Dining out is sometimes taken too seriously and one of the best and fun ways to avoid overdoing the decorum is to dine in unusual circumstances. Phuket has all the swanky five-star restaurants you could ever hope for, but does it have the quirkiness required to raise a giggle over green curry, to have a laugh over lasagna, and a smile over som tam? Sure it does.
Here are six unusual dining-out places on the island: places that you never guessed existed and where you are not quite sure if they’re having a laugh or providing the laughs. One thing’s for sure though; they’re all a special ‘Dear Diary’ evening out.
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
Tamachart (Thai for ‘natural’) restaurant in downtown Phuket is a veritable crazy house filled to the rafters with old valve radios, sculpted masks, seashell lamps, hanging plants, fish tanks made out of TVs and computer monitors (complete with keyboards), dolls, and a fully working electric train set, if you please. Everything is bunged in here in a mish-mash of traditional Thai décor alongside the inventive, unusual and plain wacky.
There are four dining rooms on different floors, each connected by narrow wooden stairs so the wait staff must be superbly fit and supple to get around this place on a daily basis. The cuisine here is predominantly Thai and, while not being gourmet, is cheap and cheerful.
- Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
- Location: 62/5 Soi Phutorn, Phuket City
- Tel: 076-214037
Ceramic Kitchen is an enigma. This wonderfully quirky place must be one of Phuket’s most attractive, atmospheric and unusual restaurants yet, apart from social events and a fabulous Sunday roast, it’s relatively quiet. Ceramic Kitchen is a winner when it comes to a colourful and memorable evening out but the big question remains whether it is a restaurant with a ceramics outlet or a ceramic outlet with a restaurant attached.
It actually swings both ways yet the proof of the pudding is in the eating and Ceramic Kitchen’s cuisine is definitely well worth a visit. With a far-reaching menu ranging from Thai dishes to good old British roasts to Indian curries, Ceramic has the bases covered.
- Opening Hours: 12:00 – 24:00
- Location: 185/15 Moo 7, Srisoonthorn Rd between the Heroines’ Monument and the Cherng Talay PTT petrol station
- Tel: 076-272151
Underwood Art Factory
The Lost Legends of Phuket show at Underwood Art Factory is a total concept in itself. A dinner show set in a real factory with post-industrial décor, it’s without doubt one of the most original venues on the island. Located on the Bypass Road, the restaurant, which was originally the factory’s canteen, is open every day, but it’s at weekends that things get really interesting with performances by talented expat and local musicians.
A night out at Underwood Art Factory is really a cool scene at a fair price for those looking for something different in Phuket. The strikingly original décor and atmosphere, the good food (buffet) and wine, the superb show, all add up to a sensory overload.
- Opening Hours: 19:30 - late
- Location: On the Bypass Road, north of Phuket Town. 49/6 Moo. 5, Chalermphrakiat Ror 9 Road, Phuket
- Tel: 088 7624505
Nicky’s Handlebar is a restaurant/bar/hotel-cum-garage entirely dedicated to big motorbikes. This is the creation of Somnuek ‘Nicky’ Phonkaew. Located in Patong Beach, Nicky’s Handlebar looks like a large orange and metallic grey hangar and the theme of the place is motorbikes, engines and mechanical parts.
The restaurant has 13 wooden refectory-style tables and benches, a long bar with stools made from motorbike seats, an optics shelf shaped like a motorbike, old-style motorbikes mounted on the walls, along with stickers/posters and signs celebrating Harley Davidsons’ and bikers’ way of life. There’s no doubt about it: this is hog heaven with hamburgers with even the menu stuck onto a motorcycle wheel rim! Nicky’s Handlebar restaurant offers a hearty choice of both Thai and Western food.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 01:00
- Location: Northern Rat-U-Thit Road next to Patong Post Office
- Tel: 076-343211-3
Phuket’s floating seafood restaurants (‘krachang’ in Thai) are a novel way to dine out and can be found along the east coast of Phuket. To get to them the trip involves a fun, brief long-tail boat ride from Laem Hin Pier. It’s a great day out all year round, come rain or shine!
The restaurants usually buy fresh seafood from other fishermen and rear the produce until the right time, keeping fish, crabs, prawns and other seafood in floating wood-and-net enclosures. All guests have to do is walk along planks between the enclosures and choose the seafood they want to eat. While waiting for the food to arrive, a walk around the krachang might surprise; you’ll see leopard sharks, blowfish, moray eels or even mantis shrimps.
- Location: Phuket’s east coast. There are several krachang open every day, including Kru Suwit’s (Tel: 089 594 0161), Bang Gaan Seafood (Tel: 081 788 5593 or 089 650 4858) and Bang Mud Laem Hin (081 273 2367 or 081 537 4227)
Barefoot Beach Shack
Shabby Chic is a difficult concept to successfully pull off. What is Shabby Chic for some is plain shabby to others, yet people used to five-star places sometimes positively relish slumming it a little. One restaurant in this vein is Barefoot Beach Shack on Patong Beach by the Loma Park.
This zany-looking beachside restaurant/bar is largely the work of John Underwood, a Phuket-based designer admired for his innovative design of Indigo Pearl Resort which retains a striking Industrial Chic theme throughout.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 24:00
- Location: Next to The Beach Restaurant by Loma park Patong Beach
- Tel: +66 (0)89 697 2337