Travelfish contributions by Batfish
The first number represents the total number of published reviews by Batfish. The bracketed figure is submitted reviews -- reviews may not be published for editorial reasons or may be removed because the property concerned has been delisted from Travelfish or has closed.
Life according to Batfish
Living in Phuket since 1999
Ooh! India, USA, Canda, Mexico, Central America, South America, half of Europe, about 15 countries in Africa from Morocco to South Africa...
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Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014 Schedule
Published 8:48 am, 21 Sep 2014
The 2014 Phuket Vegetarian Festival is on from September 23rd - 3rd October 2014. The dates vary every year (2013 was 4 - 14 October), as it's based on the Chinese lunar calendar. It's my favourite Phuket event / festival and I always take too many photos! I expect the same again this year ... only I sold my camera a while back, so really do need to buy a new camera soon :) There is a lot to this festival, it took me a few years to understand, and there are still parts of the festival I have not seen like the last night procession in Phuket Town. Most of the events happen far away from the main beach areas, mostly in and around Phuket Town, or at the various Chinese shrines around the island. If you are here during the festival, do try to see something ...
Recent Vegetarian Festival Blog Posts
• Vegetarian Festival 2013 Part 1
• Vegetarian Festival 2013 Part 2
• Food at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
• Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2012
I have written loads about the vegetarian festival on the blog in the past and there are hundreds of photos on the blog and on Flickr. For general information about Phuket's most bizarre / interesting festival start here:
• Phuket Vegetarian Festival - My Favourite Event in Phuket or
• The Amazing Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014 - Schedule 23rd September - 3rd October
The start of the 2014 festival will be Tuesday 23rd September in the late afternoon when the "lantern poles" are raised at all the participating shrines. The Emperor Gods are said to descend down the poles into the shrines at midnight. I normally attend Kathu shrine (my local) as I did in 2011 : Photos of Pole Raising and Midnight Ceremony. Not too much happens for the next couple of days, but the Chinese shrines are always interesting to visit any evening or any time during the festival really. The first big street procession will be on the 26th September ... or actually the 25th - a few years ago the "Naka" shrine joined as a newcomer in the festival and will likely be the first to have a procession. All the main processions pass through the old Phuket town area, all of them start early (around 7am or earlier), all finish either at Sapan Hin (south end of town) or back at their home shrines if the shrine is in Phuket Town.
Tuesday September 23rd
At all the Chinese shrines, sometime between 4 - 6pm - raising of the Go Teng pole. Events at the shrines will go on all evening. The lanterns are hung from the pole at midnight, signifying the start of the festival. There will be plenty of firecrackers and fireworks too. In 2011, I went back to the shrine just before midnight expecting some bizarre ceremonies, but it was far more hushed and reverential and kind of spooky. Did not leave the shrine until 1am and people were still gathered there saying prayers.
24th - 25th September - there are no big events on the first 2 days of the festival except for maybe a small procession from Naka shrine on the 25th, but people can visit any shrine at any time, and the Jae (เจ) food is to be found all over the island but mostly around the shrines and especially in Phuket Town. The festival has many aspects and the food is one part of it. I will try to stick to the strict diet during the festival. No meat, no alcohol. Not just "no meat" - the food is specially prepared with clean utensils and certain other ingredients like garlic and onions are not allowed due to the strong flavour. Don't worry if you are not vegetarian, almost all restaurants are open as normal in tourist areas. In fact, it can be hard to find the festival food near the beaches.
Friday September 26th
Street procession starting 7am for Sapam Shrine - this shrine is a few km north of Phuket Town (about a 10km walk from the shrine to Sapan Hin). To see piercing taking place at any shrine you have to be there before 7am. Try 6am. In the evening, around 7pm (better get there earlier), there will be another procession around Kathu village for the Birth and Death Gods. I was there last 2 years for this very noisy procession! A similar procession also takes place at several other shrines on the same evening.
