Phuket is a popular tourist spot in Thailand. Although the island is mostly known for its white sand beaches and lively nightlife, there’s a lot more to see in Phuket province. We found beautiful colonial buildings in Old Town and a gorgeous marine park with a fascinating landscape.
Old Town is a wonderful historical district in Phuket Town. At the end of the 19th century Phuket was an important centre for tin mining. Settlers came from China, Malaysia, India, and Portugal and the buidings reflect this diversity. Streets are lined with colourful Sino-colonial mansions and homes similar to those found in George Town and Melakka in Malaysia. Many have been restored and now function as shops, restaurants and hotels. It’s a great area to wander around and admire the architecture.
Our hotel in Old Town was in a gorgeous restored colonial building. It felt as if we were staying in a piece of history.
At night the street lights bring out different aspects of the architecture and adds to the area’s charm. On Sunday evenings, Thalang Road becomes Walking Street Market. It’s a typical lively Thai market selling everything from food to clothes to household goods.
Phang Nga Bay
Ao Phang Nga National Park is not far from Phuket Island. It’s a gorgeous marine park filled with large and small karst pillars that seem to rise straight up from the sea. We took a day cruise from Phuket as it’s an easy way to explore this fascinating place.
The boat slowly cruised between the pinnacles allowing us to soak in the view. It was magical.
The boat stopped a few time allowing us to kayak around the karst formations. We paddled into a bat cave and then through a hole in the rock that led to a ‘secret’ lagoon. Since there were quite a few other kayakers in the lagoon, it wasn’t much of a secret.
The highlight of the trip was seeing James Bond Island which was made famous in the movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. The most recognizable feature is a picturesque karst pinnacle in a shallow bay surrounded by emerald green water. The island also has and a small cave that was used in the movie.
The easiest way to get to this area is to take day cruise from Phuket. For most of the day it was a typical tour with a lot of people moving from site to site. On the return trip however, the atmosphere of the cruise changed. All of a sudden dance music started blaring and three ‘lady boys’ came up the stairs. Dressed in sequin dresses, make-up and colourful wigs they started dancing and flirting with the male passengers!! These guys were so funny and looked like they were having a lot fun themselves! It was something you would only see in Thailand.
Undoubtedly the most popular beach on Phuket Island is Patong. It is a large sandy beach with gentle waves coming up to shore. But it is very busy and the surrounding town is known for its parties, so we were happy to go for just one day.
This beach is where much of the news footage from the 2004 Tsunami was taken. Today you wouldn’t know the tsunanmi had happened except for the ‘Tsunami Escape Route’ signs posted in most low-lying places. There are also a few Tsunami Refuge Towers, but they’re in such disrepair they don’t look very safe.
While lounging on the beach we watched a few parasailers soaring high in the sky. It looked like fun so we decided to try it. Having never done it we weren’t sure what to expect. One at a time, we donned harnesses and were attached to the rope. After running a few steps, the parasail quickly filled with air and pulled us up. We sailed high above the water, enjoying the view all around. It was really thrilling!
Back on the beach a man came up to us asking for a tip. When Richard asked why, he replied ‘I told you to run!’
Getting to Phuket
Phuket has an international airport located on the north end of the island. If you’re already in the area catch one of the frequent ferries between Phuket and Phi Phi or Krabi. Since Phuket Island is connecte to the mainland by a bridge, there are many bus operators offering trips to many destinations in Thailand.
Where to stay
The best place to stay depends on what type of vacation you are looking for. Patong Beach is very popular and is a busy place with many restaurants, hotels and bars. Scattered throughout the island are many remote resorts with secluded beaches and quiet atmospheres. Old Town is a great option because it has great restauants and hotels and is far away from the craziness of the beaches.
Coming Next – Travel Guide for Thailand
For more pictures from our travels visit Gallery at monkeystale.ca
To read more of our stories from around the world visit Destinations.
If you like what you read, please share, with credit, using the links below