EYEWITNESS TRAVEL TOP PHUKET WILLIAM BREDESEN
Top 10 Phuket The Top 10 Highlights of Everything Welcome to Phuket........................5 Moments in History .....................40 Exploring Phuket ...........................6 Museums and Monuments.........42 Phuket Highlights ........................10 Buddhist Temples........................44 Phuket Town.................................12 Chinese Shrines...........................46 Wat Chalong .................................16 Picturesque Places......................48 Patong...........................................18 Beaches........................................50 Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Forest Scenic Walks ................................52 Outdoor Activities.........................54 and Wildlife Reserve ................20 Marine Activities...........................56 Sirinat National Park...................22 Children’s Attractions..................60 Naiharn Beach.............................26 Entertainment Venues.................62 Kata Beach...................................28 Bars and Nightclubs....................64 Similan Islands National Park ....30 Restaurants..................................66 Khao Sok National Park..............32 Markets and Shopping Areas......68 Phang Nga Bay ............................36 Souvenirs......................................70 Phuket for Free ............................72 Fairs and Festivals.......................74 Day Trips.......................................76
CONTENTS Phuket Streetsmart Area by Area The South .....................................80 Getting To and The North .....................................90 Around Phuket .......................106 Farther Afield...............................98 Practical Information.................108 Places to Stay.............................112 General Index.............................118 Acknowledgments .....................124 Phrase Book...............................126 Selected Sight Index ..................128 Within each Top 10 list in this book, no hierarchy The information in this DK Eyewitness of quality or popularity is implied. All 10 are, in Top 10 Travel Guide is checked regularly. the editor’s opinion, of roughly equal merit. Every effort has been made to ensure that this book is as up-to-date as possible at the Throughout this book, floors are referred to in time of going to press. Some details, accordance with American usage; i.e., the “first however, such as telephone numbers, floor” is at ground level. opening hours, prices, gallery hanging arrangements, and travel information are Front cover and spine Boat in Maya Bay, liable to change. The publishers cannot Ko Phi Phi Leh Island accept responsibility for any consequences Back cover The ornate Wat Chalong in its arising from the use of this book, nor for any landscaped gardens material on third-party websites, and cannot Title page The magnificent entrance to Phuket’s guarantee that any website address in this Wat Chalong Buddhist temple book will be a suitable source of travel information. We value the views and suggestions of our readers very highly. Please write to: Publisher, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, Dorling Kindersley, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, Great Britain, or email [email protected]
Top 10 Phuket ❮❮ 5 Welcome to Phuket Luxurious, world-class resorts, mouthwatering cuisine, a vibrant nightlife, hidden islets and beaches, and ancient rainforests teeming with wildlife make this Thai island a tropical paradise. As well as leisure, the tranquil temples and multicultural shrines excite a voyage of discovery. With Eyewitness Top 10 Phuket, it is yours to explore. There is truly something for everyone in Phuket. For relaxation, laze on lovely Kata Beach and snorkel with schools of multicolored fish; the adventurous should join the crowds in one of Patong’s bustling street markets and admire the 19th-century temple Wat Chalong or the entrancing Sino-Portuguese architecture of Phuket Town. At 50 miles (80 km) long, Phuket (pronounced POO-get) is Thailand’s largest island. However, it is also worth traveling beyond its shores to some of the easily accessible sights nearby. The karst cliffs and sea caves of Phang Nga Bay are rivaled by the surging waterfalls in the rainforests of Khao Sok National Park, north of Phuket. The nearby Similan Islands are rated among the world’s top ten diving sites, and Ko Phi Phi Don, a short boat ride south of Phuket, offers a heady mix of raucous parties and silent, secluded beaches. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a week, our Top 10 guide brings together the best of everything Phuket and the surrounding areas have to offer, from the world-class resorts lining Mai Khao Beach to the pristine rainforests of Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Forest and Wildlife Reserve. The guide gives you useful tips throughout, from seeking out what’s free to avoiding the crowds, alongside five easy-to-follow itineraries, designed to help you visit a clutch of sights in a short space of time. Add inspiring photography and detailed maps, and you’ve got the essential pocket-sized travel companion. Enjoy the book, and enjoy Phuket. Clockwise from top: Colorful boats at James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay; scuba diver in the Similan Islands; statue of the Buddha; stilt houses on Cheow Laan Lake; Chinese dragon carvings at Tha Rua shrine; junks in Phang Nga Bay; Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket
6 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Exploring Phuket To KhTaooKShoako Sok NatioNnatliPoanrakl Park While it is tempting to find your perfect beach and just luxuriate there, Phuket offers an amazingly Mai MKhaai oKhBaeoacBheach wide variety of treasures to discover. Beyond the SirinSaitrinat beaches are rain forests, and the town of Phuket is an architectural and cultural jewel. To take in NatiNonaatiloPnaarlkPark everything will require some form of private transport, but a good network of ferries serves the islands that surround Phuket. Here are two itineraries to help you make the most of your stay. Phang Nga Bay, PatoPnagtong with its dramatic WatWat limestone pillars and aquatic grottoes, ChalCohnaglong can be explored by Chinese junk cruise, kayaking expedition, or long-tailed boat. Key KataKata Two-day itinerary Seven-day itinerary Two Days in Phuket PhroPmhtrhomepthep CapeCape Day 1 AFTERNOON MORNING Head to Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Explore the streets of old Phuket Forest and Wildlife Reserve (see Town (see pp12–15), admiring the pp20–21) via routes 402 and 4127. Sino-Portuguese architecture, and Trek to Ton Sai Waterfall for a swim, visit one of the atmospheric Chinese then visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation shrines (see pp46–7). Project. Have dinner in Phuket Town. AFTERNOON Seven Days in Phuket Head southwest from Phuket Town Day 1 to Wat Chalong (see pp16–17), Phuket’s most famous Buddhist temple. Drive Follow the morning’s plan for Day 1 to Phromthep Cape (see p48) and of the Phuket itinerary, taking in the watch the sun set on the island’s sights of historic old Phuket Town. southern tip. Stay overnight at After lunch, take a taxi to Rassada nearby Kata (see pp28–9) or Patong Port, then board a ferry to Ko Yao Noi (see pp18–19) on the west coast. in Phang Nga Bay (see pp36–7). Spend your first night here. Day 2 Day 2 MORNING Take a boat tour of the dramatic limestone stacks and mangrove Drive to Sirinat National Park (see forests of the bay, then visit the pp22–3) and stroll along the quiet and amazing sea caves on a kayaking undeveloped Mai Khao Beach (see expedition in the evening. Spend p23). There are simple beachside sea- a second night at Ko Yao Noi. food vendors here, perfect for lunch.
0 km0 km 5 5 Around Phuket Exploring Phuket ❮❮ 7 0 mil0esmiles 55 Khao Sok National Park GibbGoinbbon Similan Khao Lak RehaRbeihliatabtiiloitnation Islands ProjePcrtoject National Phang Nga KhaoKhPahoraPThhraeTohaeo Bay WToanteWTSorafaniatleSlrafiaWRlloiyldaRWlliofFieylodaRrlleiefFsseoteRrarevensesdteravned Park See Phuket Mai Ko Yao map, left Khao Noi P hPuhkuekt e t Ko Phi Phi Don PhukPehtuket Phuket Ko Phi Phi TownTown Town Leh RassRaadsasada PortPort To KoTYoaKooNYoaio Noi 0 km 25 0 miles 25 Day 3 of flora and fauna. Stay overnight in the coastal town of Khao Lak (see Take a boat from Ko Yao Noi to Ko p100). This is mainly a jumping off Phi Phi Don (see p101) to spend a place for dive trips to the islands, night there. Enjoy the views from the but Nang Tong beach, just south Phi Phi Viewpoint (see p99), then of town, is lovely and quiet. leave the busy Tonsai area and follow the coast to one of the more Day 7 secluded bays. Take a sunset cruise to spectacular Maya Bay (see p100) – Take a boat tour to the Similan the very image of a perfect beach – Islands National Park (see pp30–31), on Ko Phi Phi Leh (see p48). This islet 50 miles (80 km) from Khao Lak. is uninhabited, but has been the set Both the scuba diving and snorkeling for several Hollywood movies. here are superb. Note that the islands are closed from mid-May to Day 4 mid-October due to poor weather. Make your way back to Phuket by speedboat or ferry, and then follow the afternoon’s plan for Day 1 of the Phuket itinerary. Day 5 Follow the program for Day 2 of the Phuket itinerary, but spend the night at Mai Khao Beach. Day 6 Phi Phi Viewpoint on Phi Phi Don offers views over two magnificent Spend the day kayaking or trekking bays, Loh Dalum and Tonsai. in Khao Sok National Park (see pp32–5). This pristine rainforest environment includes spectacular limestone cliffs and a wide variety
Top 10 Phuket Highlights Ko Tapu karst formation at James Bond Island, Phang Nga Bay
Phuket Highlights 10 Naiharn Beach 26 28 Phuket Town 12 Kata Beach 30 Wat Chalong 16 Similian Islands 32 Patong National Park 36 18 Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Forest Khao Sok National and Wildlife Reserve 20 Park Sirinat National Park Phang Nga Bay 22
10 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Phuket Highlights Phuket’s extraordinary tropical setting needs little introduction. The marvelous white-sand beaches, rolling green hills, and crystal-clear waters have lured visitors for centuries. But the island boasts more than sublime beaches. Phuket and its environs are also home to a multitude of cultural highlights. SuanSuan MapMharapohrao Phuket Town PhuPkheut ket SirinSairtinat Magnificent architecture, NatNioantaiol nPalrkPark Chinese shrines, bustling outdoor marketplaces, and authentic local SakoSoakoo cuisine are all found in Phuket’s Nai Nai 4031 4031 cultural heart (see pp12–15). ThoTnhon Wat Chalong BanBgang TaoTBaaoyBay Phuket’s most important Buddhist temple is lavish with CheCrhnegrtnaglatyalay sacred sculptures and imagery. The Grand Pagoda houses a 4025 4025 bone fragment of the Buddha KamKaalamala himself (see pp16–17). BayBay KamKalma ala Patong 4233 4233 Wild and uninhibited, 4233 4233 Patong is the island’s busiest PatoPnatgong tourist beach. Home to count less hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs, this is the ideal spot for people who want KaroKnaron to be in the middle of the KatKa aBteaaBcehach action (see pp18–19). Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Forest and Wildlife Reserve With jungle trails, waterfalls, and many exotic NaiNharihnarn animals and plants, this national park features BeaBcehach a wealth of wild attractions (see pp20–21). Sirinat National Park On Phuket’s pristine northwest coast, Sirinat National Park grants protection to a large area of undeveloped beach front, as well as the island’s last surviving mangrove forest. A number of upscale hotels are located here (see pp22–3).
