Phuket is a beautiful rain forested, mountainous island located in the Andaman Sea. With a total area of approximately 576 Square Kilometres, it is the largest Thai Island that offers a distinct variety of experiences you will never forget. With its thirty relaxed beaches that range from white sand to slightly muddy ones, the rich display of Thai culture and heritage, sumptuous traditional Thai food, and the sinful nightlife to spoil you for choices, Phuket is a destination for that romantic holiday you always wished for. Apart from the beach bumming and beach walk with your special someone, here is a list of top five things you must do in Phuket.
1. Phuket FantaSea
Phuket FantaSea is something you simply cannot miss in Phuket. It is a fascinating nightime theme park inspired by the rich Thai culture. The 140-acre theme complex includes a lively carnival village with various games, parades and numerous shopping options. Enjoy the elephant ride across the fascinating luminous village. Go for a theatrical safari of the Tiger Jungle Adventure and explore the magical creatures of the Kingdom of Kamala. The dining options include ‘Golden Kinnaree’ and ’Suriyamas’. ‘Golden Kinaree’ is a grand 4000 seat Restaurant with sumptuous food and buffet options. ‘Suriyamas’ is a seafood buffet restaurant that combines delicious food with distinctive ambience – a paradise for seafood lovers.
Click loads of pictures of the bewitching carnival village. Last but not the least, the most spectacular show of the evening awaits you at the ‘Palace of Elephants’. The enchanting ‘Fantasy of a Kingdom;’ is a cultural illusion show, displaying the colourful heritage and rich culture of Thailand. The show includes various magical illusions, acrobatics, special effects, aerial ballets and elephant performance that will leave you spell bound. The show is a theatrical masterpiece you simply cannot miss. No photography is allowed during the show. You need to deposit your phone and camera before entering the theatre which is an organised process. However, you can get yourself clicked with the participants at the entrance of the theatre and get a souvenir picture at a price of $30.00. The cost of the show including the buffet dinner is approximately $75.00. The experience is completely worth the price.
2. Phuket Big Buddha
‘Pra Buddhamingmongkol Ake-Nakkiri’ popularly known as the ‘Big Buddha’ of Phuket is a 45-metre-tall glistening white statue that sits atop the highest peak of the Nakkerd Hills to the south of Phuket. What makes this place a popular tourist attraction is the size of the Big Buddha as well as the breathtaking view from the top. The statue is constructed with reinforced concrete, layered with 135 tons of beautiful Burmese Jade marble that shines in the sun. Exploring the site takes up to an hour.
There is a small 12-metre-high golden Buddha statue which is actually made of brass as well as the statue of the Earth Goddess. The site also displays Buddha’s handprint, footprints and seatprint that were discovered in 1986. There’s a small open prayer room where you can light an incense stick and pray in the background sounds of the fluttering Buddhist flags and the music of holy chants.
The drive to Big Buddha is really beautiful. You will drive through the green residential neighbourhood and then up a 6 kilometre steep road leading to the top of Nakkred Hill. You can hire a taxi or motorbike or this ride. There is a steep staircase you need to take to reach the main temple which sometimes is quite tiresome in the humid weather. But all this toil is worth the view you get from the top.
There is no entrance fee to visit the place. Visitors are required to wear decent knee-length clothes and this applies to both men and women. Sarongs and pashminas can be hired at the entrance in case the visitor dress is not appropriate to visit the temple. There is an open meditation hall at the base of the Phuket Big Buddha where you may get a glimpse of the meditating monks. The hall also includes some Buddhist teachings and countless donation boxes, there is no forced donation though.
There are small shops at the exit where you can buy souvenirs and other craft items. Restrooms are also available at the exit point. The best time to visit this place is early morning when the weather is pleasant or in the evening when you can enjoy a beautiful sunset at a nearby restaurant after your visit to the Big Buddha.
Look out for Baan Poo Doo Lay restaurant on the way back from Big Buddha. This rustic little piece of paradise offers delicious food, amazing views and great hospitality.
3. Point Range Rifle Shooting
If you have any interest in shooting even if you have never held a gun before, this place is something you simply cannot miss. Operated in a very safe and professional manner, Rifle Shooting is once in a lifetime experience. There is a good choice of guns you can try your hands on – .22, .38, .45, 9mm, pistol and shotguns. Depending upon the calibre of the bullet, the price ranges from $27 to $37 for 10 shots, which is a little overpriced but worth the experience.
Nothing pumps up the adrenaline than the feel of firing a real gun. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully as they are for your own safety. The staff here is very friendly and is willing to help you take a lot of photos. In the end they will give you a print out of your performance and accuracy as a souvenir. So, if you have never fired a gun before, why not give it a try?
4. Siam Niramit
The world class captivating performance of the Siam Niramit show is another spectacular activity you cannot miss in Phuket. It is one of the largest shows in the world performed by 150 dancers and musicians. The show starts with the narration of the history of Siam kingdom through folk dancing, special effects and the traditional music.
The show also depicts the Thai villagers and peasants life, Thai festivals, local customs and religious practices in a very entertaining way. There is a rich display of Karmic beliefs and spiritual realms of Hell, Heaven and the magical Himpaan Forest, which is believed to be in-between Heaven and Hell. The lavish costumes of the performers, the vibrant backdrops and the stunning sets of the 2000 seater theatre are sure to leave you spell bound. You will also get a glimpse of real elephants and goats during the show.
The show starts at 20:30 hrs, however, the doors to the facility are opened at 17:30 hrs so you can access the other attractions of the place. Walk around the grounds to explore the traditional Thai Village.
There are Thai-style houses and floating market. Peep into those houses to get a glimpse of various traditions and occupations of the villagers. You’ll find how traditional puppets are made, how silk is extracted from the cocoon, how the traditional cloth painting is done, how the authentic Thai food is made and a lot more. You will even get to taste their local food at different little houses at no cost.
Not just that, there are carnival style games and open air performances that include Thai boxing and Elephant processions. Enjoy feeding the fishes, or a goat or a couple of elephants and get clicked with them.
The restaurant in the premises offers a buffet dinner with lip smacking flavours of Thai food. The food is available from 18:00 hrs till 20:15 hrs, after which the visitors head to the Siam Niramit Theatre for the show. You are required to deposit your camera before entering the theatre. Some packages include a free souvenir photograph. Please check the details before booking for this show.
To know more details about this beautiful experience, please check my post ‘Siam Niramit Phuket – A Cultural Experience.’
6. Patong Nightlife
With its neon lights, loud music and crowds of young party lovers, Bangla road in Patong is an after-dark place to be in Phuket. The pulsating nightlife of Bangla road has everything you need to party all night – live music, beer bars, bar games, international performances and so on.
However, Patong’s nightlife is completely different from what people may call ‘normal’. You need an open mind and a good sense of humour to party in a place like this. There are Go-Go bars, ladyboy cabaret shows, erotic shows and a fun party vibe to enjoy for adults only.
Initially it may seem wild and bizarre to you but you’ll soon discover that even in this uniquely glamorous world, there are rules to be observed. The place is safe and harassment free. Entry to most of the bars is free and the prices are acceptable and clearly written.
There are many ladyboys you will find on the road who charge you for getting clicked with them. Watch out for your camera when clicking their pictures, they may expect a tip.
If you are experimental enough to discover a unique and happening nightlife, you must visit this place for once.