Below - Birth / Death Gods Procession at Kathu Shrine in 2011
Saturday September 27th
Today's big street procession is from Sam Kong Shrine. Procession goes from the shrine in the north of town (not far from Tesco Lotus), past the Bangkok-Phuket Hospital and through the old section of Phuket town. The shrine is not far from my house. There's a link at the top of the page to 2012 photos from this shrine - they have some pretty gory face piercing! The Sam Kong area is also a good area for food hunting, there are stalls all along the street here for half a kilometer.
Sunday September 28th
The street procession today is from Tha Ruea shrine which is in the Thalang area of Phuket in the center of the island - this used to be the main town in Phuket a couple of hundred years ago and there are several historic temples in the area and the annual Heroines Festival celebrating an important date in the history of Phuket - the Heroines predate the Vegetarian Festival by several decades.
Monday September 29th
Lots of things going on today... In the morning (7am), a huge street procession in Phuket Town for the Bang Neow Shrine, which is in the south of the town on Phuket Road, one of the biggest and most important shrines participating in the festival. Expect big crowds on this day. I have been in town the last few years for the Bang Neow procession. There is also a smaller procession starting 7am from Cherng Talay Shrine which takes place in Thalang district in the Cherng Talay area. A good one to see if your hotel is in Kamala, Surin or Bang Tao beaches and you don't want to head to town.
And then ... Fire Walking at several locations including Sapam Shrine, Sapan Hin (participants from Jui Tui shrine), Baan Tha Reua Shrine and Sui Boon Tong shrine (just west of the market and not far from Jui Tui shrine in Phuket Town). Fire walking kicks off around 8pm. I did go and see some firewalking a couple of years ago at Kathu. Was crowded and hard to get any photos! Maybe try again this year....
Below - Phuket Town Procession Photos - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2012
Tuesday September 30th
Street procession starting at Jui Tui shrine, which is probably the biggest shrine in town - just west of the main market in Phuket Town. I went to see the procession in 2009 and 2013 - it was very crowded but I got lots of photos! It was hard to get into the shrine early morning, better to find a spot just outside or along the procession route - the route is always easy to find - just follow the people and the little shrines that people set up outside their houses - that means the procession is coming this way! The area around Jui Tui and along the street from the market is always busy during the festival.
Later in the day, there are lots of events on the schedule at various shrines including bladed ladder climbing at Sam Kong and Bang Neow shrines and "nail bridge crossing" at Sapam Shrine. Not sure what that is! We did go to watch bladed ladder climbing last year at Sam Kong, I did not take a camera as it was a bit rainy outside, the weather can be a concern at this time of year, but usually not too bad and sometimes darn hot! The bladed ladder climbing did not seem too dramatic. Can't say I saw any bleeding feet!
Wednesday October 1st
Street procession from Kathu shrine to Phuket Town. It's a long walk this one, about 10km from Kathu Shrine all the way to town, around the old town and ending at Sapan Hin. Kathu is my "local" shrine. The shrine is only about a mile from my house. I have been there early (6 - 6:30am) the last 3 years to watch piercing rituals. Should try to get there even earlier. 6:30am is a bit too late really. Must make an extra effort! I think 5:30am is better. Things happen early in the morning that are mysterious. The piercing may freak people out the first time they see it. I am now just looking for better camera angles and want to get some video too.
Below - Kathu Shrine Piercing and Firecrackers - Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Later in the evening on the 1st - fire walking at Bang Neow, Cherng Talay and Sam Kong shrines. Got to be worth a look!
Thursday October 2nd
The last full day of the vegetarian festival. There is a street procession for Sui Boon Tong shrine in town early in the morning, then events such as firewalking at Kathu shrine in the afternoon - I went in 2010 - too crowded! I did take some photos, but the firewalking seems to draw big crowds. Maybe I'll try again this year at one of the shrines. Maybe come with a stepladder to shoot photos over everyone's heads! Or a GoPro camera on a stick might work!
