Phuket History and Attractions beyond beach & island retreat
09.08.2014 - 11.08.2014 37 °C
After 7 years, I had another opportunity to travel to Phuket for 2nd time with a different kind of travel itinerary in mind. Phuket is actually an island rich in history in which most of the tourists who travelled to Phuket were unaware of. Long before the opening up of Phuket as Thailand's tourist island in 1986, this southern island of Thailand was a booming mining territory as well as major rubber plantation producer of South East Asia. The man behind the development of Phuket was actually Ratsadanuphradit Mahison Pakdi @ Khaw Sim Bee, who found his fortune in doing business in Phuket both in the tin mining as well as in rubber plantation industry. He had modelled the grooming of Phuket as a commercial city based on the development of Penang by the British during the colonisation of the English in those days. Just as in Malaya now Malaysia, the tin mining industry in Phuket during the colonisation era had a fair share of the black societies insurgency issues in which group of associations were set up by different clans to protect their own people from discriminations in the course of their work as coolies in the tin mining industry. Phuket became a major island tourist attractions after the shutdown of the tin mines in Phuket in 1986 and it has never looked back since then. As what we could see now, Phuket is indeed an island paradise for those who seek for nice island and beach retreat. But beyond this, the history of Phuket is worth to be explored and to get into the knowledge of the roots of Phuket's past is to explore the Phuket old town by itself.
A general view of Patong Beach @ Phuket
A Red Bull decorated 4 x 4 parked along Patong Beach
Patong Beach street
BANGLA WALKING STREET AT PATONG @ PHUKET
Jung Ceylon Shopping Mall at Patong @ Phuket
WINE CONNECTIONS AT SINO PHUKET SECTION @ JUNG CEYLON SHOPPING MALL
But before that, I would like to share about this round of Phuket trip in comparison to my previous trip 7 years ago. The main commercial area of Phuket island remained as Patong, in which the infamous Bangla Road now known as Bangla Walking Street is located. This is the street which is the usual place in which one would find all the beer bars and discotheques dotting the street on the left and right. The street fronting the Patong beach now is known as Banana Walk. I remember years ago when I was in Phuket, the Banana discotheque was one of the most in-place to be but I did not bother to check out how different it is today. The Banana Walk possibly could have got its name from this discotheque since it was famous among the party goers. The shops selling mostly tshirts, watches, shoes, souvenirs, gadgets, electrical & electronic accessories, massage shops and restaurants, both Thai and international as usual still dotting the streets and alleys of the Patong beach. One of the major change that I had seen is the existence of a major tourist outlet and shopping heaven named the Jung Ceylon. This is one of the most extensive development I could see being brought to Phuket as of now. But there are more to come I believe as even condominiums popular among property investors in Bangkok has been booming as understandably this is a smart business move because investors would love to put in their money without thinking twice in snapping up units available. Why? Because there is good money in leasing out the units for purpose of tourist accomodation facilities. Back to Jung Ceylon, this is also the biggest shopping and entertainment mall to-date in Phuket I would say and the mall is divided into several section including the one named Sino Phuket, which is a section for fine dining as well as beer bar lovers, which is different from what you see over at Bangla Walking Street. One of the most notable outlet over at Sino Phuket, which was themed after the old town of Phuket is the Wine Connections, which is a F & B outlet famous for its wide range of good and fine wines and champagne as well as beers and great western food. All in all this is a place which centred and fits in everything to suit everyone including family entertainment.
AT RAWAI PIER @ PHUKET
BOAT SERVICE AT RAWAI PIER
GREAT SELECTION OF SEAFOOD AT RAWAI @ PHUKET
FRESH SEAFOOD READY TO BE COOKED AT RESTAURANTS JUST OPPOSITE THE SEAFOOD TRADERS
PEARL & CORAL ACCESSORIES AVAILABLE FOR SALE AT RAWAI @ PHUKET
Of course when you are on an island, one thing that should never be missed would be the seafood. And never be fooled with the large lobsters or prawns that were being displayed on the big rack filled with rocky ice as this maybe just a tourist trap. Well, I am not quite sure of this because I had not try the seafood restaurant along Patong beach but if those who seek to have good and inexpensive seafood adventure, then the right place to head to is Rawai. Rawai is located at the southernmost of Phuket island and apart from seafood is also famous for its pearl. Here, you could find a good number of shops located at the edge of the Rawai pier that deal in pearl accessories including the pearl necklaces, pearl pendants, pearl bracelets and related accessories as well as decorations and accessories made from shells. At another section at the Rawai pier next to the shells and pearl traders, are the proprietors dealing with fresh seafood. You can get to choose range of seafood including fish, crabs, clamps, mussels, prawns, oysters, lobsters and other seafood items. After purchasing these seafood items, there are restaurants located just opposite the seafood proprietors, where you can get the restaurants to cook the fresh seafood from their kitchens and pay them a fee which is good value for money and considerable. From Rawai pier, this is the place to board the boat to some nice surrounding islands including Racha island and Coral island.