Phuket Highlights ❮❮ 11 Around Khao Sok Phuket National Park Similan Islands National Park Takua Pa Thap Lamu Phang Nga Andaman Kok Loi Phang Sea Nga Bay Phuket Naiharn Beach 0 km 30 Phuket At Phuket’s southern tip, this idyllic 0 miles 30 Town beach provides one of the island’s loveliest tropical backdrops. Phromthep Cape offers 402 KunKgung breathtaking sunset views (see pp26–7). 4021 402 BayBay MuaMnugang4021 4027 4027 6012 6012 Kata Beach MaiMai 4022 Once a hippie haven, 4022 4027 BanBgaRnognRgong Kata is now home to upscale resorts, and is a favorite with ThaTlahnaglang 4027KhaKohPahorPahTrhaaTehoaeo couples and families. The RoyRaol yFaolreFostreasntdand gorgeous beach and clear WildWlifledlRifeesReervserve turquoise waters are highlights (see pp28–9). 40254025 Na SNaat Sat Similan Islands ThaTRhuaaRuaS a pSaamp a m National Park BayBay 402 The waters surrounding the 402 Similans provide incredible visibility, ideal for viewing KatKhauthu RatsRaadtsaada PhuPkheutkTeotwTnown exotic marine life and dramatic underwater rock WatWCahtaClohnaglong formations and reefs. This is Ao Ao one of the world’s top diving MakMhamkham destinations (see pp30–31). Ao CAhoaClohnaglong Khao Sok ChaClohnaglong National Park Bay Bay At the heart of this park are RawRaai wai 55 ancient evergreen forests, majestic limestone peaks, 0 km0 km 5 5 and Cheow Laan Lake, with 0 m0ilemsiles its floating bamboo-raft houses (see pp32–5). Phang Nga Bay Stunning limestone cliffs jut up from this bay, where world-famous sights include James Bond Island and the magnificent Ko Phi Phi. Kayakers can explore the water tunnels, caves, and uninhabited islands (see pp36–7).
12 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Phuket Town The historical and administrative center of Phuket traces its roots back centuries – first to the early European traders and later to the Chinese immigrants who arrived here during the 19th-century tin- mining boom. Today, Phuket Town continues to thrive as one of the island’s most authentic cultural areas, with magnificent architec- tural treasures, Chinese shrines, colorful markets, and restaurants that serve some of Phuket’s most delicious local cuisines. Ko Sirey 1Linked to Phuket Town via a small bridge, Sirey Island features hilly forest trails that wind their way through rubber plantations. Perched on a hilltop, Ko Sirey temple (right) enjoys sea views and features a large reclining Buddha image in its main hall. 2 Sunday 4 Marvelous 7 Phuket Walking Architecture Town Street Market The distinctive style of Kutu Thalang Road closes to architecture found in 6 traffic from 4pm every Phuket Town’s old shop Sunday for this colorful houses and mansions 9 market (above), which (below) is known as 2 1 offers many locally made Sino-Portuguese. This 5 craft items, along with highly attractive blend clothes and good food of Eastern and Western Phuket Town stalls. The historic build- styles dates from the ings here are illuminated late 19th century (see pp14–15). 3 80 for the occasion. 3 Naka Weekend Market Located close to the Nakaram Temple on Virat Hongyok Road, this market is the ideal place for buying food, souvenirs and gifts, as well as a huge variety of clothing.
Phuket Town ❮❮ 13 7 Phuket ORIGINS OF THE Cultural VEGETARIAN Centre FESTIVAL In 1825, a traveling Located on the Rajabhat Chinese opera company University campus, this in Kathu contracted museum (left) houses malaria. According to old Thai shadow puppets, legend, the afflicted tin-mining artifacts, his- nursed themselves back toric photographs, and to health by following a books on local culture. strict vegetarian diet to purify their minds and 8 Suan bodies, and to honor Luang Park the nine Emperor Gods of Chinese Taoism. After This pleasant garden they recovered, the first with lovely lotus ponds Vegetarian Festival was comes alive in the early held to thank the gods. mornings, when people come to exercise and perform Tai Chi. 9 0Rang Hill Phuket Wonderful views Vegetarian of Phuket Town can be Festival 5 Chinese Shrines enjoyed from the summit This annual festival is of Rang Hill, where a held over nine days in Vibrant and colorful breezy, tree-shaded park late September/early art can be admired at (above) also provides October. Some devotees Chinese temples (see a relaxing venue for a perform shocking rituals pp46–7) throughout the picnic, some exercise, of self-mutilation, so it’s town. The shrines play or simply reading a book. not for the squeamish. an important role during the Chinese New Year NEED TO KNOW 8:30am–4:30pm Mon– and the annual Phuket MAP K3 Fri; closed weekends Vegetarian Festival. Sunday Walking Street and public hols 6 Monkey Hill Market: MAP P5; Thalang • Avoid walking tours at Although the views Road (between Phuket midday – the streets can from atop nearby Rang and Yaowarat roads); be unbearably warm. Hill are more impressive, 4–10pm Sun • Try the iced coffee at Monkey Hill offers a more Naka Weekend Market: Thungkha Kafae atop MAP J3; 4–10pm Rang Hill. unusual experience, as hordes of macaque mon- Sat & Sun • Sample a chili dog from keys congregate near the the Tuk-Tuk Diner, which hilltop. Keep hold of your Phuket Cultural Centre: parks at the west end of belongings – the monkeys MAP K2; 21 Thepkasatri the Thalang Road market. may try to snatch them. Road; 07621 1959 (ext 148);
14 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Historic Buildings in Phuket Town Blue Elephant Restaurant, set in elegant grounds 1 Blue Elephant 4 Chinpracha House Restaurant MAP N5 • 98 Krabi Road • 07621 1281 • Open 9am–4:30pm MAP N5 • 96 Krabi Road • 07635 Mon–Sat, 9am–2:30pm Sun • Adm 4355 • Open 11am–10:30pm daily This 19th-century mansion has Next door to the Chinpracha House, served as a backdrop for several this former governor’s mansion is a Hollywood films including Oliver fine-dining venue and cookery school. Stone’s 1993 movie Heaven and Earth, based on the Vietnam War. 2 Standard Now a museum of domestic life, Chartered Bank the house stands as a timeless reminder of an earlier era. MAP P5 5 House of the This graceful Sino-Portuguese Beautiful Images building once housed the country’s oldest foreign bank. There are plans MAP P5 • Soi Romanee (Romani) 12 to convert it into a public museum. • 07621 4207 • Open 10am–9pm Thu–Tue • Closed Wed 3 Thai Hua Museum MAP P5 • Thalang Road Located on Soi Romanee (Romani), a • 07621 1224 • Open 9am–5pm daily charming street lined with wonderful • Closed public holidays • Adm buildings, the House of the Beautiful • thaihuamuseum.com Images serves as a café specializing in breakfast and coffee. The space is This distinctive building was once also used to exhibit photography. used as a schoolhouse. The museum provides an excellent overview of 6 Dibuk Grill and Bar Phuket’s tin-mining era. Displays MAP P5 • 69 Dibuk Road cover the daily life of the Chinese • 07625 8148 • Open 11am–11pm immigrants, architecture, and archi- Mon–Sat val photographs of old Phuket. Another fine example of century- old architecture, this building now serves as a relaxing eatery known for its delicious Thai and French cuisine. The old Chinese-style house features soft interior lighting and antique fans. Facade of the Thai Hua Museum
