Sunday, May 18, 2014

Attractions in Phuket

Phuket Island has many attractions. Our second day on the island, we rented a taxi for a half day's island tour. Our first stop, the Tiger Kingdom. Tiger Kingdom is located in Kathu, some 10 minutes away by taxi from Patong. The normal taxi fee was 400 Bahts for a return trip. Luckily, we found a taxi driver who was willing to bring us with 250 Bahts for a return trip (almost 40% cheaper). Later we decided to let him brought us for a half day tour with 1200 Bahts. For your information, we didn't hoop into any tuk-tuk in Phuket as the fare always start jumping from 100 Bahts, even for a very short distance. Not worth it at all.

Tiger Kingdom could only be entered with a handsome fee. Tigers are categorized into four- very small (2 - 4 months) with 1000 Bahts per person per entry, small (5 - 10 months) with 900 Bahts, medium (11 - 15 months) with 800 Bahts, and big (16 - 36 months) with 800 Bahts. We took a package of medium + big with 1400 Bahts per person. Expensive, but close contact with tame tigers motivated us to pay for the tickets. The place offered once in our lifetime experience- petting, touching, grabbing the tail and hind-leg of tigers. Well, the tigers were behaved just like our pet cat. However, we were limited to stay in each enclosure only for 10 minutes.

The experience with small tigers was great. Tiger keepers in that enclosure continuously tried to keep the young tigers active and joke a lot. "Tiger, tiger, don't sleep, wake up, look here, smile to the camera..." the keeper who was responsible to bring us around keep talking to the tiger while busy taking photos for us. Can you ever imagine the situation where sleepy tiger tried its best to find a position for a good afternoon nap while we tried our best to keep it awaken?

However, the experience with the big tigers was not that pleasant. The keeper was relatively quiet. Most of the big tigers were sleeping, and the keeper failed to awaken these big cats, we couldn't do much except petting the sleeping tigers. Quite boring. After taking us to see three tigers (two was asleep while one looked very sleepy), he hurried us out of the enclosure. Then, we went to the very small tiger enclosure, and enjoyed our time watching smallest tigers playing with the keepers and the visitors (watching was free of charge).

Tiger Kingdom can be seen from the main road in between Patong and Phuket Town (upper left). The entrance to the ticketing counter (upper right) with prices list together with the sample photos (lower left). The insurance coverage was included in the entrance fee, well, at least some compensation would be given to those who couldn't come out in one piece.

The park was clean and tidy (upper left). One keeper taught us how to "take care" of the small tiger (upper right), while another dealt with a "play-dead" tiger (lower right). The smallest tigers were just like our cat, cute and full with curiosity.

Our photo with a small tiger, taken by a tiger keeper. By the way, a small tiger was much bigger than a big dog.

Tail grabbing.

Big tiger is huge! Best estimation, 200 - 300 kg. The big cat looked tame, but still quite scary. Luckily, these tigers enjoyed our petting very much.

The Tiger Kingdom is not big, with approximately 5 - 6 enclosures for tigers. During our visit, the place was clean, tidy, and free from the awful smell. The staff were friendly too. The visitor was covered by insurance with no extra charge. By the way, the tiger keepers were good photographers. They helped us a lot in taking great photos with tigers, without extra charge. So, it is unnecessary to hire extra photographer with 500 Bahts at the entrance of the park. We spent around one hour in the Tiger Kingdom.

Our next stop, Wat Chalong. Built in 1837, the temple was formerly named as Wat Chaiyathararam.  Wat Chalong is the most important and the biggest temple in Phuket. In 1876, the serving abbot Luang Phor Cham led the locals to defeat the rebelling Chinese miners, and then awarded by the King.

In our 40 minutes' stay, we found that the temple was heavily renovated. Everything looked new with vivid colours. A statue of Luang Phor Cham was found to sit together with the statues of Buddha. If we put the story of the brave abbot and the building stands for 150 years aside, nothing else was interesting there. We found that the food and drinks sold beside the temple were terribly over-priced (a can of Coke for 400 Bahts, and a cup of fruit juice for 700 Bahts). Our next stop, Big Buddha Temple.

 The main building of Wat Chalong.

Other temple complex surrounding Wat Chalong. The big temple at the middle lures many Chinese visitors. We were suprised by the number of Chinese visitors who came to pray there. Isn't it a temple of Chinese suppressing abbot?

