After the Fantasea “rip-off”, we decided to explore Phuket on our own. About 100m from our hotel, we found a mini bus taxi operator and we negotiated a deal where he would be our driver for the day. The price we settled on was THB1000 for the day. Thats it! THB1000 for the entire day and he would take us anywhere in Phuket – his only condition being that we do a mandatory stop at his friend’s shop – no obligation to purchase anything. We agreed.
Let’s just say that this mini bus taxi was awesome – six adults and one child in a 10 seater minibus with laminate wood floors (yes, really) was super comfortable. The driver was friendly and even allowed us to play our own music either through Bluetooth or a flash drive.
This post features all the places we visited in just one day.
We weren’t too sure what to expect from this but were curious to see what it was all about. We tried to find out from the hotel concierge, or get some brochures at the tourist shops, but there wasn’t much information. This should have been a signal that they don’t want you to really know whats going on. We would not recommend this place as the Tigers are kept in captivity, drugged for tourists to take selfies with them and overall a uncool place to be.
It’s simple – just don’t go. Cruelty to animals sucks
We stopped by the Gemstone Factory and were treated to a free tour of the facilities where we got to go on a mini-ride exploring the history on Gemstone mining and walked through their factory floor where the jewellers work their magic on the variety of stones. At the end of the complimentary tour, you enter and massive warehouse setup with thousands and thousands of items on sale. And the prices are really good.
I certainly was very surprised at how well this attraction was setup, from the ride, to the tour and shopping. All purchases come with a warranty and certificate of authenticity.
So the driver, as per our agreement, took us to his mates shop. Literally 30 seconds later, we knew there was nothing for us here, so we headed out We were greeted by gorgeous baby elephant (what looked like a pet), with his owner. Check out this video for a laugh..
Around lunch time, we opted for a snack and asked the driver to find us a fast-food outlet He proceeded to take us to a local shopping center. Let’s be clear – it was not a mall, but more like our local Pick ‘n Pay. We found a KFC in the shopping center, and an accessory shop that was cheaper than anything else we found in Phuket. Needless to say – some our crew spent quite a bit here.
We were ready to visit on of Phuket’s most revered landmarks. The Big Buddha sits on top of a hill between Chalong Bay and Kata Beach. It’s about 45 meters tall and can be seen from as far away as Phuket Town. Once at the top, you get an unrivaled 360 view of the island with sweeping vistas of Kata, Karon and Chalong Bay. Be prepared and dress conservatively. The best time to visit is in the late evening and be in time to catch Thailand’s most amazing sunset.
Being up close and personal is surreal – there is a calmness emanates from the structure and inside, the monks were reciting something that was very soothing to hear. Oh! and the views – OMG!
We ended the day at Jungceylon Mall. A Starbucks mega Cappuccino was waiting for me. At Jungceylon Mall, the main mall of Phuket, you will many of the global brands you’re used to, just don’t expect it to be cheaper than back home – it’s pretty much the same price. Lots of food outlets to enjoy either local or international cuisine.
Like any other mall – lots of branded stores – average pricing. But great food!
Continue to part 6: Four Islands Tour of Magic