Lush, mystical Phuket offers a variety of spectacular viewpoints that will have you in awe. It’s also a base to explore world-famous islands nearby such as Phi Phi Island and Phang Nga Bay. Be sure to add some of these places to your list:
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
This. Is. It. The Samet Nangshe Viewpoint is quickly gaining a reputation in Phang Nga as a popular destination for photographers, and backpackers alike who are looking for a remote reprieve. Keep in mind, Samet Nangshe is a bit more difficult to get to due to not being widely advertised. First, you take a 30-minute hike reaching the hilltop, which provides a breathtaking view of the bay’s limestone formations! The inlets are particularly striking at sunrise. Please. Go. You can see the Phang Nga rock formations for miles, along with a small peak of James Bond Island behind one of the larger rocks. Imagine how unique this area looks by land vs. sea. In the evening the Milky Way is also visible from Samet Nangshe’s magnificent 180-degree panorama!
Tree Cups Phang Nga Coffee
This was one of my favorite places in Thailand to visit. As I reached the top of the tree, my mind drifted to paradise. For the average tourist I realize Tree Cups is very off-the-beaten path… however, I truly believe anyone would be in awe once they visited. Sipping coffee, surrounded by palm trees and a 180-degree panoramic view of Phang Nga Bay (on top of a tree) is an incredible experience. While it can be busy if you go there on the weekend, you will find yourself almost alone during a weekday, which is perfect because limited seating is available at the top of the tree.
Bird Singing Competitions
Since this post is titled “traveling like a local”, one of the fascinating (maybe even strangest) parts of Thai Culture is the bird singing competitions. Complicated lattices are put up… looking similar to clothes-drying racks but they are obviously not for that purpose, but for hanging cages.
Bird singing competitions are popular all across Thailand but are specifically common in the South region. The start of the event can be a bit confusing and chaotic at the start but are definitely worth listening. I always try to be respectful wherever I go, and although inside I was giggling at myself for not understanding the concept of the competition, who was winning, etc.. the birds sounded beautiful, and there is quite a bit of money to be made at the end of the competition!
Watch a Thai Boxing Match
Observing the thrill of the national sport of Thailand amidst local Thai spectators is pretty exciting. If violence does not upset you, a Thai Boxing match is a fun way to spend the evening. Wagers are placed during the match, and the betting was definitely a fun thing to watch. Thai boxing is without a doubt entertaining than most martial arts I’ve seen. Here’s a tip: you can negotiate at the day of the match with the vendors. I was able to get into a match after it had started (don’t worry they go on for hours) for half the price that was listed on the program.
Eat Street Food from Local Vendors
While Phuket is mostly popular for the fresh seafood and Thai dishes, it’s quickly gaining recognition for offering some of the best International dishes as well. My favorite thing to do on the Thai street was to order fish or shrimp and have it weighed and grilled right on street by local Thai vendors! Sea Bass is extremely expensive in the US, and is by far my favorite fish, and the price in Phuket was less than half in the US, and it was fresh, delicious and perfectly grilled.
Pay Respect to Buddha
Phuket is knowns for the Big Buddha, which is on the list of most revered, important and must-visit landmarks of Phuket. The 45 m tall sculpture lies on the peak of the Nakkerd Hills and is visible from as far away as Karon Beach and Phuket Town. Another beautiful Buddha (on the same property of the Big Buddha) is this Golden Buddha pictured here. This Buddha had less crowds surrounding, and really was spectacular up close. Watch out for monkeys! They wander the grounds waiting to be fed.
Watch the Sunset at Promthep Cape
One of the most photographed and possibly the most popular location of the island, is Promthep Cape. The cape is visited by a large number of people in scooters, private cars, and large tour buses. Each evening people gather to watch the sunset at the peak of the island’s southernmost hill. Don’t be distracted by the crowds. I suggest to get there about an hour prior to sunset, and find yourself a spot to relax. Be prepared to be patient, and relax while taking in the sights of the park. Lovers cuddle and cameras flash as the sun goes down. This is heartwarming and fun to see people from all around the globe enjoying Promthep Cape!
If you have any local suggestions that you enjoyed in Phuket, please feel free to share! I love learning from others experiences, and Phuket is a unique place to do just that! Happy Travels!