And then in the evening/night of the last day (2nd) there is a huge procession around Phuket Town, with people carrying statues of the gods to Sapan Hin. Millions of firecrackers and fireworks. It looks absolutely mad. I have seen it on TV - it's always live on TV in Phuket. I am not sure if I wish to attend and will almost certainly not take a camera, there will be so much smoke and dust and so many firecrackers, also I hear it's advisable to wear something more than flip flops or you'll get burnt feet! Need to wear a cloth over your face too, to avoid too much smoke inhalation! And earplugs. A friend had a firecracker land in his pocket and melt his iPod!
What we did do in 2011 on the last night was visit Kathu shrine for the "Bridge Crossing for Purification" - an evening I enjoyed very much. Everyone in white, lots of smiles, no blood, seemed like the whole village was there!
Below - Crossing the Bridge for Purification - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2011
Friday October 3rd
At about 5pm the lantern poles (Go Teng poles) are lowered at the shrines marking the very end of the 2014 Phuket vegetarian festival.
See you there?
Where are the shrines? Location Map - Chinese Shrines in Phuket
View Phuket Vegetarian Festival Chinese Shrines in a larger map
And here's the Tourism Authority of Thailand brochure online for you - a lot of information here ...
A visit to Surin Beach
Published 4:40 am, 18 Sep 2014
It's an odd thing, but I am not really a beach person. My wife even less so. And yet we live in Phuket which is famous for it's beaches. We don't "go to the beach" very often. Our kids enjoy some beach time, but this is not something we do every weekend. There's a lot more to Phuket than beaches - and that was one of the reasons I started this blog! If we do "hit the beach" then it's likely to be a quiet one rather than one of the main west coast beaches in Phuket. Last weekend we took a little afternoon drive. We do that sometimes .. just "go for a drive" and see where the road takes us. My wife and I figured that the last time we'd been to Surin beach was in 2006. That sounds kind of crazy, but do remember, we are not on holiday here .. we have a normal life of work and school and bills to pay. At weekends we might go away, might take a trip somewhere, or more likely do the garden, kids go to music class, have an easy day at home after a week of work and school ... Last weekend I wanted to check out Surin beach because with the support of the current military leadership of the country, Phuket has developed some cojones and issues like taxi gangs and illegal building on the beaches are being tackled. I wanted to see Surin now that restaurants on the sand and "beach clubs" on the sand had been removed.
(above) The result ... no building on the beach. Only sand, palm trees and a few lucky low season visitors.
Surin beach is not very big, but it has a fairly big car park right behind the beach as well as a municipal football pitch. Space is limited which is why restaurants and bars started to build on the sand. And, in my opinion, a few bamboo bars on the beach is fine, but Surin was getting silly, and it had "approval" from local officials who were allowing the development (for a price). And now suddenly it's gone! We walked along the beach from the car park to the north end where some rocks stick up through the sand. Our kids had last played here 8 years ago ...
(above) On the rocks at the north end of Surin beach
Well, back in 2006 there was a small restaurant near the rocks. Now I saw only a beach club called Zazada .. and (I did not look) I guess the prices of drinks would be more than I want to pay. The structures on the sand had only been knocked down a week before so, in places, things looked a bit untidy. I'll go again in a couple of months and see if everything is tidy! The kids found a wooden swing hanging from a palm tree ...
Kids + beach + rope swing = who needs an iPad? Well, our kids have got used to our sudden urges to take a drive. They might complain, but then enjoy the chance to explore. While the boy jumped around on the rocks, the girl walked to the very end of the beach. Maybe someday she will take the road less traveled. Crowded beaches? Where?
