Phuket Travel

July 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Phuket Island Travel 

Phuket Island Travel

Phuket Island

Map of Phuket

Map of PhuketPhuket

Phuket Island is located off the coast of southern Thailand. It has a large island that is known as Phuket Island and 39 small islands in the Andaman Sea. Its total area is about 570 sq. km. which is about the same area of Singapore. The main island, Phuket Island, is 50 km long and 20 km wide. It was formerly known as Tha-Loang, Talang and Jung Ceylon.

Phuket Island was once an important trading centre on the route between China and India. Traders from as far as Europe came to Phuket to buy tin and rubber in the 16th. century. The tin mining in Phuket had attracted many Chinese immigrant workers and most of them later settled down there. As tin mines are now exhausted the island’s income now depends mainly on rubber, oil palm plantations and tourism.

Phuket’s population is about 320,000 who are mostly Buddhists. About 30 % of them are Muslims. Since 1980s, it attracts many foreign retirees, esp. the Europeans and Americans, who make it their second home.

A Well-Known Tourist Destination

Dubbed as the “Pearl of the Andaman”, Phuket is a well-known tourist destination for the last few decades. It is a peaceful place that has

From L to R: Writer, his wife and two friends (Mr. and Mrs. Chuah)

From L to R: Writer, his wife and two friends (Mr. and Mrs. Chuah)

many stunning, idyllic islands with lush green tropical forests, white sandy beaches and crystal clear water rich in marine life. Besides, it offers a variety of attractions and activities like animal shows, cultural shows, seafood, Thai food, temples, shopping centres, entertainment centres, land and sea recreational activities, and many more.

After the Hanoi trip in March a few months ago, my wife and I were then off again to another famous tourist destination, Phuket in southern Thailand. This time, two of our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Chuah, joined us for the tour. Below is the description of our Phuket travel.

Day 1 15 June 2009

Travel to Phuket

On 15 June 2009, we boarded an Air Asia plane and left the Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Phuket at about at 2.45 p.m. (Malaysian local time) and arrived at the Phuket airport about an hour later. Then we took a taxi to our hotel in Phuket Town which is 40 km south of the airport. On arrival at the hotel, Rome Place Hotel, in the downtown, we checked in and rested in our rooms for awhile.

Rome Place Hotel, Phuket Town

Rome Place Hotel, Phuket Town

A busy street in Phuket Town

A busy street in Phuket Town

Part of Phuket Town

Part of Phuket Town

At 7 p.m. we left the hotel to look for Thai food for dinner. There were many small and inexpensive food shops in the town. Having taken our dinner at one of them, we tried to look for a travel agent in the town who could give us the best bargain for the Phi Phi Island trip for the following day. After seeing a few agents, we finally got one and accepted his good offer.

Central Festival

Central Festival

A Phuket Town clock tower

A Phuket Town clock tower

The largest hotel in Phuket Town

A large hotel in Phuket Town, Thavorn Grand Plaza

Central Festival Phuket

After that, we visited two large shopping centres, Robinson and Ocean, in town. The latest and largest shopping centre in Phuket is located at the crossroads of Wichit Songkhram and Chalerm Prakat in the outskirt of Phuket Town. Known as Central Festival Phuket, it is a one-stop shopping and entertainment complex housing 150 stalls, 30 restaurants, a cine-multiplex of 7 screens, bowling, karoake, financial and tourist service centres. Free transport was provided from hotels and other places to the shopping complex when we were there.

Day 2 16 June 2009

A Trip to Phi Phi Islands

On the second day of our stay, we were going to visit the well-known Phi Phi Island consisting of two islands: Phi Phi Don Island and Phi Phi Le Island. It is located 48 km south-east of Phuket Port (Rassada Port). According to the itinerary of the trip which we had booked one day earlier, we were supposed to visit the Maya Bay which was a location for shooting a famous American film, The Beach, acted by Leonardo Di Caprio, the Monkey Beach where monkeys roam freely and the Phi Phi village.

Map of Phi Phi Islands, Phuket Island

Writer's Boat



Phuket Port (Rassada Port)

While we were waiting for a van to bring us to the Phuket Port in the morning, it was raining and windy. At about 9 a.m. it came to pick us up. As we were travelling to the Phuket Port, the driver told us that two tourists who were supposed to come along had cancelled their trip. Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the Phuket Port which is also known as Rassada Port. As it was still raining and windy we began to have reservations about the two hour boat ride in the open sea to the Phi Phi Island. This kind of wet and windy weather usually occurs in the south-west monsoon season from May until October. Nevertheles, we boarded a medium-seized boat together with other tourists.

