Sunday, March 9, 2014

What to see in Phuket? What to do in Phuket?

If Phuket shines in only one particular area (which is of course not the case) it would have to be in the ‘What to See’ category. The island is teeming with fascinating sights, attractions and curiosities that may seem perfectly normal to locals but are riveting to the western mindset. Some, like Phang Nga Bay are wonders of Nature while others, such as Phuket FantaSea are most definitely contrived by man. Either way, they’re out there waiting for you.

If you are planning to go to Phuket, you may also want to check our where to stay in Phuket post.

Phang Nga Bay
The first impression airplane passengers have of the island when they look down during the descent to Phuket Airport is that it is a wonderland. Yet, strictly speaking what they’re seeing isn’t Phuket: It’s the fantastic world of Phang Nga Bay. With limestone karsts rising vertically out of the waters of the bay like petrified cathedrals and a plethora of wildlife it’s no wonder that visitors are wowed by Mother Nature. Day tours operate from Phuket allowing visitors to kayak in and out of the caves.

Phuket FantaSea
An intoxicating blend of legend, myth, imagination and pure show business with a twist of history thrown in to make the final result even spicier, Phuket FantaSea is a heady brew that fascinates visitors to Phuket. Flying elephants wisecracking Siamese twins, jaw-dropping airborne spectacles performed by acrobats and mock battles are just a few elements of this extravaganza. FantaSea is also a theme park and contains a bazaar, one of the largest buffets in Asia and a ‘Palace of Elephants’. Wheelchair friendly.

Bangla Road Nightlife
To some, it’s depraved, others claim they can take it or leave it, but to others Bangla Road’s nightlife is the height of sensual pleasure. Every night starting about nine o’clock, someone takes a figurative firework, lights it and steps quickly away as the whole place ‘burns’ fast and bright with sexy girls beckoning passersby into their ‘bar beers’ while music – live or otherwise – pounds out of doorways and mingles with other sounds of the night creating a chaotic and exhilarating atmosphere in which anything goes.

Old Phuket Town
Once the hub of island life, nowadays visiting the old quarter of Phuket Town is akin to touring a real-life museum. With its distinctive Sino-Colonial architecture, the quarter displays what life was like over 100 years ago when tin was king in Phuket and immigrant Chinese families threw their all into the tin mining industry. Slowly but surely old Phuket Town is being restored and a stroll down Thalang, Phang Nga and Dibuk roads as well as Soi Romani is time well spent if you are interested in history.

Simon Cabaret
This is a spectacular display of originality and fun by an all-transvestite cast. Patong’s Simon Cabaret is one of Southeast Asia’s outstanding entertainment attractions. A single show runs the entire range of musical theatre from cultures around the world. Okay, so it’s not Las Vegas but for many it’s the first time they’ve been up close and personal with a ‘ladyboy’ or katoey as they’re known locally. Please note that performers are renowned for collaring members of the audience after the show, posing for a photo with them and demanding money for it.

Big Buddha
Phuket's Big Buddha is one of the island's most important and revered landmarks. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and at 45 metres high it is easily seen from far away. The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island (think sweeping vistas of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon beaches, Chalong Bay, and more.) Easily reachable via a six-kilometre road leading from Phuket's main artery, it's a must-visit island destination.

Thai Boxing
Often exhilarating and always riveting, Muay Thai - or Thai Boxing - is the most intensive body contact sport in the world, Muay Thai has taken on a new twist in that a number of foreign fighters have come to train and compete in Thailand. Patong has two Thai boxing venues, one on Soi Sai Namyen that has shows every Monday and Thursday - showtime 21:00 to 23:30 and at Bangla Boxing Stadium behind the Millennium Hotel at Jungceylon on Sai Kor Road which features fights on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 21:00 - 23:00.

Wat Chalong 
Wat Chalong has been extending a warm welcome to visitors for over a century. Locals come to pray and Westerners come to learn something about Buddhism. The most revered and impressive of Phuket’s 29 temples, it is dedicated to two highly venerated monks, Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang who helped heal many miners with their knowledge of herbal medicine during a tin miners’ rebellion in 1876. When visiting please dress respectfully with no revealing garments.

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