Living in Phuket
Phuket is a tropical island in southwestern Thailand. Surrounded by immaculate white sand and stunning blue water, it is a popular Southeast Asian tourist destination where people visit from all over the world. In the last 10 years, Phuket has transformed into a premiere resort and vacation destination, home to affordable Thai-style bungalows to 5-star world-class resorts, exotic nighttime entertainment, market bazarrs, scuba diving, adventure sports, animal shows, elephant ride tours, stunning beaches, and of course, Muay Thai. Phuket has it all.
The Island of Phuket is approximately 50 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide. A four-lane bridge on the northern part of the island (near the airport) connects it to the mainland. Phuket is a 1 hour flight or 12 hour bus ride from Bangkok, and a short 2 hour flight from Singapore. Most of the island, especially the tourist areas, have paved roads, streetlights, and are safe to travel at all times on motorbikes or in taxis, tuk-tuks or cars. The Thai locals are friendly, generous and good-hearted, and usually speak or at least understand a little bit of english.
One of the best parts of discovering Thailand and Phuket is getting acquainted with the locals to understand the fascinating and unique Thai culture.
Thai people and the people of Phuket are extremely friendly and always smiling when they greet you. The atmosphere is continually pleasant, so whether it’s the great prices, fantastic weather, or the colorful culture and history of Thailand, you will find yourself smiling in no time.
A lush and tropical island, Phuket is covered in coconut and oil palms with vast stretches of virgin forest and rubber tree plantations. There are more beautiful beaches than you can count, and a drive down some tree lined roads is sure to result in finding a quiet secluded beach with white sands and clear blue water.
Many of Phuket’s popular beaches offer lounge chairs with umbrellas, Jet-Skis, banana boats, parasailing, and power boats all for rent. Relaxing beach side Thai massages are also available and very affordable. Your money will go a long way here in Phuket.
Phuket City, located in the southern portion of the island, is a busy and thriving city with a population of more than 300,000. Large, upscale and modern multi-level shopping malls (Central, Big C, Lotus) offer everything from McDonalds and KFC to Thai cuisine with dinner shows; groceries, clothing, and various accessories and souvenirs. Multiplex theatres and cinemas feature current movies and have standard, couch and VIP seating. Local night bazaars and markets around Phuket are great for finding bargains.
Thai vendors in Phuket sell a wide variety of items you might need including sunglasses, sandals, clothing, snacks and fresh fruit and vegetables. Many people go to the local markets to experience the genuine Thai culture, try Thai-style foods and snacks at affordable prices, and engage with some of the locals. Old Phuket Town’s Sino-portuguese architecture can be seen among antique shops and small businesses where celebrations are held every year along the main road. Phuket City has it’s own Muay Thai stadium and large public aquarium which features wonderful and exotic species of fish and other marine life. Many important offices like Immigration, Tourist Police and other government ministries are located in downtown Phuket.
Our Muay Thai training camp is located on a quiet road in Chalong that rests in the shadow of the Karon Buddha. The 60 meter high gold-leafed Buddha sits at the top of a local mountain that overlooks Phuket, Chalong, Kata and Karon. Due to Chalong being a port town, it is home to a large boating community, pier, wonderful fresh seafood restaurants, scuba diving shops, markets, and other fantastic attractions.
The fountain at Chalong circle (round-a-bout) sits on the main road leading to Nai Harn Beach to the south and Kata-Karon and Patong to the west. Its central location is ideal and the locals like to say, “In Chalong, you’re five minutes from everywhere.” The Tiger Muay Thai & MMA training camp is close to many great beaches and attractions that are located near Chalong, making them easy to find. Elephants and water buffalo can often be seen grazing in the fields, and trained monkeys climb up coconut palms and drop the fruit to the ground to be collected and sold at local markets or road-side stands. A wonderful boat restaurant operates from the main Chalong pier, concluding each evening dinner cruise with a beautiful fireworks show that lights up the bay and surrounding beaches. Many small entertainment bars, karaoke’s, and nightspots have opened around the town in recent years.
Guests staying at the camp will need transportation in order to get around the island. Motorbikes, motorbike taxis, Tuk-Tuks, buses and/or taxi cabs are all readily available. Motorbikes can be rented through local companies or the camp for approximately 150 Baht per day / 1000 Baht per week. A valid passport or operators license is required.
Diving / Fishing / Tours
Chalong was originally the main port and pier for diving companies based in Phuket. Many of the top dive companies operate out of Chalong and transport their guests by van to and from Patong, Kata, and Karon. Phuket has many popular dive sites from Phi-Phi island and Krabi, tothe sunken ship “Shark Cruiser” and anemones reef. Phuket has become a popular world-class dive spot with an abundance of exotic species of fish, wrecks, caves, and lagoons. Dive shops offer full certifications from open water beginner to Dive Master to Instructor at incredibly affordable prices. Scuba divers come from all over the globe to get certified in Phuket, and Chalong, for a fraction of the price they would pay in their own country. Dive shops in Phuket have everything you will need for a great open water scuba experience.
The Chalong pier has been completely rebuilt with new shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions. Long tail boats, expensive luxury yachts and dive boats float in the Chalong Bay and can be seen from the pier. Day trips from Phuket and the Chalong pier can be taken daily, and travel to secluded islands and lagoons such as those seen in the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. Some tourists also hire long boats for the day to explore some coconut palm covered islands by themselves.