Phuket Town ❮❮ 15 7 Phuket 0 China Inn Café Philatelic Museum and Restaurant MAP P5 • Montri Road • 07621 1020 MAP P5 • 20 Thalang Road • 07635 • Open 9:30am–5:30pm Tue–Sat 6239 • Open 11am–5pm Mon–Sat Exquisite wooden doors, Chinese Also known as the Post Office lanterns, and tiled floors decorate Museum, this 20th-century building the entrance of this classic Sino- has displays detailing the history of Portuguese-style house. The interior the Thai postal service. showcases a wonderful collection of old Chinese artifacts, while the 8 Phuket Provincial Hall highly regarded dining space is set MAP Q4 • Narisorn Road in the backyard. • 07635 4875 • Open 9am–5pm daily Entrance to the China Inn Café The Provincial Hall was built in the early 1910s. It originally featured 99 doors and no windows, and is said to be the first reinforced concrete building in Thailand. 9 THAI Airways Office MAP P5 • 78 Ranong Road • 07636 0444 • Open 8am–5pm daily The airline bought this mansion in 1947. The white, two-story building continues to serve as the THAI Airways Office in Phuket Town. It is believed to have been built in 1922. ARCHITECTURAL LEGACY During the tin boom of the late 19th and early TOP 10 20th centuries, countless Chinese immigrants CHARACTERISTICS OF arrived on Phuket seeking to capitalize on the SINO-PORTUGUESE island’s new-found economic opportunities. ARCHITECTURAL The most successful tin barons built gorgeous STYLE colonial-style mansions. The architectural style, known as Sino-Portuguese, was derived 1 Romanesque arched from early European settlements. Examples colonnades (porticoes) abound in Phuket Town, particularly the shop 2 Inner courtyards houses and mansions on Dibuk, Thalang, Phang (airwells) Nga, Rassada, Yaowarat, and Phuket roads. 3 Exterior windows with Romanesque arches These Romanesque arched windows are a typical and shutters element of the Sino-Portuguese architectural style. 4 Double doors and double shutters 5 Terracotta tiled roofs 6 Tiled floors in ornate patterns 7 Victorian ornamentation 8 Chinese signage 9 Ornamental wrought-iron gates 10 Eaves decorated with ceramic shards
16 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Wat Chalong Historical records are unclear, but Wat Chalong was probably first built during the reign of King Rama II (r.1809–24). However, the temple has undergone many renovations since it was first erected. The complex features sacred imagery, including sculptures and murals of the Buddha’s life. The holiest object is a bone fragment of the Buddha, now set in the Grand Pagoda. The temple is called Wat Chaitararam by royal decree, but everyone knows it as Wat Chalong. 1 Architecture 2 Fortune 4 Temple The temple’s Telling History colorful, multitiered sloping roofs (above), Fortune tellers sit inside During an uprising of ornate exterior, and inte rior decorations are very the temple’s main hall. Chinese tin workers in picturesque. The Grand Pagoda’s towering spire They shake two cans the late 19th century, and glittering window frames are among its of numbered bamboo many local Thais fled to other visual highlights. sticks until one falls out. Wat Chalong for protec The number corresponds tion. The temple’s then to a paper slip inside a abbot, Luang Pho Chaem, wooden cabinet. Take it provided shelter to the and ask for a translation. people and was later 3 Merit-Making honoured for this by King Thai Buddhists Rama V (r.1868–1910). visit temples and pay respect to the Buddha, 5 Firecrackers Devotees burst and other spiritual firecrackers in thanks for leaders, to accumulate answered prayers. The merit, in the belief that fireworks pop inside a such deeds will benefit beehiveshaped structure one’s position in this life located outside, near the and future lives (left). sermon hall.
Wat Chalong ❮❮ 17 6 Buddha Image WAT CHALONG FAIR Known as Poh First held in 1954, the Than Jao Wat, the main annual Wat Chalong Fair Buddha image (left) is transforms the temple within Wat Chalong’s grounds into a bustling western hall. It is flanked entertainment venue by two statues, one of featuring live music which supposedly depicts performances, sermons, a local man who won and an endless variety several lotteries after of delicious local cuisine. praying to the image. Vendors also set up carnival games, ferris 7 Wax Figures wheels, and merry-go- Lifelike models rounds. The eight-day of former temple abbots festival coincides with can be found inside a the Chinese New Year special exhibition space. and it historically marked Visitors pay tribute to the end of a local these spiritual leaders farm harvest. to make merit. NEED TO KNOW 8 0Wall Paintings Grand Pagoda Inside the Grand MAP J4 • Chao Fah This 197-ft (60-m) Nok Road; 07621 1036, 07638 1893 Pagoda, wall paintings tall golden pagoda Open 7am–5pm daily show events from the life enshrines a bone • Dress conservatively of Siddhartha Gautama, splinter of the and remove your shoes before entering certain who became the Buddha Buddha. Brought buildings. Don’t turn your back on, or point after gaining enlighten- from Sri Lanka your feet, at an image of the Buddha. ment. Notable depictions in 1999, it is • Street food vendors, include him teaching his housed inside a selling everything from disciples and receiving chedi (stupa) on fried grasshoppers to grilled chicken and pork offerings (above). the third story skewers marinated in chilli sauce, congregate of the pagoda outside the temple. 9 Gilded Statues (below). Cast in bronze, these depictions of former temple abbots are covered in flecks of gold foil. Visitors offer donations and make merit by affixing small pieces of gold-colored foil onto the statues.
18 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Patong Travelers dreaming of a sleepy tropical hideaway might want to look elsewhere – Patong is full of action. The most popular tourist area in Phuket, it features a great range of hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. Many of the high-end resorts are sheltered enclaves with lush gardens and private swimming pools. The seemingly endless shopping options, wild entertainment venues, and range of daytime activities make Patong the ultimate high-energy playground. 1 Patong Beach Patong (above), Phuket’s most popular tourist beach, offers a range of attractions. It also has more laid-back areas – for peace and quiet, the northern end of the beach is best. 2 Massage 3 Muay Thai and Spa Fights Treatments Don’t miss a chance Thailand is known for its to see this Thai martial world-class hospitality, art. Five three-minute exemplified by its rounds, accompanied traditional massage by romping music, are treatments and spas, preceded by the pomp which are ubiquitous and ceremony of ancient in Patong (left). pre-fight rituals. NEED TO KNOW Bangla Road; 07627 3222; 07634 2011; www.phuket adm B1,300 upward simoncabaret.com MAP H3 Banana Disco: 124 Thawee Tiger Disco: 49 Bangla Patong Boxing Stadium wong Road; 07632 0306 Road; 07634 5112 (Muay Thai fights): MAP P1; 2/59 Sai Nam Yen Seduction Discotheque: • Be sure to barter with Road; 07634 5185; adm 39/1 Bangla Road; vendors at the market to B1,300 upward; www. 07634 0215; seduction get the best price. boxingstadiumpatong.com disco.com • Street carts serve some Bangla Boxing Stadium Simon Cabaret: Sirirach of the best Thai food. (Muay Thai fights): MAP P2; Road, Patong Beach;
Patong ❮❮ 19 4 Water Sports A MATTER OF If you enjoy getting PERSPECTIVE an adrenaline fix right at Some foreign travelers the beach, Patong is the are shocked by Patong’s place for you. From wave extremely liberal sexual running and speedboat norms, particularly after rides to parasailing and the sun goes down. banana boats, Patong The Bangla Road area Bay offers a range of is the nightlife epicenter exhilarating marine of Patong, and it’s not activities (left). the place for families with young children. People-watching here can be an experience, but Bangla Road is not all Patong has to offer and it is easy to avoid if not to one’s taste. 8 Street Markets The night market sells everything from T-shirts to Buddha images, and prices are low. Those near the beach road offer the widest choice. 5 Fresh Seafood 9 Bangla Road At sundown, restaurants along the beachfront The central vein promenade display the day’s fresh catch packed on of Patong is ablaze at ice. Snapper, grouper, shrimp, crabs, lobster, and night with neon lighting other delicious seafood can be individually selected, and has music blaring grilled, and seasoned to your taste. from every direction. 6 Discos Patong’s awesome nightlife needs little introduction. Some of the area’s most popular party spots include Tiger Disco, Banana Disco, and Seduction Discotheque. Dance floors are packed, as DJs spin everything from garage to disco. 7 0Cabaret Shows Bars These colorful As the island’s bar shows, starring trans- capital, Patong boasts a vestites, have been huge range of places for thrilling audiences for enjoying a cold beer or decades. The most cocktail, from traditional popular venue, Simon Irish pubs to open-air Cabaret (left), puts on beer bars, and from two shows in an extrava- go-go bars to sports gantly decorated theater. pubs (above).
