Nidhi Shubham Shilpa
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Travel

Phuket: The land of beaches, fun and Fantasea!

After Bangkok and Pattaya, our next destination was Phuket, a rainforested, mountainous island in the Andaman Sea which is known for popular beaches, old shophouses and busy markets. We chose Patong, the main resort town to host us which is an area full of life, thanks to the great hotels, nightclubs, bars and discos!

Our first spot in Phuket was our hotel Holiday Inn Phuket which was located at the buzzing Patong beach area. As we entered, we loved the open lobby concept! Quirky colour elements were added to the couches as well as the celling. The resort well illuminated at the entrance welcomed us whole-heartedly. The best part was- Patong Beach was only a few seconds walk away! Not only the beach but even shopping was a walk away which include Jungceylon Shopping Mall and other leisure destinations! You can read our review of Holiday Inn Phuket here.

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It was almost night by the time we reached the hotel so post check in and freshening up, we headed to Charm Thai restaurant for dinner which was a walk through a passage surrounded by greenery overlooking a gorgeous pool.

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The next morning, post our breakfast, we headed to explore the city by doing some sightseeing. We had booked our tour by Phuket Travel Company and our tour van came well on time to pick us up! While passing through beautiful beaches and markets of Phuket, we reached Kata View Point followed by Elephant camp, Big Buddha, Wat Chalong Temple, Cashewnut Factory and Honey Farm. I loved every bit of these places giving me the right backdrops for my photo opps! The day ended with meeting the king of the jungle at Tiger Kingdom while clicking photos & selfies with the animal! With a choice of big, medium and small tiger, we chose the medium tiger!

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Our first stop was Kata View Point. Beautiful, gorgeous, mesmerizing and amazing would be the apt words to describe it! I can go on and on but it’s one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen! A great photo place as well amongst the greenery and the crystal clear water!

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Elephant Camp was exciting and you not only get to see and touch the elephants but even feed them! We could see little kids feeling so happy feeding the elephants. We stayed there for a few minutes and headed to the next place.

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Big Buddha was an experience in itself- serene and peaceful! The big white statue had a non-comparable aura with Buddha statues inside the temple. Ladies are asked to cover arms and legs for which there was assistance, however, I wore full sleeves and jeans to adhere to the dress code.

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Cashewnut Factory was an interesting place where you witness the extraction of cashewnuts. The place offers a variety of cashewnuts produce, which can be sampled and bought. Though, high priced but you don’t come to such a place everyday so worth it!

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Big Bee Honey Farm was so cute. A sliding door had pictures of honeybees which welcomed & delighted every visitor making their way. Not to forget the honeybee statue alongside of which I clicked a photo. A wide display of honey-based products can be sampled and bought as well. We bought Fruit Honey from here which we found to be unique and absolutely yum. Do try it out if you happen to visit there.

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Saving the best for the last, we lastly visited Tiger Kingdom which was about meeting the king of the jungle face to face who otherwise can only be seen in the cage at the zoo or a wildlife sanctuary if you are lucky. Here also it was in the cage but we could enter the cage and meet the Tiger face to face and even click a selfie. With a choice of big, medium, and small tiger, we decided to meet the medium one and get clicked. It was an experience in itself as never had we ever gone so close to the fierce animal which had its own glory and each roar made my heart beat faster. However, there was help from people in the form of caretakers around who gave instructions to protect yourself from the tiger. Curious to know how the tigers were so friendly here, the caretakers told us that they were born and trained here which made them so friendly and nice.

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In the evening after we came back to the hotel, we freshened up and headed to Patong Beach where we explored Parasailing too.  It is true paradise for the adventure sports lovers. A lot of adventure sports can be explored there while tourists can also relax by the beach and can hire a chair or an umbrella! There are a lot of vendors as well here trying to sell their stuff and packages.

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Dinner was at Terrazzo, an open-air restaurant located at Holiday Inn Phuket which was another feather on the hat! Overlooking Patong Beach, the light ambience with light breeze flowing around was just perfect! What added to our delight was the big tree which had lights hanging around! Covered with green plants, this Italian restaurant had a wide variety of dishes which we relished happily.

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For the next morning, we were booked a Phi Phi Island tour by Speedboat from one of the tour operators located at Patong. We had actually gone for a walk around the previous evening and checked out the rates from different tour operators nearby. Phi Phi had been on our bucket list ever since we had arrived at Thailand and at no cost would we have gone back without visiting it! Post breakfast at Sea Breeze, we boarded the tour bus for Phi Phi Island and were looking forward to our time amidst the beautiful island and stunning scenery obviously capturing them in our lens for our memories. Our tour bus picked us from our hotel right when we had wrapped up our breakfast and were taken on the speedboat where our tour guide acquainted us with the itinerary and the rules of the place. We were also asked to wear the life belt to avoid any misfortunate incidents!

