport. IIRC, her shop is near here: https://maps.google.co.th/maps?q=8.101209,98.305029&ll=8.102898,98.305053&spn=0.009028,0.016512&num=1&t=h&z=17, according to Google Maps: https://maps.google.co.th/maps?ll=8.101368,98.305157&spn=0.002371,0.004128&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=8.101397,98.305053&panoid=SzJEcVXBNBUm4tpzFRUf9w&cbp=12,177.71,,0,5.25, the white with blue writing shop is still there saying Nai Yang Thai Style Massage, but unfortunately I can't see a number or I would call her!

Of course, the most important thing is to relax, enjoy your stay, and share your experiences with your bride.

All the best regards, GordonBGood

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bosjohn
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 30, 2013

AuroraProject08 wrote:

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

Thanks!
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sunset point is a must and the new gaint buddha a must there are other wonderful places with views and a local guide will help you. Some fabulous orchid famrs with a lot more than just orchids. Day trips to Krabi Koh PhiPhi and in high season to Similan island.  Beach pick a beach any beach. Day trip to james bond island silly name but good photo ops. Night live in the Paradise complex is mostly for the gays but the shows there are about as good as simons at a fraction of the cost.  There are also numerous four wheel drive trekes around the island. Dining and intertainment are all around but Patong beach is the hub of activity after dark. dont forget sun screan and enjoy. I go often to Phuket and I still find so much to shoot.

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bosjohn
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In reply to andrzej bialuski, Aug 30, 2013

andrzej bialuski wrote:

Jack Hogan wrote:

AuroraProject08 wrote:

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

Take a day trip to Phi Phi (or phee phee) Island - a long day, but outstanding.

I tend to disagree on this one. Phi Phi island is famous for taking part in a famous action film.

It attracts mostly tourists. Very little of Thailand to see here except of course beaches, island and bars and restaurants for tourists from all over the world.

I spent 2 days on Phi Phi and swore to never do it again. Yes, its beautiful, but its not how I want to remember Thailand.

Very touristy place.

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very little thai but then All of phuket is about tourism as a matter of fact the country is about sixty milliono people and has between fifteen and twenty million tourists a year. Tourism with all its support industries is by far thailands biggets industtry so if you want to see the real thailand you are.

Koh Phi phi was almost totally distroyed by the tsunamy but has been rebuilt and is fine. great snorkling too.

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limlh
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 30, 2013

Phuket is best enjoyed touring on a motorbike, imo. It's very cheap to rent one and you can take your time going round the island.

Take a morning boat tour to James Bond island. The boat trip itself is interesting, although I don't quite like the raucous noise of the boat engine. On the way back, stop over for lunch at a restaurant on stilts over the open sea. A nice place to taste seafood.

The town of Patong is touristy, but the crowded streets make for interesting street photography. Watch for the tuk tuk taxis and the many shops and street foods. There are many of those art galleries where the local artists will make copies of all the great masterpieces of the past.

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garyknrd
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to limlh, Aug 30, 2013

I live here. And I think you will enjoy it. With one small problem. Nothing that matters really.

You will probably wake up after a few days here,  look over to kiss the wife good morning.  To find after a few nights of drinking you have been with a beautiful Thai working girl for three days. Call the police and say you were accidentally struck on the head and had amnesia for the three days and ask for help. Wife problem solved.

Seriously, have a great time and a happy life. Phuket is a tourist town and will cater to what ever you and your new wife will want to do.

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Bill Donnell
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 30, 2013

I live in Thailand. I know Phuket. It's a big tourist destination but I advise you not to go there. Tourists are constantly being conned and ripped off. The whole place is run by organized crime with the local government and the police participating. Taxis and tuc-tucs will over charge you. DO NOT RENT A JET SKI. When you return it, the rental company may claim you damaged it and demand several hundred dollars. If you refuse you could get beat up. The police won't help they are part of the scam. Be careful with your luggage while you are in Phuket. There is a scam where dope may be planted and then it will be found when you go through customs. It's an extortion racket and it will cost you big bucks to stay out of jail. Several European  countries are warning their citizens about visiting there. Most people who go there are lucky and only get overcharged and ripped off by taxies and tuc-tucs. There are better places to visit.