(above) Exploring the ends of Surin beach
After a while we walked back south to the carpark. The lack of any buildings on the beach is very pleasant. The same is happening at other beaches. I'd suggest that people bring a picnic or stop at a 7-11 before arriving at a beach these days! At Surin, without the smaller beach restaurants, not so much choice for eating. I mean, the beachfront shacks were not so cheap anyway, but compared to the beach clubs (Zazada, Catch and Bimi) they were a deal! Surin is now a BYO beach! Only thing left standing on the sand is the lifeguard shack ...
I do like the idea of keeping the beaches natural, but people gotta eat and drink! I imagine that once the whole thing blows over you will see drinks vendors on the beach, then maybe some little mobile food stalls, and then a little bamboo restaurant and maybe the whole thing will start again! Surin is a nice area to stay, there are plenty of hotels including Ayara Hilltops, Twin Palms and Manathai Resort.
• Full List of Surin Beach Hotels
If not staying at Surin, it's just a few minutes from Kamala beach or about 20 minutes from Patong beach. And to the north of Surin you find Bang Tao, Layan, Naithon, Nai Yang and Mai Khao beaches. I know ... Phuket has a lot of beaches. And if you are a beach person, it's worth exploring to find the right beach for you :)
We left Surin, heading back home via Kamala and Patong, but first ... in between Surin and Kamala beaches used to be a little gem called Laem Sing beach. Untouched. No construction. And I think my wife and I had not stopped there since about 2001! Back then, Laem Sing was a totally untouched paradise, but of course over the years a bar opened, and another and a restaurant and another one. Now, with help from the friendly Thai army, all that will be gone. Laem Sing will be the next blog post, as we stopped there on the same day. Just south of Surin is a viewpoint with a great view of Laem Sing beach. Wow.
(above) Laem Sing beach. We really should "take a drive" more often. I forget how beautiful the west coast of Phuket can be ...
Phuket Weekend Market (Night Market)
Published 11:24 am, 12 Sep 2014
Markets are where you can sample real life, local life - it's all laid bare for everyone to see. I've always been a big fan of markets and despite all the modern shopping malls and supermarkets that have sprung up around Phuket (Tesco Lotus, Big C, Central, Jungceylon and more) the local markets are as lively as ever. You'll find fresh markets in all areas of Phuket, some daily, some only on selected days. One of the biggest is in Kathu in between Patong and Phuket Town - see Kathu Local Market. Well worth a look.
The Phuket weekend market (aka Phuket night market) is located just outside Phuket City off Chao Fa West road, near Naka Temple. There's a Google Map at the end of this page. It's open Saturday and Sunday starting late afternoon, up to around 10pm. Along the same road is also a fresh market (called the Talad Sot Mai - "New Fresh Market"). The weekend market is not really for buying fresh food, but there are stalls selling fruit and there are loads snack stalls for buying deserts, corn, drinks, spicy snacks, noodles and of course fried insects! I've been in Thailand since 1999. Never eaten a fried insect and have no plans to eat a fried insect. Ever.
It's one of those "you can get anything here" markets - you'll find entire stalls selling nothing but remote controls or comic books or fluffy toys. There are also some random secondhand stalls where you're never quite sure what you'll find. Many stalls are selling clothes, new and secondhand. We visit the weekend market every couple of months if we happen to be passing. There are CD and DVD stalls (all originals of course!), handicrafts and antiques too. It's become quite popular with tourists now, but don't expect to find something on the scale of Jatujak market in Bangkok.
You don't see many beggars in Phuket. So it's quite noticeable at the weekend market. Each time we go I see several poor souls with disabilities and I suppose no family to support them. Having traveled in some very poor countries in my life, I admit to having a hard heart, but here it stands out more. On our last visit I did give this guy some money...
The weekend night market starts up in the afternoon and carries on into the late evening. Many people go in the evening and it does get quite busy. Hard to park a car sometimes. We go there every now and then. My wife can always find some clothes to buy! If you go in the evening, you could more or less eat your dinner at the market by buying and sampling different snacks like the yummy (and slightly spicy) fish cakes below.