Tourists boarding boats for Phi Phi Island

Tourists boarding boats for Phi Phi Island

Three of the writer's boat crewmen

Three of the writer’s boat crewmen

Rain and choppy Andaman Sea seemed to be the order of the day

Rain and choppy Andaman Sea seemed to be the order of the day

Rough Andaman Sea

Soon the boat started and moved away from the port to the Andaman Sea. Owing to the strong south-westerly wind and rough sea, the boat rocked from side to side when its sides were hit by strong waves, and thrusted upward and lunged forward when its bow was hit by strong oncoming waves. But we were not worried as those movements were not strong enough to capsize the boat, so none of us bothered to wear a life-jacket.

Owing to the bad weather condition, the trip to the Maya Bay and Monkey Beach was cancelled. So the boat went straight to a village on Phi Phi Don Island. When it stopped at the Phi Phi pier, half of the passengers disembarked to check in their hotels where they would stay for more than a day. Then the boat went to the water in Ton Sai Bay which is 300 metres from the village and sheltered by the island from the strong south-westerly wind. It anchored there for an hour for us to snorkel and swim in the crystal clear water. But a few of us got down the boat, snorkelled and swam in the water.

Phi Phi Village

Phi Phi Village

Write and his wife snorkelling in Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Write and his wife snorkelling in Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Crystal-clear water in Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Crystal-clear water in Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Snorkelling and Swimming

My wife and I entered the water. At first we shivered slightly as the sea-water was half cold and half warm. While snorkelling we hoped to see a lot of coloured and beautiful fish and corals in the water. But we were disappointed to see only some small fish and dull coloured corals in the water. In the deeper water, we were surprised to see some people learning scuba-diving below us.

Although there were no large fish and beautiful corals there we did enjoy snorkelling and swimming in the water. After spending an hour in the water we had to get back to the boat. As we were swimming back to the boat I accidentally dropped my mask and snorkel that I had borrowed in the water. I tried to retrieve the two items which were sinking fast but my life-jacket held me back. A boat-worker who was not wearing a life-jacket and swimming nearby saw my predicament. He quickly dived into the water and successfully retrieved my mask and snorkel. I thanked him and later rewarded him some mangosteens. I would  be asked to pay 100 THB if I had lost them.

Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Ton Sai Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Phi Phi Pier

Phi Phi Pier

Loh Dalam Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Loh Dalum Bay, Phi Phi Don Island

Phi Phi Village

The boat then returned to the Phi Phi village where we had a buffet lunch at a restaurant known as After Beach Bar Restaurant by the beach. After lunch we had 2 hours to see the village. It sits on a narrow stretch of land of Phi Phi Don Island. On both sides of the land are bays with white sandy beaches. The bay in the north of the village is known as Ton Sai Bay which is deep and the other one in the south Loh Dalum Bay which shallow and suitable for sea-sports. As the sea was rough, strong wind was blowing continuously and the rain was falling intermittenly, nobody was swimming in the two bays then.

Taxi-boats in the Ton Sai Bay

Taxi-boats in the Ton Sai Bay

A busy, narrow Phi Phi village street

A busy, narrow Phi Phi village street

Phi Phi Hotel, a large hotel in the centre of Phi Phi Village

Phi Phi Hotel, a large hotel in the centre of Phi Phi Village

The Phi Phi village has many stalls catering mainly for the tourists’ needs. They sell a variety of food, fruits, swim wears, t-shirts, arts, handicrafts, CDs, DVDs, etc. Besides, there are stalls that offer services such as massage, scuba-diving lessons, internet service, tattoo marking, tour booking, etc. There are a few hotels and resorts on the island for tourists to stay. The largest one, Phi Phi Hotel, is a three-storey hotel and is located in the hub of the village. I noticed that there were many tourists of different nationalities in the village in spite of the raining and windy season (May-October).

Phi Phi Scuba Diving Center

Phi Phi Scuba Diving Center

A tour agency at Phi Phi Village

A tour agency at Phi Phi Village

A Harrowing Experience

Having seen almost the whole village, we returned to our boat. At about 3 p.m. we left the Phi Phi Island for Phuket Island. When the boat was in the vast expanses of the Andaman Sea, we had a harrowing experience. The south-westerly wind was blowing more strongly than in the morning. It often whipped up huge waves that caused our boat to jerk, creak and rock violently. Some of the passengers overwhelmed with fear shouted and screamed whenever our boat was hit by huge waves. The constant rough boat ride made some feel giddy and nauseous. A crewman quickly gave everybody a small plastic bag. Sadly, some weak passengers vomitted their lunch into their bags.

