Phuket is a trove of attractions and activities as suggested by numerous travel gurus and is enjoyed daily by tourists and visitors from all over the world. Ever wonder where Phuket folks actually go and hang out? The list below gives an insight to top spots on the island which local people love, and maybe you will too!
Phuket Old Town
Few places in Thailand offer an insight into the country’s cultural history and diversity as richly as Old Phuket Town. A notable tin-mining centre from the 16th to 19th centuries, the island attracted traders from Europe, China, Arabia and other parts of Asia who heavily influenced its architecture, culture and food. Sino-Portuguese shophouses and mansions erected during Portuguese involvement on the island can be seen throughout the old town. Today, many are cafes and restaurants, and some remain as dwellings on the upper floor, while others and several former mansions have been transformed into moderately-priced hotels. The Thai Hua museum traces Chinese migration, providing labour for the tin mines, during the early to mid 1800s. A walk through the main streets of Old Phuket Town is a wonderful way to acquaint yourself with the history of the island. The Walking Street market, held every Sunday and called Lard Yai by locals, operates on Thalang Road between 4-9pm and has become one of Phuket Town’s main attractions. One change that has emerged in recent years is the appearance of street art on buildings in the old town; the murals featuring animals, people and local scenes have added to the colour and vibrancy of an already colourful and interesting downtown area.
Khao Rang Viewpoint
Sometimes called Rang Hill viewpoint, this spot near Phuket Old Town provides sweeping views across Phuket’s main city to the Big Buddha, Panwa peninsula, Chalong Bay and islands off the east coast. Featuring a beautiful open pagoda that leads to an open viewing platform, the area is surrounded by landscaped gardens and mature rubber trees and there are several cafes which take full advantage of the view.
Lock Tien Food Court
Situated between Dibuk and Yaowarat roads in Phuket Old Town, this local food court (closed on Tuesdays) caters for a variety of local tastes that are hard to find elsewhere. The best time to visit is 11-1130 before the big lunch crowd arrives. The open-air court opens early morning and runs until 5pm or when supplies run out. Sample delectable dishes such as poor phee (a non-fried spring roll), mee hoon par chang (fried noodles (iced dessert made from banana starch). And don’t miss some of the best satays you’ll find anywhere.
Rawai Seafood Market
At the southern end of the island, facing the Andaman Sea and, is the Rawai seafood market Here you can choose a variety of seafood – fish, prawns, squid, crab, mussels – from shops on one side of the road and have them cooked by open-air casual restaurants facing the beach. Also known as Sea Gypsy Village, the market has become a big tourist attraction as well as being frequented by locals. Late afternoon and early evening as the sun goes down is the best time to enjoy this unique outdoor dining experience.
Visible throughout southern Phuket, the 45-metre white Big Buddha statue atop the Nakkerd Hills provides 360-degree views over Chalong Bay, Kata, Karon, Phuket Town and Rawai. Next to the Big Buddha is a smaller gold image made of solid brass and there is a shrine next to the car park. Access to the Big Buddha is via a winding 6-kilometre drive through jungle from Phuket’s main southern artery. The site is open daily from 6am-7pm.
Jungceylon Shopping Centre
The Jungceylon shopping mall in Patong is one of the most diverse and popular on the island. With underground parking off the main road heading south, the centre features more than 200 shops, two large supermarkets and numerous cafes and restaurants. It is a convenient place to buy food and essentials, as well as clothes and gifts, for holidaymakers and locals in the Patong area.
The long stretch of beach between Bangtao and Layan on the north-west coast of Phuket is one of the most attractive and least crowded on the island. Visitors can access the beach from Laguna Phuket, with parking available close to Dusit Thani hotel at the southern end and off the beach road towards Layan as you head north. Heading towards Layan you will find numerous casual restaurants situated among casuarina trees near the beach. Here, there are very few people – even on the most perfect days – allowing you to stroll on the beach and swim in the clear, mild water far away from other people. On the way, you can stop by the Laguna Phuket flower field, which includes topiaries of elephants, for a photo and a stroll on the pleasant grassy area.
Boat Avenue Friday Market
Boat Avenue is located near the entrance to Laguna Phuket in Cherngtalay. Every Friday afternoon, local produce sellers, clothing and craft makers come out in force for a market that operates from 5pm to 9pm. Set among numerous cafes, restaurants, bars and other shops, the market buzzes with activity for a few hours. You can buy wonderful local delicacies, fruits, vegetables and gifts, then settle back for a pleasant meal at a nearby inexpensive restaurant. If you’re staying within the Laguna Phuket resort, you can take a shuttle bus to the entrance, followed by a short 5-minute walk to Boat Avenue.
Every day of the week there is a food and clothes market in Kamala, at three different sites. Two are on the main road between Patong and Bangtao and parking is always available close by. A huge variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, plus cooked and uncooked kebabs, ribs and other delicacies are on offer, as well as clothing, gift and other items – all at very reasonable prices.
Wat Chalong is an historical landmark and temple in the Chalong Bay area. Thousands of locals come here every day to pray, while it serves as an information source about buddhism for visitors. Officially called Wat Chaiyathararam, it has become known colloquially as Wat Chalong. The temple played a pivotal healing role during fighting among Chinese secret societies in Phuket in 1876, while many locals believe numerous miracles have occurred there. The wat is located on Chao Fa West Road in the northern part of Tambol Chalong.
Learn more about Phuket, where to go and what to do on the Tourism Authority of Thailand website: www.tourismthailand.org/Destinations/Provinces/Phuket/350