It’s a big island, offering all manner of things to do. It’s surprising that so many holiday makers, who are trying to get away from it all, soon get bored with that dreamy combination of a perfect beach, a comfortable hotel room and great food. After a few days, most people want more. They want to go places, to see how the local people live and to experience new things. Happily, with Phuket being a large island, about 50 kilometres long, there are all sorts of interesting things to do here. Below we offer some suggestions.
Crowded Beach, Quiet Beach – Find the one that suits you Spend most of your holiday in Patong and you might think the beaches of Phuket are crowded. While Patong buzzes with people and activity, there are many other beaches to which one can escape in complete solitude. You just have to drive. As one moves away from Patong the beaches become progressively quieter. By the time you get to the top of the island you’re guaranteed kilometres of sand to yourself, even in peak season, so remember crowded beach, quiet beach; the choice is there.
Visiting Wats – Buddhist Monasteries All Buddhist Monasteries are open to the public during the day, and visitors are usually welcome. Since these are active holy places of worship, and the residence of monks, visitors should show respect in keeping well dressed and remaining quiet, Mum and Dad; keep the kids on a leash and always be culturally sensitive.
Elephant Trekking The wild elephant population of Phuket was wiped out last century, but has been replaced in recent years by an influx of animals for the tourist trade. Today there remains just a few hundred elephants on Phuket Island, all domesticated, most working in tourism. Indeed, riding an elephant is an experience not to be missed. The lumbering monsters are incredibly agile. Taking an elephant ride helps to keep the beasts employed, fed and out of the cities, where many can be taken by destitute owners in search of money and food.
Phuket Town Phuket Town is small but incredibly interesting, a potpourri of different cultural influences, of markets and shopping centres, restaurants and other entertainment facilities. Anyone spending a few days on Phuket Island should take time to visit, be it for sight-seeing, cultural or historical interest, or shopping.
Zoo Phuket’s only zoo is small, but pleasant, displaying some of Thailand’s almost vanished wildlife. Their tigers are fed well enough that one can sit with them and have a photo taken. We recommend going early or late, to avoid the tour buses that arrive mid morning and mid afternoon. It is in a small road off the east side of Chao Fah Road, about half way between the town and Chalong’s 5-way intersection. The turnoff is well signposted and easy to find.
Bungy Jump Consider yourself adventurous? Got real guts? If you haven’t tried bungee jumping yet, you should take the ride to the top with a big rubber band around your ankles and fight the internal struggle that every jumper meets when standing 54 metres above the ground. Logic might tell us it is quite safe, but another part of our body screams “No! Don’t jump!” But with their friends at the bottom, waiting expectantly, most people manage to throw themselves off and experience a rush like no other.
Cultural Village Cultural shows featuring skilled Thai dancers from the different regions of the country, martial arts demonstrations, elephant rides and Thai dinners are all brought together at Phuket’s original cultural garden; there is also an attached orchid farm for all the budding botanists out there.
Jungle Trekking With most of the rainforest on Phuket long since eaten up by rubber plantations, it is not so easy to find ideal trekking grounds. Again, it’s best to sign on with a company providing this service. Often they take their trekkers right off Phuket into neighbouring Phang Nga province, where some beautiful areas of forest remain.
Spas; massage and herbal steam rooms Health resorts, spas and herbal saunas are proliferating, and some fine examples offering a wide range of treatments are now found on Phuket. Thailand has its own traditional herbal saunas, and there are several local ones around the island. While many large resorts now feel they are incomplete without a spa, there are also several independent establishments.
View Points Phuket’s most famous view point, Laem Phrom Thep at the very bottom of the island, is on the ‘must see’ list for every Thai visitor to the island. Thus it attracts a fleet of tour buses and cars each evening as people come to witness the sun fall into the Andaman Sea. Indeed, it’s often a spectacular sight, but there are many quieter places. The view point on the hill behind Kata Noi attracts fewer people and when the heavens turn red, the view from any of the beaches can also be spectacular.