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As international travels continue, the Island of Phuket might be the best choice for your long-awaited travel. Here's a tell-all story regarding one of our writer's travels during her visit to the town and beach of Patong in Thailand!
Patong has been dubbed the party capital of Thailand but the town is actually very child friendly and I would highly recommend that families don't shy away from it. Yes, it's busy and lively but if your family is anything like us and always wants to be on the move then you'll enjoy this area a lot more than Kata or Karon Beach.
Sadly many of the hotels and 7-Elevens have been closed down due to covid and even the hotel that we stayed at called Patong Merlin was hit relatively hard by the pandemic. The hotel once housed a huge restaurant leading onto the beach however has been closed since covid and many of the rooms are still empty. The hotel grounds are huge, housing three pools and an additional private pool that leads from your room into a smaller communal pool which obviously comes at a higher price. The remaining restaurant now the main eatery serves as a breakfast buffet in the morning and is an order-by-menu restaurant at night. The price of food hovers around average hotel prices and the breakfast is decent with your standard cereals, fruit, and carb components. The hotel, unfortunately, is not halal-friendly and the eggs, unlike most egg stations, don't cater at all to a vegetarian option as the same pan is used for pork products, and pork is fried directly next to the eggs.
The staff true to the Thai nature are exceptionally friendly however there is a language barrier despite their best attempts to communicate which you have to appreciate. The hotel is centrally located with several laundry options across the street and at just 50 Bhat a kilo, laundry will be the last of your concerns during your break away. Although the entrance is on a side street and can appear a bit deceiving because it looks as though it's a 500m walk to the beach, the hotel is actually located on the beachfront. If you walk through the resort, you will exit from the now-abandoned restaurant and will be right on the promenade where you will have access to a number of tuk-tuks, taxis, and the Songthaew stop. Be careful with these moods of transport though as the drivers will try to hustle you with prices. What we realized is that if you smile kindly because the Thai people don't favor aggression, and walk away they will reduce their prices significantly. The same applies to the clothing stores, they will eventually ask you what you would like to pay but please remember that these people are straight out of covid so don't take advantage of their willingness to bargain.
Along the promenade, you will find several food options, but not many halal ones. Many places will tell you that the chicken is halal but I fear that their version of halal simply means they don't serve pork. So to be safe rather than sorry look out for stalls that have halal signs. There are a number of markets along the road on either side but the closest is Chino Yard, if you get a chance to visit a must-try is the coconut ice cream served in a beautiful coconut shell to add to the authenticity. You'll find basically the same products throughout the promenade which includes a selection of fresh fruit drinks, clothing, pancakes, and ice cream rolls. There are many Thai options but being in a foreign country it's important to be wary of what to and what not to eat. Wanting to try as much as possible, our basic go-to rule is only to eat food that still needs to be fried in front of you and look at the general appearance of your seller. Looks can be deceiving but if a person practices good personal hygiene, their products will be relatively safe.
Not far from the hotel is Jungceylon. Unfortunately, due to covid, this once beautiful mall has been closed down and there are only a few stores open. However, the mall is set to open up soon and will be trading at full capacity. A common retail store called Big C was open and if you are looking for drinks and local snacks you can find quite a bit here and at a reasonable price. At night the street comes alive because directly across from the mall is Patong Central which is, strangely enough, a lot cheaper than the vendors on the beach road and the eats are divine. Right next to this market is the infamous Bangla Road. During the day the street is quiet but littered with bars so it's still not an appealing road to take your kids down. Another rather unappealing feature is the massage parlors. The more promiscuous ladies may try to interact with your kids but I've found that a stern look and a shake of your head causes them to scatter.
The beach offers several activities from parasailing to jet skis and speed boats. A lot of forums caution you about driving the jet skis and I don't blame them because before you can ride one you have a lengthy form to fill out regarding insurance and the amounts should anything accidentally happen are quite hefty. Fortunately for us, only our son wanted to go on the jet ski so the instructor took him, and obviously we didn't have to sign anything. It's not much of a risk either because these men know what they are doing and as previously mentioned the Thai people love children so take excellent care of them. The amount is also negotiable and not that pricey for the experience. Additionally, vendors are a full force on the beach selling coconut juice and fresh fruit which is a treat for all-the fruit in Thailand and is one of the sweetest I've ever tasted so please indulge as much as you can.
Patong Beach is a beautiful experience and a very convenient place to stay for families with kids.