3 nights/5 days in Khao Lak/Phuket
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Feb 6, 2013 3:19 AM Last Post By: PhiMeow
Dec 6, 2012 6:19 PM
3 nights/5 days in Khao Lak/PhuketHi,
I will stop over in Thailand in early January 2013 with my fiancé. We'll arrive at 8am and leave at 10pm, so have almost 5 full days to play with. I have booked the Merlin in Khaolak as I've heard it's a bit quitter/more relaxing in Khaolak than staying in Phuket. Question:
Can you recommend renting a car from/to Phuket airport? I've read very different things about driving in Thailand. We always do road trip vacations and would also prefer to have a car and flexibility for this stay.
What's a good itinerary, given we don't have much time, want this to be a stop over to relax, but also discover Thailand a bit?
Day 1 - drive to Khao Lak, check in at hotel, beach and rest, Khao Lak center for dinner
Day 2 - day trip for snorkeling at similan islands
Day 3 - drive to Phang Nga with rental car, do a canoe trip
Day 4 - checkout in the morning, ????, drive to Phuket/airport (gotta be there around 7pm)
I would also like to see Ko Phi Phi but probably won't enjoy a day tour with hundreds of other tourists/boats. Not sure if it's too hard from Khao Lak anyway, as it isn't close?? Any thoughts? Khao Sok National Park sounds really nice, too.
What would you recommend as the best itinerary for this trip?
Thanks in advance,
Dec 6, 2012 7:01 PM
There are a number of car rentals places either at the airport or just outside the airport at reasonable prices. Make sure you check the car over prior to driving off (bumps/dents/tyres etc). I also would advise that you have an international driving permit (from your automobile clubs from home). It's not necessary to have an IDP to rent but if you do have an accident, insurance may not cover you if you don't have an IDP. Police will also check for the IDP.
Dec 6, 2012 8:25 PM
2For that length of trip I think you might be better off just getting car/van transport to the Merlin and then doing day trips, and then car/van transport back to the airport. Given what you want to do while you are there the car is mostly just going to sit parked somewhere while you are off at the Similians or Phang Nga.
I highly recommend a Phang Nga day tour, there will be places to book one easily (including your hotel probably) - one of my favorite day trips in that area.
I don't think you will really have time for Khao Sok, you really need a couple of days to see the highlights. There is a shirt hike you can take up into the hills behind the Merlin - from the main road into the merlin walk south on the highway for about 10 mins and there is a road off to the left (marked with a sign to a waterfall I believe). Not a hard hike, and would burn a couple of hours, or going into the main town area and wandering down to the beach or through some of the shops is another good way to spend some time if you are looking for things to do.
You could do a day trip to Phi Phi from there, but it would involve a fairly early morning start - most day trips to Phi Phi would leave from the marina in Phuket town, and that is about a 2 hour drive from Khao Lak.
For a nice meal away from the hotel we at more than one at Jo's Seafood - go straight up the beach (north) from the Merlin and almost at the end there are some restaurants - Jo's is in there just back off the beach.
Dec 6, 2012 9:12 PM
Thanks for your tips, I just think it may be hassle-freeer to drive ourselves and perhaps also cheaper as airport transfers can be expensive for 2 persons and the day tours would com on top. Obviously the Similan one can not be done by car but I read that the drive to Phang Nga is beautiful and scenic.
Good advice regarding Khao Sok and the waterfalls. Thanks, Julia
Dec 6, 2012 9:14 PM
Dec 6, 2012 11:17 PM
Have you driven in Thailand before? The only other car on the road may be driven by a drunk/ ya ba crazed maniac. The death toll on Thai roads is very high.
Have good insurance and only hire from a reputable company.
Dec 6, 2012 11:48 PM
6FWIW I don't know what the car rental would cost, but you could arrange car service from the airport for under 2000 baht total (http://www.phuketairporttaxi.com/taxi.htm)
If you organize a tour to Phang Nga it will include the trip to the get to the water, and while it might be a bit cheaper to arrange it at the pier I doubt it will be more than the rental for a day and fuel.
Every time I have looked at the cost of a rental car it seems to me like I can get a private hire with a driver for not a whole lot more and then I don't have to deal with the Thai driving rules (or lack thereof).
Dec 7, 2012 3:24 AM
7Thaiwanderer...where;s your sense of adventure?! ;-)
Whenever I go to Phuket and/or Khaolak I prefer to hire a car as it gives me more flexibility and I don't have to deal with the taxi mafia at night getting back from Patong. The drive is much safer at that section than in/around Phuket (Patong etc) itself. Plus I have a real map that shows all the roads on Phuket (1st edition only came out last year and it's a great map).
Dec 7, 2012 1:33 PM
8Ha! I have seen one too many tourist on local traffic incidents on Phuket and has beaten that part of my sense of adventure down :)
If I was going to Khao Lak for any extended period of time I would probably think about driving myself as I think there is a ton of stuff to explore around there, but for a handful of days with a planned agenda I just think it would cost more than going the other way.
I avoid Patong like the plague - seems to work wonders for avoiding the traffic and the taxi mafia :)
Feb 6, 2013 2:08 AM
9Just thought I'd close this off - we did end up renting a car which was absolutely fine in terms of driving. Yes, there were a lot of crazy motorbikes and cars on the streets, esp. in Phuket when driving out from the airport, but if you focus and drive carefully, this is no problem. It was great to be flexible and independent, as expected :-)
Feb 6, 2013 3:19 AM
10Thanks for the feedback. Yes, you are right in that if you focus and drive carefully it's good most of the time.
I try to avoid evening drives if I can (eyes not what they used to be), and if it rain at night, well that's a recipe for a disaster in Phuket. Like anywhere else in the world, rain brings out the worst in drivers. Just multiply that by 100 in Phuket.
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