Exploring Thailand: Mandarava Resort and Spa and Phuket beaches

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In early March 2016, Jun and I took a well deserved break to Thailand and got away from the UK cold for roughly two weeks.

We had already visited Koh Samui in Thailand in 2013 and had mixed feelings about it (beautiful beaches but not a lot to do) but felt we wanted to give Thailand another go, and booked 8 nights in Karon, Phuket.

We took a private taxi transfer from the airport, which meant we went directly to the resort rather than stopping at every hotel in the area as you would on a coach, obviously this cost more but the comfort was worth it, as the journey took over an hour and the taxi had air con, which was appreciated as it was well into the 30s.

The resort

We arrived at the beautiful Mandarava Resort and Spa which was located a ten minute walk to Karon beach and boasted three pools, great views and beautiful rooms.

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We had booked a Horizon room, by mistake, which meant we were on the ground floor, whereas if you book a Panoramic room you will be a little higher up, however when we arrived at our room we were more than happy. Our room had high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows which wrapped around the room and a view over the tranquil pool. Our room included an en-suite bathroom with rain shower and also a separate bath room, which also had another shower. Great when you both want to shower off when it has got too hot outside.

The pools were well spaced out and included two secluded infinity pools and one large pool that stretched through the middle of the resort and included a swim up bar.

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The beaches

Karon beach was a ten minute walk from the resort, although this was quite a hilly walk, downhill if you were leaving the resort, and mostly on an unpaved road that was shared with quite large trucks and coaches. So you had to make sure you were paying attention when walking to the beach, unless you caught one of the resort’s four shuttle services. This didn’t bother us too much and we walked out to Karon most days and nights.

Karon beach itself is a long three mile stretch of beach, very beautiful and perfect for sunset watching before dinner. It was quite clean and had lots of activities such as parachute sailing, some water sports and sun umbrellas to rent – we just enjoyed having a swim and watching the sun set. It also had a healthy night life and plenty of places to eat in the streets surrounding.

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While we were there we also visited the other nearby beaches, which included Kata Beach, which had a more hip and chilled out vibe and was smaller that Karon. It had a few western bars and some upmarket shops such as Rip Curl as well as some smaller shops – it however didn’t have as many restaurants in the area as Karon did.

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Cocktails @Beach bar, Kata Beach

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Kata Beach

and also Kata Noi beach which was smaller still than Kata beach but worth the trek it took us to get there (one bus ride and a 20 minute up hill walk). Kata Noi was much less crowded and seemed more secluded, mostly thanks to the resort which wrapped around the beach. I snorkelled around the rocks here and saw an array of tropical fish just off from the beach.

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Kata Noi Beach

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Getting around

To get around the area we walked where we could, but it was high heat so this made it quite difficult at times.

We caught taxis when we needed to to certain areas, such as Patong and back to the resort at night. When taking a taxi you must agree on the price before you get in and take off otherwise you could be charged more, we also always requested a private taxi as this was usually air con and the same price as the tuk tuk taxi and safer. Taxi usually cost between 100 to 300 baht depending on destination.

However the best way we found to get around was by Songthaew, which is like the local bus and for the Karon area you could catch a Songthaew to either Kata beach or Phuket Old Town. This was the cheapest way to get around costing 35 baht (less than £1) and was recommended to me by my sister (who has a travel blog called The Runaways 2015). All you had to do was wait by the road and flag it down when you saw it. It was usually blue and had the destinations on the side.

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Come back tomorrow to see my next blog post on night markets, food and things we did.

Thanks for reading

xx

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