20 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Forest and Wildlife Reserve Spread over 9 sq miles (23 sq km) of virgin rain forest, this national park in northeast Phuket provides one of the last remaining natural habitats for exotic and endangered animal species on the island. Visitors can immerse themselves in the jungles that once covered much of the island as Khao Phra Thaeo offers pristine forest, raw hiking trails, and picturesque waterfalls. There is also a rehab ilitation center where gibbons receive care and treatment, as well as plenty of rare plants, flowers, and trees. Gibbon 1Rehabilitation Project The calls of gibbons ring through the forest around the center, which was established in 1992 to care for animals that had previously been living in captivity. It reintroduces some gibbons (right) into the wild. 3 Bang Pae 4 Ton Sai Waterfall Waterfall The larger of the park’s A scenic little waterfall in two major waterfalls, the center of the wildlife Bang Pae (left) plum sanctuary, this is an mets down and forms enjoyable place to spend a pool ideal for a cool, an afternoon. You can refreshing dip. The easy climb the rocky paths walk from the parking near the falls, but be lot to the waterfall takes careful, since the rocks around ten minutes. can get slippery. 2 Wildlife NEED TO KNOW Highway 4027; 07621 Conservation 1067; 9am–4pm daily Development and MAP D5 Extension Centre Zipline Tour: Cable Jungle Visitor Center: 254 Moo 2, Adventure Phuket; 232/17 Located near the base Thepkasattri Road, Bansuaneramit, Moo 8; of Ton Sai Waterfall, this Thalang; 07631 1998; 081977 4904; 9am–5pm visitor center offers 8:30am–4:30pm daily; daily; adm B2,150; www. lectures on the park’s adm B200 (kids B100) cablejunglephuket.com history and purpose, as well as trail guides, Gibbon Rehabilitation • It can rain heavily brochures, and limited, Project: Pa Khlock, without much warning, basic accommodations. Thalang; 07626 0492; particularly during the 9am–4:30pm daily; summer months. www.gibbonproject.org • Try the Bang Rong Wildlife Conservation Floating Restaurant near Development and Bang Pae Waterfall. Extension Centre:
Khao Phra Thaeo Royal Forest and Wildlife Reserve ❮❮ 21 8 Trekking A scenic 5-mile- (8-km-) long jungle path links Ton Sai and Bang Pae waterfalls. At the visitor center near Ton Sai, trekkers can hire an experienced guide, who will be able to point out some of the park’s exotic animal and plant species. 9 Virgin Rain Forest Evergreen trees, bamboo forests, exotic orchids, ferns, and mosses can all be found in Khao Phra Thaeo, the last tract of virgin rain forest on the island. The area that surrounds the sanctuary includes several large rubber tree plantations. 0 Wildlife The sanctuary’s natural environment is home to a number of exotic species, including wild boar, macaque monkeys, gibbons, langurs, and various types of deer. 5 Zipline Tour 6 Flora CAPTIVE GIBBONS Sail with the birds An endangered In many Thai tourist and monkeys through plant known as the areas, local touts carry the jungle canopy. Set white-backed palm is baby gibbons around just outside the forest one of the highlights of to lure foreigners into reserve, the course is the Khao Phra Thaeo taking photographs over a mile (2 km) long. Royal Forest and Wildlife with the cute little Experienced guides take Reserve. Discovered by a primates. In exchange, you through a full safety German botanist in the the touts ask for a little demonstration. It’s a bit 1950s, this elegant fan- money. If approached, of a hike to the start of shaped palm is unique keep in mind that the the course (above). to southern Thailand. gibbons are being kept illegally, and that many 7 Bird-Watching of them lose their lives Northern Phuket is a true when hunters try to paradise for bird-watchers. Inside the capture them for the tourist trade. The small sanctuary, you can spot Gibbon Rehabilitation flowerpeckers (left), Project at the Khao Phra bulbuls, sunbirds, green Thaeo Royal Forest and Leafbirds, red-billed Wildlife Reserve works to Malkohas, Asian fairy- protect these animals. bluebirds, blue-winged Pitta, and Brahminy Kites.
22 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Sirinat National Park A rugged, pristine pine-lined strip runs along Phuket’s northwest coast and marks three largely undeveloped beaches: Mai Khao, Nai Yang, and Nai Thon. Although this land forms the Sirinat National Park, over three quarters of the reserve’s 35 sq miles (90 sq km) is marine territory. The clean waters feature large, healthy coral reefs, and Mai Khao Beach has become a well-known sea turtle nesting site. At the northern end of Sirinat is an unspoiled mangrove forest. 1 Upmarket Resorts The beaches of northern Phuket are home to up- scale resorts that blend well with the national park surroundings. The JW Marriott (below), Sala Phuket, and Anantara, among others, offer 5-star luxury (see p112). 2 Camping on Nai Yang Beach 3 Visitor Center Visitors can bring their own tent to this At the southern beautiful beach, or rent one, priced at B225 per end of Mai Khao Beach, night, from the national park’s Visitor Center. the Visitor Center has Different types of bedding and sleeping mats are useful information, also available. The well-kept campgrounds offer including maps. It rents guests toilet and shower facilities. out tents, plus budget bungalows at the north NEED TO KNOW Scuba Diving and end of Nai Yang Beach. Snorkeling: MAP B4; Visitor Center: MAP B3; Paradise Diving; 116 Moo 05 89/1 Moo 1, Tambon 5, Sakoo Village, Thalang; Nai Yang; 07632 7152; 07632 8278; adm B3,290; 1 402 3016 Suan Maphrao 8:30am–4:30pm daily; www.dive-paradise.com park.dnp.go.th Ban Yit • Those who cannot Mai Khao Marine Turtle afford luxury resorts can 8 Foundation: MAP B1; pitch a tent on the beach. 231 Moo3, Mai Khao, 4 Mai Kho Talang, Phuket; 07633 • Excellent fresh fish is 8000 (ext 3309); www. served by the string of Phuket maikhaomarineturtle local seafood restaurants foundation.org set along Route 402. 3 4031 402 2 Sakoo Cape Sai 9 Nai Thon Sirinat4018 National Park
Sirinat National Park ❮❮ 23 9 Nai Thon Beach This quiet beach (left) north of Bang Tao retains its sleepy and natural feel despite the coming of better road access. Small coral reefs located off either tip of the beach provide great opportu nities for snorkeling. 5 Mangroves TURTLE A mangrove forest CONSERVATION (left) can be found at the The Mai Khao Marine northern end of Mai Turtle Foundation, along Khao Beach. These with several Mai Khao unique trees, with their Beach resorts, releases tangled roots visible dozens of green turtles above the shoreline, are into the Andaman Sea crucial in maintaining the each year to raise funds ecological balance. for the endangered sea 6 Scuba Diving turtles. The conservation Off the coast of effort also includes northern Phuket lies an beach- and reef-cleaning interesting scuba diving projects. The number site – an old tin dredger of turtles returning to that sank off the coast Mai Khao Beach has dwindled, but it is hoped of Ko Waew. Reachable that the annual nesting site will be preserved. by boat from Nai Thon Beach, the 164ft (50m) long wreck rests at a 0 Nature Trail depth of 53 ft (16 m). At the northern end of Mai Khao Beach, 7 Snorkeling an elevated walkway There are many opportunities for snor loops through the man keling near the rocky grove forest, with signs headlands of Nai Yang pointing out exotic plant Beach. Masks, fins, and species, including black snorkels can be hired. myrsina, Lady’s Nails Look out for colorful quisqualis, red cycas, schools of fish. and mountain ebony. 4 Sea Turtles 8 Mai Khao Beach Giant sea turtles Phuket’s longest beach is a thin, undulating (above) return to Mai strip that slopes steeply down into the sea. Lined Khao Beach every year with magnificent screw pines, and with very little between November and intrusive development, it remains one of the island’s March to lay their eggs. If you spot a turtle on the natural wonders (below). beach, do not disturb it or touch its eggs. Following pages Floating bamboo-raft houses on Cheow Laan Lake, Khao Sok National Park
26 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Naiharn Beach Framing an idyllic bay on the island’s southwestern tip, Naiharn Beach remains one of Phuket’s most pristine waterfronts. The half-mile- (1-km-) long, white-sand beach is flanked by green hills and lapped by turquoise waters. While nearby Naiharn village has been modernized with cafés, art shops, and guesthouses, the beach and surrounding hills still maintain a tranquil, non- commercial vibe, with hotels congregated along only one end. During the high season, a number of private yachts drop anchor in the bay, making Naiharn their temporary home. 4 Naiharn Buddhist Monastery Behind Naiharn Beach, this spiritual center (below), which owns the beachfront, is said to be partly responsible for keeping it unspoiled. Visit at dawn, when locals make merit by offering food to the monks. 1 3Naiharn Beach Surfing Relax under a The gently sun umbrella, catch a tumbling waves and tan on the powdery white sandy shoreline here sand, or wade out into attract many boogie- the emerald waters – boarders; surfers go for Naiharn Beach (above) the sandy beach break at will satisfy even the the southern end or the toughest critic’s ideal reef break to the north. of a tropical paradise. Beware of the undertow. 2 Yanui Beach Just south of Naiharn Beach, and accessible via the road that leads to Phromthep Cape, this small V-shaped stretch of sand (below) offers seclusion amid the shade of coconut palms. It also has a small restaurant and a few simple bungalows.
Naiharn Beach ❮❮ 27 6 Naiharn Lake EXPLOSIVE GROWTH Bicyclists and Until the 21st century, the quiet beach and joggers enjoy the paved village at Naiharn were still unknown. The half-mile (1-km) route sleepy village had a few open-air restaurants encircling this inland and guesthouses, but not much more. Since freshwater lake. With 2010, like the rest of Phuket, development sea breezes, it is also began, and residences, resorts, and restaurants a pleasant picnic started popping up throughout the town. destination. Popular Today, the beach is still one of Phuket’s most cafés and bars can beautiful, but attracts 5 Ao Sane Beach be found on the lake’s a lot more visitors than With its rocky northwestern shore. it did in the past. shoreline and rough 7slope down into the sea, Muay Thai Ao Sane Beach (above) A number of Muay does not see hordes of Thai gyms have been swimmers. However, established in Naiharn it is a prime spot for Village. Visitors can snorkelers, who claim punch some heavy bags, that the visibility and skip rope, and hit the nearby corals are among pads with former profes- the best in Naiharn. sional Thai fighters. NEED TO KNOW 8Phromthep Cape MAP H6 Crowds flock to the Sinbi Muay Thai: MAP beach each evening to H5; 100/15 Moo 7, Sai witness the vivid sunset Yuan Road, Rawai; over the Andaman Sea 083 391 5535; www. at sundown. Phromthep sinbi-muaythai.com Cape (right) also has a Rawai Supa Muay Thai: market, restaurant, MAP H5; 43/42 Moo 7, elephant shrine, Soi Sai Yuan, Rawai; 07622 and lighthouse. 6495; www.supamuay thaiphuket.com 9 Beachside 0 Windmill Lunch Viewpoint • It is a long way from Naiharn village to the Shaded by a canopy Perched high on the hills beach. Rent a car or of umbrellas and pine overlooking Naiharn motorbike to travel trees, the open-air Beach, the Phromthep back and forth. restaurants at Naiharn Alternative Energy Beach serve reasonably Station offers stunning • Drink fresh coconut priced fresh fruit shakes, views. Paragliders also water while at the beach. sandwiches, and a wide launch from here to land selection of Thai dishes. on the beach.
