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Why Phuket is much more than a tourist island

Patong Beach, Phuket

These days, when parting with our hard earned holiday cash, our expectations have been colossally elevated by the sheer abundance of choices and alternatives out there. We demand that our holiday delivers and below are some very good reasons why a holiday in Phuket could prove to be an unrivaled travel experience that not only exceeds your expectations, but smashes them into oblivion.

 

 
The Initial Consensus

Your initial perception of Phuket as a travel and tourism destination will be shaped through hours spent surfing travel review sites & social networks, keying in google searches and the heavily influential tips and recommendations from your social circle. This conditional filtering of the limitless supply of available information will ultimately sway your choice of whether Phuket is the travel destination for you.

In a general sense, every travel destination comes with a pre-conceived label attached, compounded and defined by millions upon millions of online, user generated experiences. As Thailand’s largest and most developed Island, Phuket is largely perceived as being the most touristy, overcrowding and expensive holiday destination in the kingdom, with over 52,000 reviews on Tripadvisor alone helping to establish this perception.

Sunbeds & Umbrellas, Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Sunbeds & Umbrellas, Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Having lived in Phuket for the last 2 years of my life, my perceptions of this stunning part of the world as a travel & tourism destination have naturally evolved from this initial consensus and a new kind of filter emerges applying a new level of clarity and understanding to the vast abundance of readily available information.

Railay Beach, Krabi Province, Thailand

Railay Beach, Krabi Province, Thailand

Greater Phuket

One way in which my perception has evolved is that I am more aware of the Phuket that exists away from the main beach resorts such as Patong, Karon, Kata, Surin & Kamala. I am more aware of the ‘Greater Phuket’ Province, as well as neighbouring provinces such as Phang Nga and Krabi. I have discovered that Phuket as a tourist destination should not to be treated as in island in isolation.

 

 

The incredible places to experience in the greater Phuket province and surrounding provinces are all easily accessible, even during a 10-14 nights vacation and can comfortably be reached without eating too much into your holiday relaxation time. This makes Phuket a rich and diverse travel destination and provides an experience that few other holiday destinations can compete with.

Some Suggestions:


Raya Island, Phuket, Thailand

Raya Island, Phuket, Thailand

Island Hopping

Island Hopping has long held a fascination and pre-occupation for travellers to South East Asia. In the Andaman Sea, travellors to Phuket are blessed with islands & beaches such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Raya Island and Railay Beach, Krabi all within a few hours by boat, so that you can gain that feeling of ‘travelling around SE Asia’ even under tight time constraints.

Some Suggestions:

  1. Koh Phi Phi
  2. Railay Beach
  3. Koh Lanta
  4. Raya Island

A major draw to Phuket and part of the reason for it’s huge popularity is it’s International airport, the second busiest in the whole of Thailand after Bangkok. This means that you can book your flights in and out of Phuket and after spending some time relaxing at one of Phuket’s world class beach resorts, spend a few days on any number of stunning island destinations to add an entirely different perspective to your overall Phuket holiday experience.

Have you combined a holiday to Phuket with other nearby island destinations ?

Roger Gibson
Marketing & Communications Manager
Thavorn Hotels & Resorts (THR) Phuket, Thailand
Roger Gibson

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Tip #4: Discover Phuket in 140 Characters or less.

So far, you have called upon the services of Tripadvisor, Hotel Booking Sites and Facebook to assist on your quest for that dream holiday in Phuket, but why not use Twitter and some of the indispensable Twitter dashboards that can help you discover the real insider knowledge of Phuket?

Tip #4: Discover Phuket in 140 Characters or less.

Twitter is the key to uncovering the hidden secrets of Phuket, so set up an account, even if you never actually make a Tweet, as a virtual Goldmine of Phuketian information awaits.

Get acquainted with a social media dashboard like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck as you begin your voyage of discovery into the online, realtime, character-challenged world of Twitter.

With Hootsuite (and Tweetdeck) you can organise your Phuket related “Tweets”, in columns side by side and watch it update before your eyes as relevant real-time info comes in.

Discovering Phuket with Hootesuite

Discovering Phuket with Hootesuite

Very quickly and efficiently I see that I get a 20% Discount off room rates through Friends of Thavorn (I used the Twitter search for Phuket Travel Deals).  I searched for ‘Phuket Massage’ and am now inspired to go have a massage on the beach when I arrive for under $4. I entered the keywords ‘Phuket Bar’ and ‘Phuket Restaurant’ and have uncovered a great Phuket Restaurant Map and also have discovered (through my list of people Tweeting about Phuket) that The Impossible with Ewan Mcgregor and Naomi Watts was recently filmed in Phuket. If the film is a box office smash, it is a safe bet people will flock to the filming locations the same way they did with Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi, the fictional setting in the film The Beach with Leonardo Di Caprio.

Find Insider Knowledge on Phuket through Tweetdeck

Find Insider Knowledge on Phuket through Tweetdeck

To really get to the insider knowledge of Phuket, add a search column in your preferred Twitter dashboard, above I am using Tweetdeck, and enter the search term “Phuket Blog”. The results show people with a real passion for blogging about Phuket and who have some of the best insider tips and previously hidden secrets. Most will be delighted if you ‘follow’ and ‘Tweet’ them requesting a Phuket travel trip, as everyone likes to feel like their opinion is valued.  To do this add @username to your tweet, then enter your question, for example, to ‘tweet me’ you begin the tweet @rogergibsonUK then follow this up with your question.