Chalong is also the main pier that the fishing charters flock to on the island. The Andaman sea is home to a variety of fish such as tuna, mackerel, grouper, dorado (Mahi-mahi), sailfish, and sharks. With charter fishing trips being quite affordable, groups of TMT students often charter a boat together and head out for the day. Usually they return with so many fish that they don’t know what to do, so we throw a BBQ at the camp. The trainers wives at the gym will be happy to clean and cook your fish for you. The Tiger Muay Thai BBQs are always great fun and a highlight of many of our guests trips.
Chalong and Phuket have everything you will need while on vacation: banks/ATMs, Post Office, drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations, bakeries, 7-11, Police station, beauty shops, massage, etc. The closest hospital is in Phuket City and is very clean, modern and affordable.
Kata and Karon are two small towns located along the western side of Phuket, between Nai Harn to the south and Patong Beach to the north. Both towns have grown and expanded in the last 4-6 years, offering more attractions for tourists along with shops, cultural shows, thai food along with a wide selection of specialized cuisine (Mexican, Italian, Indian, German, etc) and so on.
Kata/Karon is a very family oriented area with beautiful hotels such as the Phuket Arcadia Hilton, Karon Resort, Club Med, and the Phuket Waterfront Tower which sits on the beachfront road. There are also many botique hotels that are quite roomy and affordable.
The Phuket nightlife can be exciting with sports bars, beer bars, clubs, discos and go-gos constantly opening throughout the area. Along the main road (Patak Rd.), plenty of Thai girls can be seen dancing and singing with the music. There are countles long streets lined with massage parlors, restaurants, gift shops, bars and boutique hotels which offer great prices. Kata/Karon is a fun and engaging area to walk around at night with vendors selling Thai gifts, fruit, clothing and BBQ. The walkway along Karon Beach is relaxing and has a comfortable breeze with plenty of benches to watch the glow of lights from sailboats anchored in the bay and the beautiful night sky. Kata/Karon is not far from the gym, and is a fun, safe and relaxing place to stay while visiting Thailand.
The inland lagoon (salt water lake) in Karon is situated next to the small stadium that features small concerts by local music bands, Muay Thai fights, and performances by Thai dance troupes to entertain vacationers. A nice stone walkway circles the lagoon where vendors sell sweet and spicy treats along the beachfront. During the Thai festival “Cloy Raton,” Thai people and tourists gather to place their “kratong” (small float made of banana leaves, flowers, candles, incense) in the water and watch as they float away. This gesture is to bring good luck and prosperity in the year to come. During the festival, Thai school children will sell kratongs of all shapes and sizes on the walkway.
Kata and Karon beach both have long stretches of white sand and clear blue water that is great for swimming and floating on. They are also ideal spots for beach and water sports, such as Jet-Skiing, parasailing, powerboating (in designated areas) and riding banana boats. Rentals are very affordable when you negotiate with the vendor.
Full of excitement and energy, Patong is the heart of the entertainment district in Phuket. While the atmosphere around Kata and Karon is laid back and relaxing, Patong is fast-paced, exhilarating and exciting and the party goes on all night long. From the Junkceylon modern multilevel shopping mall to roadside vendors to markets and bazaars, Patong is great for shopping and you will find anything you may need on your trip. Restaurants offer a variety of different cuisines; everything from fine dining at a 5 star gourment cuisine to a sandwich at Subway or a spicy papaya salad from a roadside vendor, there are always a ton of choices available.
Naturally there are many Thai seafood restaurants that serve fresh seafood and Thai cuisine from dishes that are salty and sweet, such as Mango Chicken with cashew sauce; or something spicy and sour like the popular Tom Yum Goong soup. Some of the premiere restaurants have wonderful dinner shows with dancing and Thai music.
Patong is an excellent place to pick up inexpensive gigts and items like shirts, hats, swimsuits, sunglasses, CD’s, DVD’s, Thai jewelry, paintings, carvings, watches, etc. Bartering with the vendor is important as you can usually get a 30-50% discount. Keep in mind that many of the items, while usually good quality, are a copy or fake, so as always, you should expect to get what you pay for.
Patong & Soi Bangla
At night, Patong lives up to it’s reputation and transforms into the wild entertainment district it is known for being. The lights on Soi Bangla brighten and music beings to pump out of the bars, discos, and go-gos that line the streets. Thai bargirls arrive at the establishments dressed to kill, and the foreigners start to hit the streets for a wild night of adult entertainment. Patong and the surrounding areas turn into a huge party.
There are several popular dance and theatrical shows in Patong such as the musical stage show at The Cabaret which is performed by “Katoey” or ladyboys. Bands perform live along the beach road, at various venues and in restaurants. Bars like Molly Malone’s Irish Pub, Scruffy Murphys and Hooters line the beachfront. Also on the beachfront are many life performers, including an Elvis impersonator, and several comedy shows. Down the many roads lining the beach are small clubs with live Thai Jazz and Blues music.
European football games are played at most sports bars. Thai people love football and wagering on games is quite popular, though gambling is illegal in Thailand. Dart and snooker tournaments are held at lots of local bars, and many people also enjoy playing 8-ball or billiards as well. With such a large foreigner population (20,000+), they have their own local Rugby league.
In the Soi Bangla entertainment zone, popular discos like The Tiger, Banana Disco, and the Rock Hard Go-go are constantly pumping out beats onto the street. Popular entertainment streets like Soi Sea Dragon, Soi Eric, Soi Sea Pearl, and Soi Lion draw their customers in with upbeat music and are loaded with beer bars and go-gos with girls, games of chance, and drinks. Soi Bangla is all about letting loose and having a good time.