I went all out touristy in Phuket!
Surely, there is an off-the-beaten way to enjoy Thailand's largest island, but I think it wasn't a good idea for a first-time visitor who's traveling with The Parents. :) For a limited time, only 2 full days to be exact, I wanted to experience a little bit of everything. I wanted to feel the local culture, have a glimpse of the beautiful scenery that the island is known for and see the famous attractions no matter how crowded or how overrated I heard they are!
Sooo, I happily did these 10 things in Phuket:
1. Walked in the pretty alley of Soi Romanee
Tucked in the heart of Old Phuket Town is Soi Romanee - a narrow street lined by pastel-toned shops and houses. It looks fascinating, but beyond the dreamy colors is a dark past. The charming soi (street) of Sino-Portuguese architecture was actually Phuket's red-light district years ago. It was abandoned, but was beautifully resurrected later on.
|Soi Romanee is so dreammmy and Instagram-worthy! :)|
|The previous red-light district is now a wholesome alley of shops and cafes.|
|charming Sino-Portuguese architecture in pretty colors|
2. Immersed into the sights and sounds of Thai culture in Wat Chalong
Wat Chalong is the most visited and the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket. It is open to visitors - to those who want to learn about the religion and to those who simply want to experience the culture. Here, one can quietly observe how the locals pray; smell the incense they lighted as a part of the ritual and hear the crackling sound of fire crackers they ignited to celebrate an answered prayer.
|Wat Chalong | The beehive-like structure on the left is where they ignite fire crackers.|
|offerings in the Buddhist Temple | White Lotus Flower symbolizes Purity.|
|one of the temples in Wat Chalong complex|
3. Went to the peak of Nakkred Hills to see the Big Buddha up close
Majestically sitting on the highest peak of Nakkred Hills is a giant image of Buddha. The Big Buddha in Phuket is still under construction, but already considered a must-visit religious site. It is a 45 meter tall statue made of white marble. The landmark also offers breathtaking panoramic views of Phuket's famous beaches, Phuket Town, and the surrounding lush tropical forest.
|The huge image of Buddha can be seen from anywhere in the south part of Phuket.|
|Also in the vicinity is a 12 meter high golden Buddha.|
|panoramic view of Phuket from Big Buddha|
4. Had lunch with a view in Kan Eang@Pier
Kan Eang@Pier has been serving Thai specialties amidst Chalong Bay for over 30 years. Kan Eang actually means "easy going", and this restaurant lived up to its name. Locals and tourists alike considered it as a place to go to for a relaxed seaside dining experience. Prices are reasonable. Ambiance is amazing!
|Kan Eang@Pier restaurant|
|Pineapple Fried Rice - delicious Thai fried rice served in pineapple shell|
|When in Kan Eang@Pier, dine al fresco! The tropical ambiance in the outdoor seating area is amazing.|
5. Took lots of photos in Phromthep Cape
Stunning cliffs overlooking Andaman Sea make Phromthep Cape an ideal spot for photography. It is the most captured vista in Phuket and considered to be the best place to watch the sunset. The viewing deck is thronged with visitors who have just hopped off the big buses and white tour vans. A short stroll from the upper deck are less crowded viewing points where one can embrace tranquility.
|Phromthep Cape - the most photographed spot in Phuket|
|stunning view of the Andaman Sea|
|This viewpoint is also a good place to watch the sunset. Too bad we came early.|
6. Soaked up the sunshine in Karon Viewpoint
Karon Viewpoint is a good spot to have an overview of Phuket's beach life. It is also called Three Beaches Hill as Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches can be seen from the viewing deck. It is perched on a lush hill in between Nai Harn and Kata Noi. .
|Spot the 3 beaches!|
|unwinding with a view of Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches|
|at the topmost deck of Karon Viewpoint|
7. Checked out the party scene in Bangla Road
Soi Bangla is a walking street that comes to life at night. It is Phuket's party central - a lane of bars and clubs with loud music, disco lights, cheeky girls, go-go dancers and lady-boys! It starts to get really lively (and wild) at 8 PM. The vibe is a bit overwhelming. It is not a fun place for the family, but an interesting street to walk in once in your life.
|nightlife in Patong Beach|
|Bangla Walking Street = Phuket's party central|
8. Watched the sunset in Patong Beach
Patong Beach is a stretch of powdery white sand on the west coast of Phuket. It is lined with hotel resorts, restaurants, shopping centers and night clubs. Thai massage and water sports are offered in the area, but the best thing to do in this beach remains to be priceless... and that is lazing along the glistening Andaman Sea until sunset!
|family in Patong Beach before sunset|
|dusk in Phuket's most popular beach|
9. Ate cheap Thai street food
There are plenty of dining options in Phuket, but you'll get the best value for money when you eat at the street stalls. The food and beer garden across Patong Beach has food stalls selling a wide variety of Thai dishes from noodles to curries, salads to grilled items, fruits to sticky rice! Portions are generous and prices are pretty cheap that you can have a Thai feast without spending all your travel money!
|tropical fruits in a stall near Patong Beach|
|grilled items in The Food and Beer Garden|
10. Hopped on a speed boat in Royal Phuket Marina and cruised to the neighboring islands
Phuket is an excellent base for exploring Thailand's tropical islands. Day trips to Phi Phi, Maya Bay and Phang Nga can be easily arranged. Island Hopping tours start early in the morning at Royal Phuket Marina. A full day is spent cruising and hopping from one exotic island to another.
|And we're off to Koh Phi Phi!|
|Khai Nok island - one of islands we visited during the Koh Phi Phi Island Hopping Trip|
|The famous Maya Bay where Leonardo DiCaprio's The Beach movie was filmed.|
Phuket Travel Tips
* For #1 to #6, we rented a van for six hours and asked the driver to take us to the sights we want to see. I booked the service a week before our trip at Phuket SRC Travel website. Price as of March 2016: 1,700 Baht.
* For #7 to #9, Patong Beach is a short tuktuk ride away from where we stayed. One-way fare costs 200 Baht.
* For #10, I booked the Koh Phi Phi with Maya Bay premium day trip at Phuket SRC as well. Price as of March 2016: 1,800 Baht per person. That includes pick up and drop off, light breakfast, island hopping in a big speedboat, snorkeling, lunch and snacks.