Kata Beach Phuket in Rainy Season

Kata Beach Phuket - The danger of snapshot reviews

We arrived in Kata Beach on the 1st October. We were aware we were visiting Phuket during the rainy season and were happy to take our chances with the weather. A reasonable trade-off for a quieter resort, and cheap accommodation we thought.

Kata Beach sounded very much like our kind of place. A good choice of restaurants, and somewhere to get a drink, but unlikely to attract the party crowd, particularly in off-season.

We had also read that it hosted one of the best beaches in Phuket.

Our room, at Phuket Kata Resort, was an absolute bargain at 600 baht per night. Hardly luxury accommodation, but a large clean room, with 2 showers???, for that price, who can complain?

Well OK. I’ll give it a shot. The bed was rock hard and the traditional wooden doors made a right racket when anyone on the block entered or left their room.

Also there was no net curtain on our window. As we were at ground level, we could have the curtains open exposing ourselves to the entire complex, or have the curtain closed, in effect condemning ourselves to a windowless room. We chose the latter.

On our first day we won the weather lottery and headed down to the beach. A little earlier in our travels we had visited Koh Samui which was fantastic. We had read that Kata Beach was as good if not better than anything Samui had to offer.

What the……………….

Kata Beach Phuket

To say we were disappointed was an understatement.

I actually felt quite angry.

We had walked onto an extremely narrow band of dirty sand crammed with pale bodies jostling for position, reminiscent of the seals at Pier 39 in San Francisco.Seals at Pier 39

What there was of a beach was being lapped by a foamy, oily brown sea. Apparently this is a regular occurrence in Kata at the end of the Monsoon Season, as reported in Phuket News.

Kata Beach Brown Sea

Hardly the stuff of postcards!

We chose to walk the length of the beach along the road shouldering it, as this was much cleaner.

It did not improve.

During the following week as well has returning to Kata Beach we also visited Karon beach, and Patong beach.

Both were better, but not much.

We were well-informed that the weather would be changeable, and the sea may be rough if we visited during rainy season. What we hadn’t read anywhere was that the beach disappears and the sea looks like an oil slick.

It’s fair to say had we only been in Phuket for 7 days, this post would be far from complimentary.

But, as it happens we were in Kata for almost 2 weeks.

And by the end of our stay things had changed dramatically.

Kata Beach

Kata Beach

The brown oiliness of the sea had almost cleared up.

As the rough sea had settled, a beautiful wide beach of soft golden sand had emerged.

And the tractors had been out clearing up the rubbish.

The majority of the beach was still red flagged due to strong tides, but considering how much the water had settled over the past 10 days, I suspect these will soon be gone, leaving the type of beach we had expected to see when we originally arrived in Kata.

I must admit, this experience has made me a little reluctant to make sweeping statements. Based on the first week, I would have been warning against visiting Phuket in the rainy season. Had I arrived a week later I would have been singing it’s praises.

And I guess that’s the problem with any review. It’s a snapshot of a single experience. To get a balanced perspective you have to do your homework.

Or experience it for yourself, of course.

Have you visited Phuket during the rainy season?

We’d love to hear what you thought of it.

Las Vegas – The ultimate bargain destination

How to enjoy Las Vegas on a budget

Las Vegas is awesome.

The glitz and glamour of billion dollar hotels, first class dining, superstar DJ’s and nightclubs that’ll set you back $500 for a seat at a table.

It’s not necessarily the first place that springs to mind when you are travelling on a budget. In fairness if you’re a hardcore couch-surfer, or a backpacker in the purest sense then Vegas is probably not for you. But there is another side to Vegas. Read on and I’ll tell you why I think Vegas may just be the best value destination in the world.

1. Free Entertainment.

Where else in the world is the No.1 attraction free?

Bellagio Fountains

The fountains at Bellagio are. A spectacular water and light show that takes place frequently throughout the day and into the night. Over 1200 jets blast water 400 feet into the air, superbly choreographed to a seemingly endless repertoire of musical greats.

And that’s not all there’s the volcano show at Mirage, a fire and water show set to rhythmic drumming. The Viva Vision Light Show at  Fremont Street Experience, a 1,500 foot long 90 foot wide overhead canopy that plays high-resolution images along to music blasted out from a 550,000 watt PA system.

The Bellagio Conservatory, Streetmosphere in the Grand Canal Shoppes. The Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo, circus acts at Circus Circus, the Auto Collection at The Link (technically this attraction charges an admission fee, but you can usually download free passes from their website http://www.autocollection.com), the list goes on and on.

