Tung Ka Cafe is one of Phuket's best sunset viewing points and one of the only points that isn't actually on the west coast. If the truth be known, west coast viewpoints can get pretty crowded at about 18:30, but Rang Hill, or Khao Rang in Phuket Town, the site of Tung Ka Café is relatively peaceful.
Khao Rang gives out on vistas over Phuket Town and the island’s ‘backbone’ of north-to-south hills – every bit as prolific as a coastal sea view.
Where Is Tunk Ka Cafe
You can’t miss Rang Hill. At 140 metres high, it’s not exactly Mount Everest but it’s still a pretty big hill. There are two easily accessed ways to drive to the summit; one by Vachira Hospital on Yaowarat Road, the other around the corner on Mae Luang Road. Tung Ka is right on the top of the hill and has ample car parking space. Allow plenty of time if coming from Patong as rush-hour traffic in Phuket can be frustratingly slow.
Descend into the restaurant from the car park on steps made from used hardwood railway sleepers taken from the old Bangkok-Surat Thani line. Inside, the décor is about as classic as a full-on wooden structure perched on a hillside can be, with two open-air dining spaces featuring wrought iron tables and chairs and an inner area with all-wooden furniture.
The 180-degree views south absolutely dominate and by day they encompass Makham Bay to the east, Chalong Bay and the Big Buddha to the south and the mountainous spine of the island (Nakkerd Hills) to the west.
By night, the full panoply of Phuket Town glitters and glimmers immediately below. A large banyan tree literally grows up through the floor, complemented by a Buddhist shrine.
In such an unusual setting perhaps it comes as no surprise that Tung Ka’s background music stretches from Doo-wop 50’s teen songs to 1960’s soul to Merseybeat, of all things, but up here on Rang Hill it’s another world and a bit of anachronism fits in well.
Of course, just about everything in Tung Ka plays second fiddle to the stunning views and the atmosphere is one of a shared experience – of being in a privileged, awesome place.
Happily, the close proximity of the surrounding foliage and clever plant arrangements help make the slightly bare restaurant more intimate and many wall and stand-alone fans keep the place breezy and the mosquitoes at bay.
Tung Ka has four house wines; Red and white Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and red and white Chilean Cono Sur Tocornal – both labels hold their own but maybe it’s a good idea to ask for the bottle to be chilled in ice as ‘room’ temperature in Thailand isn’t exactly the same as in the west.
There are lots of cocktails to choose from and inventive fruit juice mixes such as ‘Phuket apple-pine shake’, rambutan juice and lychee.
Tung Ka has the reputation of serving the best chilled coffee in Phuket and with 16 choices there’s plenty for coffee lovers. They even have a coffee-tea mix!
The almost-all Thai menu offers 113 choices, including appetizers, Thai dips, vegetables, deep-fried and stir-fried dishes, soups, curries, fried rice, noodles and, by far the biggest section – seafood dishes. We order steamed whole fish in lemon juice and chilies along with stir-fried chicken and cashew nuts with steamed rice.
This is pretty much a full-on Thai experience and all the typical flavoursome nuances are there to appreciate. If you’re feeling adventurous here’s your chance to try out some inventive Thai desserts such as water chestnuts in coconut cream, black sesame dumplings in ginger tea, sticky rice with durian ice cream and red bean paste with ice and syrup.
Dining with a view has never been more prolific and very few who make the effort to reach the summit are disappointed, especially those who can make it to Tung Ka before sunset.
Tunk Ka Cafe
- Opening Hours: 10:30 – 22:30
- Location: At the top of Rang Hill, Phuket Town
- Tel: 076-211-500