If you happen to be walking the streets of Phuket’s Kata beach in the evening, you might come across a surprising sight: a lava-spewing volcano surrounded by some fierce-looking prehistoric beasts. This Jurassic-themed scene is home to Dino Park, a mini-golf park and restaurant set along the road that links Kata and Karon beaches.
The 18-hole Dino Park has been a popular family attraction in Phuket for more than a decade. Sure, it’s a bit of a tourist trap but its jungle setting complete with waterfalls, caves and realistic giant dinosaur models are a hit with kids of all ages, and adults too. Each hole of the course has been well thought out with obstacles such as giant bronto ribs posing some added challenges.
The park and restaurant are open daily from 10:00 till 24:00 but it can be steaming hot in daylight hours. It’s best to visit after 18:00 not only for the cooler temperatures but to be able to enjoy the park’s impressive lighting and sound effects.
A round of golf costs 240 baht for adults or 180 baht for kids. It’s also possible to pay a reduced rate, 120 baht for adults and kids 90 baht, just to enter the mini-golf course and have a look around. This gives families with young kids with limited playing abilities and attention spans a chance to have a bit of an adventure without the hassle of playing the game.
The restaurant is in a separate area from the mini-golf course, so it’s possible to come to Dino Park for a meal only. Its lush outdoor setting makes it a decent choice for dining in Kata with a big menu of Thai and Western dishes plus a wine and cocktail list. With Thai dishes at 250-350 baht each and some cocktails at 280 baht, Dino dining is not the cheapest but it’s on par with many other restaurants in Phuket’s busy beach resort areas. The dishes we tried, including a green curry with chicken and massaman curry, were tasty enough and served in generous portions. There’s a kids’ menu too including the usual suspects of pizza, burgers and chicken nuggets.
Like the golf course, the restaurant is brimming with dino ambience, with a stream meandering through the outdoor dining area and a play zone with a dinosaur skull and Flintstone car to scramble on. The Flintstone theme extends to the waitstaff, who are all dressed in cave-man type garb. The place is packed with families in the evening, obviously, but we spotted a number of couples here, too, on a recent night out. Perhaps some guests find the fiery volcano to be a romantic sight — we’re not sure.
Dino Park is operated by the Marina Phuket Resort, a collection of luxury bungalows on a headland just up the road towards Karon beach. If you arrive by car or motorbike, you can park at the resort’s parking lot free of charge – worth doing because street parking is otherwise almost non-existent in this area of Kata. If travelling parents manage to break free of the kids for an evening, they could escape to Marina resort’s On the Rock restaurant, a truly romantic Thai-seafood spot on a rocky bluff with sunset views across the sea.
For its glowing-eyed, enormous T-Rex alone, Dino Park is worth checking out, but overall this well-designed, friendly place makes for a fun evening out for the family.
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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