ATV Ride to Big Buddha and Elephant Trekking Tour
My brother was the one who pushed for this tour as he is into the adventurous stuff. After convincing my parents and aunt that it is safe, we booked onto this tour with the same agency we booked the others with. We had breakfast at the resort and then the tour guide picked us up. After a short drive to the centre of Phuket, we arrived at the camp which is located at the foot of Big Buddha Hill. After they briefed us on how to ride the ATV and the safety rules, we began on our adventure with the tour guide ahead of us. We explored the surroundings tracking through both dirt and off-road paths and eventually moved to the top of the Big Buddha Hill. It was such a beautiful, scenic view! Phuket’s Big Buddha is one of the island’s most revered and important landmarks as its visible from almost everywhere on Phuket.
After we rested (riding an ATV is tiring!), we went downhill and arrived at the elephant camp where we continued exploring tropical jungles while riding an elephant! My sister also had a chance to feed the baby elephant. It was such an amazing experience and ticked of ‘riding an elephant’ off my bucket list!
Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island) Tour
On the morning of our tour, the weather was cloudy – but it didn’t make us any less excited for this trip. The driver showed up on time and then we picked up some more tourists before being transferred into a minibus. I drifted off and when I did eventually wake up, it was to the sound of heavy rain. The thing about rain in Thailand is that its not like rain here in good ol’ England – its not just a drizzle… the rain drops are the size of golf balls and its torrential. But its okay… We ploughed through.
We piled off the bus into a little shop where we could buy oversized pouches for 50 baht. We already each had one in our backpacks so passed through the shop. We then went into the long tail boat which I thought would provide us some shelter from the rain. It was only then that I learnt that rain doesn’t just fall downwards – but also sideways. We sailed out from Ao Poh on Phuket Island to Phang Nga Bay, exploring sea cave lagoons on the way. James Bond island was okay.
The top of the 20 meters high rock is about twice as wide as the bottom, making it stand out in the beautiful surroundings with many other islands and green waters. The island’s real name is Koh Tapu which means nail island. It became famous through the 1974 James Bond movie “The man with the golden gun”, starring Roger Moore as MI6 agent James Bond and Christopher Lee as the villain Scaramanga.
If it wasn’t for the film, I don’t think it’d be given the huge amounts of appreciation that it receives – but maybe that’s just me being sceptical. We took pictures and then made our way back to the long tail boat.
The highlight for the trip for me was visiting and having lunch at the historical floating Panyi Village. This fishing village is notable for being built on stilts by Indonesian fishermen. The population consists of 360 families that descended from 2 seafaring Muslim families from Java. The tour guide was explaining how in the late 20th century, the community found it hard to subsist solely on the fishing industry and the postman proposed to invite tourists to the village to benefit the residents. The food itself was very good – we had seafood soup, vegetable stir fry, chicken legs, crispy prawns and chicken with cashew nuts. I was ravenous so ate the food quicker than anything. On our way back to the tail boat, cockroaches from the seawater were going to the pier we were on and my sister starting crying and causing a fuss – which undoubtedly left my brother and I in hysterics.
We also went to Wat Suwan Kuba, meaning cave temple – located in Phang Nga province, North of Phuket. I remember this Buddhist temple clearly as it is located inside a cave called Tam Yai in a limestone Mountain. It measures 40m long and 20m wide. The main attraction of the temple is a very impressive 5m long golden colored reclining Buddha – similar to the one we saw in Bangkok – again symbolizing the passing into Nirvana. In the cave were also smaller enshrined Buddha images. As im not particularly keen on monkeys, I wasn’t thrilled to see a number of monkeys hanging around the temple (hence the name monkey cave), though the monkeys do not go inside. There were stalls outside the temples that were selling monkey food for those wanting to feed them – this was at the bottom of my agenda and steered clear. It was something different, but due to personal taste, was not something I’d like to do anytime soon. Below is also the picture of our tour guide who declared his unpronounced love for me and cut out a heart shape on a big leaf – delightful.
We went back to Phuket and arrived at the resort at around 6pm. It was a great day out – I definitely recommend!
Phi Phi Islands Tour
I’m pretty sure that a day trip to Phi Phi Islands is on everyone’s to do list when they travel to Phuket. Phi Phi islands consist of a group of islands in the area with two mains ones being Phi Phi Leh (where Maya Bay and Pileh Bay are located) and Phi Phi Don which is the larger island with the shops and buildings.
After piling into a boat, we set off across the turquoise water to our first stop – Bamboo Island. This was just so peaceful and beautiful – we cooled off here and swam for about 45 minutes.
We then went back to the boat and the boat stopped near Pileh Bay, just off Koh Phi Phi Leh. The water was a greenish-turquoise colour and very clear. Unfortunately, a lot of the fishes died from the Tsunami that happened here 10 years ago but there were still a good number of colourful fish. This was by far, the most memorable part of the trip – I love snorkelling and diving into the sea from the boat!
We then headed for Monkey Beach and as you already know – I do not like monkeys, so reluctantly followed my family around the beach whilst squeezing my father’s arm. The monkeys were unimpressed by the human visitors – but I was also equally unimpressed.
When we finally left the monkeys behind we went to the Koh Phi Phi Don, the largest of the Phi Phi Islands for a buffet lunch. It was a lovely island and can see why it is popular – the colour of the sea was nothing I’ve ever seen before. Our final stop was to Maya Beach (aka. The Beach). The small bay was clean and the water was very clear. They dropped us back to the hotel around 5:30pm ready for dinner. It was a fantastic day trop and would definitely recommend if you want to see Phi Phi Islands without necessarily having to stay in them.
Siam Nirmait, Phuket
I was very skeptical about going to Siam Nirmait as I feared it would be a typical tourist trap in the name of Thailand culture. But these fears were put to bed as soon as we arrived. It was much bigger than I thought as they made it into a small Thai village with bridges, ponds and thatched houses. There were women and men dressed in traditional Thai attire sitting outside these make-believe houses. Once you showed your ticket and pass the shops, you are in a wide open area featuring a giant Naga (a mythical serpent) in a pond. The ‘Thai Village’ is on left and the main stage (and buffet) is on the right. Walking around the wide open area were huge and healthy elephants!
The Thai Village was a nice touch – but I wish I came sooner to appreciate it more as we had to rush over to the food before the show began at 8pm. On the way to the buffet, we passed a Muay Thai demonstration. Watching a real fight was one of the things on my Thailand bucketlist – but we never had time to see one – so this was the best we got, which was better than nothing! We finally made our way to the food and wow… was it worth the money. There was so much fried seafood, and meat – huge variety of dishes and soups and desserts. The quality of the food was amazing.
Then its time for the infamous SHOW! We walked down the stairs and sat by the steps. We weren’t allowed to take cameras inside and so I can’t show you any pictures – but the Thais really know how to put on a show! The show has many scenes as it takes you through some of the history of Siam (the country was only called Thailand after 1939). It was interesting how Siam started with the ancient kingdoms of the North, then the South (Phuket) only joined afterwards as Chinese traders were trading and marrying the locals. There were many performers/ dancers/ animals that were not limited to the stage but also around the theatre and overhead.
I definitely recommend going if you get the chance!