Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

April 2018

Pimnara Boutique Hotel right in Jungceylon, a shopping mall, fits well into our Free & Lazy, no itinerary holiday. The hotel comprises two adjoining blocks linked by covered walkway situated on the upper floor, is flanked with restaurants, fast food outlets, food kiosk and souvenir stalls on the ground floor. Outside noise is efficiently blocked from the room by permanently sealed windows that ensures you’ll get a quiet night’s sleep. Your transport will drop you off at the back slip road close to the entrance avoiding you having to wade through the mall.

The hotel is fronting another building that houses Robinson’s Department Store, Big C Supermarket as well as more shops. All these will keep you busy for a couple of days. A privately run tourist counter besides the entrance makes ticket and tour arrangement convenient. Patong beach is accessible via Soi (road) Bangla about a 10 minutes walk.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Entrance to the hotel. Towards the left, are restaurants, fast food outlets and food kiosk. A tourist counter for tickets and tours is just next to the hotel.

What can one do at Jungceylon? It’s a shopping mall with many branded shops. Robinson’s Department Store and Big C Supermarket located in the adjoining building provides shopping convenience. Plenty of restaurants, fast food outlets, food kiosks around Phuket Square as well as eateries in the food court of Jungceylon makes dining decision difficult. Souvenir carts line part of Phuket Square closer to the hotel. Those wanting to rejuvenate your body, head over to ‘Thairapy’ in the basement of Jungceylon for a massage. Almost the whole basement is devoted to Thai Massage & SPA products. At the entrance of the basement, you’ll find currency change office as well as countless ATM machines.

Over at Robinson’s, it’s a full fledged department store and at Big C Supermarket, you’ll find almost everything you need for your home and kitchen. For your mobile phone and computer requirement, head over to the 3rd floor. More information on Jungceylon here.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Location of Pimnara Boutique Hotel. Click map to enlarge.

Although a deposit of THB1,000 is payable upon check-in as mentioned in our booking, we were never asked for it. Hotel booking was made through hotels.com and check-in was swift and we were escorted by one of the reception staff to our room. The hotel lobby is minimalist, almost all white and give a ‘clean’ look. A lift is available for guests whilst using the stairs wouldn’t be a pain, only one floor up.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

The ‘clean’ look lobby of the hotel. Lift (not in pic) is towards the right.

Our room is on a different wing from the reception building and you cross by a covered walkway a short distance from the lift. The hallway to your room is clean and decorated with artificial flowers along the wall. I’m not sure if the other wing is also decorated as such. The lobby and the hallway already gives good vibe.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Wall decoration in the hallway to the rooms.

According to the booking and the hotel’s website, the rooms are individually themed. Ours was a yellow colored room with ‘items’ fixed to the wall. A reasonably big room with equally spacious bathroom. Views from the window looking across is nothing much, looking downwards will be part of Phuket Square where the souvenir carts are. The drapes effectively keep lights out so you can sleep easily during the day.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Our themed room with two single beds.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Mini fridge below the wardrobe.

The air-cond room is furnished with a wardrobe, a mini safe, umbrellas, bathrobe, soft towels, mini fridge, large LCD CTV, DVD player and tea/coffee maker. Iron and board are upon request. Two complimentary bottles of mineral water is provided free daily. Tea/Coffee, sugar, cream is replenished everyday. Free wi-fi with strong signal is provided although we did experienced ‘dropped-connection’ on several occasions. Room is cleaned daily and even if you get up late, house keeping will wait till then.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Safe and bath robe in the closet.

Addition soft towels and umbrellas provided.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Table, large LCD CTV and tea/coffee maker. Iron and board available upon request. A DVD player (not in pic) is beside the CTV.

Good sized cubicle avoid you from hitting any fixtures and hot water comes within seconds. For Muslim guests, it’s nice to know a bidget water spray is by the toilet. The bathroom is equipped with hair dryer and everything works. The mirror do not get frosted after a hot shower. Bathroom amenities are in individual sealed packs.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Shower cubicle in bathroom. The standard white towels are placed here. Bottled body wash and shampoo in cubicle.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Hair dryer and shaver outlet provided.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Bathroom amenities individually packed. Shower cap, toothbrush & paste, cotton buds, comb and soap..

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

The ‘standard’ white towel and the ‘super soft’ purple towel.