28 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Kata Beach Located just south of Karon, the scenic Kata Beach, comprising two bays separated by a small rocky headland, offers an ideal balance of tropical scenery and well-developed tourism infrastructure. Kata has a number of high-end resorts, making it a popular destination for couples and families. Palm trees fringe the white-sand beach, and the clear turquoise waters offer good swimming conditions throughout the year. Visitors can even swim to nearby Ko Pu, a small island, passing beautiful coral reefs along the way. 1 Nightlife Less wild than Patong, Kata still offers plenty for night owls. Most bars are open-air, dotted with festive lights, and play music aimed to please a crowd that wants to relax and chat (above). 2 3Shopping Spa and The beach vendors Massage in Kata sell beachwear, Treatments coconuts, and snacks, Traditional Thai massage while the off-beach stalls is available at numerous offer a wide range of venues, including the inexpensive clothing 4canopy-covered massage Thai Cooking and souvenirs. Classes beds along the beach. Learn how to make Thai NEED TO KNOW Dino Park Mini-Golf: curries and much more (below) at one of the MAP H5 MAP H4; Marina Phuket many cookery classes in Resort, Karon Beach; Kata. One is hosted by Boathouse Wine and Grill: 07633 0625; open the upscale Boathouse Kata Beach; 07633 0015–7; 10am–11pm daily; adm restaurant, or there’s the adm (for cooking class) B240 (kids B180); www. Kata Thai Cooking Class. B2,600; www.boathouse- dinopark.com phuket.com • Karon Viewpoint is a wonderful place to watch Kata Thai Cooking Class: the sunset. 5 Ket Kwan Road, Kata Beach; 07628 4510; www. • Wine lovers can visit katathaicooking.com the Boathouse Wine and Kata Temple: MAP H4; Grill, whose excellent Patak Road, Karon; wine list features more open daily than 800 labels.
Kata Beach ❮❮ 29 7 Water Sports DEVELOPMENT The best season During the 1970s, Kata for surfing (left) in Kata was known as a low- is from May to October. budget backpacker’s The waters around Kata destination offering are great for beginners inexpensive beach since the waves are not bungalows and cheap too large. The southern guesthouses. However, end is best for surfing, when Club Med opened but if that’s not for you, its doors in 1985, the rent a kayak from the area started turning north end of the beach. upscale. Today, Kata mostly caters to well- to-do family travelers. Low-cost rooms can still be found along the inland roads, while most of the beachfront properties have been snapped up by high- end developers. 9 Dino Park Mini-Golf With a 39-ft- (12-m-) high waterfall and an erupting volcano, the setting at this miniature golf course is nothing short of stirring. Playing a round is a great way to beat the afternoon heat. 0 Kata Yai When people talk 5 Karon 8 Kata Noi about Kata, they are Viewpoint usually referring to Kata On the coastal road south toward Naiharn, The more secluded Yai (below), which is the this viewpoint provides gorgeous views of the of Kata’s beaches, Kata larger of the two Kata island. Look north and you’ll see three white- Noi, located just south of bays, and boasts more sand beaches along the coastline (above). Kata Yai, generally offers resorts and activities. more space and privacy The beach is separated than its larger counter- from Kata Noi, which is part, especially during much quieter, by a small the low season. rocky headland. 6 Kata Temple This Buddhist wat lies at the base of the mountains behind Kata town. Formally known as Wat Kittisangkaram, it dates from the 1800s, but it was rebuilt. It is rarely visited by tourists due to its modern buildings.
30 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Similan Islands National Park Soft white-sand beaches and emerald-colored waters are the foun- dations of this island paradise. Renowned as one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations, the underwater world here is stunningly beautiful, with magnificent corals, colorful fish, and dramatic rock formations. The nine Similan islands also offer remarkable snorkeling. Plan your trip with a tour operator based on the mainland – diving equipment is not available on the islands. 1 Anita’s Reef This colorful reef (below) spreads across two Similan Islands, and is punctuated by large, dramatic boulders. Offering a relatively easy dive, Anita’s Reef is often one of the first stops for live-aboard trips. 2 Ko Similan Home to Donald Duck Bay (above), named for the rock formation that resembles the cartoon character, Ko Similan is a perfect spot for you to pitch your tent. The island also has scenic walking trails, so carry sturdy shoes and a camera. NEED TO KNOW 3 Live-Aboard 4 Christmas Boats Point Visitor Center: MAP D2; 93 Moo 5, Tambon Lam One of the best ways to Deep shelves, which are Kaen; 07645 3272; open experience the dive sites populated by white-tip 9am–5pm daily; adm around the Similans is to reef sharks as well as B500 (kids B300; plus join a multiday trip on a ribbon eels, make B200 per person for live-aboard boat (below) this site very popular drivers); park.dnp.go.th offering guests several with divers and under- dives each day. water photographers. • The park is closed May through October. • Food options are limited, so if you have special dietary needs, you should pack enough food to last your trip.
Similan Islands National Park ❮❮ 31 5 Beacon Reef 4 79 9 Richelieu Rock The longest reef Well known for in the Similan Islands, Ko Bangu its exotic marine life, Beacon Reef also marks Richelieu Rock has the place where the 2 Ko Similan been renowned as a Atlantis X sank, with no diving site since whale casualties, in 2002. Today, 65 sharks and manta rays the sunken vessel, now were spotted here. resting on a sloping coral Ko Payu 0 wall, is one of the reef’s 1 DIVING most popular under Ko Miang Ko Ha PRECAUTIONS water attractions and Scuba diving is very safe provides home to a wide 8 when done correctly, but variety of marine life. it can be dangerous – Similan Islands even deadly – for the National Park untrained diver. Reliable dive companies require all participants to have a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification. A number of companies on Phuket are licensed to provide courses and certification. The PADI course for beginners is called “Open Water Diver” and can be completed in a few days. Visit www.padi. com for a list of PADI dive centers in Thailand. 7 Ko Bon 0 East of Eden Located in a A brilliantly protected bay and feat colorful reef, East of uring one of Thailand’s Eden is one of the most only vertical dive walls, popular dive sites in the this site, off Ko Bon, Similan Islands. Teeming provides marvelous with fish, it offers a wide opportunities to see diversity of marine life – leopard sharks and coral, sea fans, and more. manta rays (left). 6 Elephant 8 Ko Miang Head Rock Home to the The largest pinnacle in national park head the Similan Islands juts quarters, Ko Miang above the water in a (right) is the second peculiar shape that lends biggest island in the this dive site its name. Similans. Visitors will With its underwater find campsites and basic caverns, tunnels, and bungalows (some with swimthroughs, this site airconditioned rooms). is home to numerous A large tent can be fish, including small, rented here for around blacktip reef sharks. B450 a night.
32 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Khao Sok National Park With a landmass of more than 270 sq miles (700 sq km), this park, about 110 miles (177 km) north of Phuket, is southern Thailand’s largest virgin forest. Older and more diverse than even the Amazon rain forest, Khao Sok is home to numerous exotic animal and plant species, and has breathtaking natural scenery. Nature lovers will find inspiration in the park’s majestic limestone cliffs, its rough jungle trails, and its beautiful, placid waterways. 1 Canoeing and Kayaking The scenic Sok river offers a relaxing way to experience the park’s natural wonders. Kayak or canoe through lush jungle, past towering limestone rocks. You may spot snakes, exotic hornbills, and long-tail macaque monkeys. 3 Cheow Laan 4 Raft Houses Lake Thatched-roof floating raft houses line Surrounded by verdant the banks of Cheow Laan forests and towering Lake (below), and visitors mountains, this beautiful may stay in them for a lake (above) was formed night or longer. When the when Ratchaprapha sun rises in the morning, Dam was constructed in dive into the lake for a 1982. It makes for a brisk morning swim or perfect retreat for those enjoy a canoe ride. looking for a quiet day. 2 Waterfalls There are several scenic waterfalls (above) in the park, although finding them sometimes requires the assistance of a local guide. Bang Hua Raet, Wang Yao, and Wing Hin waterfalls are all located within a 1-mile (2-km) radius of the park headquarters.