 Luang Phor Cham beside Buddha statues.

The 45 meters tall Buddha statue sits at the top of the Nakkerd Hill between Kata and Chalong, and it can be seen far away from Wat Chalong. The 6 km hill road was steep and windy. We took around 30 minutes to reach the hill top from Wat Chalong. For us, the statue itself was not very attractive, but the 360 view on the top of the hill was breathtaking! We could see Phuket Town, Chalong Town and Kata Beach from there.

Statues at the entrance of the temple (upper left). The stairs lead to the higher level of the temple (upper right), with bells tied to the rails of sunshade (lower left). The "secret passage" to the viewing platform, which can be found at the higher level of the temple.

Ladies are required to wear sarung before entering the temple. Sarung is given in lending basis, with no fee required.

The big white statue can be seen from Wat Chalong (upper). A clear and nice photo can be taken from the lower level of the temple.

The site is divided into two levels. The lower level allows visitors to take photo with the statue. While the higher level which can be reached after we had beaten the stairs, offers far better view. There is a seclusive pathway to access to the great view of Kata Beach. Remember the lead- turn left at the end of the climbing stairs. During our visit, the construction was still ongoing and it was noisy. The food stalls at the lower level offered food and drinks at reasonable price.We stayed for 30 minutes to enjoy the view and the cooling breeze before we continued our journey to Rawai Beach for lunch. Then, we headed to Phromthep Cape.

Eastern view from the temple of Big Buddha, with Phuket Town and Wat Chalong can be seen far left. Please click on this photo to see larger panoramic view.

Southern view from the temple of Big Buddha, with Kata Beach can be seen on the right. Please click on this photo to see larger panoramic view.

 We took our lunch beside this beautiful beach.

Phromthep Cape is located at the southernmost tip of Phuket Island. From there, we can see endless Andaman Sea dotted with a few small islands. The cape is just 5 minutes away from Rawai Beach. We reached at the viewpoint around 2:45 pm. It was sunny and hot. The strong wind comforted us a little bit, but we didn't stay long over there, as the area was very much exposed. There is a lighthouse on the highest level of the viewpoint. Although some online sources noted that it was open to public, the entrance to the lighthouse was locked during our visit. 

 The square beside the viewing platform.

The lighthouse stands proudly at the highest level of the viewing platform. The statue beside the lighthouse is Prince Jumborn- the father of navy for Thailand. One of his successes was bringing a warship from Europe back to Thailand.

The southernmost tip of Phuket Island. We can see a couple taking their wedding photo at lower right. Please click on this photo to see larger panoramic view.

We reached our next station- Kata viewpoint around 3:30 pm. Kata Noi, Kata, and Karon can be seen from that viewpoint. The observatory tower at the viewpoint provides shelter to the visitors, and makes it more visitor friendly compared to Phromthep Cape viewpoint. The view, great, although a few overgrown trees blocked the mountain view. The second level of the viewpoint could be reached through the staircase.

 Road to Kata Viewpoint is windy.

Great view from Kata Viewpoint. Kata Noi beach (nearest), Kata beach, and Karon beach can be clearly seen from the point.

We reached our hotel in Patong around 4:15 pm. Rested and refueled with Japanese buffet dinner, we departed to Phuket Town (or some referred the place as Phuket Old Town) by bus the next morning. Follow us to Phuket Town now.

More about our experience in Phuket in:


[Phuket Free and Easy] [Phuket Attractions] [Phuket Old Town]

8 comments:

  1. Your description is very detail. Very useful. But the tiger kingdom has closed down due to the current incident that a visitor was hurted by the tiger. Anyway, the small and very small tigers are still open to visitors.

    Hien

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Hien,

      Thank you for the information.

      Delete
  2. Thailand is a collection of attractions, including floating market, Budha temples, beaches, shopping malls and more. You have shared great information about Thailand Attraction. Keep sharing.

    Attractions in Thailand

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, and thank you for your link Aditi.

      Delete
  3. I like your blog having useful information. Phuket is Thailand's largest island, and arguably the most famous. Blue waters, sandy beaches, great food, and diving are all part of the attraction. For relaxation and adventure, there are many places to visit in phuket.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Poonam. We can't be more agree about that!

    Regards.

    ReplyDelete
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