We made a last minute booking with Daj via email to do a Phuket Tour(a full day Phuket Tour).
We decided on -
1. Visit Rawai Beach and Visit Promthep Cape viewpoint and Windmill Viewpoint.
2. Drive along scenic beach roads via Patong, Karon, Kata and stop off at the famous Karon cape viewpoint.
3. Visit Phuket’s one and only Big Buddha on the top of Nakkerd Hill.
4. Visit the Wat Chalong Temples.
5. Monkey Hill viewpoint
5. Drive through Phuket town and stop at Central Festival
Our day started with Daj picking us up early to take us on our Phuket Tour. He drove us around in a nice clean van, with more than enough room for the 2 of us. He was always offering us cold water, which was lovely in the heat!
First stop was Rawai Beach/pier, which was just around the corner from the hotel we were staying at (Serenity Phuket). It was high tide and there were lots of Long tail boats in the water along very long pier. Down the road next to the pier, was a small set of markets. These markets mainly sold sea shells and other little bits and pieces. We were unsure about buying them as we weren’t sure we would be able to bring them back into Australia and we were worried they would break. We later found out we can bring them back! As long as they don’t have any live/dead creatures still in them, they have to be completely clean. (Always make sure to check with our countries customs before trying to bring something back, a quick email or phone call to them. Pete wanted to bring back an ornamental knife which we found out through the Australian customs website that you aren’t allowed to bring any type of knife through customs).
Gun, one of the waitress’s at East 88 – Serenity resort’s restaurant – gave us a parting gift of a shell ornament, such a lovely gesture, so we thought we will try to take it back, we were able to get it through customs and after a quick check it’s now hanging in our bathroom!
Anyway…. We wandered through the first shop and saw a HUGE pile of shells that the shop must have stock piled and then they clean them up and sell them to locals and tourists. It was a pity we couldn’t buy anything (didn’t know we could) as they had some really beautiful things. They sold little things from necklaces and other bits of jewellery to lamp covers and large ornament. We didn’t spend too long there as we felt bad leaving Daj in the hot van (turns out he stays in the van with the air con on.. smart man! We would feel horrible if he was waiting for us in the heat).
Next we headed to the very popular Promthep Cape viewpoint. You have to walk up a few small flights of stairs to get to the actual view point. The scenery from Promthep Cape is lovely! Now that I look back on it, I wish we had gone back at sunset as I have heard it is even better then but I have also heard it is usually very crowded so maybe going when we did, during the day was a better choice. Oh well yet another thing to do on our “to do list” next time we are there!
You then head up another few sets of stairs up to another section. In this section is a large shrine with many Elephant figures, some are very large statutes and others very small little figures, all is different colours. A small way past the shrine there is a lighthouse that houses interesting historical maritime artefacts (or so the sign told us) we were not able to go in as it was shut at that time. We took a few photos and headed back to the van for our next stop.
A short way down the road is another view point called Windmill viewpoint. From here you are able to see similar views as Promthep cape, you can also see Nai Harn beach which is a really nice swimming beach. It is called “Windmill viewpoint” also known as “Promthep Alternative Energy Station” because it has several very tall wind turbines that look like big windmills (which I guess they are). Not only is the view from here really beautiful but locals (and possibly tourists alike) come here to fly kites or remote controlled planes and occasionally you see hang gliders. This spot might be a better alternative to Promthep Cape at sunset, as it may be less crowded. We took a few photos and headed off again.
Our next stop was Karon viewpoint Also known as the Kata Viewpoint or “Three Beaches Hill” . Here you are able to see Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches. It is one of the busiest viewpoints in Phuket. Look to the right to see all 3 beaches/coves. As we were leaving we were approached by a Thai local with an eagle. We haven’t seen an eagle that close before. Pete was fascinated and stopped to take some photos with it. I insisted he make sure to wear his sunnies in case the eagle got hungry and went for his pretty eyes. It was interesting to see a bird like this up so close. Once again silly tourists, after doing a bit of research about this viewpoint we found information about animal abuse, eagles, gibbons, “little monkeys”, from this point in our holiday we didn’t take any more photos with animals… I guess I write about this once again to warn people while it’s fun when you’re on holiday, think of the animals, don’t be as silly as we were. See here (add link) about other animals we took photos with, which we shouldn’t have, learn from our mistakes.