Khao Sok National Park ❮❮ 33 6 Wildlife BUA PHUT A birdwatcher’s paradise, Khao Sok National Park has These huge red flowers, whose diameter can numerous exotic bird and reach up to 35 inches mammal species including (90 cm), are popular hornbills, kingfishers (left), with visitors, although wild pigs, eagles and much more. finding one in bloom Wildlife enthusiasts may even spot often requires good Asiatic black bears (see pp34–5). timing and the help 7 Night Safaris of a local guide. Known As some animal scientifically as Rafflesia species, such as the loris kerrii, the flowers are and the leopard cat, can abundant from January only be spotted after to March, and have a dark, night river safaris pungent odor to attract flies for pollination. The are a popular way to see species is endangered. these unique creatures. Canoes or bamboo rafts 0are used to quietly glide Caves down the Sok river. Experience the 8 Bamboo tantalizing darkness of Rafting some of the park’s many caves, including the Float down the Sok on popular Tham Nam Talu a unique watercraft and Ha Roi Rai. These fashioned out of lengths grottoes have fascinating of bamboo, taking in stalagmites and stalac the trees, magnificent tites (below), as well as mountains, and wildlife. legions of bats. You’ll stop for lunch in a riverside restaurant. 29 4 3 9 Jungle Trekking Cheow Walk along well Laan Lake beaten paths with a guide through the 4 untamed, lush jungle. 401 Park HQ The scope for trekking 401 is exceptional, with caves, waterfalls, and lakes. Sok 18 5 NEED TO KNOW Canoeing and Kayaking, Adventure Trips: MAP F1; Khao Sok National Park Visitor Center: MAP F1; Paddle Asia; 18/58 Moo 6, Khlong Sok; 07739 Radanusorn; 07624 1519; 5 Romanee 5139; 8am–4pm daily; www.paddleasia.com Hot Spring adm B300 (kids B150); park.dnp.go.th • Khao Sok can be visited Located just south of on a day trip from Phuket, the National Park, this Raft Houses, Bamboo but it is better appreciated natural hot spring Rafting, Jungle Trekking: with more time. has been attractively MAP F1; Elephant Hills developed with tiled Tented Camp; 170 Moo 7, • Romanee Hot Spring pools, and the mineral Tambon Khlong Sok; visits are organized via waters are excellent 07638 1703; www. Hotel Khao Sok (www. for relieving muscle elephanthills.com hotelkhaosok.com/tours). stress from strenuous trekking activities.
34 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Exotic Animal Species in Khao Sok National Park 4 Tiger Many of Thailand’s 200 to 250 remaining wild tigers are believed to be living in Khao Sok, although you are unlikely to catch a glimpse of one. If you are lucky, however, you might come across tiger tracks. Malaysian tapir on the move 5 Cobras Khao Sok is home to four 1 Malaysian Tapir different species of cobra – the With its distinctive proboscis, monocled, spitting, king, and Asian this large-bodied herbivore looks cobras. The king cobra is the world’s somewhat like a pig with an ele- longest venomous snake, reaching phant’s trunk. The tapir’s black lengths greater than 16 ft (5 m). color provides camouflage, so that, when it is lying down, the animal looks like a rock. 2 Bamboo Rat Striking hornbill, perched in a tree Sporting short bulky bodies covered in spiky fur, these noctur- 6 Hornbill nal rodents live predominantly in The hornbill’s distinctive bamboo thickets, as well as in yellow/red horn and long down- grasslands and forests. Bamboo curved mandible make the bird rats have sharp teeth and claws easily identifiable. Feeding on fruits, that are ideally suited to digging berries, insects, small mammals, the burrows in which they sleep and eggs, hornbills often reside in during the day. dense forests. Many species can be spotted in Khao Sok National Park. 3 Barking Deer Also known as muntjac, these small, brown-haired deer have short antlers. Commonly seen in the park, they are called barking deer because they are known to bark when they sense danger. Barking 7 Tarantula deer These massive spiders tend to dwell inside underground burrows. The ones found in Thailand move fast and are known to be aggressive, so give the tarantula plenty of space if you encounter one in the wild.
Khao Sok National Park ❮❮ 35 8 Clouded Leopard 0 Malaysian Sun Bear Exceptional climbers, with A small bear that generally large feet and powerful claws, weighs less than 143 lb (65 kgs), this clouded leopards have a beautiful threatened animal resides in dense yellow-brown coat with distinctive forests, where it sleeps and suns cloud markings. The animal sleeps itself in trees. An omnivore, the in trees and can hang upside down sun bear has no real predators, from branches by its hind paws. Its other than the occasional human. prey includes small mammals and birds, among other creatures. Malaysian Sun Bear foraging 9 Elephant Wild elephants still roam Khao Sok National Park but sadly, these majestic creatures, the symbol of Thailand, are an endangered species. Herds of elephants can occasionally be spotted in forested areas near watering holes and elsewhere. HISTORY OF THE PARK Before it was declared a national park in 1980, TOP 10 the forest-covered land known as Khao Sok FLORA IN KHAO SOK was a wilderness that stretched to Myanmar. NATIONAL PARK Few roads bisected this territory, and animal populations, including tigers, flourished. When 1 Rain forest vegetation Ratchaprapha Dam was built in the mid- 2 Coconut palms 1980s, numerous trees were chopped down. 3 Buttressed roots trees Poachers also threatened the stability of some 4 Ficus trees animal populations. Today, under the protec- 5 Bamboo trees tion of the National Park Service, Khao Sok is 6 Tropical pitcher plants home to lots of exotic species, and many 7 Dipterocarps trees poachers have become conservationists. 8 Rafflesia kerrii 9 Banana trees Liana vines string themselves from tree to tree, 10 Liana vines forming sky bridges used by wildlife to get about.
36 ❯❯ Top 10 Phuket Highlights Phang Nga Bay Just east of Phuket over 40 small islands dot the brilliantly azure waters of Phang Nga Bay. Wind and water have eroded these limestone karst islets into a variety of extraordinary shapes that tower above the water’s surface. This National Park is home to an abundance of flora and fauna that thrive amidst the crevices, arches, tide pools, caves, and coastal forests. Paddling a sea kayak amongst the grandeur of these soaring peaks is an experience to savor, but motorized boats can also transport you around the bay. 3 James Bond Island The backdrop for 007’s infamous duel in The Man with the Golden Gun, the island – also known as Ko Khao Phing Kan – today represents one of Phuket’s most popular island day trips (right). 4 Diving Several popular dive sites, including the sunken passenger ferry, King Cruiser, can be found in Phang Nga Bay. You can also snorkel to coral reefs. 1 Kayaking 5 Ko Phanak Paddle through This island is extraordinary aquatic grottoes that open into favored by sea kayakers magnificent open-air 6because of its abundance Khao Khian lagoons (above), populated by exotic birds of hongs – amazing Also known as such as hornbills and kingfishers. The pristine hidden sea chambers “Writing Hill,” this cave jungle scenery beside these lagoons is also that are open to the sky has ancient drawings of worth exploring on foot. but enclosed by the humans, birds, fish, and island, and accessible other marine life, dating only though caves. back some 3,000 years. Ko Panyee 2Most of Ko Panyee’s landmass is consumed by a towering limestone rock. Due to this geology, it is difficult to build on the island, and the village has been constructed on stilts above the shallow waters of the south coast (right).
Phang Nga Bay ❮❮ 37 7 9Chinese Junk National Park Takua 4 Phang Nga Boat Cruises Headquarters Thung 9 One of Phuket’s classic The park headquarters, 2 6 boat cruises, the Chinese near Phang Nga town, 0 junkrigged schooner features a raised walk 3 Laem June Bahtra explores the way through a mangrove Phang Sak legendary islands and wetland, as well as boat 5 Nga Bay limestone cliffs of Phang rentals, a restaurant, and 8 Ban Ko Yao Ko Yao Noi Nga Bay, while a sepa good bungalows. Phang rate evening cruise trip Nga town pier is also a Ko Yao Yai provides sundown dinner staging point for boats and cocktails. to the islands. Phang Nga Bay 0 Mangrove Wetlands Phang Nga Bay has the largest mangrove forests in Thailand, with the best on the mainland at the north end of the bay. Kayaks let you get up close to their twisted underwater root systems (left). NEED TO KNOW adm B3,700 onward (day), Visitor Center: MAP F2; B2,500 onward (evening); 80 Moo 1, Tambon Ban www.asian-oasis.com Tha Dan, Ko Panyee; 07648 Kayaking: MAP F2; John 1188; 8am–4pm daily; adm B300 (kids B100); Gray’s Sea Canoe; adm park.dnp.go.th B3,950 onwards; www. johngray-seacanoe.com 8 Ko Yao Noi Diving: MAP H4; Sunrise • Hire a long-tail boat at With unspoiled Divers; 269/24 Patak Road, Naiharn Beach to visit coastlines, pristine Karon Plaza, Karon Beach; some of the islands. beaches, and pretty www.sunrise-divers.com thatchedroof bunga lows, this island – part Chinese Junk Boat Cruises: • Support locals – buy of a twoisland group – MAP F2; Asian Oasis; food and refreshments exudes tranquil vibes. 8am–6pm & 4–9pm daily; if they’re selling them.
