This is a small privately owned zoo. It only covers 12 acres but it is well presented and they squeeze a lot into the small space. They have three shows – an elephant show, a monkey show and a crocodile show. Each show takes place several times a day and they are timed so you can see each in succession without waiting too long for the next one. As well as the shows, they have a collection of beautiful birds, a nice little aquarium, tigers, camels, deer and many other small animals. It will take three or four hours to fully appreciate the whole zoo.
We must say that this being a privately owned enterprise, the priority is clearly profit. You can buy food to feed the animals, pay to take photos with the animals, pay for an elephant ride, etc, etc. Although the zoo is attractively laid out, some of the animal’s living conditions leave a lot to be desired.
Phuket Zoo is on Soi Palai which is off Chao Fa East Road about halfway between Phuket Town and Chalong Circle. There is a large sign pointing to the zoo. It is open from 08:30 to 18:00 and entrance is 500 baht for adults and 300 baht for children. They practice two-tier pricing and the entrance price for Thais is 80 baht. Afterwards, if you want some good food in a beautiful setting then go to the end of Soi Palai and visit Palai Seafood. It is by the beach with great views across Chalong Bay. They sell good fresh seafood at reasonable prices.
At the end of Cape Panwa is Phuket Aquarium. It is a small aquarium but it has a good range of colourful aquatic life. There are all kinds of tropical fish and even black piranhas and electric eels from the Amazon. The final two tanks have some impressive big fish including sharks, rays and giant grouper. One of these tanks has a short walkthrough.
Outside is a short trail along the beach. You can see the turtle hatchery and also take a look at the aquarium’s research vessel.
The entire facility will take one to two hours to explore.
The aquarium is open from 08:30 to 16:00. It is a publicly owned facility and practices two-tier pricing. Entrance for foreigners is 100 baht for adults and 50 baht for children. Entrance for Thais is 50 baht for adults and 20 baht for children.
It has long been said that Phuket needs a good water park to add to its list of attractions. Well the park finally arrived in early 2010 although we have to say we have our doubts as to whether it is the park that Phuket needed.
The problem is not the park, which is an impressive facility. It is a reasonable size at 14,000 square meters. There are 5 big slides, 2 children’s play pools with smaller slides, a wave pool and a lazy river. There is also a nice relaxing spa pool with water jets and waterfalls. The park is located in the grounds of the 5-star West Sands Resort, next to Mai Khao Beach.
There are complementary shuttle buses between the park and all the main tourist towns. It is generally a good set up with changing rooms, lockers, showers and attentive life guards around every pool. It does not match up with the best water parks around the world but it is still good enough for a fun day out.
Our concerns for the success of this venture are the location and the price. The location is way up at the north western end of Phuket, a long way from the main tourist areas. Many visitors will be looking at a good 2-hour round trip to visit the park.
Then there is the price. We know the investors have to get their money back but standard prices ranging from 1,050-baht for children to 2,000-baht for adults would be steep in most western countries, never mind Thailand. The food and drink prices within the park are also relatively high. A family of four spending a day in the park could easily find their daytrip has cost 8,000 baht.
In fairness to the park, they have already responded to low visitor numbers by introducing special introductory rates that greatly reduce the cost. We think they will need to make these price reductions permanent. The park faces one other problem. A competitor park is currently under construction in a much more central location in Kathu. We wish Splash Jungle the best of luck with their venture but we do have our doubts about the long-term success of this one.
Related Articles: Read All About Splash Jungle Water Park
There are several elephant camps around Phuket where you can ride an elephant through rubber plantations or around jungle trails. Elephants were once an integral part of Thai life used for heavy labour and warfare. These days the only use for domesticated elephants is in the tourist industry. Unfortunately, the excess of domesticated elephants means that many do not earn enough money for their keep. The result is many elephants are mistreated and kept in appalling conditions.
You can help by only using reputable elephant camps where the animals will be well treated. The tour below is approx 1,500-baht and includes hotel pick up and a one hour elephant ride at a good elephant camp. Click the elephant below for more details.
This pleasant little getaway can provide an hour or two of peaceful relaxation. It comprises a butterfly garden, an indoor insect display and a Thai silk museum. Perhaps it is not a big enough attraction to justify the trip on its own but you could fill the day out with a trip to the nearby Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village (see below).
Before entering the butterfly garden, you will go through the insect exhibition. This comprises a wide range of insects, spiders and all kinds of other creepy-crawlies. You will see large beetles, tarantulas, scorpions and millipedes. It is enough to set the skin crawling. Once you have had enough, you can go through to the garden.
The butterfly garden is a shady little retreat. It contains many varieties of tropical flowers and plants. Around the garden flit hundreds of butterflies. The garden’s own breeding department raises and releases the butterflies. There are rooms where you can see the various stages of the breeding process with eggs, caterpillars and cocoons. A stream cascades through the garden and is populated with koi carp.
Finally, there is a small silk museum displaying silk cocoons, traditional weaving equipment and some lovely examples of silk cloth.
The Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World is in the Sam Kong area of Phuket just north of Phuket Town. From the Tesco Lotus junction, drive towards Sam Kong along Yaowarat Road. Take the second left hand turn and you will see the signs to the garden.
