Phuket - Thailand: The Marketing Scam
When I began pulling together my itinerary for Thailand, the first decision I had to make was whether to fly into Phuket or Bangkok. I received very mixed review on Phuket (from the worst stop in their life to the best) that I decided to see for myself what it was all about. Flights into Phuket are usually the same as if you were flying into Bangkok, the difference is that Phuket has access to many of the islands where it's more of a hassle from Bangkok.
Navigating the airport was easy as was finding a van to take me to my hostel. My friend forewarned me that although the van was cheap that they would make a shady stop or two to try and sell additional tours, so when it happened I wasn't surprised. The stop wasn't uncomfortable either, as long as you're polite they leave you alone. Van dropped me off at the hostel doorsteps and I considered this a win for the value.
Night 1 was quite a ride as I was staying close to the infamous Bangla road. Now please note, I know how to party and this place completely caught me off guard. The road is an absolute shit-show, packed with clubs and ping-pong shows as far as the eye can see (which isn't far because it's so damn packed). For a guy this place may be heaven, but I chose to not partake in the cheap Thai "massages". If you've ever been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, imagine a tad less people but much more out of control. Every time you try and take a step there's another marketer in your face to sell you shots or their shows.
To continue the bashing, the beach within the city area is filthy. Trash everywhere paired with drunk tourists and marketers make it the least relaxing experience you'll ever have. Lastly, the tourism industry in my opinion just isn't safe. What you don't hear is that the parasailing industry is so unregulated that they have many deaths in it each year. It is quite a thrill though to watch a guy literally stand on the ropes under the parachute in the air to keep it down while riding. Thanks, but I'll pass...
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's touch on the things I did enjoy about the trip. First was that if you do decide to venture outside the city there are many beautiful islands to be seen. We took a day trip over the the island where they filmed James Bond, and although the island itself was a marketing scam the other stops and boat ride are outstanding. Well worth the money and I'd absolutely do it again.
I was able to make a trip out to Freedom Beach outside the tourist area. The first taxi driver was unable to locate the well hidden beach, but the second dropped us off at the entrance. The beach looked stunning but once we reached it there was a decent amount of garbage scattered along the waters edge. We were able to find a nice spot to relax and enjoyed the day with only 5 other people to share the beach with.
After spending five days in Phuket, I can say that Phuket is the biggest marketing scam of a place I have ever been to. Every article and picture online portrays it as this gorgeous beach destination, but the only time I would ever go back is if I wanted to black out for a few nights. There are plenty of places you can go to close by, so use this as a stopping point to stay at better places for your money.