Patong (Thai: ป่าตอง
) refers to the beach and town on Phuket's west coast. It is the main
tourist resort on the island of Phuket, and is the center of Phuket's nightlife
and shopping. The beach became popular with Western tourists, especially
Europeans, Numerous hotels are located there and the area has expanded into a
Patong Beach is the most popular and well-developed beach on Phuket Island. Long recognized as one of the world's Top 10 diving sites, Phuket is now Thailand's most important tourist destination, offering a variety of beaches, attractions and exciting night life.(The nightlife is centred around Soi Bangla (Bangla Road) however there are quiet parts of town)
Visitors hoping for a glimpse into the exotic East might not
find it here, though the steaming hot streets, neon lights and chaotic
atmosphere of Patong can be overwhelming for the new arrival. The key to full
enjoyment of the place is to pace yourself, drink lots of water and learn the
meaning of'mai pen rai'
- which translates roughly to 'It
doesn't matter' or 'Don't worry, be happy'
►Freedom Beach is an exclusive gem on Phuket’s west coast; the 300m-long strip of white sand is set in a superb bay dotted with granite rocks and surrounded by hills covered by thick and luxuriant jungle. Essentially, Freedom Beach’s exclusivity comes from its rather difficult accessibility, although things are getting a bit better nowadays.
Apart from sunbathing, popular activities that can be enjoyed at Freedom Beach are beach soccer (two mini-goals are available), beach volleyball, and snorkelling. The shallow waters at both ends of the beach host superb underwater fauna and flora and the southern end is slightly superior. There are no jet-skis or other noisy marine leisure activities at Freedom Beach; the only audible engines are those of the long-tail boats bringing and taking away visitors.
►Bangla Road really comes to life once the sun sets. The road is closed to vehicle traffic and becomes a 400 metre festival of neon lights, loud music, cheap beer and sexy girls. Jammed most nights of the year, it is quite a friendly and lively place to walk around as bars and clubs compete with each other for customers. If you’re looking for a fun night out in Phuket, Bangla Road should be your first (and, often, only) stop.
Almost all of the bars are outdoors, so the music from each one
blends into a deafening mess of sound. Beer bars occupy most of the street's
length, with several go-go bars and a few pubs, restaurants, discos and shops
rounding out the attractions, both on Soi Bangla and down its side streets.
Street performances are also common most nights, which can make dodging around
the tailor shop salesmen, leaflet distributors, street vendors and ping pong
show touts more difficult, but it is all part of the fun.
►Flying Hanuman in Kathu is just the right
place for you if you’re the type of person who loves to zip through the sky 40
metres above a jungle. Eco-friendly and well executed, Flying Hanuman explores
the jungle in a decidedly aerial way.
Flying Hanuman offers a chance to discover Phuket's rainforest canopy from a really special angle. It is unique as you will never see exactly the same scenario even if you return many times as according to the period of the year or the time on the day the forest's colours and atmosphere change.
Summing up, Flying Hanuman is a highly recommended nature tour that allows visitors to enter and explore a specific environment which has been here for millenniums and hopefully will stay here forever.
►Paradise Beach is one of the most attractive of the many wonderful beaches Phuket has to offer. It's compact and has a great view right across Patong Bay. The beach itself is barely 150 metres long and there is another small beach next to it, reached by a path through the rocks and it's located just next to the busy Patong beach.
Paradise Beach features shade-giving palm trees and tropical
almonds. There are large granite rocks at both ends of the sand and a coral
reef some 100 metres out. Jet-skis are actively discouraged from approaching
the beach, resulting in a calm, peaceful location.
►Tiger Kingdom is a new arrival on Phuket’s attractions scene. It allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal with several Indochinese tigers of varying ages and sizes that have been raised by hand in captivity since birth. Tiger Kingdom is an attractive, squeaky-clean setup located right next to the Go-Kart track in Kathu at the foot of Patong Hill. On four acres of land, it cost approximately 100 million baht to build.
Stroll into reception and you’ll be greeted by a small army of
orange-shirted greeters who will lead you through the paperwork necessary in
meeting a big cat. For starters, you’ll need to sign a waiver exonerating Tiger
Kingdom in case an accident happens, but this is standard procedure and you’ll
have to do the same to bungy jump or to go on a zip line through the jungle.
►Kalim Beach is located just north of Patong Beach and, unlike its famous neighbour, still retains some of its local Thai touches. A concrete parking and vendor space at its southern end in front of the local school cuts the beach into two parts and hosts a popular small street food market with half-a-dozen stands selling mataba, noodle soup, roti, Thai ice-creams and other delicacies, as well as soft drinks.
Kalim Beach itself is pretty rocky and not very attractive for
swimmers, even though some snorkelling is possible at high tide. The highlight
of the beach is surfing in low season. Kalim is considered one of the best
surfing spots in Phuket, and some competitions – such as the Quiksilver
Thailand Competition – are held there. Another activity at Kalim, albeit up the
road on the hillside this time, is the exhilarating Zorbing at Rollerball.
Kalim is also famous for its fine-dining venues.
►Phuket Mining Museum, located in Kathu on the road
between Loch Palm Golf Club and British International School, is one of the
island’s most interesting museums. It features displays ranging from tin mine
models to a recreated scene in an opium den.
A visit with a guide (or someone who has some knowledge about Phuket's history) is recommended as, for now, most of the signs and descriptions are only in Thai. There’s a minimal entrance fee.
►Wat Suan Khiri Wong, or Wat Patong for short, lies in the middle of Patong’s busy development. It is the centre of local Thai Buddhism. This Theravada temple features beautiful structures including the main ubosot (chapel), pagoda, monastery hall and statues of Lord Buddha.
There are monks living in the temple and every morning they go through the nearby community to collect food from the villagers who line their route. It is a sight that takes Patong right back to its original roots when the place was just a fisherman’s village years ago.
►Kathu Waterfall to many visitors to Phuket and they will instantly conjure up mental images of hundreds of feet of water freefalling perpendicularly into a massive pool. In fact, Kathu Waterfall is nothing like this; rather it’s a series of drop pools that sometimes are gushing with rainwater and sometimes not.
One thing is for sure, though: If you want to get to the very top of Kathu Waterfall expect a hard climb. Luckily, most of the way up comprises stairs and is shaded so you can stop and take rests at will.
The best time to go is from June to November when there is plenty of monsoon water but it’s advisable not to go when it’s actually raining as things can get rather slippery underfoot. Right at the top there’s a pool in which you can take a dip and there are ‘drop pools’ stationed along the way up to cool off in.