Saphan Hin is a popular seaside park which has had a long relationship with islanders since the boom of tin mining years ago when it was a major trading port and the only beach located in Phuket Town.
It took a lot of work, money and more than 40 years to develop it into the agreeable and functional park it is nowadays. It’s also the main venue of most of Phuket’s annual events, including the Red Cross Fair, Loy Kratong and a large procession from Chinese shrines on the last day of the famous Vegetarian Festival.
Saphan Hin is a common social get together destination for everyone, from young children to parents to grandparents. It usually becomes alive in the late afternoon and night time. Its surroundings and atmosphere are quite pleasant with mature pine trees lining the main road, and lovely open spaces with grass and a walking/jogging track.
On top of that it has a preserved mangrove forest with a walkway that leads to the sea side and a small retaining wall that runs around the bay. All these make it a perfect place for picnicking, exercising or just relaxing.
Saphan Hin Stadium, the city’s main sports centre is also located inside the park. It features badminton, basketball and tennis courses, swimming pool, football field and a petanque pitch. It usually opens from about 16:00 onward.
The park’s symbol, the tin mining monument (many mistake it for a shell monument) at the traffic circle is dedicated to the memory of an Australian captain, Edward T. Miles who brought the first dredge to Phuket some decades ago. On one side of the monument features a few dozen food carts selling tropical fruits, Thai sweets, a variety of spicy salads and barbecued items.
There’s even a deep-fried insects stand. A must try for brave people! Not far from this location stand two restaurants worth mentioning; Phuket Seafood and a popular kanom jeen shop. Kanom jeen is a soft rice noodles dish topped with curry and it’s best enjoyed with a variety of fresh and/or pickled vegetables.
Visitors will see more local eateries closer to the seashore towards the Chinese Shrine. There are a good number of restaurants specialising in Issan-style (northeastern Thai) food and seafood (Nakorn Restaurant is probably the most popular among them all). Nearby stand more than 20 karaoke venues that get busy at night.
There are two places of worship in the park that receive a good number of visitors all year round; the Kiew Tien Keng Chinese shrine right by the sea and the Prince Chumphon Veterans Memorial Shrine. The first one is a must to visit while the latter one is unfortunately a lot less attractive because of its scale, design and location.
And what’s with the huge deserted building, one might wonder? It once carried the name Lucky Complex but it failed to launch as a shopping mall quite some time ago, before the arrival of Central Phuket Festival and Jungceylon. Recently there has been talk of converting it into another sports complex. Stay tuned!
- Remarks: it is advised not to frequent Saphan Hin after 22:00
- How to get there: In Phuket Town, head east on Phuket Road