Safe Arrival

Fearing that the boat might capsize, I donned my life-jacket quickly. Then I looked around and was shocked to see my wife and a friend of mine wearing theirs only. But all of us sat in our seats quietly and hoped that nothing would happen to our boat. More than two hours later which seemed years to me, we felt relief when we sighted the Phuket Port. On arrival at the port, we were glad that we were all safe and sound, thanks to the experienced captain and his strong and reliable boat. Then I was thinking of the lucky couple who did not join our trip. Soon we left the port in a van for Phuket town.

Phuket FantaSea Theme Park

Carnival Village as shown in a brochure

Carnival Village as shown in a brochure

Golden Kinaree Buffet Restaurant

Golden Kinaree Buffet Restaurant

Writer and his wife posing with the pretty cartoon character at Carnival Village

Writer and his wife posing with the pretty cartoon character at Carnival Village

After resting for a couple of hours in our hotel, a taxi which we had booked earlier came to our hotel to picked us up at 7 p.m. It drove us to Phuket FantaSea, a theme park of 140 acres, on Kamala Beach. Located 22 km north-east of Phuket Town and about 22 km by road from the town, Phuket FantaSea is a beautiful and awesome place for visitors of all ages. It showcases the beauty and charm of  the Thai rich and colourful culture and heritage. It offers a variety of activites such as shopping, dining, playing games, watching parades, street shows and live bands, enjoying elephant rides, and many more.

A pretty FantaSea employee

A pretty Phuket FantaSea employee

A poster showing a white tiger at the "Theatrical Safari"

A poster showing a white tiger at the “Theatrical Safari”

A pretty jewellery salesgirl

A pretty jewellery salesgirl

The buildings at the park are stunning as they are built in different Thai architectural styles. All of them have different functions. This park opens in the evening from 5.30 p.m until 11.30 p.m. daily except on Thursday.

In the “Theatrical Safari” at the theme park there is a glass-walled building where two white tigers are kept. When we went to see the animals, one of them was walking about, restlessly, while the other one was fast asleep.

Fantasy of a Kingdom

The highlight of the tour of the Phuket Fantasea theme park is the spectacular live performance in a 3000-seat theatre known as “Palace of the Elephants”. The performance is known as Fantasy of a Kingdom. It involves over 200 performers and live animals such as elephants, buffalos, roosters, goats and birds. It features a few different scenes. One of them is about a prince, Kamala,who falls in love with a girl. The girl is later kidnapped by an evil king. Kamala then with his army go to the king’s kingdom to rescue her. After a long battle with the king Kamala kills him and saves his lover.

Palace of the Elephants Theatre

Palace of the Elephants Theatre

A "Fantasy of a Kingdom" scene involving elephants

A “Fantasy of a Kingdom” scene involving elephants, as seen in a brochure

Some performers of the show, "Fantasy of a Kingdom"

Some performers of the show, “Fantasy of a Kingdom”, as seen in a brochure

In the theatre, the audience will be thrilled, dazzled and delighted by stunts, aerial ballet, acrobatics, live animals, laser animation, cultural dances and many more. But they must be prepared to be shocked by occasional loud explosions.

Having enjoyed the extravaganza, we went to claim our cameras in the theatre lobby as they were not allowed inside the theatre. Then we left for our hotel in Phuket Town.

Writer(R) and his hired driver-cum-guide(L), Don, on Phuket Island

Day 3 17 June 2009

Don, Our Hired Driver-cum-Guide

Day 3 was the last day of our stay in Phuket. As our air flight was at 9.50 at night we had plenty of free time during the day. So we planned to tour around the Phuket Island. Don, our Thai hired driver-cum-guide, agreed to take us for a sightseeing tour of the island. He came to our hotel at 9.30 in the morning and brought us to Patong Beach which is 15 km west of Phuket Town.

Patong Beach

Patong Beach is one of the many beautiful white sandy beaches on Phuket Island. Among the Phuket beaches, Patong Beach is the most popular. It is 3 km long and offers a variety of recreational activities like sunbathing, swimming, water-scootering, water-skiing, sailing, parasailing, windsurfing and snorkelling.

