Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket!

13 April 2015 

Eleven Two & Co. Restaurant in Phuket Town

Because we live near Phuket Town, if we are eating out we often head to town or nearby and we have several favourite restaurants. But Phuket Town is constantly changing, new restaurants and cafes open often as the old town in particular gets popular as a place to visit. The center of the old town is Thalang Road which used to be the main market street 100 years ago and is still home to older shops selling cloth, hardware and herbal medicine. There is a weekly Sunday market on Thalang Road too. One of our favourite places to eat along Thalang Road is Kopitiam, and I have found Since 1892 good for a coffee, and then you have a couple of old Muslim roti restaurants on the same street. A newer restaurant, Eleven Two & Co. opened in late 2013 and I have been a couple of times just for a snack or a drink. Last week, I met up with fellow blogger Tim for a proper meal there, as the menu did look quite tempting!

Sunset time on Thalang Road

(above) Eleven Two is situated on Thalang Road in the heart of Phuket Old Town. It's on the left side of the photo above. You can see it's built into an old shophouse and I am glad to say the owners have kept the old style.

First thing .. a drink! The drinks menu is pretty big with all kinds of coffee, different teas, smoothies, sodas and beers. A few "special" imported beers available, but at 250 Baht per bottle, I'd rather stick with a simple Chang or Singha! There's even one import beer on the menu called "Dog B" with a menu price of 1,250 Baht! If anyone tries it, do let me know.

Chang Beer with free Prawn Crackers

(above) And you get some free prawn crackers with your beer :)

Eleven Two & Co

Most of the seating is open air, some right by the street, some just inside. There is also an aircon room if you can't stand the heat. I much prefer sitting near the street. Thalang Road is not really busy, you're not sitting by a highway here! The food menu has Thai dishes, burgers, pizza, salads, sandwiches and more. Prices a bit higher than your average Thai restaurant, but a decent price for burgers and pizzas. First time I stopped here with my wife for a snack, and the chicken satay french fries looked like a good idea - see photo below, went very well with a cold beer.

Chicken Satay with French Fries (Chips)

With Tim and his wife, we ordered a whole variety of dishes .... you have to try a few things before judging a restaurant! First up was a bruschetta selection. Pretty much a light meal on its own!

Mixed Bruschetta

And my main dish ... well, I do eat Thai food about 90% of the time, and when I go for something non-Thai, it's often a burger. And I don't mean McDonalds, no, no. I like a good homemade burger, big and fat, lots of real meat. And what I got at Eleven Two was the "Northern Tribe Burger" - just what the doctor ordered!

Burger at Eleven Two & Co

I had actually ordered something called the "Cheese Lava Pork Burger" but it was not available - a good reason to go again :)

And another side dish - spicy pork with tortillas ...

Spicy snack at Eleven Two & Co

I like this kind of restaurant, a bit arty, a bit different, a selection of foods that I might not normally eat. And the old town is a good place to find a more interesting place to eat. I can recommend Eleven Two & Co. for lunch or dinner. I think it's closed on Mondays. A place I will eat again for sure.

Eleven Two & Co. - Location Map











 Eleven Two & Co. Restaurant in Phuket Town   |   Jamie's Phuket Blog




31 March 2015 

Rimlay Restaurant at Rawai Beach

Rawai beach is very different to the main west coast beaches in Phuket such as Patong, Karon, Kata and all the rest. Rawai is located right in the south of Phuket close to Phromthep Cape and the beach faces southeast. Like most beach and coastal areas on the east side of Phuket, Rawai is not a swimming beach, but it is fairly busy, as the beach road is lined with many small restaurants and a few hotels. Plus Rawai is home to many longtail and speed boats which can take people out to nearby islands such as Coral Island or Koh Kaew Yai. The east end of the beach past the pier has a fish market and a small sea gypsy community. I don't come to Rawai as often as I should. I like it and will try more of the restaurants here in the future.

