Phuket National Parks
Phuket's parks are oasis of relaxation and if you're a nature lover expect to be surprised by the depth and width of the flora and fauna on show here. It's certainly not like back home! Riding an elephant through the jungle can be a dream come true and wallowing in an ultra-cool waterfall the very best way to get to grips with the midday tropical heat. Phuket also has beachside parks that combine the best of the shade with cooling sea breezes. And of course don't forget the sensational viewpoints that afford sweeping vistas over this green island.
Visiting a national park in Thailand is not free. The rates are 200 baht for foreign adults, 100 baht for foreign kids. Thai adults 20 baht and Thai kids 10 baht.
National Parks in Phuket
Gibbons are among humankind's nearest relatives, and when young make adorable pets. When mature however, they outgrow their cuteness and can become aggressive and even inflict injury. Thailand's wild gibbon population suffers from the poaching of baby gibbons for illegal sale as pets. This often involves killing the fiercely protective mother gibbons, and the abandonment or killing of matured aggressive pets.
The Gibbon Rehabilitation project, located in the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, near Bang Pae Waterfall, tries to rehabilitate abandoned pet gibbons to the wild. You'll find it fascinating, and your donation and T-shirt purchases will help keep the project, the only one of its kind in the world, going. Read More...
Khao Phra Thaeo National Park
Phuket's last significant virgin rain forest is a designated national park located in the northern part of the island. Spend a morning taking a leisurely walk up by the Tonsai waterfall, or, if you want to spend the day walking in the quiet majesty of a tropical forest, there's an eight-kilometre trek right through the park from Bang Pae waterfall to Ton Sai.
Guides are available at the park, and for eight kilometres definitely advisable! Much of the forest's wildlife tends to stay out of sight, but stay still for a while and your guide will point out the telltale sounds of all sorts of animals. If you're lucky, you may even see some of the forest's unusual creatures. A small museum and information centre is located near the bottom of the waterfall.
- Location: To get there, take Route 4027 east from the Heroines' Monument for about 7 km. The entrance is clearly marked at the left. Note that all national parks in Thailand charge foreigners a 400-Baht entrance fee.
Rang Hill fitness park, at the top of Khao Rang off Mae Luan Rd, is a nice shady area to go for a brisk walk or jog, or to simply sit and relax under the large, old-growth trees. The hilltop features a bronze statue of Phraya Ratsada Nupradit - the first Governor of Phuket. It's a fairly short drive up Rang Hill, but a leafy and green one. There are two parking areas; one near the Phuket View restaurant and a larger one at the summit.
This shady and breezy spot is very popular with couples, students and tourists alike. Here, surrounded by clipped bushes and tropical flora, you will find a statue of Kosimbee na Ranong, Phuket's forward-thinking governor of 100 years ago.
There is a fitness park where students get together after class as well as a snack bar and generally speaking this spot is much more organised and accessible than nearby Monkey Hill. A stairway to the side made out of mahogany ex-railway sleepers leads down to Tungka Cafe - an excellent restaurant with another good view out over Phuket. There are signs proclaiming 'Be ware of Monkey (May bite ü)'.
Rang Hill is also a popular jogging route and has the advantage of being shady because of its lush tree canopy. There's plenty of covered and non-covered seating and a one-way system at the top ensures safe parking and access. It is accessed from two locations in Phuket Town: at the junction of Mae Luan and Kosimbee roads and next to Vachira Hospital on Yaorawat Road. The road leading up from this junction (Vachira Road) also features a Buddhist temple that is home to a fine, large seated golden Buddha. Read More...
Along the beach at the north end of Patong is Loma Park, a refreshingly quiet spot to relax in the shade. Many festival events are held here during the year, and it's a popular park for local families to enjoy a nice afternoon.
A distinctive feature of Phang Nga Bay are the sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water. James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are just two of the more famous spots in this bay. By far the best means of enjoying the spectacular scenery, with only brief encounters with the tourist crowds at James Bond and Koh Panyee, is to take one of the boat trips from the northern end of Phuket.
A leisurely day trip cruising through the dramatic limestone islands, occasionally stopping to enjoy quiet beaches, is far more rewarding than the standard bus-boat tour. Read More...
At the south end of Phuket Rd is Saphan Hin, is a large, multi-purpose park with fitness centres, a stadium, jogging trails, a software development centre, restaurants and food stalls, and a mangrove walkway. A popular site for festivals and fairs throughout the year. Muay Thai kickboxing matches in the stadium every Friday evening. Drive to the end and see picnicking families on the pebbled shore of Phuket Bay. Read More...
Just 84 km northwest of the deckchairs and the bustling crowds of Phuket's Patong Beach lies a gateway to another world. Koh Similan is one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea, largely because of the wonders that wait beneath the clear blue waters that surround it.
Generally counted among the 10 most interesting dive areas in the world, this little archipelago has also become a favourite destination for yachts and tour boats. Please note that the Similan islands are officially open to the public from 15 October until 15 May, but dates may vary each year.
"Similan" is derived from the Malay sembilan, and means "nine". Each of the Similan Islands has a number as well as a name. These are, running from north to south: Koh Ba Ngu (No. 9), Similan (No. 8), Payu (No. 7), Miang (No. 4, No. 5 and, in some opinion, No. 6), Payan (No. 3), Payang (No. 2), and Hu Yong (No. 1). Hin Pousar, or "Elephant Head Rock", is alternatively designated No. 6 by some. Koh Bon, lying 17 nautical miles north of Ba Ngu, is part of the Similan National Park and may be granted honorary status as No. 10. Read More...
Sirinath National Park
Sirinath National Park covers an area of 90 square kilometres, from an area west of Phuket International Airport all the way to the island's northern tip, and encompassing Nai Yang, Nai Thon and Mai Khao beaches. The park offers basic, government-run bungalows and tents for rent, or you can stay in a hotel nearby.
At the northern end of the park, situated near Tah Chatchai, is a mangrove forest with saltwater swamps supporting unique eco-systems. A nature trail and 800m wooden walkway have been built, along with signs indicating and explaining the various species of plants and animals. Entrance at the northern tip of the island, near the bridge to Phang Nga.
- Location: Nai Yang, Nai Thon and Mai Khao area
Suan Luang Park
King Rama IX Park, better known as Suan Luang, on Chao Fa Rd, is a lovely green park with large trees, lotus ponds and walking paths. Popular in the early morning with joggers and Tai Chi practitioners, and also in the late afternoons with strolling couples and takraw players (a game of agility where the feet are used to keep a rattan ball aloft).
- Location: Chaofa East Road just outside Phuket Town