What to see in Phuket
What to see in Phuket? Phuket is quite justly famed for its beaches and nightlife. But there is a lot more to Phuket for PhuketSpace customers and Phuket visitors than its pristine beaches and other natural attractions. Renting a car or motor cycle, you might want to spend the day travelling around the island. There are plenty of worthwhile man-made structures to see:
One of the more recent additions to the long list of attractions on Phuket is the Big Buddha, though building work has been going on for a few years now. The main Buddha image is 45 metres high and sits over 400m above sea level on a hilltop in the southern Phuket, with incredible panoramic views of the island.
The imposing Big Buddha is wrapped in bright white marble, as will be the base including giant lotus leaves eventually. Work continues slowly, and donations are always being collected – this is a long-term project.
You’ll arrive via a temple area below the Buddha where there are souvenirs are for sale, with plenty of photo displays depicting the building work over the years. You can even ‘buy’ a piece of marble for yourself and write your name and message on the back of it. Your marble piece will then be used somewhere on the statue. Having your name and the names of your loved ones as part of a Buddha statue is considered very good luck.
The Big Buddha is definitely worth a visit. It’s about 6km to the top up a steep road from from Chao Fah West Road (the main road that runs between Central Festival and Chalong). The turn off is about 1km north of the Chalong traffic circle.
Phuket Aquarium is right at the end of Cape Panwa, south-east of Phuket Town. The entry fee is just 100 baht for adults, 50 Baht for kids. It’s hardly the biggest aquarium in the world, but has expanded gradually over the years and there are plans for more additions. In the first room by the entrance are many small tanks, all kind of fish.
There’s certainly plenty to see, with exotic fish from around the world, plus many Thai species, including moray eels, lionfish, angelfish, batfish, lobsters, scorpionfish; you name it. There are also some oddities such as electric eels. There are also lots of educational displays about marine life and environmental awareness around the walls.
There’s now a small walk-through tunnel at Phuket Aquarium, where you can see a few sharks, eagle rays, jacks, etc. There’s also a large tank housing several huge groupers, and a smaller tank containing seahorses.
Behind the aquarium is a marine biological centre here with an endangered species unit, which specialised in breeding turtles. They are reared here in outdoor tanks, and injured turtles are brought in to be looked after.
The Phuket aquarium is well worth a visit.
This spectacular live show located in Kamala showcases Thailand’s rich, historical culture. It features acrobats and trained elephants, providing wholesome family entertainment. The complex features massive theatres and a 4000 seat grand buffet.
There are those that will suggest that the whole show is somewhat artificial and that there is a ‘production line’ feel to the process of arriving, eating and seeing the show, but there is no denying the splendour of it all. Phuket Fantasea is a spectacular experience.
Splash Jungle Water Park
This is Phuket’s first and only water park and is part of the West Sands Residences and Resort. Located just north of the airport the water park is right on the picturesque Mai Khao Beach. There are rides, slides, pools and other things here to keep the whole family entertained and there are various food places to choose from.
Phuket’s national museum contains numerous artifacts from Phuket’s long and fascinating history. It also documents the famous Battle of Thalang where the ‘Two Heroines’, featured in a monument on the main road nearby, defended the island against the Burmese in the 18th century. The museum hosts historical information and exhibits about daily life in Phuket, tin mining, the indigenous Sea Gypsy culture and the island’s Chinese heritage.
In the main hall is a large statue of the Hindu god Vishnu that was uncovered from forest overgrowth in Phang Nga in the early 1900s. The image dates from the 9th century A.D., showing the early Indian influence on Thai culture. There are also displays on the art, architecture and history of other parts of Thailand, including the ancient Sukothai kingdom.
The museum is between Phuket town and the airport, just to the east of the Heroines’ Monument roundabout on the main highway.
Phuket Town’s Antique Buildings
The beginning of the tin boom during the nineteenth century led to the construction of some fine old mansions and shops in Phuket Town, many of which are still well preserved. The architectural style, typical of the region, is described as Sino-Portuguese, and has a strongly Mediterranean character.
Shops present a very narrow face on the street but stretch back a long way. Many, especially on Dibuk Rd., have old wooden doors with Chinese fretwork carving. Other streets, (sometimes referred to a “Old Phuket”), with similar structures are Phang-Nga, Yaowarat, Thalang, and Krabi Roads. A walking tour of the area is the best way to experience them.
Phuket Butterfly Farm and Insect World
What more can be said? This place does exactly what it says on the tin. Plenty of tropical species of butterflies and insects to see! The Phuket Butterfly Farm and Insect World is located in Sam Kong, about 3 km from the centre of Phuket Town towards Tesco Lotus.
For sheer entertainment, you’ll be hard pressed to beat the famous Phuket Simon Cabaret. Nothing is as it seems to be here; every one of the stunningly glamorous performers is a katoey, or ladyboy. This is no seedy display of debauchery though – Simon Cabaret is a show you could take your old mother to. She’d love it.
Simon Cabaret is in Phuket’s most luxurious and intimate theatre, with high tech sound and light equipment, dazzling costumes and unbelievable performers.
Kathu Mining Museum
Strange as it may seem, Phuket wasn’t always a tourist destination. Tin mining played a massive role in Phuket’s history and the Kathu mining museum has some fascinating information and artifacts offering an insight into the tin mining era, plus street scenes representing old Phuket.
The Kathu mining museum is located on the road between Loch Palm Golf Club and the British International School. You can’t miss the entrance: a Sino-Portuguese shaped double arch seemingly in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills and jungle.
If, like many, you feel that snakes are slimy, slippery and cold you may want to visit one of the many snake shows in Phuket and learn a bit more about these misunderstood creatures. You may not exactly fall in love with them, but at least you will have learned that snakes don’t deserve their unfortunate reputation. Most snake shows offer visitors the chance to hold or at least get very close to their snakes. Snake shows are both educational and entertaining, and will teach you how you should you act if ever confronted by one.