The hardest thing about coming back from a vacation is having the post vacation blues. Although I’m happy to have photos and video to relive these memories, it just makes me miss it even more. I think that vacation time, is in a completely different time dimension because how else is it possible for the time to fly by so fast? Every single day while in Phuket, I would think, today has been the best day of my trip so far. What could possibly top this? Each day I would think the same thing as I would dive into new adventures. It would be hard to pinpoint my favorite activity while I was there because I truly enjoyed and loved every minute.
There is so much to do in Phuket and the surrounding areas. I’m going to highlight my experience into different categories, so there will be a few parts to this in upcoming blog posts. Let’s start with the guided tours. Many people aren’t into the popular and mainstream tourist spots. It’s perfectly fine to choose the off beaten path and really immerse yourself into the local culture. I personally love a good tourist area and there is a good reason why they are so popular. For this post, this was the Phuket Highlights Tour, specifically.
I booked all of my tours through Getyourguide.com There are numerous activities to choose from. The companies will typically communicate theough WhatsApp to confirm or relay other information. My days would start in the early morning with a pick up from my hotel lobby by a driver and a drop off by early evening. My days were full but I still had time to shop and sight see when I returned. For reference, I stayed at the Royal Paradise Hotel in Patong.
Patong is a fun area, near the beach and Bangla Road. The area is quiet in the mornings and most shops open up around 11 am. During the day, there are crowds shopping, dining and beach goers. It is during the night, when things really come alive. I didn’t experience the night life, the bars or club scene but I could definately hear the action from the 8th floor of my hotel. If a quiet and a family friendly area is what you’re looking for, than the Patong area may not be for you. Bangla Road is a fun area albeit a seedy one. There are sellers, promoters and hustlers that can be a little aggressive and you have to stand your ground with a firm no and just keep walking. It did feel overwhelming at times, since this isn’t something I’m accustomed to. However, I did love the ease of stepping outside of my hotel and being able to shop for clothes, jewelry, accessories, souveniers and endless plethora of eateries. There really isn’t anything you can’t find here.
Old Town Phuket: Old town Phuket is filled with charm and rich in history. The locals are friendly and it had a completely different feel from the tourist packed Patong area. The buildings and streets were colorful and filled with murals. The shops were quaint and many of the older offices have been modernized to accommodate those wanting to gain knowledge about the history of Phuket.
Promthep Cape: Promthep Cape has a breathtaking viewpoint that overlooks Kuta and Karon beach islands in Phuket. This view point is surrounded by so much greenery and natural beauty. The coastal views and tall palm trees makes this a serene spot to get lost in your thoughts. There is also a small temple with elephant shrines, quite possibly hundreds of elephant shrines. Elephants are considered to be the guardians of Buddha’s, the earth and temples. It was here that I appreciated the traditions of Thai culture. Symbolism and respect is evident throughout so much of this country.
The Big Buddha: The Big Buddha was something I had seen previously in pictures on google. I knew it was going to be “big” but I didn’t realize just how enormous it would be until I saw it in person. It makes you feel so small in such a big world. The Big Buddha is beautifully built and well constructed. A small distance on the left, is a smaller Buddha and gold statues lined in a row. I did spot wild monkeys but at a further distance. We were advised to not engage with the monkeys if they were to come close, as they could be hostile and aggressive. The monkeys lived near the monks who fed and cared for them.
Wat Chalong Temples: The Wat Chalong Temple completely exceeded my expectations. They were extravagant, with winding staircases with rooftop balcony views. You can even see The Big Buddha from the top. The gold statues were on each floor and seemingly endless. I felt a sense of peace while here. It is rumored that the temple has healing energies and miracles. The architecture and design dates back to 1835 and I appreciated how immaculate the temples were. Shoes were to be removed prior to entry.
I would highly recommend doing a Phuket Highlight tour as this takes you beyond the mainstream tourist hot spots. You truly do not get a good idea of what true gems the city has until you go past the typical beach, hotels and bars. You truly experience the beauty of what makes the country/ city so special. You begin to learn the history and understand more than you could from google.
* A tip before visiting the Big Buddha and temples is to make sure you are dressed appropriately and modestly. No open toe shoes such as sandals, sleeveless tank tops/ shorts. Clothing should cover the knees. You are going to sacred sites and these are the traditions of the Thai people. Please respect the culture if you are visiting these locations.
I know this was a quite a read, which is why there will be a few parts in upcoming posts. If you’ve made it this far, thank you and I appreciate that you took the time to read this.
~In a world full of pants, be a dress ~