Adventures in Paradise: Beaches and Elephants in Phuket, Thailand

Kata Noi Beach; photos by Rachel Sterling & Jeremy Sharff

After a whirlwind 48 hours in Singapore last spring, which included a trip to the world-famous Singapore Zoo, Rachel Sterling and Jeremy Sharff were ready for some relaxation. So they flew to the island of Phuket in Thailand to take advantage of the gorgeous beaches. Here, Rachel tells Travelogged where they stayed, where they ate and what it was like to ride an elephant.

Where They Stayed: We stayed at the Katathani Beach Resort, which is located right on Kata Noi Beach at the southernmost part of the island, about an hour’s drive from the airport. The beach itself is public, but the hotel is so big that only people on the beach are guests of the hotel. It felt secluded, which we liked. For a busier beach experience, we could have gone to the very popular Kata Beach next door.

Mom Tri's Villa Royale

The Restaurant at Mom Tri's Villa Royale

We chose this hotel because we wanted to be right on the beach (a lot of hotels are in the hills) and we wanted air conditioning, which not all of the hotels have. It had multiple pools and restaurants (including an outstanding breakfast buffet with dragonfruit) and seemed to cater to a European clientele.

The hotel has two wings the Bhuri Wing (or Garden wing) and the Thani Wing ( closer to the beach). We stayed in the Bhuri wing because it was a little more affordable. Our first room was horrible – the view was of the street and a telephone pole. We switched rooms on the second day and had a much better view. When we took a walk over to the Thani Wing we realized we should have upgraded and stayed on the other side of the road (keep in mind the road is super small – its not a highway… but it would have made a big difference to be on the ocean side than the garden side).

Phuket Sunset

Watching the sunset at Phuket's After Beach Bar

Massages and Pedicures: The hotel offered massages by the pool and on the lawn. I don’t remember the pricing exactly but it could have been as low as $10 USD for an hour-long massage. You do not need to go to the hotel spa to schedule a massage the masseuses walk around the pools and offer them then and there. They also give pedicures, which I highly recommend. This is not an American pedicure. They basically loofah off all of your dead skin cells on your feet. My feet have never looked or felt that good in my entire life!

You can also get a Thai massage down on the beach. But this massage service is not affiliated with the hotel (as the beach is public). I preferred the hotel massage, but Jeremy preferred the beach massage because they used a cooling ointment on the skin that he really liked.

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi

Favorite Meal: Our first night in Phuket we ate at Mom Tri’s Villa Royale, a nearby boutique hotel overlooking Kata Noi beach, and it was spectacular. The view was amazing and the food was delicious. Overall, we were very impressed by the food on Phuket. We didn’t have a single bad meal for the three days we were there.

Favorite Bar: Well, the name doesn’t lie. The After Beach Bar was the perfect place to go after the beach to have a drink and watch the sunset. It’s a bit of a hike up the hill from Kata Beach to get there, but you’re rewarded with incredible views, great Thai cocktails and music.

Day Trip to Koh Phi Phi: We loved our day trip to the nearby island of Ko Phi Phi, which we booked through Offspray Leisure, an Aussie run company that arranged transportation to and from our hotel. We took a high speed boat there that was so fast it felt like we were flying through the ocean – we were airborne every time we hit a wave. I got a bruise on my elbow from where it the hit the boat, but I didn’t get seasick.

Elephant ride time!

Elephant ride time!

On Koh Phi Phi we went snorkeling, ate a fantastic lunch on the beach and then visited the monkeys on Monkey Beach. We loved Ko Phi Phi because it was so serene and laid-back. I would consider staying there next time as opposed to Phuket — my friend has raved about the Holiday Inn Resort.

Elephant Ride: We knew we had to experience an elephant ride, so we booked one through Kok Chang’s Elephant Safari. We both sat on an elephant and a “driver” led the elephant all around the forest area till we emerged at the top of the hill overlooking Kata Beach.

It was a little scary at times! The elephant did what the elephant wanted to do —and then the driver had to whack him with a riding crop. At one point our driver and the elephant sort of got into a fight. But then it was fine. The driver was also fantastic at taking pictures. He would periodically get off the elephant and take pictures of us.

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11 Responses to Adventures in Paradise: Beaches and Elephants in Phuket, Thailand

  1. globester December 6, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    Very nice destination


  2. Jack
    Twitter: eyeflare
    December 6, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Looks a lot nicer than being in a wintry, foggy, freezing London!

  3. Jack
    Twitter: eyeflare
    December 6, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Looks a lot nicer than being in a wintry, foggy, freezing London!

  4. Ayngelina
    Twitter: ayngelina
    December 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    A fantastic idea for a winter break!

  5. Michael Hodson December 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    I need to get back to SE Asia soon and start taking some of these great suggestions.

  6. Jason
    Twitter: alpaca_suitcase
    December 6, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    It’s raining where I am…man, Koh Phi Phi looks amazing!

  7. Natalie - Turkish Travel Blog
    Twitter: turkishtravel
    December 7, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    Looks a fab place to stay. I would take advantage of the cheap massage but probably would stay the hell away from the elephants!

  8. Sophie
    Twitter: SophieR
    December 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Excellent Thailand tips!
    Wouldn’t mind trading in the 20 degrees below temperature up here for a few days at Koh Phi Phi now.

  9. Traveling Canucks December 7, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    Would love to be there right now! 😉

  10. GlobalButterfly
    Twitter: andiperullo
    December 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    I want to go NOW!

  11. lesliekandy February 27, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    I was in Phuket in December 2014. I went there from BKK by Airasia. The city is not so big but it has what a tourist needs. Beach is wonderful and there are enough hotels for anyone needs.
    so I again go there. lesilekandy

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