This blog likes to show a bit of local life and the weekend market is a good place to start if you want to see the real Phuket (although quite a lot of other tourists also go!). Remember, it's on Saturday and Sunday only. Try some snacks and food from the many foodstalls, grab a cold beer from the bar that can be found somewhere in the middle of the market... actually there are a few places selling drinks. Easy to get to from Phuket Town. If you come from Patong it takes about 20 minutes. I think a tuk tuk will charge about 400 Baht. or of course you can rent a moped for about 200 - 250 Baht per day. Best to go late afternoon / early evening when the temperature cools down a bit. Gets busier after dark and can be really quite crowded. Enjoy!
More Markets in Phuket
• Phuket Town Main Market (Daily)
• Thalang Road Walking Street (Sunday)
• Indy Market (Wednesday/Thursday/Friday evenings)
• Karon Temple Market (Tuesday and Saturday)
• More Weekend Market Photos
Phuket Weekend Night Market - Location Map
View Phuket Weekend Market in a larger map
A visit to Layan Beach
Published 11:12 pm, 23 Aug 2014
There are plenty of changes currently being imposed on Phuket by the military - mostly cracking down on rip offs, local "mafia" and actually imposing the laws that have been overlooked in Phuket for many years. Chief among these is encroachment at the beaches and structures being built on the beach or on land that is officially designated as national park land. Over the last couple of months, buildings have been removed all over Phuket with the idea being to make the beaches more natural. We recently visited Surin beach and Laem Sing beach to check out the changes, and last weekend I wanted to try Layan beach, which used to be a favourite hangout of ours some years ago (I blogged it in 2007). It always was a very quiet place, located at the north end of Bang Tao beach. Only a couple of hotels, an almost empty beach, one restaurant ... I knew that an upmarket beach club had been built there and that had kind of put me off visiting, but we decided to have a look ...
Aside from the Nikki beach club (which from the rear looked rather ugly - concrete walls spoiling the view of the ocean) nothing much has changed. And since it was low season, the beach really was quiet. Above photo shows the view looking south along Bang Tao beach. Only a few people on the beach. To be honest much of the north of Phuket is like this. If you are staying at Patong beach and complaining that Phuket is crowded, get out of Patong! We took a little walk. No people. No beach chairs. I do like an empty beach! Sure there was a bit of flotsam washed up on the beach, same every low season when the west winds blow the Indian ocean onto our shores. But the beach was more or less ours!
The Nikki beach club seems rather out of place. Aside from the old thatched roof restaurant that's been there for at least 10 years, the new beach club is the only thing near the sand. Too near? Well, it's not been knocked down yet! And when I am on a beach I like the sounds of the waves, not a thumping trance music beat. Well it's not my cup of tea. These beach clubs have sprung up over the last 5 years to meet a demand I suppose, a demand for places where rich people can hang out and not be bothered by the less well off. I saw 3 security guards at Nikki, and on a low season afternoon, only a few customers.
(above) Nikki beach club view from Layan beach
(above) And looking out to sea from Layan beach
Now, Layan beach has 2 parts - the southern part is essentially the north end of Bang Tao beach and I'm not sure how it qualifies for a different name! If you move a bit further north, there is a canal emptying into the sea and a small island called Koh Kala which is connected to the mainland by a sandbar. Just north of the island is one resort (Anantara Layan Resort) and just past this a small dirt carpark with access to the beach - at low tide you can walk over to the island, and we've been for BBQs here before, a very nice untouched quiet place. There were rumours of a marina being built but I think this little bit of land is a protected area. It's not really a swimming beach, more of a lagoon being semi enclosed by the island and sandbar. The sand is nicer at the south end of Layan, but it's a nice spot for a picnic.
(above) at the "lagoon", north end of Layan beach - view of Koh Kala looking south.