The Top 10 of Everything Murals at Wat Chalong depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life
Moments in History 40 Children’s Attractions 60 Museums and Monuments 42 Entertainment Venues 62 Buddhist Temples 44 Bars and Nightclubs 64 Chinese Shrines 46 Restaurants 66 Picturesque Places 48 Markets and Shopping Areas 68 Beaches 50 Souvenirs 70 Scenic Walks 52 Phuket for Free 72 Outdoor Activities 54 Fairs and Festivals 74 Marine Activities 56 Day Trips 76
40 ❯❯ The Top 10 of Everything Moments in History Mural depicting the attempted Burmese invasion of 1785 1 1st Century BC– 4 March 13, 1785: Burmese AD 2nd Century: Invasion Repelled Earliest Records Led by two sisters – Thao Thep Phuket was founded by Indian Kasattri and Thao Srisoonthorn – merchants, with trade dating back the Siamese defended Phuket to the 1st century BC. It was later against a monthlong Burmese mentioned by the Greek geographer attack. Francis Light, an English Ptolemy, who referred to it as “Junk ship captain, had alerted Phuket Ceylon,” a “cape” en route to the of assembling Burmese forces, Malaysian peninsula. giving the army time to prepare. 2 AD 1500–1700: 5 Early 19th Century: Tin Seekers Chinese Immigration Tin defined Phuket’s economy Lured by Phuket’s flourishing tin for hundreds of years. The Dutch mines, and to escape poverty in their established a strategic trading own country, thousands of Chinese presence in Phuket after it was dis workers immigrated to the island covered that the island had vast tin during the early 1800s, establishing reserves. The English and French communities and customs that followed shortly after, and the define Phuket to the present day. Siamese King Narai (r.1656–88) Chinese shrines, architecture, and granted France monopoly in 1685. festivals are among their legacies. 3 AD 1688: 6 1876: Tin Worker French Expulsion Rampage After the Siamese revolution of 1688, A group of migrant Chinese tin in which the proforeign Siamese workers, disgruntled over their low King Narai was overthrown, the wages and difficult living conditions, French were ordered out of Siam. instigated a violent uprising on The French, under General Marshal Phuket, causing local residents to Desfarges, captured Phuket in an flee to Wat Chalong for protection. attempt to reassert influence in Siam The monks of the temple sheltered in 1689, but the occupation of the the people and eventually helped island was futile. restore calm to the island.
Moments in History ❮❮ 41 7 1933: Phuket Province TOP 10 HISTORICAL FIGURES During the reign of King Rama V (r.1868–1910), Phuket Portrait of King Rama V solidified its role as the adminis 1 René Charbonneau trative center of the southern (17th century) provinces. The island was, however, This French medical missionary once only a rural subdivision at the time. served as the governor of Phuket. It became a full province in 1933. 2 Alexandre Chevalier de Chaumont (1640–1710) 8 1970s: Phuket France’s first ambassador to Siam “Discovered” was granted the country’s tin monopoly in 1685. Although the island had been a 3 Thao Thep Kasattri (18th century) hotbed of international economic This gutsy Thai woman and her sister activity for centuries, some still claim rallied Siamese troops to rise up that Phuket was “discovered” by against the Burmese invasion. Western backpackers in the 1970s. 4 Thao Srisoonthorn (18th century) It is true, however, that the revival in The Heroines’ Monument was built travel during this decade led to the in honor of Thao Srisoonthorn and creation of tourism infrastructure. her sister Thao Thep Kasattri. 5 Captain Francis Light (1740–94) 9 26 December 2004: This British colonial officer alerted the Indian Ocean Tsunami administration in 1785 that Burmese troops were massing for an attack. The devastation caused by the 6 King Rama V (1853–1910) tsunami was immense – thousands Rama V was credited with modernizing of lives lost in a matter of minutes. Siam and preventing the nation from In Thailand, the tsunami represented being colonized by Western powers. the worst natural disaster in history, 7 Luang Pho Chaem (19th century) leaving some 8,000 people dead. The abbot of Wat Chalong, this monk Busy merchant streets became sheltered local residents during a lethal rapids, and everything on Ko violent tin worker uprising in 1876. Phi Phi was essentially washed away. 8 Khaw Sim Bee (1857–1913) A Chinese immigrant who started the Aftermath of the 2004 tsunami Thai rubber industry, Khaw was made governor of Phuket by Rama V. 0 May 2014: Military Coup 9 Mom Luang Tridosyuth Devakul After Prime Minister Yingluck (20th century) Shinawatra was ousted for involve Hotelier and restaurateur, Mom Tri has ment in a corrupt ricebuying scheme, helped raise Phuket’s luxury standards the new military leaders began a since the 1980s. nationwide anticorruption campaign. 10 Pote Sarasin (1905–2000) Phuket was an early target: officials The Sarasin Bridge (completed 1967) working with illegal developers, the was named after this Thai politician. taxi mafia, and pushy beach vendors were all called to account.
42 ❯❯ The Top 10 of Everything Museums and Monuments Kathu Mining Museum, housed in a grand mansion 1 Kathu Mining Museum Visitors can stroll through the old MAP J2 • Kathu-Ko Kaeo schoolhouse, which has interesting Road, Kathu district • Open 8am– displays depicting daily life during 4pm Mon–Sat • Adm this period. Paying tribute to Phuket’s rich tin- 4 Thalang National mining heritage, this museum has Museum dioramas of early mining techniques, caves, and workers in action. Other Phuket’s national museum (see p92) exhibits in the Sino-Portuguese style has a range of displays on the Battle mansion show tin-dredging opera- of Thalang, tin mining, sea gypsies, tions and a model of an opium den. and the history of the Chinese on Phuket. A magnificent 9th-century 2 Phuket Seashell Vishnu statue, discovered in the 20th Museum century, stands in the main hall. MAP H5 • 12/2 Moo 2, Viset Road, 5 Saphan Hin Rawai • 07661 3666 • Open 8am– Mining Monument 6pm daily • Adm • www.phuket seashell.com MAP K3 • Near Phuket Town, Phuket Road Housing a private collection, the Phuket Seashell Museum has more Located in a waterfront park, this than 2,000 varieties of seashells, monument is dedicated to Edward including one weighing 550 lb (250 kg), as well as the world’s Miles, the Australian ship captain largest golden pearl. who brought the first tin dredgers to Phuket in 1909. 3 Thai Hua 6 Big Buddha Museum This 148-ft- (45-m-) tall Buddha (see p82) sits high Originally built to serve as atop Nakkerd Hill, with a Thai-Chinese school, sweeping 360-degree this 100-year-old views that stretch from structure (see p14) Chalong Bay to the today functions as a museum, exhibition Burmese marble space, and Big Buddha function hall.
Museums and Monuments ❮❮ 43 Andaman Sea. Carved from white Marigolds on Heroines’ Monument Burmese marble, the Buddha sits cross-legged on a podium decorated 0 Heroines’ Monument with lotus flowers. This is a peaceful, MAP C6 • Thepkasatri Road, spiritual site. north of Phuket Town 7 Phuket Philatelic Unveiled in 1967, this monument Museum depicts the two sisters who stalled a Burmese invasion in 1785 by leading MAP P5 • Montri Road, Phuket Town women dressed in army uniforms • 07621 1020 • Open 8:30am– out into the field (see p40). The 4:30pm Mon–Fri, 9am–noon Sat Burmese forces thought that these troops were reinforcements from Dedicated to Thailand’s post office, Bangkok, and withdrew. this philately museum is housed in an 80-year-old building in Phuket Town. Old telephones, scales, tele- type machines, and stamps can be seen here, along with displays on the history of the Thai post office since its beginnings under King Rama V. 8 Phuket Cultural Centre This center has a collection of old artifacts that helps tell the cultural history of Phuket and south- ern Thailand. Visitors might want to request a guide, since most of the information is in Thai (see p13). Cherngtalay 4027 4025 Tha Rua 4025 Ma Nik Ko Kaeo Bang Khu Kamala Tho Sung4233 4233 402 Na Kha Le 4022 Chi Lao Embroidery, Phuket Cultural Centre Kathu Ratsada 9 Thavorn Hotel Phuket Town Lobby Museum 4029 MAP P5 • 74 Rassada Road, Patong Phuket Town • 07621 1333–5 Ao Ron Nui Chalong In this magnificent wood-paneled Karon hotel lobby, visitors will discover 4021 a fascinating collection of vintage Suan photographs of old Phuket Town and Thai royalty, memorabilia such Kata 4028 Ao as classic Thai movie posters, movie Chalong projectors, opium pipes, tin-mining equipment, and a range of traditional 4233 Chinese wedding hats. 4024 Rawai 0 km 3 3 0 miles
44 ❯❯ The Top 10 of Everything Buddhist Temples Temple building at Wat Chalong 3 Wat Suwan Khiri Khet MAP H4 • Patak Road, Karon 1 Wat Chalong • Open 8am–5:30pm daily Phuket’s most visited temple comprises a number of ornately Also known as Wat Karon because decorated buildings, which were of its location, this temple features built at different times. The temple engravings depicting scenes from holds statues of former monks and the Buddha’s life on the doors and lifelike wax models. Sometimes, windows. Two fantastic turquoise there are firecracker displays of naga serpents encircle the main gratitude for answered prayers from temple building and form railings devotees. The annual Wat Chalong down to the entrance. A smaller Fair is held at the temple around building guarded by a statue of a Chinese New Year (see pp16–17). yak (mythical character in the Thai Ramayana) houses an attractive 2 Wat Prathong black sapphire Buddha image. Built in the 1750s, and known locally as Wat Phra Phut, this temple 4 Wat Kathu (see p91) is Phuket’s second most MAP J2 • Moo 4 Baankathu, Kathu • Open 8am–5:30pm daily important after Wat Chalong. The half-buried golden Buddha Located just outside Patong, this statue is the main attraction. temple offers a peaceful respite from According to legend, the surrounding frenzy of tourist anyone who tries to activity. Its red windows are decorated uproot the statue in gilt-covered reliefs depicting scenes will be cursed. from the Buddha’s life; colored glass and tiles decorate the exterior. 5 Wat Suwan Kuha MAP F2 • Phang Nga • Open 8am–5:30pm daily • Adm This temple is popularly known as Monkey Temple, for the throngs of pesky animals that reside within its grounds and beg for, or steal, food. The actual Buddhist monuments here are located inside a breath- taking cave, with a massive reclining Buddha image forming the center- piece. Located in Phang Nga, this Buddhist temple is a popular stop for day-trippers from Phuket. Reclining Buddha of Wat Suwan Kuha