Rimlay Restaurant sign

Rimlay (actually the full name is Baan Rimlay) is close to the pier. If driving in from Chalong, turn right and you can park in front of the restaurant - it's just after the turn. It's next door to the well known Nikita's bar/restaurant. Back in January I stopped here my my aunt and uncle for lunch during a tour of the south of Phuket. It was a good choice! We got a table by the sea and on a hot day it was an ideal place to enjoy a cold beer in the shade.

Rimlay Restaurant

And I was glad to see the prices are reasonable. 60 Baht for a Chang beer when you are sitting by the sea in Phuket is a good deal :) Baan Rimlay has been there for many years. I'm pretty sure it was there back in 1999 when I arrived in Phuket, I know it's neighbour Nikita's was there back then and if I recall, Nikita's did not do food, but you could order and they'd bring it from Rimlay. Is that right? Heck, it was a long time ago! Nikita's does do food now and I should stop by sometime soon. On this occasion, my uncle, aunt and I ordered some small dishes (and another beer). The whole place is in the shade with some big trees growing above the restaurant. A light sea breeze is all you need, so it's not too hot even on a hot Phuket day.

Yam Sam Grob

(above) I ordered Yam Sam Grob, which is a seafood salad. Very good with a beer, very good on a hot day when you don't want a huge plate of food. Phuket (and neighbouring Phang Nga province) specialises in this kind of dish - you can also get a salad with crispy dried shrimp or with lemongrass or with fish eggs, it's very local food and hard to find outside this region.

Garlic Prawns

(above) And some garlic shrimp, another good snack to enjoy with a cold beer. I need to go again and order something else from the menu to complete this blog entry! It's a comfortable place for a seafood lunch or a drink and a nibble, with seating by the sea and good prices - you struggle to find this at the more developed beaches. I was back again last weekend taking some photos and stopped in just for a cold afternoon beer. It's not a huge place, maybe 10 tables, service quick and friendly. Might be a nice place for dinner too.

Rimlay Restaurant

(above) Baan Rimlay Restaurant

There are a whole bunch of small restaurants here in Rawai. If you visit the fish market on the other side of the pier (see photo below) there are restaurants there which will cook what you buy - totally fresh seafood! There are also a couple of fancier looking places further along the beach. I hope Rawai can stay nice and simple - the fact that you can't swim and sunbathe here tends to keep the hordes away. To be honest, it's not changed that much in 15 years, a bit more developed, but still quiet.

Rawai Beach Fish Market

Related Links / Nearby Attractions

More about Rawai Beach
Rawai Beach Hotels
Ya Nui Beach
Phromthep Cape
Koh Kaew Yai Island
Sunset Tour to Coral Island

Baan Rimlay Restaurant - Location Map


 Rimlay Restaurant at Rawai Beach   |   Jamie's Phuket Blog




24 March 2015 

Where to see Monkeys in Phuket

I get the impression that a lot of visitors to Phuket want to see a monkey .. and preferably not in the zoo (the zoo will not appear on this list). Now, I am a bit blasé when it comes to monkeys. I have seen plenty. I have traveled in Africa, been face to face with a baboon outside my tent, seen hundreds of vervet monkeys in the Masai Mara, and I have seen gorillas in the Ruwenzori mountains (gorillas are not monkeys of course - they are apes). Nevertheless, I am still happy to see wild monkeys. There are not many wild animals left in Phuket - the island was jungle covered 200 years ago, and Phuket used to have wild elephants, tigers, rhino and a lot more. Industry in the form of tin mining and especially rubber led to clearance of much of the jungle during the 19th and early 20th century, long before any tourists came here. There are some untouched jungly areas, but much of the land is cultivated, and there are no tigers here anymore! Monkeys however are adaptable, and can live in just about any kind of environment. There are quite a number of places where you can see monkeys in the Phuket area....

Monkey Hill

I guess the best place to start is Monkey Hill (real name is Khao To Sae) on the north side of Phuket Town - it's the hill with all the aerials / radio masts etc. on top, and easy to spot from much of the south of the island, being around 270m above sea level. There are a lot of monkeys here, mostly they are found near the top of the hill. Local people come up to feed them, but it's not a "tourist attraction". You can drive up in a car. People also exercise here, but I am not sure I'd want to walk up to the top where the monkeys are. Not sure if they can get aggressive, but I'd rather be in a car! (update) I saw a news story last year - a tourist was bitten by a monkey here.

