If you are looking for the ultimate list of ‘unique’ things to do in Phuket, look no further! We are here to supply you with all our insider knowledge. To those in the know, it’s not a great surprise that Thailand’s largest island is amongst the Kingdom’s most popular tourist destinations, for both Thais and foreigners alike. Most people know it for its sandy white beaches, incredible nature, raucous nightlife and fantastic food; but beyond that, there is a whole other side to explore. Come with us as we get to know the island’s top five unique attractions.
1) Siam Niramit
Siam Niramit Phuket is a surprisingly fantastic extravaganza showcasing 700 years of Thai history through local myths and legends. This magnificent show with a cast of over 100 performers is unabashedly all about Thailand. The stage is gigantic, the choreography flawless, the narration clear and engaging, the sound and lighting system is state-of-the-art, and the costumes out of this world. Surrounding the theatre can be found in a large park featuring faux traditional Thai villages from around the Kingdom. Each wooden house displays what the province is famous for, be it food, handicrafts or textiles. The set-up is beautiful and provides a stunning photo backdrop. It is also a great place to try regional delicacies and pick up souvenirs.
2) Phuket Mining Museum
Phuket Mining Museum sits amid unusual grandeur in a pink Sino-Portuguese mansion amid the remote hills of Patong. It provides a good vision of what Phuket was famous for during the tin mining era. Designers have put a great deal of effort into recreating the feel of the mining era through meticulous exhibits, the best of which is a scale model of a mine with a hundred figurines at work. The second would be a mock cave showing hard-working wax men (some prehistoric!) toiling away under the earth. There is also an excellent reproduction of old Phuket Town to wander around, replete with shops, workers and an opium den. The manicured garden surrounding the building is worth a wander and showcases old mining equipment.
3) Old Phuket Town
Speaking of Sino-Portuguese ancestry, a wander around the island’s Old Town is a must, particularly for history buffs and photographers. With Thalang Road – which transforms into a walking street market every Sunday – as its epicentre, this conservation area boasts a stunning array of colourful shophouses, mansions, temples, shrines, museums, café, restaurants and municipal buildings. While not huge, for sure a visit here is one of the top things to do in Phuket and half a day can easily be lost exploring the winding street of this quaint neighbourhood. Spots you won’t want to miss are Chim Jae Walking Street, China Inn Café, Limpanon House, Soi Romanee (former Red Light District!), Wat Mongkol Nimit, Shrine of the Serene Light, amulet market, Thai Hua Museum, Chinpracha Mansion, Raya House Restaurant and the clock tower building.
4) Elephant Sanctuary
Phuket's only genuine (beware of imitators!) pachyderm sanctuary is an environmentally responsible haven for eight senior elephants who worked in the tourism and logging sectors for decades. During the morning tour (including transportation and lunch) you get to feed, play, jungle walk, river bath and generally ‘hang out’ with the elephants. The low-key afternoon safari tour (including transportation and afternoon tea) is not as active and only involves observing the beats in their natural habitat. If you find you get a taste for elephant company, they also accept volunteers for one-, three- or seven-day stints.
5) Upside Down House
We have saved the most unique for last. Baan Teelanka (Thai for ‘Upside Down House’) is one of the most unusual attractions on the island. Once you see it with your own eyes, you will fully understand, and no explanation will be necessary. This place literally turns the world upside down, as if a giant had cast off a toy house. Everything from the car out front and the sofa, beds, TV and furnishings inside are the wrong way up. The structure of the pink house itself has the top of the roof smack on the ground (you enter via the attic) and the three-storeys-high base scraping the treetops! On top of all that, there is a 10,000 square foot garden maze to explore outside too.