Phuket and Phang Nga Bay Kayaking

As my SouthEast Asia itinerary came together, I found myself with a few open days at the end of my trip.  As much as I would have loved to explore some of the more remote islands like Koh Tao or Koh Samui, I wanted an airport with easy access to Hong Kong for my flight home.  So I settled on Phuket, despite the reputation as a hard partying super touristy island.  I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, other than a few days at the spa/pool after 10 days of heavy touristing. While I originally planned to do nothing but relax in Phuket, that plan didn’t last long once I read about Viator’s Phang Nga Bay Sea Cave tour.  OK, one more long day of activities and then I’ll relax!

I chose the Westin Siray Bay for my visit.  I’m a big fan of Westin hotels, and found a great pre-paid rate of about $93 per night ($110 with taxes and fees…still a bargain!)  I flew to Phuket from Cambodia (via Bangkok) and landed around 8pm on a Wednesday night.  The hotel offered an airport car service, a bit pricey at $35 each way, but well worth it given my evening arrival and the 45 minute drive. Upon arrival, I was upgraded to a 2 room suite, complete with two balconies! (My favorite hotel feature is a balcony!)

Living room (and 2nd balcony) of my two room suite

The Phang Nga Bay tour started at noon, and included hotel pickup (a huge bonus as my resort was about an hour away from everything on the island!)  This gave me time to order up a fresh room service breakfast to enjoy on my balcony.  I already miss the orange juice in Thailand, which is apparently tangerine juice…so yummy!

Room service breakfast on the balcony

Upon arrival at the marina, we were funneled through a small shop for last minute purchases like soda, sunscreen or souvenirs.  We were then split into two groups of 50 and assigned to our boat.

Our vessel for the day

Lunch was served as we set sail, and each group was assigned a guide.  As a solo traveler, I was paired up with a solo woman from Australia, and our guide, Alex.  After lunch was served, we arrived at our first kayaking spot. Most of the kayaking would focus on islands with caves leading to interior lakes, or hongs. Upon paddling into a dark cave (sometimes having to lie down in the boat to avoid conking our heads) the walls would then open up to a beautiful oasis.

We saw plenty of monkeys on the shores as well, and unlike Cambodia, they did not want anything to do with us. I’m sure they are used to the traffic, but it was nice that they weren’t begging for food or water.

Macaque Monkeys

After a few kayak outings within the islands of Phang Nga Bay, we had some downtime while the crew prepared dinner.  Some of us swam, while others attempted a foot race on the slippery kayaks strung together.

While the crew prepared dinner, we had some free time for swimming and a kayak race.

After dinner, it was time to pair up again with our guide and make our krathong.  The krathong is a decorated basket or crown that is adorned with candles and set afloat while making a wish, typically during the Thai holiday of Loi Krathong in November.  The base of the krathong was formed by a banana stalk and then decorated with banana leaves and various flowers.  While I’m not usually big on arts and crafts, the ritual of floating them after dark was pretty special. It was also fun to hear and see the guides get competitive about the best looking krathong.  My new Aussie friend and I agreed, we had one of the best guides on the boat!

Our guide, Alex, with our krathong.  I thought this was the finished product, and was quite pleased!

As the sun set, we got our krathong ready and got back into the kayaks one more time.  We grouped up with two other boats in a nearby cave to light our krathong, make a wish and float them away. (In the normal ceremony, they do just float away, however with so many tourists partaking, it was necessary to re-collect our krathongs after a while)

After this, Alex took us to a more secluded area to see the bio-luminescent plankton and even a few glowing jellyfish.  Something I’d always wanted to see and something I’ll just have to keep in memory as it wasn’t possible to photograph it.  Finally, we had about an hour ride from Phang Nga Bay back to the marina, and then my car was waiting to take me back to the Westin.  It was a long day and a late night (for me!) but an unforgettable experience!

Finally, the next day, my last in Phuket, I would get my much anticipated down time.  I had no agenda, other than to explore the different pool areas of the Westin.  Sadly, I was so relaxed that I only made it to 2 of the 3 pools!

I spent most of the day at the Horizon pool, including a poolside lunch.

Westin Siray Bay Resort & SpaHorizon Pool

By the time I got to the beach, the tide had gone out, so I skipped on ahead to the Prego pool for the rest of the afternoon.

Westin Siray Bay Resort & SpaBeach at Low Tide

Westin Siray Bay Resort & SpaPrego Pool

My last night in Phuket was extremely chill – room service and reading.  I know, I’m a total nerd, but I can’t resist room service and a good book!

Westin Siray Bay Resort & SpaRoom Service Dinner

So, I can’t say I actually saw any of Phuket itself, but this was a great way to wind down from a very active vacation.  The Westin was great for this type of visit – if you wanted to do more activities, you might want to stay in a more populated area, but as far as resorts go, I loved it.  The one downside to Phuket that I noticed was a return to Western prices – even a crappy sandwich at the airport cost $18!

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Phang Nga Bay Kayak

 

For the rest my photos from Phuket, click here!

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13 thoughts on “Phuket and Phang Nga Bay Kayaking

  1. Thanks so much Leigh for your well written and photographed journal. That was an amazing trip. I felt like I went on the trip with you! You are one brave soul. ( I was biting my nails waiting fir your return though!!)

    You must have learned so much and experienced culture beyond my imagination
    You will never regret that trip.

    Keep traveling. Keep journaling for us!!
    You are giving me inspiration.
    Ps. How were the plane rides???

  2. I had a similar experience in Phuket and absolutely loved it! I chose the location based on ease of travel and had a super chill trip – despite the partying reputation. I live for room service and a good book, too, lol! Wasn’t the water color on the bay incredible???

  3. I only spent a weekend in Phuket so we didn’t really have time to explore the islands unfortunately. The main thing I remember is how nice the hotel was (we stayed at the JW Marriott) and how cheap it was. Looks like you found a similar gem!

  4. OMG tangerine juice sounds so yummy. and that view, damn! 😉
    I love kayaking, never done it in a place like this though!
    Also, your last night sounds super fun, I love those kinds of nights – sometimes when we travel we don’t actually give ourselves time to relax!

  5. Sounds like you had a great adventure! You surely did not miss out on anything major as Phuket is not the most interesting destinations in Thailand, just huge masses of tourists all over the place with wild parties.

  6. I seemed to have a completely different experience of Phuket when I visited (I think I stayed in a dodgy part!) so reading your post has helped me to see it in a different light. The trip you did with the caves looks beautiful and so does the hotel you stayed in. Relaxing by the horizon pool sounds bliss!

  7. This looks like an incredible day! The kayaking looks awesome. I like how you had time to relax thought too and hang at that beautiful pool! Pinned so I can save when I go to Thailand!

  8. What a great trip this sounds, fresh tangerine juice sounds delicious in my hungover state this Sunday, as does swimming with all the glowing plankton!

  9. Loved reading this! I’ve been to Phuket twice myself and it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to read about other people’s experiences of places I’ve already been to, haha. Your hotel looks and sounds amazing as well!

  10. It reminds me of Ha Long bay in Vietnam. Felt so surreal and peaceful. And kayaking in the sea caves was my favorite part. Love your pictures.

  11. Looks like you had fun! Sometimes we just need to relax instead of running around in circles all day 🙂

    Too bad you couldn’t get a picture of the jellyfish! Must have been a wonderful experience ❤

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