THE CHEDI OF WAT CHALONG @ PHUKET
THE UBOSOT OF WAT CHALONG @ PHUKET
THE UBOSOT OF WAT CHALONG @ PHUKET
ENTRANCE TO BIG BUDDHA @ PHUKET
THE VIEW WHILE ASCENDING TO THE BIG BUDDHA @ PHUKET
A CLOSE VIEW OF THE BIG BUDDHA @ PHUKET
A BIRD EYE VIEW OF THE EA FROM BIG BUDDHA'S PEAK @ PHUKET
My most notable tourist attraction visit 7 years ago was Wat Chalong and today Wat Chalong has transformed differently as the colour of this temple which resembles the Phra That Luang in Vientiane has changed from white to dark gold. This temple is beautiful and many Thais as well as tourists were seen visiting while in comparison to my previous visit, the numbers has seen a tremendous surge. Possibly, more people have knowledge about Wat Chalong and the beatification of this temple was also possible with the increased in donations from visitors. Another new attractions in Phuket today is the Big Buddha. As suggested by the name, the main attraction is the gigantic white Buddha sculpture which is still under on-going construction as of today. The white Big Buddha which is on a sitting position was about 80% completed. The sculpture of the Big Buddha was already fully constructed and painted in white while the basement of the Buddha is still on work-in-progress. The Big Buddha is located on top of a hill and to get to the Big Buddha area, there are staircases built for visitors to climb up to reach the ground in which the Big Buddha being constructed. At the lower ground before the staircase to the Big Buddha, there is an ubosot (prayers hall) in which devotees can offer prayers to the Buddha sculptures as well as seeking blessings from the chief monk of Big Buddha temple. While climbing up the stairs to the peak of Big Buddha, you can experience some great views of the sea. At the peak of Big Buddha, the large view of the sea can be seen from here and you could feel the cool air here at the Big Buddha's peak. Visitors could also contribute by donating money for the marbles and tiles which are being used to construct the walls and the pilings of the base of the Big Buddha. Donors could have their names as well as their wishes printed on the slab of tiles or marbles.
THE SCENES FROM PROMTHEP CAPE @ PHUKET
During my last trip to Phuket, I wanted to visit and take a look at Promthep Cape as it was said that this is a place which has very distinctive view of the sea from the peak of the cape. It did not happened at that time but this trip, I had the opportunity to see with my own eyes on how true it was that the cape offers a great viewpoint and a must visit place for those who travel to Phuket. I just could not explain it with words on how beautiful the scenery could be and only photos could best describe how true on what has been said about Promthep Cape. While it can be extremely hot, humid and sticky due to the scorching and burning afternoon, it was worth its while to brave the unbearable weather condition just to capture one of the best view in Phuket. Other than the stunning sunset and beautiful sea view, Promthep Cape is also an alternative energy conservation station. Another area for good sea viewpoint is the Karon Viewpoint. What is distinctive about Karon Viewpoint is that you can get to view 3 beaches from the peak of this viewpoint which is the Kata beach, Small Kata beach and Karon beach. As for a nice city view, the place that you should not missed is the Khao Rang (Rang Hill), which is located at the Phuket city. One of the recommended place to visit within the Rang Hill is the Tung Ka Cafe, which offers patrons a great place to enjoy the view of Phuket city while having great time dining at the cafe over some good Thai food. Unfortunately, when I arrived in the morning, this restaurant joint has not been opened for business. There were also some other restaurant here at Rang Hill including one with the name Khao Rang Breeze. The man behind Phuket's rich history as related earlier, Ratsadanupradit Mahison Pakdi's sculpture can be seen being constructed here as a remembrance of his contributions which developed Phuket as it is today.
PROMTHEP ENERGY STATION @ PHUKET
A VIEW FROM PROMTHEP ENERGY STATION @ PHUKET
AT KARON VIEWPOINT, 3 BEACHES, SMALL KATA, KATA & KARON BEACH CAN BE SEEN CLEARLY
A RESTAURANT AT KHAO RANG (RANG HILL) @ PHUKET CITY
THE STATUE OF RATSADANUPRADIT MAHISON PAKDI AT KHAO RANG @ PHUKET CITY
BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF PHUKET CITY AT KHAO RANG @ PHUKET CITY
Phuket as in Bangkok and some other major tourists city also has its own version of budget shopping bazaar which cater for locals, Thais and also tourists and the one in Phuket is the Chaofa Variety Weekend Market. This is a weekend market and shoppers can get everything here from tshirts, shoes, bags, pants, ladies accessories, decorative items, souvenirs and all kind of Thai street food. All with inexpensive price tags. This trip to Phuket has proof that there is no regret in visiting a second time and I had said before that I would not mind visiting same place for many times because you never know what you would experience each time you visit the place again. Phuket has more to offer than just being purely for fun and shopping. The history on the background of how Phuket has developed into a major tourist attraction is worth to take a look. More can be done by the provincial government to enhance the tourism industry in Phuket. The old Phuket town development to draw tourist attention should be given a salutation as to how the officials being proactive in coming up with innovative ideas in enhancing tourism products in Phuket. Perhaps, one of the best way to further compliment the current Phuket Old Town tourism is to have guided cycling tour or self tour which enable tourists to rent a bicycle and go on cycling exploration on a Phuket Old Town trail with special map.
THE CHAOFA WEEKEND MARKET @ PHUKET