(above) On the beach, Layan beach (north end). Don't anyone tell me "Phuket is crowded"! Sure, some of Phuket is crowded and some roads are full of cars and there are roadworks, but .... much of the island is quiet. Go and explore! After Layan beach we carried on north, the road passes the 5 star Trisara Villas, and then winds around the hills before reaching Naithon beach which I also blogged many years ago and, while it's still quiet, there are a couple of new resorts and we could see that beachfront buildings had been knocked down, so that blog page also needs an update sometime!
Layan Beach - Location Map
View Layan Beach Phuket in a larger map
Exploring Phang Nga Province
Published 9:56 am, 11 Aug 2014
Phuket is an island, more or less ... it is surrounded by water, but is connected to the mainland by the Sarasin bridge - well, Sarasin bridges actually ... there are now 3 spans across the 500m gap between Phuket and Phang Nga Province which lies on the other side. The first bridge was only built in 1967 and 2 more have been built in the last 15 years to allow a bridge for traffic each way, while the oldest bridge is now for pedestrians and is a popular evening walk for locals.
Phuket is not just an island, it's a province of Thailand in it's own right, albeit the smallest! The total area of Phuket is less than 600 square kilometers including smaller offshore islands. Over the bridge is Phang Nga province, with an area of over 4000 square kilometers. Sometimes it feels like we have explored every inch of Phuket, and driving over the bridge seems like a big day out! We have spent many days exploring Phang Nga and I noticed that the Phuket Blog now has over 20 pages relating to places in the neighbouring province, so this blog post is a way to tie everything together. Tempted to start a "Jamie's Phang Nga" blog actually, but not yet. Everything on this page is within a few hours drive of Phuket. With favorable traffic we can be over the bridge into Phang Nga in 45 minutes. There's plenty yet to be found, but here's what we know of Phang Nga province so far.
Phang Nga Bay
First on the list ... Phang Nga Bay including James Bond Island and Koh Panyee village, with limestone karst islands and beautiful scenery .. this has to be on most tourists "to do" list, which means avoiding the crowds can be tricky! We have that figured out now - just get there late when all the standard tours are on the way home. Read more : Phang Nga Bay - Doing It Or Way!
(above) James Bond Island
(above) Koh Panyee Village in Phang Nga Bay
Restaurants in Phang Nga
I am sure there are plenty more, but here's a few restaurants and cafes that we like in Phang Nga .... I am not suggesting a drive all the way just for lunch, but in combination with visiting other attractions, one of these places should hit the spot. Our favourite I would say is Tha Sai Seafood, which is quite a drive, past Phang Nga Town and on the way towards Krabi. Great food and a great view!
Another one by the water is Samchong Seafood (below), from where we have hired longtail boats a few times to head out into Phang Nga Bay.
Another we have been to a few times is Dairy Hut Seafood, a 2nd branch of the Dairy Hut restaurant in Phuket Town. Next door they have now opened Dairy Hut Farm with animals to pet and feed including some llamas.
(above) Dairy Hut Seafood restaurant in Phang Nga
And there are a couple of little cafes which we know with nice views, just (for us) a place to stop for a drink - the Phang Nga Viewpoint Cafe, near Phang Nga Town and the 360 Degree Viewpoint Cafe which is just a few km north of the bridge.
(above) That's me at the 360 Degree Viewpoint Cafe
Phang Nga Province has plenty of beach property and it's mostly way quieter than Phuket. Khao Lak was really just becoming a destination in it's own right when the tsunami hit hard in 2004. Khao Lak suffered a lot more damage than Phuket, though of course now nearly 10 years later there's no obvious evidence of the disaster. I had never stayed more than a couple of hours in Khao Lak before last year, but we booked a couple of nights to explore the area, and liked it so much we went back 2 more times in 2013! See : Holidays in Khao Lak.
(above) A Khao Lak Sunset, we really liked the uncrowded beaches
(above) One of the tsunami memorials in Khao Lak - this police boat was carried more than 1km inland and was left there as a reminder.