Monkey Hill - More Information

Monkeys at Monkey Hill, Phuket


Rang Hill

Also on the north side of Phuket Town, Rang Hill (I am sure) never used to have monkeys some years ago, I do not recall seeing any until the last few years. Rang Hill is quite popular as a viewpoint, a place to eat or get some fresh air and exercise. Our last few visits, there have been monkeys a-plenty taking handouts or sifting through garbage. They just tend to hang around the carpark area and not the restaurants.

Rang Hill - More Information
New Viewpoint at Rang Hill
Tunk Ka Cafe on Rang Hill

Feeding the Monkeys


Sirey Island (east of Phuket Town)

As you drive to Koh Sirey, passing the fishing port and shipyards, you enter an area of mangroves and here be monkeys. They live in the mangroves and the local authorities even built a little monkey viewing area by the side of the road. We like the Sirey island area, nice and quiet and there's a very nice temple on the hill here too.

Sirey Island - More Information
Sirey Temple

Monkey on Road!


Wat Suwan Kuha Temple

Also called "Buddha Cave Temple" and "that cave with a Buddha in it", Wat Suwan Kuha is a temple built into a cave close to Phang Nga Town, off Phuket Island, and about a 90 minute drive from Phuket Town. Certainly worth a visit, and outside the cave there are lots of monkeys. We have been a few times and I have not seen any monkeys inside the cave. I guess they know the rules.

Wat Suwan Kuha - More Information

Monkey at Wat Suwan Kuha


Bang Rong (northeast coast of Phuket)

I remember driving down the small road to Bang Rong pier to eat at the floating restaurant in the mangroves. We'd been before but never seen monkeys. This time - monkeys! We got quite excited - unexpected monkeys are the best. They hang around in the mangroves but also jump around on the roofs of buildings and chew car aerials. We know where *not* to park now. Bang Rong is where you can get a ferry over to Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai Islands too. (Update) On our most recent visit monkeys were rather over friendly and even stole fruit from our table and tried to grab a bag of take away food from my wife's hand. Take care!

Bang Rong - More Information

Monkey eating car aerial


Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

Close to Bang Pae Waterfall and not far from the aforementioned Bang Rong, the Gibbon Rehab Project looks after gibbons that have been illegally caught, or kept as pets. Some are released back into the wild. It's illegal to own a gibbon, and if you see gibbons being hawked round the streets for photos, please contact the GRP. Gibbons are apes, not monkeys, I know that .. but want to include the project here, it's worth a visit combined with the waterfall, a jungle hike ....

Phuket Gibbon Rehab Center - More Information

Gibbon at Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Center


Related Phuket Blog Posts

Khao Sok National Park
Hiking to the Highest Point in Phuket
Kayaking in the Mangroves
Suggested Phuket Hotels


 Where to see Monkeys in Phuket   |   Jamie's Phuket Blog




13 March 2015 

Krua Suan Cha Restaurant in Phuket Town

It's been a while since I added any new restaurant recommendations on the blog. I think that's mostly because we (my wife and I) are getting old and boring! We used to try new restaurants quite often, but these days we have a few favourites that suit us, and we've been a bit lazy, plus it's been high season and I'm working a lot and often tired, so if we eat out I want to eat somewhere familiar, somewhere I know the menu. Not very good for the blog! I will try to put this to rights in the coming few months. When I say "eat out" please note - we are not into fancy restaurants or dressing up for a night out. We often "eat out" at small roadside places where the family can eat for a few hundred Baht. These tend to be restaurants within 10 - 15 minutes drive of our house, a place we can grab a quick dinner on a school night. Krua Suan Cha (ครัวสวนชา) is one of these places. It's located on the edge of Phuket Town on the road from the Central Festival Mall, just past the Darasamut School and before the Queen Sirikit stadium (home of Phuket FC). And I'm not saying you should go out of your way to eat here, but if you are in the area, it's a favourite of ours so I hope you like it!

