Songkran Phuket is almost here! Time to pack your sunscreen, your goggles, your childlike enthusiasm for Super Soakers and faux violence. It’s going to get cuh-razy out there, people. So crazy, in fact, you may need a break from the moist madness. No one is judging you; it happens. Despite our weapons of choice and girlish screams, we are not actually children anymore.
Because of this fact, the one we’re all a bit in denial about, we may need a little time away from our water guns to dry out and soak the culture in. Thailand is a country drenched in beauty, history, and… OK, rum. Maybe we won’t dry out completely.
6 OTHER THINGS TO DO IN PHUKET DURING SONGKRAN
You just knew there was going to be a reason to pack pants for this trip… And here they are.
Sounding like it was actually named by a child, Phuket’s Big Buddha is just that—a massive Buddha statue atop the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata. This giant is 45 metres tall, 25 metres wide and offers 360° views of the surrounding paradise. Drive or hike up the hills to this site for stunning sunsets or some peace and quiet or both because you’re a grown up and you can do whatever you want. This site is free to visit and has the standard dress code of covered shoulders and knees but only on days that end in –y.
Next on our list is Thai boxing—just in case you want to take a break from the world’s largest water fight but don’t want to sacrifice the splendour of pent-up, one-on-one aggression. Muay Thai has been around since the 16th century and is known as “the art of eight limbs,” characterized by the fighters’ use of fiiiiists, elbows, knees, and shins (knees and shins). Each fight consists of five, 3-minute rounds, centuries of tradition and ceremony, and two pairs of really short shorts. Saphan Hin Stadium in Phuket City is where it all goes down, presumably bleeding and from a kick to the face.
And from frightening to enlightening, here we are at Wat Chalong, Phuket’s largest and most visited Buddhist temple. Dating back to 1837, this multi-building complex is admired for its awe-inspiring artwork and architecture and the bone fragment of Buddha himself on display in the Grand Pagoda. Wearing shoes is not permitted inside the temple as well as baring your shoulders, knees, and, I shouldn’t have you tell you this, your belly. Spend a little while here absorbing the ornate beauty and zenning out but also getting the living daylights scared out of you by the firecrackers lit as expressions of thanks. Look alive; this is Songkran! That’ll teach you to let your guard down.
TAKE IN THE VIEWS
Finding a good lookout point isn’t solely a tactical manoeuver; at least, it doesn’t have to be. Phuket offers a number of popular spots for the most striking panoramic views in Southeast Asia, primarily at the Promthep and Karon viewpoints. The Promthep Cape is the island’s most photographed and known for being the spot to catch sunsets. The Karon viewpoint offers views of three gorgeous beaches and the Big Buddha far off on a neighbouring hill (so yeah, it looks instead like a Teeny Tiny Buddha from here).
TOUR OF CHALONG BAY RUM DISTILLERY
This is the “mostly” I spoke of earlier. What the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery lacks in aggressively propelled water it makes up for in sugary cocktails. The Chalong Bay distillery sustainably produces all natural rum from local sugar cane and is Phuket’s only distillery. Tours last about 45 minutes and take you through the entire process of producing delicious Thai rum without the use of industrial techniques. Come for the inside scoop on Thai rum but stay for the free mojitos and rum tasting. Plus, I bet you can totally show your knees here.
PHI PHI ISLAND
If a break from the water is what you seek, head to… well, some more water! Phi Phi Island to be more exact. I realize an island pronounced “pee-pee” might seem out of place in an article about staying dry but just work with me here. (Admit it; ‘Pee-Pee Island’ just made you giggle. Maybe we’re not all as far from adolescence as we thought!) Often called the #1 most picturesque spot in Thailand (see what I did there?), Phi Phi Island’s snow-white sands and turquoise waters are worth the temporary ceasefire. Relax on the beach, soak up the sunshine, and blissfully contemplate your forthcoming squirt gun strategy.