Khao Lak is also the start point for most trips to the Similan Islands and other offshore islands. The Similans are a big destination for divers - it's why I came here in 1999, looking for work as a dive instructor. I wanted to dive the Similan islands and diving is still in my veins as manager at Sunrise Divers! A bit north of the Similans is Koh Tachai Island - I had dived there before but never been shore until last year when we did a day trip from Khao Lak. Wow.
(above) The kids enjoying the day at Koh Tachai
Khao Lak is about a 1 - 2 hour drive from Phuket, depending where you start in Phuket. From our house near Phuket Town, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Carrying on further north from Khao Lak you reach Takua Pa, which (100+ years ago) was an important trading port, just like Phuket. Now it's still a big fishing port and just outside the main town is the old town of Takua Pa which is similar to old Phuket Town only quieter. We've been a couple of times and really want to stop one Sunday when they have a street market.
(above) In Old Takua Pa
And further north still, and still in Phang Nga province, in between Takua Pa and Kuraburi is Sri Phang Nga National Park which features several waterfalls and we really must check out more of them, because once we found Tamnang Waterfall we decided that would do us just fine! It was more impressive in low (rainy) season although that meant you could not swim in the pool below the falls and a park ranger came with us to make sure we stayed safe.
(above) Waterfall at Sri Phang Nga National Park
There are quite a lot of waterfalls in Phang Nga, we have stopped at quiet a lot. Lampi waterfall and Ton Prai waterfall south of Khao Lak are well worth a look - again, they are more spectacular in the rainy season, but still great places to cool off on a hot day in April!
(above) Yeh, that's me enjoying the cool water at Ton Prai waterfall!
Another place with waterfalls that we like is Sa Nang Manora Forest Park, just north of Phang Nga Town. No big cascades, but a lovely forest setting, popular with locals at the weekend. There's another place called Raman Waterfall Park south of Phang Nga Town that we do mean to check out one day!
Temples in Phang Nga
I do like my temples! And Phang Nga has several interesting ones to visit and I am sure there are more to be found. The most famous is Wat Suwan Kuha, also called Wat Tham, which is built into a cave featuring a large reclining Buddha and lot of monkeys!
(above) Wat Suwan Kuha is found a bit before Phang Nga Town if you are coming from Phuket. Before that, on the left side is Wat Manee Sri Mahathat, which is home to a large statue of a famous Monk called Por Than Klai.
(above) Wat Manee Sri Mahathat
In Phang Nga Town is one of the oddest temples I have seen - Wat Thamtapan features visions of heaven and hell. The Buddhist version of hell is all about different punishments for your worldly sins. We ascended the steep stairs in the heaven section where you can find a view back across Phang Nga to the sea.
(above) The somewhat dizzying stairway to heaven at Wat Thamtapan, Phang Nga
And one more temple, well worth the long drive past Phang Nga Town near the small town of Thap Put, is Wat Bang Riang. I had seen pictures, but we did not really know where it was, finally "discovering" this place in 2012.
(above) Wat Bang Riang
Koh Yao Noi Island
Also part of Phang Nga Province, sitting in Phang Nga Bay, just a short boat ride from the northeast coast of Phuket, are the islands of Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. The former we have not visited yet. Koh Yao Noi we have been several times for day trips. It's a very quiet island with a mostly Muslim population, the main business is fishing and farming, though for sure the tourism is evident. We have enjoyed a couple of family day trips taking the boat and then renting scooters on arrival to explore.
(above) - My favourite football pitch, at Koh Yao Noi island.
There's more to explore in Phang Nga. I have seen signs to interesting looking restaurants, I want to check out some back roads, check out Bang Pat fishing village, I want to find a viewpoint that I have seen online with amazing early morning views across the clouds. Need more time! Oh, to be a full time blogger!
Phang Nga Province - Location Map
View Phang Nga Province in a larger map