I got breakfast and a book in town on my last morning in Chiang Mai before catching a taxi to the airport.
TIP: I had two books I had finished before this point but left them both in my hotel room. If you have extra books you’re willing to trade, do it! You can get a new book at half price when you trade a book in. This also helps to lighten your load.
The ride was only 15 minutes or so and ended up being a flat 300 THB. This would be about the same from anywhere within the city square. My hotel called the taxi while I ran up and grabbed my backpack. Very convenient.
TIP: When you’re checking into your flight always go to the self serve kiosk if you’re only bringing a carry on. I’m sure my backpack was over the weight limit but because I checked in myself I never had to weigh it. If you go to the ticket counter you risk the attendant asking you to weigh your carry on bag which could be an additional charge if it’s over the limit.
The flight was a quick 2.5 hours to Phuket and we flew over water and saw all the islands and mountains. I paid $3USD extra for a window seat, SO worth it to experience this breathtaking view.
Phuket airport was a bit different than Don Muang. I rushed from the plane down to the taxi pick up because I didn’t want to wait in a line like I did the first time. However, there wasn’t a queue here and where you get the taxi was unclear. A guy came up and asked me if I needed one and said he’d call one over for me. I waited probably 15 minutes before a jeep showed up. I asked if he’d run a meter and he said he didn’t have one and it was going to be a flat 1000 THB to get to my hotel. I said no and started to walk away, then he said he’d do it for 800 THB. I WISH I had done this, but instead I found a meter taxi. (No matter what taxi you choose there is a 100 THB airport fee. Unless you go with a hotel with a shuttle.)
The taxi I ended up in smelled like stale cigarettes and gasoline and the driver had blood stains on the back of his shirt which I learned in later conversation were from when his girlfriend stabbed him in the back… literally…. at least a month prior (why he still wears a shirt with blood stains, I don’t know). He told me the whole story about how he had all this car trouble and was out of work so he wasn’t able to support her so she said “I’m leaving you!” and he said “no, it’s late, don’t leave” and grabbed her. Sooooo she stabbed him. (I suspect the other side of this story sounds quite different). I’ll never forget the way he pretended to hold a knife and the sound he made when he stabbed the air. I laughed. I laughed as this taxi driver told me the story of how he was literally stabbed in the back by his girlfriend, how they motorbiked to the hospital together and he ended up with a back filled with stitches. She ended up leaving him the next day. The rest of the ride was a nervous therapy session where I said things like “you don’t need her” and “I’m sure she’ll come back.” WHY WHY WHY didn’t I just take that jeep!! This guy wanted to talk the entire ride, wanted to sell me stuff, he even had me watch one of those videos for some kind of pyramid scheme he was involved in. He asked for my phone number, invited me out that night and desperately wanted to bring me to my ferry the next morning and help me find a “good company and boat” to Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee) which he no doubt would have made a cut of. To make matters worse the ride ended up being 850 THB and when I handed him a thousand he claimed he didn’t have any change. Savage. I kissed the ground when I arrived at the hotel.
I chose this night in Phuket to spoil myself, so I found a great deal on a beautiful resort on Hotels.com called Cloud 19 on Cape Panwa Beach. When I say I spoiled myself I still only paid $55USD. I picked this hotel specifically because it was close to Sri Panwa’s rooftop bar Baba’s Nest. I stumbled upon this place and after seeing pictures I was desperate to experience it.
TIP: If you want to go to Baba’s Nest make sure you make reservations at least a couple days in advance. I found doing this via email was easiest.
I don’t recommend Phuket but I do recommend Baba’s Nest. Sri Panwa was incredible to experience in itself but when you reach Baba’s Nest and take in the 360 degree views of the island, the water, the mountains, it hits you right in your gut like an emotion.
Why I don’t recommend Phuket: 1. I found the views incredible, until I went to an island, if you have limited time I would go straight to the islands for the best of the best. 2. It’s very commercial. 3. There wasn’t THAT much to do aside from seeing the Big Buddha. 4. It’s mainly the gateway to Koh Phi Phi Island.
TIP: Be aware that Baba’s Nest is only open 5PM-9PM and requires a minimum spend of 1,000 THB for all outside guests. I got a smoothie and a couple Hoegardens for around 1,000 THB. This was a much better experience than the rooftop in Bangkok and I didn’t feel guilty about it for a second.
Sri Panwa will call you a taxi when you leave, take them up on this. I figured I’d just walk around the town and get a taxi when I felt like it. The taxi never came, but rain did. I went into a restaurant for cover and they were nice enough to call me a taxi. We sat around and ate pork rinds in the kitchen until the taxi finally came.