I spent a month in Phuket in Rawai, which is at the very south end. I wanted to be away from the crowds of Patong, but near a beach. I found a place on Airbnb for $180 for the month that had a private room and shower so I settled in for the month to explore and hang with the locals. Being a creature of habit, even when I’m traveling, I found myself eating at the same food stalls every day. By the end of the month they all knew what I wanted (Hot Basil Chili please!) and I started getting freebies like fruit at the end of my meal. I didn’t do a whole lot here besides hang at the beach and walk around my neighborhood, but I did venture out a few days a week to see other parts of Phuket. Here’s my top 10 list of spending a month there!
PHUKET AQUARIUM AND MARINE CENTER
I’m not a huge fan of aquariums since becoming more aware of the ocean, but I will spend time if the primary purpose is to advocate for the ocean or is a rescue center. I found out about this aquarium and that it wasn’t really an aquarium, but a Marine Biological Center that has a turtle rescue center. The aquarium itself is small (2 rooms) with mostly local sea life, but it’s the turtle center and hatchery that are the main attractions here. The entrance fee was modest at $5 to get in, and you have to walk through the aquarium to get to the hatchery and turtle center. I spent over an hour at the turtle center. They rehabilitate turtles that have been caught in fishing lines and have eaten plastic. Many can be rehabilitated and released back into the water, but some are too damaged and won’t survive if they’re released so will remain at the center the rest of their lives. These are usually the turtles that are missing 1 or more of their limbs. It’s so sad to see, but it was great to learn they bring schools here to educate the children on the importance of not littering and show them first hand what littering does to the environment.
CHALONG BAY DISTILLERY
Not one to pass up a local distillery or vineyard. I heard of this place, and it was close to my room, so I checked it out, twice! They only make one kind of rum, and they do it well, and it’s the only distillery in Phuket. I didn’t take the tour, but they do offer them for $9 and includes their Signature Mojito. I fell in love with the Spicyrinna, which was rum mixed with ginger, chili, and lime. So good!
PROMTHEP CAPE: WATCH THE SUNSET
Right around the corner from my place in Rawai was Promthep Cape This is a must when visiting Phuket. I rode through it one of my first days there and walked around then decided to come back for sunset. Honestly, Thailand has been some of the best sunsets I’ve seen during my travels. I read reviews that it gets crowded so I got there about 45 minutes before sunset and found a spot on the wall that had a view of some trees to get a beautiful frame of the sunset. I went here twice and both times the sunset didn’t disappoint!
Not one to do a generic museum that can be found all over the world. I was intrigued when I walked by The Trickeye Museum. It was $15 to get in, so I decided why not and so glad I did! What a crazy fun time I had! My private guide took so many fun pictures of me with the art. All of them totally Instagram worthy. If you haven’t been, it’s a bunch of artists that create paintings with the illusion of you living in the painting. There were over 50 pictures to look at (I think I took pictures with 15 of them!). My favorite and most popular was the two-story waterfall.
When I was there, the big Buddha was free to get in because they were doing construction. I took the bike out early morning to get up to the top of the hill where you’ll find 180-degree views of Rawai below. The Buddha is the only thing up there, and he is big. Might be a nice place to come to watch the sunset, the views are stunning.
On the ride up the coast to Patong from Rawai, you will hug the coastline with a view for days of the water and beach. Along the way, there is a stop called Karon Viewpoint where you can park your bike and get great pictures of Kata and Karon Beach. There will also be a few vendors selling ice cream, water, and snacks.
OLD PHUKET TOWN
I loved Old Phuket Town. It’s not that big only a couple of streets long, but it’s a fun area where you’ll find colorful shophouses and cute cafes. You can easily park your motorbike and walk the whole area by foot. I went in the morning and caught a glimpse of an engagement photo shoot happing. The architecture and colors of the old shop houses make it a prime place to take photographs.
The streets in Old Phuket Town turn into a market on Sunday’s. Not your typical Thailand market, here you can get street food from trying horseshoe crab to bbq ribs. There are street performers making balloon animals for children and caricature drawings, and you can also buy handmade items here.
BANZAAN FRESH MARKET
Many people flock to Patong. I rode through it once, and that was enough for me. While I was there, I found a wet market right outside the strip. It was a great place for pictures and to grab some lunch. They sell everything from live seafood and meat to vegetables, fruit and flowers. I ate lunch at one of the many vendor stalls and grabbed a bunch of mangos to take back to my room!
This beautiful temple is the largest in Phuket and is three stories high. Once inside you’ll find many Buddhas, but the paintings on the walls are the show stopper here. The murals tell a story of the life of Buddha. Very busy with tour buses in the afternoon, if you get there in the morning, you’ll get to witness monks doing their daily prayer.