Located by the beach is a busy small town where there are all kinds of shops that cater especially for tourists, e.g. seafood restaurants, apparel shops, hotels, bars, cabarets, souvenir shops, travel agencies, etc. When night falls the town becomes a hive of nightlife activities. Many tourists will paint the town red. They will relax and enjoy themselves in bars, KTVs, cabarets, restaurants, etc. Bangla Road in the town is one of the favouite haunts of the drinkers.

Writer and wife(R), and Chuah and wife(L) at Patong Beach, Phuket Island

Thaweewong Road along Patong Beach, Phuket Island

Bangla Road, one of drinkers’ favourite haunts, Phuket Island


As we were walking on the Patong Beach, we saw many beach activities going on. One of them that interested my wife and me was parasailing. We decided to try it. As it was windy, we felt it was good for the activity. My wife went up first. As the parachute was pulled by a powerful boat, it went up easily and I could see my wife tangling below the parachute. Behind her was a man called Bai who guided the parachute in the direction he wanted. After the parachute had made a big circle in the air above the sea, Bai skillfully brought the parachute down together with my wife. When they had landed safely it was my turn to go up by the same parachute. When I was high up in the air, I got a breathtaking bird’s eyeview of the sea, beach and the town. That was indeed my first unforgettable and enjoyable parasailing experience.

Writer waiting for his turn for parasailing at Patong Beach, Phuket Island

Writer’s wife with an assistant parasailing above the sea near Patong Beach, Phuket Island

Writer’s wife waiting for her turn for parasailing at Patong Beach, Phuket Island

Tsunami in 2004

As we were walking on Thaweewong Road that is parallel to the beach we saw some poles, each carrying a notice with an arrow pointing to the safe place if there was a tsunami. That reminded me of the deadly tsunami that hit Patong and other places on 26 December 2004. It was caused by the undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean. It killed about 1000 people and damaged many villages and and towns in Phuket. Consequently, tourists avoided this island for about a year causing a lot of hardship to the local people who depended on tourism for a living. The Patong town was quickly rebuilt and now it is the most developed tourist place in Phuket. To prevent future tsunami casualties, satellite-linked sea buoys are placed in strategic positions in the Indian Ocean to detect dangerous tsunami and alert the coastal dwellers.

A sign-board on a lamp-post showing an arrow pointing to a safe place, 300 metres away, on Thaweewong Road, when tsunami happens, Phuket Island

Stalls along Thaweewong Road at Patong, Phuket Island

Many bars and restaurants at Patong destroyed by tsunami in 2004 have been repaired except a few, Phuket Island

Kata Viewpoint

Later, we left the Patong Beach and travelled to Promthep Cape (Laem Promthep) in the southernmost part of the Phuket Island. It is located 19 km south of Phuket Town. On the way, we stopped at Karon Beach and Kata Beach for a short while. Then we went to a restaurant known as “After Beach Bar Restaurant” for lunch. It perched on the edge of a high cliff where we could see the awesome scenery of the Kata coast. After lunch we went to a vantage point which is commonly known as Kata Viewpoint instead of Karon Viewpoint. From that viewpoint on a high cliff we saw a spectacular view of three popular white beaches in a row in the distance, viz. Karon, Kata and Kat Noi. From the same point, we saw a white large statue of Buddha sitting on a high hill far away.

Kata Viewpoint to see the 3 beautiful beaches: Karon, Kata and Kat Noi, Phuket Island

“After Beach Bar Restaurant” perching on a high cliff near Kat Noi Beach, Phuket Island

Writer and wife(L) and Chuah and wife(R) at Kata Viewpoint overlooking 3 beaches in the distance, Phuket Island

Promthep Cape

Then we continued our journey. Soon we reached Promthep Cape. It is a high headland where we saw an open-air colourful Thai temple, a statue of an admiral standing on a high pedestal and a large high lighthouse.

An open-air temple at Promthep Cape, Phuket Island

Kanchanaphisek Lighthouse, Promthep Cape, Phuket Island

A statue of Admiral HRH Prince Abhakara Kiartiwonges at Promthep Cape, Phuket Island

The lighthouse that is known as Kanchanaphisek Lighthouse  is about 15 metres high. Sited next to the lighthouse is a monument of a statue of Admiral HRH Prince Abhakara Kiartiwonges (Prince of Jum Born).  The admiral, the 28th. child of King Rama V of Thailand,was sent  to England to study at the age of 13 and spent 0ver 6 years at the Royal Naval Academy there. When he came back to Thailand he began his career as a naval cadet in the Royal Thai Navy.  Later, he rose to the rank of sub-lieutenant and admiral. Then he was appointed as the Minister of Navy. He strengthened and modernized the navy. Besides, he was the first Thai prince to establish the Royal Thai Naval Academy and the Naval Engineering School. As he had done alot for the navy he was honoured as “the Father of the Navy”.

