After a 10 hour flight from Heathrow we arrived in Bangkok, pretty confused as to what time or day it was! When you fly east, you fly effectively through time, meaning it was an entirely new day when we arrived. After a bite to eat in the expensive Bangkok airport food hall, we caught a flight to Phuket on Thai Smile airlines. An entirely approrptiote name for the airline as everyone we met in Thailand was very smiley and welcoming. The smile is a key part of their culture and it does make a difference when everyone you interact with wishes you a pleasant day and gives you a great big smile.
Phuket airport was a bit manic outside, with lots of taxi companies competing for tourist’s business. We picked a minibus company which meant we were joined by a few other couples going to hotels in a similar area to us. The hour long trip to Karon cost us 200 Bahts each (about £4).
The Foto Hotel was set slightly out of the centre of town on a hill which made for great views of the sea and surrounding area. Set-up by four photogropher friends the theme of the hotel was all about photogropahy. With pictures and antique cameras everywhere. Everything was black & white. And I really do mean everything. I have a new found appreciation for people with colour blindness. Having said that, a look out of the window would refresh your ey a with the green of the forests and blue of the sea and sky.
Everything in the hotel was exceptionally clean and well presented. The rooms were massive with floor to ceiling windows opening up onto a balcony, complete with outside bath, and then a walk way onto a private terrace. The bathroom was a wet room which made for a really roomy shower.
The rooftop pool and restaurant was such a lovely oasis. It was never busy and there was always space to sit on the sun loungers in the pool or have a drink at the bar, listening to the birds in the trees all around. Breakfast was a buffet in the restaurant, thankfully served until 1pm, as with the 7 hour time difference, we woke up pretty late every day. The breakfast buffet included different chicken and rice/noodle dishes, so it effectively became lunch every day!
Kata beach five minutes walk from the hotel was really highly rated a single one if the best beaches in Phuket. So after we woke up from a 15 hour sleep to our first full day in Thailand, we headed straight down there. When we got to the beach, it looked like every other tourist in the area had had the same idea. The beach really was beautiful, it went on for at least a kilometre. Unfortunately it was pretty much covered in people. I had the idea that Thailand had so many beaches that they would all be deserted, but never mind. The waves looked amazing and the sound of them crashing against the shore was really special. We set up camp with our towels and rented some bodyboards from one of the many makeshift shops on the beach (including multiple massage places). The waves were really strong and there were lots of surfers testing the waves and doing pretty well! We Probably looked ridiculous with our body boards; we were taken out a few times by a some massive waves, it’s was really great fun.
In the evening the beach area was much quieter and there was plenty of space at the local restaurants. We grabbed a meal sitting on the beach front; it came to about £6 per person, including drinks. A typical restaurant price in Phuket. Unbelievable value.
Overall, in Phuket, Karon was a great place to start the holiday. It was safe and everything was very straightforward, but we were ready to move on and find somewhere a bit quieter after two days. The Foto hotel was fantastic; clean modern and boutique with great food and drink. In London this kind of hotel could easily charge 200-300 a night. We paid just over £100 a night, which is a lot for Phuket, but they worked hard to live up to the price and it didn’t disappoint.
Foto Hotel: 4.5 stars
Kata Beach: 3 stars