Bangkok is a great city to visit and so is Chang Mai. There are great photo ops and and much to see and it will be less expensive than Phuket and far fewer scams. The hotel desk can recommend places to go and see. I have little fear of problems in each city and consider them relatively safe. I like both cities. Taxis are cheap and so is food. There are only a few things to watch out for. Only take a taxi that has a taxi meter sign on the roof and make sure the driver turns on the meter. If he doesn't get out and get another taxi. The meter price is for the taxi, no matter how many occupants. There will be taxis without meters that hang around the entrances of hotels. Don't use them. They will over charge you. Just walk out to the main drag and flag down a taxi for yourself. Always keep you wallet in your front pocket. There are a lot to pick pockets hanging around tourist areas. When you arrive at the airport, go to the official taxi stand where there are meter signs on the taxi roofs. Use these and you won't be overcharged. Other than that you should have a great time. I love it here.

Have a great time. Bangkok has been voted the best tourist destination in the world.

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Jack Hogan
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Re: Phee Phee Islands
In reply to andrzej bialuski, Aug 30, 2013

andrzej bialuski wrote:

Jack Hogan wrote:

AuroraProject08 wrote:

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

Take a day trip to Phi Phi (or phee phee) Island - a long day, but outstanding.

I tend to disagree on this one.

Fair enough.  I was there in 1987 and there were just a few of us: things may have changed since then.

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GodSpeaks
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In reply to Bill Donnell, Aug 30, 2013

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the poster above. I have lived in Thailand for almost 15 years, and while I love it here, Phuket is not a place I ever want to go again. In recent years it has gotten significantly worse. The authorities will do nothing about it because they are a main part of the problem.

The Thai police are called the largest criminal organization in Thailand.

Instead of Phuket, if you want an island holiday that is relaxing, may I suggest Koh Chang (near Trat) or Koh Lanta (near Krabi, and just south of Phuket). This is off season so both those islands will be quiet and you should be able to find good accomodation for under $50/night.

Alternatively, lots to do and see in Bangkok (I live on Asoke). If you like temples, ruins and history, there is Ayutthaya and or Sukhothai. Or Chiang Mei for the mountains.

How about a cruise on the Chao Phraya river on a converted rice barge? There are dinner cruises, day cruises and a 3 day 2 night trip to Ayutthaya on the river.

I would also think twice about renting anything along the lines of a car or motorbike. The roads here are VERY dangerous, as there are virtually zero traffic laws (well none are enforced anyway) and enforcement is highly selective (remember corrupt cops looking to score a shakedown). Plus, if anything were to happen, you are likely to be found at fault.

Not trying to put a damper on your honeymoon, but eyes wide open is better than getting a nasty shock.

By the way, Thai food is wonderful.

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JulesJ
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 30, 2013

AuroraProject08 wrote:

I'm headed to Phuket, Thailand on honeymoon in about a week and a half. Are there any "must see" spots to photograph? Any places that are "off the beaten path" or not so touristy?

Thanks!
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I went there a year before the tsunami. No idea what it's like now. It was fun then.

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AuroraProject08
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to GordonBGood, Aug 31, 2013

Good stuff! We are staying on Kata Beach, and we have an itinerary full of touristy stuff to do, but have 3 days with nothing scheduled, hence the request. I can't seem to find any place called Sunset Point though.

Thanks folks!

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bosjohn
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 31, 2013

AuroraProject08 wrote:

Good stuff! We are staying on Kata Beach, and we have an itinerary full of touristy stuff to do, but have 3 days with nothing scheduled, hence the request. I can't seem to find any place called Sunset Point though.

Thanks folks!

its name is Phromthep Cape check out this link http://www.phuket.com/island/phuket-viewpoints.htm

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andrzej bialuski
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to bosjohn, Aug 31, 2013

Just for the fun of it, here are my Thailand photos from maybe 4 visits.

http://lowflyingbananas.zenfolio.com/p269058984

best if you use the slideshow option.

Part is on Phuket and the rest on any possible island there plus Bangkok and Chiang Mai; I like to get around a lot. When in one location I always rent a motorbike. Cost is $3-4 per day.

My least favorite place: Phi Phi.... too many foreigners

and Patong..... too many too horny foreigners

Never ventured to Pattaya and do not intend to.

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bosjohn
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In reply to GodSpeaks, Aug 31, 2013

GodSpeaks wrote:

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the poster above. I have lived in Thailand for almost 15 years, and while I love it here, Phuket is not a place I ever want to go again. In recent years it has gotten significantly worse. The authorities will do nothing about it because they are a main part of the problem.

The Thai police are called the largest criminal organization in Thailand.

