After our time in Karon we headed to the south of Phuket about 10 miles to Ao Yon Bay. The bay was away from the main tourist areas and so was much quieter. There were timeshare apartments and expat houses along the beach, as well as the Bandara Hotel which was the only hotel There, split between a more upmarket option and a cheaper one.
The pictures of the cheaper option online looked stunning so we didn’t feel the need to spend a bit more for the upmarket option. The pictures didn’t disappoint. For £43 a night we were staying in a solid four star hotel, beautifully decorated with modern and fresh colours, and an amazing infinity pool which overlooked the beach. Breakfast was included which again consisted of the normal breakfast items plus rice and noodle dishes. There were a number of different experience and water sports which could be booked through the hotel, but we decided to explore the bay and Phuket Old Town ourselves.
Ao Yon Bay
As well as the rooftop infinity pool the hotel also had an area on Ao Yon Beach which was an entirely private beach, and as such was essentially deserted. The sandy area was much smaller than a standard beach so it wouldn’t have really worked as a touristy beach. There were plenty of boats moored up throughout the bay, including an abandoned one from the 70s and a big party boat. We managed to hitch a ride with a local expat who was taking his boat out to one of the small islands surrounding the bay. The island really was deserted and looked just like a postcard. The beach was alive with crabs and other crustation, normally scared away by people, here they had the freedom to take over the beach; the longer your starred at the sand the more you saw all the movement that was going on there. All these small islands were part of a nature reserve, and they all had small structures on them with toilets inside, all of which had been demolished. Apparently, the tour companies will build these toilettes for when they do boat tours, and the government will come along and knock them down because they’re on a protected area. It was quite bizarre to see an idyllic island, untouched by the human footprint except for a smashed-up toilette cubical. Only in Thailand.
In the evening we visited a French/Belgian restaurant which opened up onto the beach. The smell of the cooked fresh fish was amazing and the jazz music they were playing in the background, against the sound of the waves just a few metres away made the whole experience seem so idyllic. Was this paradise? The owner was really chatty and said he was from and Belgium but moved to Thailand 15 years ago to set-up some restaurants. All the expats we met were so relaxed and happy; why do I live in London again? We had fresh clams and prawns in a yummy garlic and white wine sauce. There was lobster on the menu but we decided to be frugal!
Phuket Old Town
After a 10 minute ride we arrived in Phuket Old Town. There were many more locals and less tourists than most places we had been so far. There was plenty of buzz about the town, though the roads weren’t too busy. The buildings along the high street had been painted different colours so it had an almost Portugese colonial feel to it. The smell of street food and restaurants filled the air; we headed into a local restaurant which was full of locals (usually a sign of good restaurant in my opinion). Again we had a delicious Thai meal and drinks for less than £10 each.
Phuket Cat Cafe
When we saw the Cat Cafe as we walked down one of the main streets in Phuket Old Town of course we couldn’t resist paying a visit. Entry was free; just requiring the purchase of a drink and a cake which were pretty inexpensive. There were 17 cats, all of which looked to be pedigree. Most of the street cats in Phuket were pretty skinny with short fur, but these guys were seriously fluffy. All the cats were mild mannered, though you could tell they were tired of being stroked, just like in The London Cat Village customers weren’t allowed to pick the cats up. There was a little girl there who couldn’t have been more than 4, who was clearly having the best time playing with a kitten. It was adoresble to watch.
Bandara Hotel: 4.5 stars
Phuket Old Town: 4 stars
Phuket Cat Cafe: 4 star
Ao Yon Bay: 5 stars
More Phuket… Kata Beach