Try it, I guarentee I will personally respond 🙂

In the days before the internet there was only guidebooks (namely the Lonely Planet) and in the days before Lonely Planet there was only word of mouth which meant you were left to your own devices with a mysterious and exciting world to discover for yourselves. Maybe we have lost some of that wonderment now that the world is reduced and documented extensively in the digital form, but since we now live in this world, why not participate and take every opportunity to discover what we can about our chosen holiday destination. Your findings could make all the difference to your dream holiday in Phuket.

Hit me up for Phuket Travel info at any time at @rogergibsonUK

Cheers

Roger

Top Tips for Wading through TripAdvisor

You may have mixed feelings over the tropical Island of Phuket, with tales of touristy, overcrowed resorts yet sublimely, stunningly beautiful, deserted white sand beaches clouding the issue.

Heaven or Hell ?

Heaven or Hell ?

These types of feeling are not only isolated to Phuket, far from it, and before you book a holiday to any travel destination, you will more than likely begin dissecting thousands of TripAdvisor reviews, wading knee deep through other people’s, holiday joys and woes.

Wading through Tripadvisor Reviews

Wading through Tripadvisor Reviews

If this sounds like alot of hard work, that’s because IT CAN BE!!! While you are chained to your desktop, America’s Next … Reality Fad will be going on without you. It doesn’t need to be like this however and because you have decided to read these tips first, it will make the job a little easier, more fruitful and ultimately less time consuming for you.

1. Do your Friend’s opinions count?

I’m guessing they do. In fact over 78% of people are influenced by the opinions of their family and friends (Erik Qualman @equalman author of Socialnomics). To tap into this, TripAdvisor has added a great new addition where you can Connect with your Facebook account. This allows you to see your friends’ recent travel activity and also view their favourite travel destinations. I can see that many of my facebook friends have visited Koh Phi Phi, so I click on the link and it takes me straight to the page. It also shows me which hotels my friends have written a review for and as I trust BIG LEE’s judgement, this is likely to hold alot of weight.

Tripadvisor with Facebook Connect

My friends social activity through Tripadvisor with Facebook Connect

2. Safety in Numbers!

Before you dive headlong into individual reviews, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. TripAdvisor Ranks each hotel and resort in a particular destination based on it’s customer reviews, so you can see which hotels have consistently received Top Ranking ‘positive’ reviews.

Phuket Map - Numbers indicate Tripadvisor Ranking for each resort/hotel

Phuket Map - Numbers indicate Tripadvisor Ranking for each resort/hotel

3. Save valuable time by narrowing down your search

If you know you are only interested in a family beach resort with pool and activities for kids, then tick the boxes under ‘Amenity Type’ for ‘beach’ ‘pool’ and ‘kids activities’. TripAdvisor will filter out the unsuitable properties thus saving you valuable time in the process. In fact, I have done it for you here, saving you even more time.

4. Look for common trends in reviews.

Look for common trends across a number of reviews rather than hold a single review in too much esteem. We all know people who see the world through Rose Coloured Glasses and we also know people for whom nothing is ever good enough. There could have been an isolated problem at a resort or the guest could have had a bad holiday for other reasons (like they just found out they can’t stand their partner).

5. Look at how hotels deal with negative reviews.

TripAdvisor gives hoteliers the opportunity to respond to reviews. There could have been a good reason why the pool was sub-standard, but if the hotel doesn’t address this then it looks like they either don’t care or they agree with the reviewer.

Luxurious Freeform pool with Swim up Bar

Luxurious Freeform pool with Swim up Bar

6. Scrutinise the source of troublesome reviews

If a particular review is putting doubts in your mind about your desired resort then scrutinise the credibility of the source by checking the reviewers profile. See what other reviews they have posted and if they are the kind of person for who you would happily follow their advice. Remember, you’re idea of the perfect holiday might not be the same as your grandparents.

Are these your kind of people? (Actually, Yes)

This Party Rocks !!!

7. Deal and Offer Coupons

You can take advantage of some great discount coupons on TripAdvisor by clicking the Deal and Offers Tab. Remember to always check other sources as well, such as hotel booking websites, Facebook pages, Twitter and hotel websites as these coupons might not be the best deals you can find on the web.

8. Member Profile Area

TripAdvisor has the handy feature where you can save all your research into your own member profile area which includes your recent travel searches and any hotels you may have added to your shortlist.

My Member Profile on Tripadvisor

My Member Profile on Tripadvisor

Here are a few Tripadvisor searches on Phuket to get you started.

Visiting Phuket, Thailand
Karon Hotels
Thavorn Palm Beach Resort
Inside Phuket: Written by travelers for travelers

9. Ask the Tripadvisor Community

If you have any burning questions then the Tripadvisor forums are a great place to look for answers. Again, to get you started, I have listed some useful searches.

Tripadvisor Forum – Phuket
Tripadvisor Forum – Karon Beach
Tripadvisor Forum – Thavorn Hotels and Resorts

10. Don’t get distracted.

Remember, you do have a life outside of TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor can become entertainment in itself, especially when you uncover reviews like this.

“I spent the night in the (hotel) room and experienced a friendly spirit. This presence got into bed with me, an old lady, she was nice and I just patted her on the head and we had a comfortable restful sleep. I think I will ask for a different room next time.”

but you must resist the urge and use it for it’s intended purpose, to help you find your dream holiday destination

If you would like any insider tips on Phuket then please leave me a comment or contact me at any time via my Facebook and Twitter pages below.

Cheers

Roger

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