Thailand utilises a 3-prong electrical power socket outlet with a voltage output of 220 volts. The socket can easily accommodate a round or flat 2-pin plug. Guests whose home country voltage is 110 volts must ensure your equipment can run on auto voltage or risk them getting fried. Alternately, you’ll require a converted to step-down the voltage.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

Electrical power socket, 220 volts.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Phuket

View of shops and souvenir carts from our room. The white painted windows of the opposite building is Robinson’s Department Store.

Phuket – Free & Lazy. Travel Tips

April 2018

Since there were no cheaper long haul air fare compared to last year (2017), we took a short Free & Lazy vacation to Phuket. We’ve been to Phuket when our kids were toddlers and then again when they were teenagers. This time around, it’s just me & wife.

Flight time from Kuala Lumpur is less than 90 minutes and you’ll be required to submit a Thai immigration card at passport control upon arrival. You can get this card at your departing airport, inside your flight or at Phuket airport itself. We’ve no itinerary coming to Phuket as we’ve covered most major attractions before thus, it’s just a lazy walk around town and the shopping malls.

Thai immigartion card

Two part Thai immigration card.

SIM Card
Rarely do we require a local SIM card as we rely mostly on off-line maps for directions. However we’ve read reviews of some hotels in Phuket having bad wifi connections. This could present a problem if we couldn’t connect to WhatsApp, Facetime or e-mail. Since the cost of a 8 day unlimited data package (+THB100 air time) cost less than a fifth of what you’ll incur in London, it’s no brainer getting one.

You can book online here and collect it at the arrival exit of Phuket airport. Just look-out for a card displaying your name with the provider logo, you don’t have to look for a counter or an outlet. So convenient. We chose ‘Happy Tourist’ SIM card from the provider, ‘dtac TriNet’. Although I’ve problem activating the line, once the phone was switched-off and on again, you know everything works as a flurry of sms comes in from the provider.

Happy Tourist SIM card

8 day unlimited data, ‘Happy Tourist ‘ SIM card by ‘dtac Trinet’, pre-cut into mini, micro & nano size.

Phuket airport arrival exit

Phuket airport arrival exit (r). Look-out for your name card on the railings.

Transport to/from Patong/airport
In Phuket, we stayed in Patong, an area well-known for its beach. There are various transport options getting into Patong and back to the airport. There are airport buses, shared mini vans, metered taxis and airport shuttle to suit varying budgets. Not wanting the hassle of public transport, we opted for an airport transfer. You can book online here, here, or here. Similar to picking up your SIM card, look-out for a card displaying your name and the provider logo as you exit arrival hall. In our case, the guy in-charge of our SIM card is also the guy handling our transportation, albeit from two different provider.

PhuketShuttle.com airport transfer

PhuketShuttle.com airport transfer.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Patong
Hotel arrangements has been made through hotels.com and we’ve booked Pimnara Boutique Hotel as it’s situated right in Jungceylon, a shopping mall … true to our aim of Free & Lazy. It’s situated in an adjoining two-block building flanked by restaurants, fast food outlets, food kiosks and eateries. Opposite is another adjoining building, housing Robinson’s Department Store, Big C supermarket and more shops. The Jungceylon complex is large enough to keep you busy a couple of days. We’ll review Pimnara Boutique Hotel in the next posting.

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Patong

Pimnara Boutique Hotel, Patong.

Halal Food
Muslim visitors will easily find halal eateries around Patong area. Plentiful compared to our previous visits. You’ll find local, western as well as arabic halal food for your choosing. They are scattered all over Patong notably at Soi (road) Sansabai and closeby Holiday Inn Resort fronting Soi Thanon Ratuthit Songroipi. If you are staying at Pimnara Hotel, there is a halal Shawarma Express stall nearby as well as 3 more stalls in Jungceylon food court. We’ll list the halal stalls/restaurants in later posting.

Shawarma Express halal stall.      

Attractions Within Sultanahmet, Istanbul

October 2017

Most of your favorite attractions in Istanbul would most likely be located within the Sultanahmet vicinity and are within walking distances. Choosing a hotel close to this area makes sense as you’ll save on transport cost. You’ll find lots of hotels to suit your budget in Sultanahmet and the tram that runs through it makes traveling around Istanbul convenient.

