The mountainous island of Phuket has some of Thailand’s most popular beaches. With lots to see, explore and taste in one of the many cafes, restaurants or street food, here is what not to miss while exploring Phuket.
Exploring Phuket, Thailand
If visiting the island by cruise ship like we did, you might have an overnight stay. Patong Beach comes alive then! There are also island trips to Phi Phi Island, Phang Nga Bay and Khao Phing Kan. If you love elephants you might also like to visit the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. It’s the first ethical elephant sanctuary in Phuket!
If visiting by cruise ship, these along with many other alternative shore excursions can be pre-purchased on board. We opted for the boat trip to Phang Nga Bay and Khao Phing Kan. They are famous for being film locations for James Bond’s Man With the Golden Gun.
Visiting Wat Sawan Kuha (Monkey Temple)
With a pre-purchased shore excursion you’ll make an early start. We boarded small boats to take us to the pier. There, the tour leader was waiting to lead us to the bus. There were quite a lot of us, each with a numbered sticker. Our numbers matched the buses we were to board. You have to keep your wits about you during this time. We all walked along the same road and it would be easy to get mixed in with another group entirely. Once on the bus, it took no time at all to get through traffic along the main street of Patong. Then we slowly climbed uphill to the Wat Sawan Kuha Temple (Monkey Temple).
The temple is widely known as the cave with Buddha, only 10 km away from Phang Nga Town. The entrance fee is included, but beware if you are not covered up! There is an additional charge to borrow a sarong. Inside you can see the Buddha and other relics. After the brief stop it was time to continue to the designated lunch stop.
We were the last bus to arrive at the restaurant. It was a lovely setting located directly at the water’s edge. The covered terrace provided much-needed shade and a cool place to enjoy the included light buffet lunch. There was not much time to waste; we ate quickly and visited the restroom (no bathroom on the boat).
A look at James Bond Island
It was a short walk from the restaurant to the pier. Once the life jackets were on it was time to go. The dramatic limestone structures and ancient cave painting were great, but after five hours we were ready to see the main highlight of the trip, Khao Phing Kan (James Bond Island).
Sure enough, not much longer and we spotted it on the horizon. It is a beautiful location; the island is surrounded by blue waters and the limestone reflects the brilliant sunshine. The boat turned so passengers on both sides could take photographs, then did a full lap of the island. Soon it was time to head back. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to disembark on the island.
Koh Panyee floating market
There was a final stop at the floating market, Koh Panyee, famous for its floating football pitch and the touching story behind it. Upon disembarking onto the floating market it is apparent just how many boats were there and how many people were visiting! After a brief walk through the small side streets with their abundance of shop stalls, I was relieved to be re-boarding the boat.
We returned to the restaurant and re-boarded the bus, the long return drive to Patong ahead of us. Arriving to an already lively Patong, we couldn’t wait to re-board the ship. It is a very interesting place with its many massage boutiques!
There was almost a full second day in port, but we decided to take the opportunity to enjoy the ship on our final cruise day. The Voyager of the Seas has so many great things to do, from ice skating to rock climbing.
What will you do when you visit Phuket? Will you take a land-based holiday or visit by cruise ship? I hope you have enjoyed reading. If you have, don’t forget to share. Until next time, Happy Travels:) x