We headed to see Phuket’s famous Big Buddha! It’s 45 metres high and a base of 25 metres across, it can be seen from far, even from our Serenity suite H20 suite in Rawai (the room we stayed in 2012). It’s one of the most important (and famous) landmarks in Phuket. At the time we visited (October 2011) it was still being built. You could buy a small tile and donate money towards its construction, you can write a small message on the tiles that are used in the building of the Buddha. The whole body of the Big Buddha is made out of white Burmese marble. We noticed in many of the donation boxes or other little boxes, there were cats fast asleep! How cute! From the base of the Big Buddha you have almost 360 degree views over Phuket, including Phuket town, beaches and coves.
“Avoid beachwear, short skirts and T-shirts with offensive texts or images. If you feel you have dressed a little too daringly for a religious site you can always ask for a sarong to cover up with from the site centre, free of charge.” (Excerpt taken from http://www.phuket.com/magazine/big-buddha-today.htm). There were several types of Buddha statues, some new (Gold/painted gold) and some a dark clay.. We learnt a little more about Buddism in our trip to Bangkok, more specifically our trip to Ayutthaya just outside of Bangkok.
It was difficult for us to get a photo together with the amazing view from the hill as well as the Big Buddha, luckily on 2 separate occasions other tourists were happy to swap, picture for picture. Remember when your holiday, be friendly and offer to take a photo for a couple, they will appreciate it and I’m sure they will do the same in return!
On the way down the hill after leaving the Big Buddha we stopped at an elephant camp to feed banana’s to a baby Elephant. I love love love Elephants but especially baby ones they give little kisses!!. The one we stopped to see had the cutest little “fro” it was so spiky! He (well I think it was a he) was really clever too, he could smell bananas wherever you had them, he would find them.. We made sure to give some of the Mama and Papa elephants some bananas too. The little elephant got sick of bananas and decided to have a suck on Petes hand..
After our cuddle with the elephant we headed off to see the Chalong Wats (temples) aka Buddhist temples. There are about 29 Buddhist temples around Phuket. The temples in Chalong are open to Locals and tourists. The temples are decorated beautifully, most are covered with bits of glass or mirrors and they shine and shimmer in the sun. You are able to go in and have a look in the temples but make sure to wear appropriate clothing, no shorts or clothing that shows too much skin (especially relevant for the girls, no short shorts, singlet tops, bikini tops etc) It is suggested to wear long pants (cotton pants generally breathe better) and make sure to take your shoes off when entering. There are small markets/stall around the temples where you can buy things, touristy souvenirs, food, drinks even coconuts. Inside one of the main temples there were many statues of Buddha’s and hundreds of Lotus flowers. It’s beautiful how the Thai people take such pride in their culture and religion, the temples are a work of art!
Next we were onto “Monkey Hill” aka Toe Sae Hill. Sadly we didn’t encounter any monkeys L apparently there are usually about 400 Macaques on any given day.
Our last stop before heading back to the hotel was Central Festival. Gun (the waitress at East 88) told us we could get these mugs they us at the hotel, they fit perfectly in your hand! Sadly we were unable to find them and after speaking to the restaurant manager he told us that they order them from a hospitality company. Needless to say when we came back the next year we ordered 4 from the hotel!
Our experience with Daj was great we was able to take us to see everything we wanted and more! There was at times a bit of a language barrier which we didn’t expect, 90% of the reviews we had read about him said he had fantastic English, we would have called it “moderate” English but he was still easy to communicate with. We weren’t able to “chat” with him socially, but he knew all the questions most tourists would ask. He wasn’t exactly a guide, more of a driver, he takes you to the touristy spots and then leaves you to your own accord until you are ready to move onto the next place. It wasn’t an issue though, and we had a great time!
If you would like to enjoy a Phuket Tour you can contact Daj on the below details -
DAJ: ( Driver)
Price for our Phuket Tour was 1,800 Baht (keep in mind his pricing may have gone up). This is a great value for a full day of driving around. Taking into consideration it costs about 600 Baht to get from Rawai to Patong. Converted into AUD it’s about $60. This is approx. the cost to get from Sydney CBD to the airport in peak hour traffic.