Vast Andaman Sea, south of Promthep Cape, Phuket Island

Nai Harn Beach in the distance as seen from Promthep Cape Viewpoint, Phuket Island

Kaeo Yai Islands at Andaman Sea as seen from Promthep Cape, Phuket Island

As it was a sunny day, we enjoyed the scenic panoramic view of the cape, some small islands, the Andaman Sea and the refreshing sea-breeze. In the evening it is a good spot for watching the sunset.

Chalong Temple

Having spent an hour on the cape, we travelled to a famous temple, Chalong Temple (Wat Chalong). On arrival, I found that it is a beautiful and clourful building built as a shrine to the memory of three monks, viz. Luang Pho Chaem, Luang Pho Chung and Luang Pho Kluam. Luang Pho Chaem and his assistant, Luang Pho Chung, played an important role in quelling the Chinese tin-miner rebellion in 1876. Inside the temple there are three statues of the monks and many local people like to worship them.

Chalong Temple, Phuket Island

Statues of 3 revered monks at Chalong Temple. Phuket Island

Royal Pagoda that houses a Lord Buddha’s tooth near Chalong Temple, Phuket Island

The Royal Pagoda

Near the temple is a heavily ornamented tall pagoda, the Royal Pagoda. It keeps a Lord Buddha’s tooth on a high floor. Besides, there are many wooden statues of Lord Buddha in different postures: sitting, standing and lying on his side on the ground floor. Standing outside the compound of this pagoda, we could see a large, white statue of Lord Buddha on a high hill in the distance, the same one we saw from Promthep Cape.

V. Multi Gems International Co., Ltd.

Then we left the sacred place and went to visit a jewellery shop and cashew-nut shop. In the jewellery shop, V. Multi Gems International Co., Ltd., a lady worker showed us the method of taking out pearls from live oysters. She told us that the oysters were from a pearl farm in a  bay off the east coast of Phuket Island and required 18 to 24 months to produce lustrous pearls of the normal size. The shop offers a variety of different colours and shapes of pearl jewellery and gemstone jewellery too. They are beautifully done by skilful craftsmen but my wife and I cannot afford to buy a good quality one.

A pearl-expert at V. Multi-Gems International Co. Ltd., Phuket Island

A worker fixing a pearl on a ring at V. Multi-Gems International Co. Ltd., Phuket Island

Pearls of different sizes produced by V. Multi-Gems International Co. Ltd., Phuket Island

Sri Bhurapa Orchid Co., Ltd.

In the cashew nut shop known as Sri Bhurapa Orchid Co., Ltd., a few workers using a simple tool showed us how they cracked the nuts to get the kernels. The small, edible and tropical nuts are kidney-shaped. We bought a few packets of the nuts prepared in different ways. Outside the shop, one can read the information about cashewnut processing printed on several boards. Besides, there are few live cashewnut trees full of fruits (on closer look these are artificial ones) in the compound.

Sri Bhurapa Orchid Co. Ltd., a cashew-nut processing factory, Phuket Island

A cashew-nut information board outside the factory, Phuket Island

A large model of a cashew-nut outside the factory, Phuket Island

Having gone to the two shops, we went back to Phuket Town in the evening. Our taxi driver, Don, recommended that we shopped at a place known as “Expo” located in the town centre where we could get good bargains. It has over 100 stalls all housed under one roof. They sell many kinds of goods, ranging from clothes, shoes and handbags to watches and handphones. Besides, it has a row of stall selling food and beverages. Local people like to shop there. We spent an hour there shopping for clothes and local snacks.

“Expo” Shopping Centre houses over 100 stalls, Phuket Island

Men’s wear for sale at “Expo” Shopping Centre, Phuket Island

Ladies’ footwear for sale at “Expo” Shopping Centre, Phuket Island


At 7.30 p.m. we left Phuket Town and went straight to the airport which is 40 km north of the town. On arrival at the airport we checked in and at 9.30 p.m. we finally left Phuket Island for home, Malaysia.

Well, that is all about our 3 day Phuket tour. As it was a short vacation we felt we had missed a lot of places of interest and activities. Nevertheless, we did enjoy ourselves there.

Here, we would like to thank Don, our taxi driver-cum-guide, for rendering us a good tour service in Phuket.


Written by:

Choo Chaw, Kluang, Johor, Malaysia