Scuba Diving In Phuket Is In Our opinion The Best Thing To Do In Phuket But What About Your Days Off?
Phuket has plenty of things to do and the surrounding area has stunning landscapes, beaches and crystal clear water.There are some days when you need a break from diving and getting out and about rather than just staying in your chosen beach resort is highly recommended. So if you’ve already covered the diving day trips and a Similan Island liveaboard then here’s some alternative options in no particular order.
Phang Nga bay has hundreds of small uninhabited islands, caves and hidden lagoons that are teeming with wildlife. Travelling by kayak allows you to find all these hidden gems that can’t be reached by the large boat that takes you out into the bay. At low tide hidden tunnels are exposed that allow you to get inside the islands and visit the unique mini eco systems. John Gray is the originator of these tours and the one we highly recommend. The hong by starlight tour is exceptionally good.
Phuket’s famous nightlife strip doesn’t come to life until well after sunset. If you stroll down this Patong street in the day you’ll probably wonder what all the fuss is about but once the sun goes down the transformation is dramatic. The road is closed to traffic, the music begins, switches on the neon lights are flipped, the seemingly nocturnal ladies man the bars and the fun begins. It’s not quite as seedy as it used to be, there are very good clubs that host international DJ’s and attracting a growing younger crowd.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
We’ve written a dedicated blog post to this excellent new attraction – Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. Since that blog was written they’ve been very busy and rescued a further three elephants increasing the herd to five. You’ll get a chance to stroll around in a jungle setting with these wonderful animals and learn more about the project and of course the peaceful pachyderms that are enjoying their time at the sanctuary .
The popularity of this martial art grows every year, more and more tourists come for extended holidays to keep fit and train in the many schools on Phuket. Most would rather watch than take part in what is essentially a violent sport and the stadiums in Patong allow easy access into this deep set Thai tradition. Unlike boxing, any part of the body except the head can be used to strike an opponent and bouts usually end with an elbow or a knee rather than the fist. The atmosphere at the stadiums is quite unique, every fight is accompanied from beginning to end with traditional Thai music and furious betting. Some of the stadiums are basically just for show and you’ll find many foreign fighters fresh out of training taking part in the bouts, for the most authentic experience you should go to the stadium at Soi Namyen in Patong where some of the best fighters in the region face off for titles.
The Big Buddha
The 45m high Ming Mongkol Buddha sits on top Mount Nagakerd (Mount is optimistic, hill would be more apt). The concrete structure is inlaid with beautiful Burmese White Jade Marble that reflects sunlight and adds an extra dimension to this already serene place. The 360 degree views of the southern end of the island are spectacular, Chalong Bay, Phuket Town, Kata Beach and Karon Beach are all under the statues gaze. Entrance is free but you will be exposed to a substantial amount of donation box rattling which the project relies on. Getting there is fairly straight forward and every taxi or tuk-tuk driver on the island will know where it is. Maybe the best option is hiring a scooter and making your own way up the hill, the 6 km spiralling road has plenty of restaurants with great views to stop for lunch or enjoy the sunset on your way back down. Access can only be gained from this one road which is just 2km from Chalong circle on Chaofa West Rd and a stones throw from our office.
Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
Gibbons in Thailand are in serious trouble but surprisingly thanks to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park you can still encounter wild gibbons on Phuket. All of the gibbons have been released by what can only be described as an incredibly successful project. The gibbons have been rescued from the pet and tourist industry and slowly rehabilitated until they’re able to fend for them selves in the wild. So successful has the project been that the gibbons have produced wild born infants.
If you encounter a gibbon (or slow loris) in one of the tourist resorts being offered for a photo op then please decline. The technique used to catch the wild youngsters is horrific and usually involves the death of the mother. Although as juvenile’s they’re adorable when they get older and of no use to the touts they get locked away in a tiny cage and can only look forward to a life of misery except for the few lucky ones that end up at GRP. It’s a non profit organisation with no entrance fee but please leave a donation to ensure the longevity of this wonderful project.
Naka Night Market
This large bustling market near Central Festival just outside Phuket Town sells virtually everything. It’s only open on Saturday and Sunday nights officially from 6pm until late. You can spend an entire evening slowly browsing the multitude of stalls and enjoying some absolutely delicious and very cheap food. You can catch a bus for only 40 bht from most of the major tourist beaches that will get you in the general area but it’s very slow and I mean slow, walking would probably be quicker. Getting back there’s no option but to use taxis or tuk-tuk that are readily available at the market entrance. Tip – If you get there around 4:30 – 5:00pm most of the stalls will be already open and if you’ve come in your own transport you’ll avoid the traffic congestion and find a convenient spot to park.
You will find half day tours to Phuket’s main town but it’s worth a bit more of your time. The best and most diverse food on the island can be found amongst the maze of streets and side alleys, plastic tabled mama and papa restaurants serving delicious and very cheap local fare are almost everywhere. In recent years a number of boutique restaurants, bars and guesthouses have sprung up all over town offering some very high quality fusion foods and some quirky places to eat or stay. A bus from all the main southern beach resorts will drop you right in the centre and from there just pick a direction and start walking.
A beautiful temple on the south end of Phuket with landscape gardens and a scenic lake. Free entry is good news for the more frugal amongst you. Read more here – Wat Chalong
Phuket’s grandest show is an eclectic mix of fantasy and traditional Thai stories generously sprinkled with acrobats, animals and some impossible costumes. Located just outside Kamala beach you can book this trip at any tour counter, it’s THB 1,800 for the just the show or you add THB 400 and get a buffet dinner at the gaudy Golden Kinnaree Restaurant. If you go for the dinner option then you’ll have a bit of time before the show starts to do some souvenir shopping or play the carnival games outside the main hall. There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained including a sea themed adventure centre. When the main event starts at 9pm be prepared for lots of noise, lights and confusion but don’t worry as crazy as it sounds it’s a great experience.
Hopefully this has given you a little help into planning your holiday but don’t forget the most important activity of all – just relax….
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