Krua Suan Cha Entrance

OK it's not super easy to find and the sign outside (above) is only in Thai .. yes this is not a tourist restaurant, but many people say they want "real" Thai food and this is the kind of restaurant where you get it! There is a map at the bottom of this blog post, but it may also help to note that opposite Krua Suan Cha is a landmark of sorts .. a shop making signs that has a kind of Yoda-Gremlin on the roof. Check the photo below! If you see this, then the food is over the road!

Yoda or Gremlin?

Krua Suan Cha is actually a little more fancy than it used to be, as last year the owner added a very nicely built wooden indoor seating area at the front of the restaurant. And outside is the garden area with many stone tables. It can get pretty busy at lunchtime, not so busy in the evening and it's closed by 8pm. They close on Sundays.

Krua Suan Cha Indoors

(above) Indoor seating

Krua Suan Cha Outdoor Garden Seating

(above) Garden seating. Many restaurants are called Krua-something. Krua means Kitchen. And 'Suan Cha' means Tea Garden. And you can get iced tea with your food!

Now, the food. Important. When it comes to Thai food, I don't like it watered down for a tourist's tongue. And I am sure many visitors want real Thai food. So you have to eat where the locals eat. My wife really likes her southern Thai food and tells me that the Gaeng Som here is great - a very spicy, sour curry. They also do dishes made with sataw (สะตอ) - something which in English get called 'stink beans'. Not that the beans stink, although they do have a unique flavour, but it gives a noticeable odour to your pee for at least a day after eating! I am not a fan, my wife loves it!

Gaem Som Pla

(above) Gaeng Som curry with fish

I find that whatever I order, it tastes good. Could a simple plate of fried noodles or a green curry, or fried fish with garlic and even the iced tea is good :) A couple of favourite dishes of mine below.

Phad Gaprow Gung

Pad Graprow a kind of stir-fry with holy basil is a common Thai dish and you can get it with chicken, pork, prawns or I suppose vegetarian. The one above (clearly) is with prawns. Very tasty. And a fried egg on the rice of course. I mean, you can get this just about anywhere, but the thing is, at Krua Suan Cha I know I'll get a good one.

Kana Moo Grob

(above) and maybe my favourite thing to eat .. Kale fried with crispy pork (Kana Moo Grob, คะน้าหมูกรอบ).

There is a partial menu in English, but I am not quite sure how much English the staff speak! The menu in Thai is much bigger. If you have a favourite Thai food, you can almost certainly get it here. Hey, it's not a fancy place, but the food is good, the prices are low and it's clean and friendly. And if you live here, it's the kind of restaurant you need to have as a regular spot. Eating out here can be as cheap as eating at home if you go for simple Thai dishes.

More favourite Thai restaurants in Phuket Town

Naowarat
Kopitiam
Tunk Ka Cafe
Dairy Hut

Krua Suan Cha - Location Map



 Krua Suan Cha Restaurant in Phuket Town   |   Jamie's Phuket Blog




24 February 2015 

Phang Nga Bay Revisited

If anyone asks me for a list of "must see" places in the Phuket region, Phang Nga Bay is top of the list. The bay is actually very big covering all the sea and many islands in between Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi and I have seen only small parts of it. One of these days I want to buy a boat and go exploring! We have done several trips in Phang Nga Bay with friends and family. Our last one was back in .. wow, I had to double check. It was back in September 2010, I did not realise it was so long ago! I had planned that trip as an afternoon excursion, renting a longtail boat and aiming to reach James Bond Island late in the afternoon when all the tours had gone home and hopefully with the bonus of some golden afternoon light - it half worked. We were the only visitors on this otherwise crowded tourist attraction, but on that day the light was poor, with dark clouds and some light drizzle. So I said "we have to try that again!" and time has ticked by, and life has moved on, and it's been more than 4 years since our last Phang Nga Bay trip. Well, earlier this month my cousin and his family who live in Singapore came to Phuket for a few days, I had a day off on Saturday February 7th and the weather looked good, so we decided that Phang Nga Bay had to be visited again. And everyone had a great day out.