Instead of Phuket, if you want an island holiday that is relaxing, may I suggest Koh Chang (near Trat) or Koh Lanta (near Krabi, and just south of Phuket). This is off season so both those islands will be quiet and you should be able to find good accomodation for under $50/night.

Alternatively, lots to do and see in Bangkok (I live on Asoke). If you like temples, ruins and history, there is Ayutthaya and or Sukhothai. Or Chiang Mei for the mountains.

How about a cruise on the Chao Phraya river on a converted rice barge? There are dinner cruises, day cruises and a 3 day 2 night trip to Ayutthaya on the river.

I would also think twice about renting anything along the lines of a car or motorbike. The roads here are VERY dangerous, as there are virtually zero traffic laws (well none are enforced anyway) and enforcement is highly selective (remember corrupt cops looking to score a shakedown). Plus, if anything were to happen, you are likely to be found at fault.

Not trying to put a damper on your honeymoon, but eyes wide open is better than getting a nasty shock.

By the way, Thai food is wonderful.

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between Koh Chang and Koh lanta I liked Koh Lanta better. but thats just me. I still like Phuket but it does have problems especially with the tuktuk drivers, fortunately when I am there my friend drives me around and that makes a huge difference.

but for a honeymoon you will be fine in Phuket after all its really more about getting married than anything else. If Phuket is to fernetic there is the shore above the Island which was devistated in the tsunami but is alll up and running  these days. Kaho Lak is the name of the resort area

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GordonBGood
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Re: Phuket Thailand, "must see"?
In reply to AuroraProject08, Aug 31, 2013

AuroraProject08 wrote:

Good stuff! We are staying on Kata Beach, and we have an itinerary full of touristy stuff to do, but have 3 days with nothing scheduled, hence the request. I can't seem to find any place called Sunset Point though.

Tourists call it Sunset Point because they can't remember the proper name, which is Phromthep or Promthep actually properly spelled พรหมเทพ and is in this vicinity: https://maps.google.co.th/maps?q=7.762978,98.305038&num=1&t=h&z=16. At sunset time you'll find busloads of tourists brought there to take a picture of the sunset.

This is about a 10 to 15 minute motorcycle ride away from Kata Beach, which isn't too bad a beach for the more developed ones - Kata Noi (Little Kata) is even a little smaller and maybe a little better.

Everyone, even my family, does some "touristy stuff" on their first trip to Thailand; just realize what is staged for you to see isn't the "real" Thailand and my suggestions are provided to at least give you a chance to see something real. The street view Google Map link I provided in my last post can provide some of the feel of actually walking along the road through the "Turtle Beach" national park if you proceed west toward the beach from the massage parlour belonging to my friend, Daeng.

Others have commented on renting cars and motorcycles in Phuket, and their suggestions are good ones: 1) you'll be more independent to do what you want to do and see what you want to see but 2) driving isn't particularly safe for you, especially as you aren't used to the way people drive in Thailand, aren't used to driving on the left hand side, and will find it driving on some of the main roads quite a strain with all of the traffic. There are also liability issues as you may be found responsible for every bit of damage and loss for the vehicle. That said, many have found renting vehicles to get around to be part of the experience and have managed the risk. If you do rent a motorcycle, rent one of the scooters with an automatic transmission (no gear changes) as many don't have the skill to manage gears as well as the traffic challenges.

I don't know what to tell you to go to see with a spare three days; the pearl farms on the other side of the island are somewhat interesting as is tracing information about the old tin mining industry, or one might just take a leisurely drive north to the newer beaches north of Patong all the way up to the airport, stopping to look, take pictures and eat.  Another thing that was quite worth the time was the Phuket Aquarium if it is still open which is on the way to Phuket town; we drove there ourselves, it isn't all that touristy as it is where Thais take their families, and it was incredibly inexpensive once you get there - something like a dollar a person.

As I mentioned, one of my favourite things in Thailand is getting an ancient massage, which is incredibly cheap when one goes to a proper massage parlour and gets a proper local price - about $7 an hour with a two hour "set" the standard period of time. You should know that the people that give quick massages on the beach are very expensive and often not particularly skilled, without their proper certification as properly trained masseuses, whereas most proper ancient massage parlours will have certified masseuses. There are two Thai words you need to learn when having a massage: bow (as in bow wow) spelled เบ่า meaning softly as opposed to "nuk" or หนัก meaning hard or heavy, as Thai masseuse ladies usually come from farms where they work with their hands and are very strong.

Anyway, have fun and be safe.

Regards, GordonBGood

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