If you’re looking for a leafy-green alternative to the beach, Rang Hill in Phuket Town offers a pleasant place to cool down in the shade of its pavilions and stately trees.
There’s a fitness park and a few pathways to explore, but most visitors simply relax and take in the views out over the town and out across the sea in the distance.
This being Thailand, food is never difficult to find and snacks and drinks are for sale at a couple of stands at the hilltop. For more substantial fare there’s Tunk-ka Cafe, which has been serving up delicious iced coffees and a good range of Thai and southern Thai dishes in its cool jungly setting for well over 30 years. Though kids are welcome, the restaurant’s narrow entrance steps and steep areas make it a challenge to navigate with young children and strollers.
A newer restaurant, Khao Rang Breeze, also offers Thai food and an outdoor cliffside setting. If you’re not a guest you can use the restaurant’s toilets for a 10-baht fee. The toilet stall’s distinctive feature is floor-to-ceiling glass on its outer wall overlooking the hillside for a real close-to-nature experience. Just down the hill is Phuket View restaurant, another Thai restaurant that’s long been a popular local spot for sundowners and evening meals.
Rang Hill also serves up a bit of history with a bronze statue of Phraya Ratsada set in a landscaped garden area surrounded by tall, mature rubber trees.
Also known by his Chinese name Khaw Sim Bee, he was Governor of Phuket 1890 to 1909 during the reign of King Rama V and is credited with introducing the rubber trade to the Andaman region by first importing rubber tree seeds from Sumatra to Trang. Part of a powerful Chinese family, Khaw Sim Bee was the son of an enterprising man who emigrated from the Fujian region of China to Penang to work as a labourer, working his way up to eventually earn a fortune in tin mining.
The hill is a good spot to catch a Phuket sunset and dining up here in the evening with views of the town’s twinkling lights is certainly recommended. However, if you wish to avoid the crowds it’s best to visit Rang Hill in the quieter early morning hours. At that time you’ll have a better chance to see the hill’s resident macaque monkeys, a troupe of which venture out of the jungle periodically in search of food. They’re sneaky little thieving creatures, though, who can be aggressive. Keep your belongings close and watch that they don’t snatch away your food.
Rang Hill’s easily explored within an hour or two, so a trip up could be combined with a tour around the nearby Old Town area of Phuket Town or shopping at a local market or mall.
To get to Rang Hill, there are two main roads: the largest and easiest road to navigate is accessed to the hill’s south off Mae Luan Road, while the other is a narrow soi (lane) leading from Yaowarat Road past Vachira Hospital. Along this road is a fairly modest Buddhist temple, Wat Khao Rang, which has a large golden seated Buddha statue. The roads are paved, shady and easy to drive or walk, though there are no sidewalks so take care if heading up on foot.
Lana Willocks is a freelance writer from Canada based in Phuket. Her love affair with Thailand began on a university exchange programme in Bangkok, then she returned to Phuket on the auspicious date of 9-9-1999 and never left.
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