When my friend Sabrina said she wanted to come and visit me in Thailand, we immediately started looking at the best time of year for her to come. I suggested that my Spring Break would be perfect and we chose to go down to Phuket for a few days. We opted for Phuket because I felt it was a "must-do" for her first time in Southeast Asia. We stayed on the quieter northern area of Khao Lak our first 2 nights and then celebrated Songkran (Thai New Year) down in Patong.
Khao Lak is a series of villages in the Pha Nga Province - approximately 1 hour from Phuket Airport. We chose the Khao Lak Bhandari Resort as it offered the most amenities within our budget (max of $50 per night, per person). Cost per night was $56 (!!!) for a chalet room, including buffet breakfast. The property and rooms are decorated in traditional Thai style with sculpted gardens, spa, and a great pool.
From the hotel, we were only 2 minutes walking from Nang Thong Beach. We had dinner/drinks along the beach each night. It is quiet and peaceful, very different from our next destination: Patong. On our last day we started, the morning celebrating Songkran with the hotel's staff.
Songkran marks the start of Spring. It starts with a solemn ceremony of pouring scented water on Buddha and the hands of elders to wash away sins and bad luck. The celebration then turns quite festive as revelers engage in water fights and smearing of powder/chalk on one another. On our way down to Patong from Khao Lak, we opted to get out of the car as roads were only running one-way. We bought water guns at the nearest 7-11 and water gunned our way to our hotel. It was definitely an experience I won't ever forget for a long time.
Patong Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in the world. Even during the height of the summer season, we managed to find a great boutique hotel experience at a reasonable price. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and it only cost about $67 per night, including breakfast. Staying here put us just 200 meters from the famous Patong Beachfront.
We capped our stay on our last night with dinner at Baan Rim Pa to celebrate Sabrina's birthday overlooking sunset across the Patong beachline.
Per-person Travel and Accommodations Budget breakdown:
- Roundtrip airfare between Bangkok (DMK) and Phuket (HKT) on NokAir: 5,067 THB ($145 USD)
- Khao Lak Bhandari 3 days/2 nights: 1,980 THB ($56 USD)
- Holiday Inn Express: 2350 THB ($67 USD)
- Transport from airport to Khao Lak and Khao Lak to Patong booked via Boss Taxi: 1400 THB ($40 USD)
- Transport from Patong to airport on shared minivan booked via Abbie Tours: 200 THB ($7)
- Extra expenses for food and drinks - dependent on how much you want to spend, but highly doubt it would go over $150 per person.