Phuket is one of these few places in Thailand I normally really don’t like to go too much. I don’t know why, exactly, but something about this place has always estranged me. It might be the hundreds of thousands of tourists, the usual rip-off at every corner due to this, the absolute lack of local culture or something else. I don’t know. But this time, I went back to Phuket and found a place that’s relaxing, quiet, beautiful – but you have to go away from the masses to find the real deal.
A short 20 minutes from the airport – but going north instead of south – just across the bridge that separates the island Phuket (yes, it’s actually an island) from the mainland, are some of the most pristine and clean beaches of Thailand. Natai Beach for example: Long stretches of sand, almost untouched, only habituated by local fishermen and the occasional small luxury resort.
I found a boutique resort called Aleenta while browsing for some nice place to stay north of Phuket. I wanted to stay near Phang Nga national park, and maybe rent a motorbike to go around and take some pictures. I have to say that this was the perfect choice and exactly what I needed for my weekend escape!
They got me a neat Beachfont Pool Villa that shared a big pool and living room building with another villa. Nice architecture, good service and a very good bed. I arrived at night so waking up the first morning looking out to a private infinity pool and the sea made me fall in love with this place immediately. Opening the terrace door, a sea breeze comes in, and I hear the waves roll in. And, best of all, nobody on the beach!
The hotel has very nice public areas, such as the larger swimming pool with pool bar and very neat pool cabanas directly in the water – and a few good restaurants, one of them by the beach. Everything is small and personal. Perfect. Breakfast is served with a combination of buffet and a-la-carte items that taste heavenly, with a view of the pool and beach. I could sit there every day!
The resort offers many choices of activities to keep you busy (or, not busy and relaxing) for days. Just the beach alone is a winner, and invites to long walks along the shore. But eventually you might feel like going out and exploring.
This is when things start getting a little complicated (but only a little). Because there is nothing – and I mean nothing – in walking distance. No problem, I said, let’s rent a motorbike or a car. Another negative. The hotel doesn’t offer rentals, and the taxi stand in front said there weren’t any available. But hey, this is Thailand, and after a bit of convincing the taxi guy called a friend who called another friend and 15 minutes later someone brought me a brand-new scooter! The hotel negotiated leaving just a passport copy (no leaving the passport as deposit, which is very very good) and the scooter was mine for a day and a half for 500 baht including a full tank of fuel. Expensive compared to other locations, but hey, did I have a choice?
When it comes to eating, I had a few meals in the hotel, and it was OK, but I like to explore. Taking my bike, I went on the street from Natai pier near to the town of Ban Khok Kloi and they have several very local restaurants along the road. Now this is very local, don’t expect the same as in Phuket – menu is in Thai, and the other guests are local thai families. But I love it, and since I am able to pronounce almost all favorite Thai dishes I had no problem ordering. It was delicious and cheap!
As for tours, the hotel offers a wide range of tours to the beautiful nature surrounding Phang Nga. The magnificent Phang Nga Bay is literally just around the corner. It is one of Thailand’s most beautiful nature reserves and has hundreds of small islands as well as huge mangrove forests and bizarre karst formations including caves.
After a few days and lots of happy time, I had to leave, but I’m coming back for sure. This place is a treasure and will be on my personal retreat shortlist – next to Koh Samui, which is another one of my favorites.