Australians in Thailand
Much more than just beautiful beaches continue to lure Australians to Thailand. While situated in the tropics, Thailand offers vacationers several options such as taking part in eco-tourism, indulging in the nightlife, or taking advantage of the deals to be found shopping the open markets. With the Australian dollar on the rise, Thailand and Phuket are a great value as well.
Australian Tourism Growing
Australian tourism continues to grow in Thailand. In 2010 over 698,000 Australian tourists have entered Thailand, this is up from 366,000 Australian visitors in 2000. The majority of Australians travel to Thailand visit Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Phuket. These areas cater to English-speaking visitors from around the world. The majority of businesses interacting with tourists have postings or entries in English making communication straightforward. Whether ordering lunch or booking a travel package, basic communication is streamlined to aid visitors.
The Australian Dollar on the Rise
The Australian dollar has strengthened compared with the Thai Baht. The exchange rate as of November 2011 is 1 AUD to 31 THB. This is up almost 50 percent from the November 2001 exchange rate of 1 AUD to 23 THB. The power of the Australian dollar adds to the value of taking a holiday in Thailand. The lower relative costs of travel within the Kingdom not to mention the shopping provides excellent value.
Phuket as a Favorite of Australians
Phuket, an Island on the Andaman Sea is a favorite of Australians. Phuket offers surf, sea and sun combined with five-star ameneties, night-life, world-class shopping, and a host of other options for adventure and relaxation.
The Nightlife in Patong
Many people travel to Thailand for nothing more than to take part in the unique nightlife. Patong Beach on the island of Phuket is one of the most famous nightlife destinations in the world. Patong is the main tourist area in Phuket. Browsing the streets you can find food vendors of all kinds selling everything from grasshoppers to spicy shrimp soup and the favorite Pad Thai. There are many streetside BBQs and noodle shops, as well as every variety of international dining options. In terms of seafood, restaurants frequently place lobsters exceeding two feet in length on their menu displays. Many restaurants appear more like open markets offering selections of fish and different styles of preparation. Australian beef is very popular on the island of Phuket, and several of the restaurants offer imported steaks cooked to order. In sum, Phuket and Patong beach is a food enthusiast’s paradise.
For those taking part in the nightlife, the bar scene in Patong is enormous. Lining several of the streets, beer bars are readily available. Discotheques thump their house music and live bands blare. There are frequent off-shoots from the main streets containing several open-air bars huddled into boroughs. In the red-light culture, women gawk and invite passersby to different kinds of shows. Many of the shows involve bizarre acts not usually seen elsewhere.
I have never in my life experienced, or learned in my travels, anything that could’ve properly prepared me for what I saw last night.
said a man from Darwin, referring to the red-light shows in Patong. Patong has a large economy of adult and red-light culture, but it also offers much in the way of other nightlife. Dance until dawn or take in some good live music. Patong is home to Rock City, a club that has nightly performances from an AC/DC tribute band called Hazy Dizzy and others. Whatever the preference for the evening may be, Patong has something to satisfy.
Much More than Red-Light Entertainment
Avoiding the red-light culture is becoming easier as more high-end hotels and establishments develop. Throughout Phuket, development is booming. In the hills, cranes can be seen transporting building supplies. Luxury hotels and housing developments are now peppering the area, taking advantage of everything the locale has to offer. With these higher class developments comes higher class entertainment. Five-star restaurants are now readily available throughout the island of Phuket, but particularly in Patong.
Phuket by Day
As with any upscale resort town, the shopping in Patong cannot be ignored. Jungceylon is an international shopping center located in downtown Patong. Jungceylon offers all of the products and comforts of both the western and eastern worlds in a very luxurious setting. Everything from Louis Vuitton handbags to Prada shoes can be found at the stores in Jungceylon. An international grocery store located in the shopping center provides many hard-to-find items that tourists may find themselves craving. Fine jewelry can be bought at very reasonable prices due to Bangkok being one of the world’s foremost lapidary centers. While shopping at Jungceylon, a cutting edge 4-D theater offers a great place to take a break from the crowds and take in a technological entertainment experience. After the shopping is done, onsite at Jungceylon is a theater specifically devoted to nightly magic shows. Jungceylon is not only a place for shopping, but an entire leisure experience as well.
Of course the beaches and sea adventure opportunities also await. There are many options, from snorkeling, diving, deep sea fishing, or just laying on the beach, or perhaps just enjoying a private pool in a nearby villa.
Patong by Night
In the evening, the streets of Patong come alive. Hundreds of vendors line the streets with their carts or booths. Motorbike sidecars are converted into portable BBQs, clothing racks, and one sidecar that even converts into a dressing room to try on the outfits for sale. The vendors sell everything from laser-pointers to sandals to silk tapestries. This is often where the bargains are found. Wood carvings and original Thai art can be found at a fraction of the price as more permanent stores. It is possible to buy silk garments and tapestries from the very person who spun them. Everything is negotiable. With the Australian dollar doing so well, the deals get more appealing after figuring the price before the exchange rate. Between Jungceylon and the evening street vendors, almost everything imaginable to shop for is represented.
Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing areas in the tourism industry. Phuket has several options to accommodate eco-tourist excursions. There are hiking trails through Khao Sok National Park to view some of the endangered wildlife being preserved that would otherwise be extinct. Elephant treks are also available. There are many tour operators who offer day trips on elephant-back. These tour operators offer a unique experience and perspective, enabling people to see the wildlife and waterfalls of Phuket from elephant-back in this rare opportunity. The cost is around 3,000 THB for the day on average.
Phuket has a great deal to offer Australian visitors. Providing truly unique experiences and a great value for the Australian dollar, Phuket is a wise travel destination especially in the winter months. The average temperature in Phuket from June to September is 30 degrees. This can provide a much needed break in the monotony of the winter months in Australia. Given the climate, leisure and adventure opportunities Phuket has to offer, it is no wonder many Australians come for holiday.
Support for Australian Visitors in Thailand
Australian Embassy in Thailand
37 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok
Tel. (+66) 02 344 6300