The major attractions in Sultanahmet are :
1. The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
2. The Hippodrome
3. Colourful Building
4. Arasta Bazaar
5. Topkapi Palace
6. Hagia Sophia
7. Basilica Cistern
8. Gulhane Park

The attractions are listed in a sequence that will avoid uphill walk. Get off the at the Sultanahmet tram stop for your first attraction, The Blue Mosque a short walk away. The last attraction, Gulhane Park will be a downhill walk from Basilica Cistern. If you intend to do your visit in reverse order, the walk from Gulhane Park to Basilica Cistern will be a taxing uphill walk, let alone if you have to push a wheelchair.

(The famous Grand Bazaar is a brisk seven minutes slight uphill walk from Sultanahmet tram stop or you can take the tram and get off one stop ahead at Cemberlitas).

Attractions in Sultanahmet area

Attractions in Sultanahmet area. Click to enlarge.

1. Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
Alighting from your tram at Sultanahmet tram stop, walk across Sultan Ahmet Square to The Blue Mosque, your first attraction. Do bear in mind that you will be visiting a mosque and you should be properly attired. Being a working mosque, non-Muslims will not be allowed to enter before or after the start of prayers. Visit this site for visiting hours for non-Muslims.

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

The Blue Mosque as seen from across Sultanahmet Park.

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

Entrance into the Mosque from the inner courtyard.

2. The Hippodrome
Exiting The Blue Mosque, head left for The Hippodrome. These are two columns of tall ‘pillars’ one being the ‘Obelisk of Theodosius’ and the other ‘Walled Obelisk’. In-between, you find the ‘Serpent Column’.

The Hippodrome

Walled Obelisk

The Hippodrome

The first of the two pillars you’ll reach coming from the Blue Mosque – Obelisk of Theodosius

3. Colourful Building
Not far from the Hippodrome walking towards Arasta Bazaar, you’ll see these colourful building. I’m not sure what this is but you’ll see a restaurant besides it, with the dining area extending well behind this multi coloured facade. Nice to have selfies here.

Colourful building

A restaurant is to the right. It’s dining area extending well behind the multi coloured facade.

From another angle.

4. Arasta Bazaar
Walking straight on from the colourful building, will take you to Arasta Bazaar. As the name implies, it’s a bazaar – a rather less visited, less crowded bazaar. Prices are a little on the high side here and varieties aren’t that varied. Wouldn’t miss much if you skipped this.

Arasta Bazaar

One of the entrances to Arasta Bazaar.

Arasta Bazaar

A rather ‘high-end’ bazaar feeling here.

5. Topkapi Palace
Exiting Arasta Bazaar from the other end, head for Topkapi Palace 1st courtyard entrance, about 450m away. This is one of Istanbul’s main attraction with lots and lots of visitors during peak season. You’ll be well advised to get online tickets if you intend to go in.

Topkapi Palace.

It’s another 400m to this 2nd courtyard entrance into the palace grounds.

Topkapi Palace

Palace building inside the complex.

6. Hagia Sophia
Another main attraction of Istanbul is Hagia Sophia. As with Topkapi Palace, the ticket crowd can be maddening at Hagia Sophia. Obtaining online tickets is a clever option.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia from the outside.

Hagia Sophia

View of the ground floor from the upper terrace.

7. Basilica Cistern
Across the road from Hagia Sophia is Basilica Cistern, an underground chamber capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water. Although this is a lesser attraction, crowd do build up at times. Unfortunately, you would not be able to get online tickets for Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Pillars inside Basilica Cistern.

Basilica Cistern

One of the two Medusa heads inside Basilica Cistern.

8. Gulhane Park
If you are visiting Istanbul in April through May, do pay a visit to Gulhane Park to see the beautiful tulips. The park isn’t too big, thus you get to see varieties of tulips but not get overwhelmed. A lot of benches in the park for you to rest. No entrance fees to enter.

Gulhane Park

The multi coloured tulips in Gulhane Park.

Gulhane Park

Black tulips in Gulhane Park.

Night pictures of Sultanahmet attractions. Due to the close proximity of our hotel, Star Holiday Hotel, we can choose what time to photograph these attractions.

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque).

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia.

The ‘Serpent Column’ of The Hippodrome in-between Obelisk of Theodosius and Walled Obelisk.

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