From our house it takes just over an hour to drive to Phang Nga Town. We live just outside Phuket Town. If you were driving from the north of Phuket island, it would be a shorter drive, if you started at Kata beach for example, it would probably take at least 90 minutes - remember it can take well over an hour to get from one end of Phuket to the other! We do this trip without signing up for a tour, we drive ourselves, we negotiate a boat, we find a place for lunch ... doing it yourself in a foreign land is not for everyone, but it's not exactly brain surgery. There are lots of tours doing this area, but many are cheap, rushed and crowded. My friends at Easy Day Thailand can do a tour which is based on the way we do Phang Nga Bay - more personal and trying to avoid the crowds!

We headed up to Phang Nga in 2 cars as there were 9 of us altogether - my wife and I, our 2 kids, my daughter's friend, my wife's cousin's son, my cousin and his wife and their son! We set off late morning, no particular rush and stopped off first at Wat Suwan Kuha temple which is just before Phang Nga Town. Glad to see the entry fee is still 20 Baht (and no dual pricing). Wat Suwan Kuha features lots of monkeys outside and a big reclining Buddha inside along with many other Buddha images and behind the Buddha cave is a larger cave.

Wat Suwan Kuha Entrance in the rock

Monkeys outside Wat Suwan Kuha

(above) Entrance to Wat Suwan Kuha and monkeys outside the temple

Reclining Buddha at Wat Suwan Kuha

Wat Suwan Kuha - Buddha Images

(above) Inside Wat Suwan Kuha temple

After the stop it was time for lunch. Now, back in 2010 we ate at a place called Samchong Seafood, which is on a mangrove river which leads out into the bay and we rented a boat from the jetty next to the restaurant. In the last few years I have heard from several independent sources that this restaurant has gone downhill. Our friends at Easy Day Thailand don't use it now .. and although I will reserve judgement until we go check it again, on this trip we played it safe and went for lunch at Dairy Hut Seafood which is just past Phang Nga Town. We've eaten here a number of times, and it's always been good, as it was this time too! Then we backtracked a few km - just before Phang Nga Town if coming from Phuket there is a right turn and a sight saying "Phang Nga National Park" which leads down to the Phang Nga municipal jetty. Arriving at the jetty, longtail boat drivers leap into the road to flag down cars. We negotiated a boat for 1600 Baht, actually a little more than I was expecting and my wife and I both thought the drivers were a bit of an unfriendly bunch, reinforcing our idea to give Samchong a try again some day, as the longtail driver we had there was really nice. However - 9 people, 1600 Baht .. yeh, let's not worry too much about the price! I am not sure a "tourist" could get exactly the same deal and even if you end up paying a little more, I'd suggest doing a trip with Easy Day Thailand, with a guide along for the ride to explain things.

Phang Nga Pier

(above) at the Phang Nga pier

Longtail Boat Boys in Phang Nga Bay

(above) Our longtail boys for this trip were a right couple of charmers.

We know you can also get a "local" boat from here to Panyee village, and we'd like to try that sometime. We arranged with the boat boys to take our group to Panyee village first and then James Bond Island (real name Koh Khao Ping Gan). The jetty is up a mangrove river about 7km north of Panyee, about 20 minutes by longtail boat. Payee is a stilted village built around a large limestone karst. I find this place very interesting, once beyond the row of restaurants and souvenir stalls. It's what I think of as a micro-society, a place slightly removed from reality, a little isolated from the rest of the world although these days there are hundreds of tourists visiting every day. Thus even more reason to find some backstreets.

Koh Panyee from the water

(above) Koh Panyee from the water - the mosque is just about the only building built on solid land. Everything else is on stilts.

Koh Panyi Village on Stilts

Everything is built around the rocky island called Koh Panyee which towers above the village. Since our last visit there have been a couple of changes ... the mosque has been rebuilt with shiny golden minarets, and the island has a floating football pitch! We walked through narrow streets passing the mosque to the west side of the island.