Bellagio Conservatory

Fremont Street Experiance

And then there’s the themed hotels.

Why not visit Paris, and see the strip from the top of the Eiffel Tour? How about a ride in a gondola, then a visit to the magnificent St. Marks Square? Lake Como? Rodeo Drive? The pyramids of Egypt?

Paris Hotel Las Vegas

Venetian Hotel Las Vegas

Luxor Hotel Las Vegas

You could spend a fun filled week in Vegas without having to pay for a single attraction.

2. Free Drinks.

The Casino owners don’t want you straying too far from the tables, and will furnish gamblers with free drinks to discourage them from getting up and wandering off.

Obviously I’m not suggesting you drop £1000 at the roulette wheel in order to score a free Bacardi and Coke. By following these simple rules you can get free drinks without breaking the bank.

  • Slots not tables.

Your cash can disappear fast at the tables, however as long as you have credit on a slot machine, you are likely to be offered free drinks. You don’t even need to be pushing the button!

Vintage Slot machines Las Vegas

  • Position yourself en route to the waitress station.

It doesn’t take much work to track down where the waitresses appear from brandishing trays of lovely booze. Position yourself along the well trodden route.

  • Go uptown.

The best hotels tend to offer a better selection of drinks.

  • Shop around.

We’ve been to Vegas half a dozen times, and the best place to score free drinks has been different on each visit. If you aren’t getting the goods be prepared to move on.

  • Tip.

OK, so this is somewhat counter intuitive, but if you want more than 1 free drink in any establishment make sure you tip the waitress!

Free Drinks Las Vegas

3. Hotel Discounts.

If you keep an eye on the promotions you can get a 4 Star hotel for £20 per night. And this is for a room on the Strip! Don’t forget this is an American 4 Star hotel. I’ve stayed in Motels in the States that are better than 4 & 5 star hotels in other countries.

Just a word of warning unfortunately the major chains aren’t the bargain they used to be has both MGM group and Caesar’s Entertainment both now charge an exorbitant “resort fee” on top of the room rate, but there are still some independent hotels that don’t.

4. Cheap food.

With so many Michelin starred dining options and Celebrity Chef hangouts, you could be forgiven for thinking that eating in Vegas is going to be a budget busting experience.

Sure you can easily drop $500 on a meal, or buy a burger with gold flakes in it, if that’s your cup of Dom Perignon, but there are also plenty of bargains to be had.

He’s a few tips for cheap eats.

  • Do Brunch.

There are loads of cheap buffets in Vegas, and brunch is the time to hit them. Get yourself a hearty meal at breakfast rates, and it’ll see you through to dinner.

  • Eat at the chains.

There are loads of good chains represented in Vegas, many offering excellent food at rock bottom prices. The Burritos at Chipotle Mexican Grill are huge and delicious, and just $7. Panda express is another super cheap good food alternative, and that’s before we hit Downtown, with it’s   99 cent hot dogs and deep-fried Twinkies.

  • Share a meal.

The portions in Vegas are massive. More often than not one main meal is enough for 2 people to share.

Massive Salad

5. Cheap clothing.

Vegas has all the big brands, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Prada, you name it, they’ll have at least one store here. Spending your hard-earned cash has never been so easy, but if you want a bit more bang for your buck, there are very good designer outlet villages at either end of the strip offering discounts of 40-60% against retail prices. But if you’re looking for the real bargains Ross Dress for Less sell high street brands at rock bottom prices. How cheap, well I’m currently in Thailand, and holding off buying any replacement clothes until we hit Vegas later in the year!

6. Cheap Transport

Lets start with Free Transport!

There are 3 monorails in Las Vegas. The main one that runs the length of the strip from MGM Grand to SLS (formally Sahara) charges $per ride, but the 2 on the other side of the strip, Mandalay Bay to Excalibur, and Monte Carlo to Bellagio are both free.

In addition to this a frequent bus service operates 24 hours per day, with fares from $2 for journeys between the Strip and Downtown.

Vegas really is an amazing destination. The place has an energy that I haven’t found anywhere else. It really is more than a sum of it’s parts. Words and photographs don’t do it justice. You have to experience it for yourself. And you can. For a lot less than you may have thought.

Las Vegas Strip

Please tell us if you agree, or if you have somewhere in mind that offers such an abundance for less cash. We’d love to hear from you.