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Our first stop was Khai Nai Island which was also a hub for adventure sports. It was my time to try Jet Ski which was an ultimate fun. The water was clean and clear which made adventure sports more fun. We could also spot a lot of shops selling sarongs and other beach related stuff there. Post the stopover at this island we all went back to the speedboat from which we also tried snorkeling.

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Also on our list was Monkey Beach but seeing the unfavourable weather conditions, we didn’t stop there but captured the monkeys from a distance from the speedboat itself. Though we have heard great things about the cute monkeys, at times, it can be risky too because these monkeys bite tourists.

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We were already hungry and we headed to Phi Phi Don Island where we enjoyed a buffet lunch post which we captured Viking Cave and Pileh Lagoon which were surrounded by limestone cliffs with crystal clear water from the speedboat itself. Viking Cave was a great attraction which was also captured from the speedboat. Unfortunately, you can’t enter the cave. It would have been so much fun it was open for tourists. A highlight of the tour was the famous Maya Bay where the movie The Beach starring Leonardo Dicaprio was filmed, a paradise for snorkeling and swimming. It was truly gorgeous and I could just spend rest of my life there. This was the best part of the tour but by the time we reached there, it was almost evening and there was a lot of crowd. It is definitely our morning spot when we are in Thailand next!

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It was time to head back to our hotel and after being in the water most of the day, we were hungry. We wanted some Indian food and headed to the famous Indian restaurant- Light of India. There are plenty of Indian restaurants in Phuket and even if you are a vegetarian, you shouldn’t have a problem. The restaurant even had Indian waiters who knew Hindi well. It’s always nice to hear your language in a foreign land. We tried Papad, Dal Makhani, Kadai Paneer & Butter Naan. The food was decent, obviously not comparable to the Indian food we get in India but when you are craving for Indian food, this is the perfect spot.

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Oh! Did I tell you we also shifted to another hotel to explore more of Phuket and after Phi Phi Island tour we shifted to Andaman Beach Suites Hotel in Phuket for a breathtaking view of the Patong Beach. The hotel also offers a city view through another building of the same hotel which is located 10 seconds away! Without a doubt we chose the beach view which we cherished every morning of our stay! You can read our review of Andaman Beach Suites Hotel here.

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Next morning was time to shop and we headed to Jungceylon Mall post breakfast. The mall has 200 plus stores and attracts a lot of tourists as well as locals for the variety & brands it offers. One can shop for branded clothes, spectacles, sunglasses, cosmetics and perfumes, shoes, DVD’s, computer games, mobile phones, accessories and electrical goods. The mall also has an entertainment zone with a five-room SF Cinema and a 16-lane bowling alley, perfect for rainy days or to escape the heat of the day. I purchased a few clothes for my brother and myself from Robinsons, Cosmetics and sunscreen from Boots and footwear from Bata. I would say prices were neither too expensive nor too low. There was also an export surplus shop from where we purchased some trendy clothes at cheap prices. Since we were hungry after the non-stop shopping amongst the renowned brands present at the mall, we went to McDonalds {McThai} there.

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It was followed by a trip to FantaSea known as the magical cultural theme park of Thailand. The paradise offers some breathtaking views as well as installations which one can take a tour of followed by an award winning show. The show highlights the culture of Thailand which we loved and had acts by elephants and acrobatic dancers. However, the star of the place is the special show which one cannot even record or photograph. Yes, everyone has to deposit their cameras and phones in the lockers before entering the show. The show which is a fantasy adventure embarks a journey through exotic lands and magical times, rediscovering compassion, love, courage and many other shining virtues that define what it is that makes a Thai. There is an endless list of activities one can explore-a souvenir photo of cuddling baby tiger or elephant, shopping at the souvenir shop, dress up like a Thai prince or princess and have a photo taken against the storybook backdrop of Phuket FantaSea, try the famous Fish Ball Noodle Soup for a flavourful culinary delight, shop amidst the dazzling display of some of the finest jewellery available at Phuket or enjoy the spectacular view of palace court whilst riding atop majestic elephants. One can also feed the rare Mekong Catfish, the largest freshwater. Tribal Thai artisans also display their traditional handicrafts and trade skills in an open-air market setting which can be shopped at FantaSea.

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FantaSea opens only in the evening and also offers a pick up from your hotel at a nominal price which we opted for to save time and energy. If you are travelling with a kid, make sure you visit the place. However even if you are not a kid, you will enjoy the magnificent paradise.

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We didn’t realize when time flew by and it was time to head back to our land! So we headed back to India from Phuket with a stop over at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok since there was no direct flight from Phuket to Delhi. We didn’t let our time go waste during the stopover. Suvarnabhumi Airport was a mall in itself and we had a blast shopping. Our major picks were a GUESS watch, Victoria’s Secret perfumes, Cosmetics from Boots, Chocolates for home and much more.

Thank you Thailand for the amazing time of our life!


PS: We captured the amazing adventure sports done in Thailand in an exclusive post done for our Lens partner Coolpad Cool 1. Do check it out here!

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