Koh Panyi - Street View

Buying Ice Cream - Koh Panyee Village

(above) The back streets of Panyee village are narrow and (to me) full of interest. At every step I wonder what it's like to live here. I imagine it's a very close community where everyone knows everyone and doors are always open. Life will have changed a lot over the last 20 year with tourism generating a lot of income, but it's still a fishing village at heart.

Koh Panyee Mosque

The mosque when we last visited looked rather sad. Now looking much healthier. Panyee is Muslim like much of the Phang Nga coastal area (and also much of Krabi and a fair amount of Phuket!). Although the stallholders selling souvenirs look a little bored, I see a lot of smiles here, I think it's an easy lifestyle.

Crossing over from where we landed, past the mosque I found what I wanted to see - the floating football pitch. It wasn't there when we visited in 2010 although there was a concrete recreation area attached to the school. The story of the Panyee football team is now well known thanks to a video made by a Thai bank. You can find the video and more photos on a blog page I wrote in 2010 about Koh Panyee. And what a spectacular place to kick a ball around!

Koh Panyee - The Floating Football Pitch

We all enjoyed a run around. The kids realised that you'd get quite wet playing here, as you'd need to jump into the sea to retrieve the ball any time it went out of play! We spent about an hour at Koh Panyee and I think I would happily spend half a day there taking photos. It was nearly 4pm when we started heading towards James Bond Island, which is about another 7km south. We went via a small island where several sea kayak companies have their bases and on a busy high season day you can find hundreds of tourists on a little kayak tour (part of a day trip package) - not for serious kayakers! Our longtail picked a path through the kayaks and through a small cave. All of these little islands are beautiful. I want a boat!

Through the cave

Cruising through the mangroves

We got to Koh Khao Phing Gan (the proper name for James Bond Island) about 4:30pm. Rather shocked to find we were a bit early .. still a couple of groups of Chinese here!

Last tourists of the day

We got there after the national park staff had left, so in theory we'd not need to pay the entry fee .. except our boat boys had collected 900 Baht from us in advance. Did we see that money back? Ha! The last trip in 2010 we'd also got there late and not paid any fees, and nothing to the boat dudes. I could tell these 2 young guys did not want to be the last ones back to the pier, but .. tough! This is the Monk family you are driving and we do it our way! We stayed until the last Chinese group had gone and the light was very nice this time. Would have been even nicer at high tide .. have to plan that next time :)

At James Bond Island

The tall rock that sticks up from the water is called Koh Tapu, which means "Nail Island". I wonder how many years until it falls over? I'm sure the base looked fatter in the movie! In the late afternoon light, this area is gorgeous. The photo above was taken at nearly 5:30pm, by which time we had this "crowded" tourist attraction to ourselves. Even the souvenir stall holders had gone. I had not noticed before, maybe it was the light, but you can see Koh Panyee from here, 7km to the north - what a view!

Panyee Village

(above) Panyee village as seen from James Bond Island. Touristy or not, it's pretty frikkin' spectacular! And if it can be called "touristy" then it's only for a few hours per day. We must do this again sometime soon, and not wait another 4 years! We stayed as long as we could on Scaramanga's island, but for sure the boat boys were worried they'd be getting back late. I was snapping photos up until we left just after 5:30pm.

Koh Tapu

Now I only wish I had a better camera ... Well, it's my birthday soon :) These pictures were taken with a Panasonic Lumix G1, not the most modern camera. Actually a couple of these photos were taken with an iPhone. I am really considering splashing out this year on a Canon 7D or something of a similar quality. Anyone got a spare?

Anyway .. we sped back to the Phang Nga pier in about 25 minutes from James Bond Island, passing Koh Panyee with the sun sinking low. Every time we've done this trip it's been a great day out. We drove back to Phuket, straight into Phuket Town for dinner at Kopitiam at about 8pm. Perfect day!

Koh Panyee Sunset

(above) Not far off sunset as we dash past Koh Panyee on the way home.

Phang Nga Bay - More Information

Our Phang Nga Bay trip in 2010
Tours with Easy Day Thailand
James Bond Island
Koh Panyee
Exploring Phang Nga Province


 Phang Nga Bay Revisited   |   Jamie's Phuket Blog