The garden is open from 9:00 to 17:00. Entrance is 300-baht for foreigners and 80-baht for locals. Foreign residents can get the local price on production of a Thai driving license or work permit. It is the sort of attraction that seems great value at the local price but a little superficial if you have paid the tourist price.
Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village
Not far from the Phuket Butterfly Garden is Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village. Set next to a large lake, it is a theme park displaying traditional Thai village life.
They have a twice-daily Thai dance show at 13:00-13:45 and again at 17:30-18:15. The show features Thai classical dances from all areas of the country. Do not expect anything spectacular. The show is quaint and charming rather than dramatic.
There is a handicraft center where you can watch traditional Thai hand crafts practiced by experts and a shop where you can buy the products. There is also an orchid garden containing many exotic varieties.
The site also features a restaurant by the lake with menu or set lunches and dinners.
The park is open daily except Sunday and they serve dinner until 9pm. It is in the Sam Kong area of Phuket just north of Phuket Town. From the Tesco Lotus junction, drive towards Sam Kong along Yaowarat Road. At the Sam Kong lights, go straight towards Rajabhat College. You will come to the left hand turn signposted towards the Park.
Entrance to the show is 600-baht baht for foreigners. As ever, there is a local price, which is 300-baht for Thais and foreign residents. The restaurant serves a set lunch or dinner for 300-baht – same price for all..
This is a simple but pleasant museum covering the history of Phuket from prehistoric times to today. You can learn about Phuket’s geology, earliest inhabitants, battles with Burma, the tin mining industry and rubber plantations. The museum is another institution that practices two-tier pricing but with an entrance fee of 30 baht for foreigners and 10 baht for Thais, it is hardly worth worrying about.
Drive north up Thepkrasattri Road (Airport Road) and turn right at Heroines Monument Circle on to road 4027. The museum is almost immediately on your right.
This new museum opened in late 2009. It is still not yet fully complete but it is open to visitors and already worth a look.
The museum is dedicated to the tin mining industry that first brought prosperity to Phuket. The last mines closed in the early nineties but the industry’s legacy remains in Phuket. The tin mining industry is an integral part of Phuket’s rich cultural history. The open cast mines that once littered the island are now flooded and this explains the numerous lakes around the island. The chinese immigrants who arrived to work the mines have integrated into the local population and have become an important and influential part of Phuket society..
The main museum building is built in the Sino-Portuguese style of old Phuket Town. It is an impressive 7,000 square meters. Inside, there aredisplays of tin mining, geology and even a bit of evolutionary history. There is a nice section about old Phuket life with displays of old style shops, opium dens, shrines, and some fascinating old photos.
They are still working on a few of the display rooms and it looks like they are also currently in the process of building a full scale replica of a tin mine around the lake at the front of the museum. All in all, the museum is a nice addition to Phuket’s attractions and when it is completed it will be an impressive site.
The museum is in Kathu on the back road that runs between Loch Palm Golf Course and the British International School. It is just 1 km from the school. The entrance fee is currently 100-baht. We believe that will increase to 200-baht once the work is all complete and the museum is fully open.
Thai Hua Museum in Phuket Town has exhibits about the history of Phuket with particular emphasis on the infleunce of the Chinese immigrant population. The building was originally a chinese school established in 1934. Thai Hua School has now moved to much bigger premises on the edge of town. It is a well-respected school and they still teach Chinese. The old building has been converted into the museum and it is a charming little place.
It is not a big museum but there are many nice exhibits about the early Chinese immigrants and their role in the development of Phuket. There are biographies of some of the more important people in Phuket’s history and many nostalgic old photos. There are also nice displays about the vegetarian festival and Phuket Town’s architecture. Some of the most charming displays are the old school photos.
Thai Hua museum is not the sort of attraction that you would go out of your way to see but if you are in Phuket Town and exploring the old town area then it is certainly worth popping in. It will take no more than an hour to go around.
Thai Hua musuem is on Krabi Road in Phuket Town. Like many of Phuket’s public attractions, the museum practices two-tier pricing. At least they are up front about it with the prices clearly displayed. Entrance is 200-baht for foreigners and 50-baht for Thais and residents with work permits.
Phuket Seashell Museum
This is a seashell shop with a museum downstairs. The museum is small but contains an impressive array of shells and fossils. Displays inlcude what is claimed to be the world’s largest golden pearl (140 carats) and a huge 250kg shell. Entrance is 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children. Entrance to the shop is of course free and you can buy some nice souvenirs. You might find better prices at some of the smaller seashell shops in Rawai.
Phuket Sea Shell Museum is on Wiset Road just north of Rawai.
If you fancy something a bit faster, why not try go-carting. On Wichitsongkram Road just over the hill from Patong is Phuket Go-Cart Speedway. They have a 750-meter track with floodlights for night racing. They have go-carts for everybody from children to 400 cc machines for real speed merchants.
Phuket Cable Ski
On the road to Kathu Waterfall is Phuket Cable Ski. It is like water-skiing or wakeboarding only a cable pulls you across the lake. It costs 500 baht for an hour to 1000 baht for all day. Of course, there are reduced rates available for Thais and residents.