Buddhist Temples ❮❮ 45 6 Wat Kosit Wihan 36 miles Bang Pae MAP K2 • Highway 402 (60 km) • Open 8am–5:30pm daily Thalang It’s a bit of a climb to this temple carved into a hillside, but the reward 4025 Li Phuan is great views of Phuket Town. In the 4030 grounds stands a large Buddhist Cherngtalay Pa Khlok cemetery, and a number of small 4022 Tha Rua monuments with photographs of the 4025 4027 402 people who were cremated here. 402 Bang Tao Ma Nik Ko Kaeo Kamala Bang Khu 7 Wat Phranang Sang Tho Sung Chi Lao MAP C5 • Thepkasattri Road Na Kha Le Ratsada • Open 8am–5:30pm daily Kathu Tung Built over 200 years ago, Phuket’s Toong oldest temple houses the mummi– 4029 fied relics of a former abbot, Luang Poh Bai, and a collection of large tin Patong Buddha images, crafted when tin was still considered a semiprecious 4233 Phuket metal. The Heroines’ Monument 4021 Town (see p43) stands near this temple. Chalong Ao Ron Nui Suan 0 km 3 Karon 0 miles 3 Srisoonthorn to commemorate one of the two sisters (see p41) who defended Phuket from foreign conquerors in the 18th century. Temple interior, Wat Phranang Sang 9 Wat Putta Mongkol MAP P5 • Dibuk Road, Phuket 8 Wat Srisoonthorn Town • Open 8am–5:30pm daily MAP C6 • Thepkasattri Road • Open 7am–5:30pm daily Located in the heart of Phuket Town, this temple is sometimes referred Towering above this temple is a to as Wat Klang (literally, central massive 95ft (29m) tall reclining temple). It features colorful archi Buddha statue, depicting the Buddha tectural designs, including yellow as he achieved Enlightenment. Nine chedis (stupas), as well as an old other Buddha statues populate the SinoPortuguese colonial home, entranceway. Built in 1792, and which is used as the monks’ dormitory. known locally as Wat Lipon, the The spacious grounds are also home temple was later renamed Wat to the Phuket Buddhist Association and Phuket Old Town Foundation. 0 Wat Kajonrangsan MAP N5 • Ranong Road, Phuket Town • Open 7am–5:30pm daily A unique temple in Phuket Town, Wat Kajonrangsan, also called Wat Kajon, features distinctive Roman style architecture in the ubosot (ordination chapel). Since it does not draw busloads of tourists, a visit here offers a good opportunity to observe an active community environment. The temple grounds also house a school.
46 ❯❯ The Top 10 of Everything Chinese Shrines Colorful dragon motifs on the Tha Rua Chinese Shrine 1 Tha Rua Chinese Shrine Those suffering from ill-health often MAP J1 • Thepkasattri Road come here to pray for relief, and the • Open 6am–6pm daily monks can prescribe Chinese herbal medicines. The temple helps parents Tha Rua, the largest Chinese temple name their newborn babies. in Phuket, has undergone a series of massive renovations, reported to cost 3 Kathu Shrine upwards of B40 million and funded MAP J2 • Kathu Village entirely by private donations. Colorful, • Open 8am–5:30pm daily with bold dragon motifs and brightly lit at night, the new Tha Rua Chinese Credited as the first Chinese shrine Shrine is far more elaborate in scale on Phuket to celebrate the annual than its predecessor. Vegetarian Festival (see p13), this temple features a fascinating collec- 2 Put Jaw Chinese Temple tion of intricately designed Taoist MAP N5 • Soi Phuthorn, deity statues that are the main Ranong Road, Phuket Town • Open objects of worship at the shrine. 6:30am–8pm daily • Adm 4 Boon Kaw Kong Shrine The island’s oldest Chinese temple MAP H2 • Patong Road is dedicated to the goddess of mercy. • Open 9am–5pm daily Drivers often honk their car horns for good luck as they pass by this revered shrine located on the hilltop between Patong and Kathu. Besides simply hoping for good fortune, the drivers are also acknowledging the ghosts of travelers who have died while passing over the hill in the past. Well integrated in the local community, this small but popular shrine frequently shows films on a giant outdoor screen. Worshipers, Put Jaw Chinese Temple
Chinese Shrines ❮❮ 47 5 Bang Niew Shrine Thalang Road today. Brightly colored MAP Q6 • Ong Sim Phai ornamentation adorns the roof of the Road, Phuket Town • Open shrine’s red-pillared entranceway. 7am–5:30pm daily 8 Cherngtalay Shrine Built in 1934 and destroyed twice by MAP B6 • Thalang District fire, this shrine – also known as Tao • Open 7am–5:30pm daily Bong Keng or Chai Tueng – plays a Popular with local community key role in the Vegetarian Festival. members who seek healing from Here, one may see devotees with the shrine’s deities, Cherngtalay bizarre piercings, or walking across Shrine dates back more than 100 red-hot coals. The shrine houses years to the founding of a settlement deities believed to assist worshipers of Chinese tin-mine workers. The with their career aspirations. ornately decorated tile roof depicts eight immortal Chinese gods, along 6 Sam San Shrine with the colorful dragon imagery MAP N5 • Krabi Road, Phuket common to many of these temples. Town • Open 8am–5:30pm daily Entrance to Jui Tui Chinese Temple Built in 1853 and dedicated to Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea, this 9 Jui Tui Chinese Temple shrine frequently hosts ceremonies MAP N5 • Soi Phuthorn, to consecrate new boats before their Ranong Road, Phuket Town maiden sea voyage. The shrine pays • Open 8am–5:30pm daily homage to the patron saint of sailors, This colorful Taoist temple, dedicated and also features a number of to the vegetarian deity Kiu Wong In, intricate carvings. plays a central role in the Vegetarian Festival. Originally built in 1911 on 7 Shrine of the Soi Romanee, the first Jui Tui temple Serene Light was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt at its current location. MAP P5 • Chao Fah Nok Road • 07621 1036, 07621 2213 • Open daily 0 Kuan Te Kun Shrine MAP K1 • Sapam Village Built by a local Chinese family more • Open 8am–5:30pm daily than 100 years ago, this historic Though less prominent, and on a shrine, once hidden down a narrow smaller scale, than some of the alleyway, can be viewed directly from other shrines on Phuket, Kuan Te Kun – commonly known as Sapam 4027 Shrine – is still worth visiting due to Na Sat its picturesque appearance. With Cherngtalay 402 brilliantly colored dragons encircling Ma Nik 4025 Tha Rua402 its four main pillars and guarding its entrance, Kuan Te Kun is full Bang Khu of photo opportunities. Tho Sung 4022 Chi Lao Kathu Talat Kathu 4029 Ratsada Tung Toong Phuket Town 0 km Chalong Laem Chan 0 miles 4021 3 3
48 ❯❯ The Top 10 of Everything Picturesque Places 1 Ko Phi Phi Leh 4 Rang Hill With dramatic limestone cliffs With sweeping views of Phuket giving way to white sand and blue Town and wide expanses of green lagoons, this uninhabited island is a ideal for picnics, the top of Rang Hill tropical paradise. Day-trippers enjoy is one of Phuket’s most relaxing snorkeling and swimming in the spots. People come here to exercise placid Andaman waters, as well as or read a book. Others enjoy the seeing the 400-year-old wall paintings restaurants with magnificent views by fishermen in the Viking Cave. You and the island’s best iced coffee. The can also visit Maya Bay, where The bronze statue of a former governor Beach was filmed (see p100). stands near the viewpoint (see p13). 5 Khao Sok National Park Beautiful lakes, thrilling caves, and limestone cliffs are interspersed with ancient evergreen trees in this virgin forest north of Phuket. Home to a diverse population of wildlife, as well as rare tree species, Khao Sok offers some of the best trekking, canoeing, and safaris in southern Thailand (see pp32–5). Donald Duck Bay on Ko Similan 6 Phromthep Cape Dramatic, swirling shades 2 Similan Islands of red, purple, and orange appear One of the top scuba diving on the horizon during the sunset destinations in the world, the Similan crescendo at Phromthep Cape (see Islands (see pp30–31) are home to p27). The hilltop viewpoint also has rare marine life, including magni- restaurants, an outdoor market, an ficent coral reefs, as well as pristine, elephant shrine, and a lighthouse. unpopulated beaches. Accommodation on overnight snorkeling or diving 7 Mangroves trips is in tents or very basic bunga- These trees, with their tangled lows on the beach. and exposed roots, can be found along Phuket’s muddy shorelines. 3 Phang Nga Bay Sea canoe tours offer the best way to Verdant limestone cliffs jut see the mangroves up close. They up from this bay, with James Bond are home to crab-eating macaque Island one of the most popular of monkeys, while underwater they these land masses. To escape the serve as nurseries for crustaceans crowds, look for full-day sea canoe and fish. The trees themselves are journeys through aquatic grottoes picturesque – and unusual, because and tunnels (see pp36–7). they survive in saltwater. Sailing Phang Nga Bay
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EYEWITNESS TRAVEL TOP PHUKET WILLIAM BREDESEN