Five Authentic Experiences in Beautiful Phuket

Thailand — By on June 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

By Edd Morris
Special to Lost Girls World

Phuket could be paradise. The dark green rainforest falls onto the white-sand beaches, and dramatic rocky outcrops bathe in the warm blue sea. It’s easy to understand why Phuket Island – the largest of all the isles surrounding Thailand – is firmly established on the international tourist trail.

However, it’s fair to say that not all tourist development in Phuket has quite matched the island’s natural beauty. And, with more than 4 million people visiting this little isle every year, some parts can feel well-worn by tourists. Because of this, we’ve picked out five highlights of the ‘real’ Phuket to make your trip stand out from everybody else’s.

Soak up the sun on a secluded white-sand beach

Phuket picturesAlmost without exception, Phuket’s beaches are stunning – crystal clear water laps against white sand shores, and green palm-trees line beachside bars. The only problem is that, with so many other visitors, things can get crowded. Rumors of the hottest ‘secret’ beach spread like wildfire among travelers, so previously secluded spots can quickly become crowded. But, for what it’s worth, Haad Sai Gaew (on the Northern tip of the island) is stunningly beautiful, and seldom visited by crowds of tourists. Best get there quick…

Explore virgin rainforest in the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park…

Trekking through the virgin rainforest in Khao Phra Thaeo feels like a true adventure. Huge vines and creepers drape down from the thick green canopy, and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a bristly porcupine scuttling through the undergrowth. A highlight is the 8km trek between two atmospheric waterfalls – from the gentle Ton Sai falls to Bang Pae, Phuket’s biggest waterfall. Guides for the journey can be found in the park and, as their pay is very low, do tip generously.

….and swing by the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre while you’re there

Close to Bang Pae waterfall, still in the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, you’ll find a Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre. If you’ve never encountered a gibbon before, they’re small apes with long hairy arms – close cousins of us humans. The rehab centre rescues gibbons abandoned as pets, and aims to return these hairy creatures to the wild. You can pay a visit to the centre and see families of gibbons swinging in the trees, tumbling with each other, and scrambling for fruit at feeding time. You’ll come back with enchanting photos – don’t forget your camera.

Enjoy a fresh breakfast as the sun rises over the seashore….

Thai breakfastEven though you’re on vacation, Thai breakfasts are reason enough to get up early. So set your alarm and head to a Phuket restaurant along the beachside before any other tourists manage to get up.  As you wait for your breakfast, you’ll witness a whirlwind of activity as the early-morning fishermen drag their catch of the day onto the sandy shorelines – an authentic spectacle that so many people miss.

…and sample the authentic flavors of Phuket

Reward yourself for getting up early with an authentic Thai treat. Khamon Jeen is a traditional breakfast dish, made of riceflour noodles tossed in creamy, coconut-milk curry sauce. In the morning, the spice level is refreshing rather than overpowering, and the curry’s accompanied with cooling slices of cucumber and beansprouts.

All in all, it’s hard not to fall in love with Phuket, and you’ll encounter hundreds of expats on the island, all unable to draw themselves away from its charm. Go ahead and book your trip – but don’t forget to experience the authentic side of this paradise.

Edd Morris has been a Londoner since 2005. That hasn’t cured his itchy feet – he still loves traveling the world in search of spicy food and someone to practice Spanish with.

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