The beaches of Phuket have long been a favourite of travellers around the world. This can be attested to by fact that the tourism trade supports the island’s economy to a large extent, but this is not surprising as this holiday island holds a treasure trove of activities to discover.
More to Discover in Phuket
Culturally, the island is a hub of diversity with something for every taste, persuasion and creed. The vegetarian festival, held annually in October that, has its roots in ancient Taoist beliefs draws as many spectators as the yearly regatta, as does the vibrant entertainment and dining options of the world-famous Soi Bangla.
A bit of an outdoorsman myself, I’ve completely ignored the island up until now, preferring to head to the less built-up destinations much further South. However, with just a short extended weekend, I wanted to see what I could get up to, and I certainly found more than I had expected! From skimming the deep blue seas to reach islands strung off the coast like a pearl necklace to a rustic farming experience, I could plunge myself deep into nature and yet be back for an aperitif in the evening by the beach.
Phuket is by no means a small island. It is two-thirds the size of Singapore but contains a verdant mountain range that tops out at about 600 m. These present jungle trekking opportunities but it’s the sea that really calls the adventurer this far South from Bangkok, 840.9km to be exact.
Island Hopping Galore
Setting off from the Wyndham Sea Pearl Phuket earlier than usual in the morning was a blessing. From the tall slopes of the hill on which the resort is located, the sight of the morning sun raking across the city was absolutely magical. Throughout the day, that same theme would resonate.
We travelled with Blu Anda, a tour operator specialising in chartered boat trips to the islands in the Andaman Sea. With literally hundreds of islands belonging to Thailand in this area, picking the perfect spot for a getaway can be difficult to decide on. Our island hopping adventure, however, brought us to Koh Hong and the privately owned “the big tree” island. The latter was where we got to meet members of the indigenous Chao Lay or Sea Gypsies – a group of people who have lived a seafaring life across South East Asia for many generations.
On the island, we also did a little light trekking, had lunch cooked in a lush jungle and then proceeded to watch the rest of the day go by – a perfectly good way to use a beach. Koh Hong was equally gorgeous, but not quite the refuge from the tourists. The centrepiece of the island was a hidden crescent-shaped bay hidden by a tall curtain of limestone on both sides, half-drawn in an attempt to keep the world out.
A Day at the Farm
Bemoaning the fading relationship between people and the land with the advent of digital distractions like the ubiquitous cellphone and Ipad. Khun Apirag set up the Vanich farm, all 72,000 square meters of it, to coax the country out of today’s youth and other curious visitors today.
As a microcosm of a bygone traditional Thai way of life, the grounds include padi fields, herds of ducks, water buffalo and fields of produce like corn. The farm organises several educational and experiential packages that teach the visitor how to plough fields with buffalo, ride the buffalo, plant and harvest rice, and prepare lunch the old-fashioned way!
Vanich Farm packages come in 3 options, all priced at 1,200 Bhat per pax:
- Being a Farmer
- Getting close to Thai Water Buffalos
- Cooking Thai Food
More Than a Home Away From Home
As of November 2016, Phuket is home to 2 lovely Wyndham resorts; the Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket and the recently completed Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay. Just missing the completion of the Wyndham Grand by just a month, I stayed at the former. It’s located uphill from Patong Beach and connected to the famed entertainment district by the hotel shuttle. From the vantage point that is the site of the hotel, the bay and the thriving town can be observed and photographed. Sunsets and sunrises from the viewing point just above the hotel were just breath-taking. There is simply nothing more inspiring than the sight of the sky in all hues of pink and orange as it back lights the dramatic rises of limestone and throws it into stark silhouettes.
As strong as the call of the sights and sounds of the sea were, the rooms at the Wyndham Pearl had an equally alluring call. The room types start at Deluxe Jacuzzi but I tried out the Deluxe Suite – with separate living and bedroom and outdoor jacuzzi. I had not been in a larger or luxuriously furnished basic room type and leaving it everyday was not without a tinge of wistfulness.
On the days that I did give in to indolence, my needs were more than adequately catered for. There are 2 restaurants, a pool bar, lounge, and spa on site but if you want to just enjoy the room, that’s perfectly justifiable.
I was also given a sneak peek at the new Wyndham Grand Phuket at Kalim Bay. Whatever the Wyndham property at Patong did right, the one at Kalim Bay upped the ante for sure.
How to Get There
The best ways to get to Phuket from Singapore are with Scoot & Tigerair. Tigerair has daily flights from Singapore to Phuket direct, while Scoot has weekly flights. From there, there are taxis at the airport that can take you to Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket and the newer Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay.