Koh Sirey Temple (Wat Koh Siray)

Koh Sirey (or Siray or indeed Si Ray) is a rather forgotten corner of Phuket, located to the east of Phuket Town, over a small bridge past the Rassada Ferry Terminal (from where you get boats to Phi Phi and Krabi). We first went exploring in Koh Sirey many years ago and it was very quiet. Now there are quite a few "seaview developments" and one resort - the Westin Siray Bay which only opened a few years ago.

Koh Sirey Temple

Much of Koh Sirey is undeveloped with lots of rubber plantations, coconut trees, a sea gyspy village, a few big houses, a school, a fair number of locals and a temple on the hill. The temple is just past the school. You pass through an entrance by the road up a slight hill to an open area, turn right and the road carries on up. Not much parking space (park where you like, it is unlikely to be busy) and head up the steps lined by 2 dragons. Inside the temple (if it's open) you find a large reclining Buddha. We've been maybe 6 or 7 times over the years. It's really nice but could be amazing with a bit of investment. On a hill, great views, big Buddha .... win!

Reclining Buddha at Koh Sirey Temple

Big Buddha at Koh Sirey

You can also walk around the outside of the temple - the road winds right around the temple which is surrounded by plenty of other Buddha images. It's really quite beautiful.


Sirey Temple Road

And the views ... Although the temple does not sit on a big hill (only about 60m above sea level) there are some great views all around. Phuket is full of great views!

View from Wat Koh Sirey

View from Sirey Island Temple Phuket

Koh Siray Temple

Certainly worth a visit - we should check out Koh Sirey again soon, there are a couple of restaurants by the sea and I'd like to take some photos around the sea gypsy village one day. But the temple is certainly nice, with one of the lesser known Big Buddhas of Phuket!

Sirey Island Temple - Location Map

View Koh Sirey Temple, Phuket in a larger map

Metropole Hotel (Phuket Town)

Most visitors to Phuket naturally want to stay by the beach, which tends to make the beach areas rather overpopulated in some areas (Patong in particular). Now, there are many quieter beach areas, but some of the quiet beaches have very limited accommodation choices. The town (now officially called a city) of Phuket has a number of good value places to stay, where you are a short bus ride from the beach, but out of tourism central. Phuket town is where normal local life goes on, and is for example a great base if you come for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, or if you're just stopping over a night before traveling on to Phi Phi, Krabi or Koh Lanta by ferry. Also, since it's not by the beach, you get a good hotel for a good price.

•; A walk around Phuket Town

Leaving aside the backpacker places such as On On (a miracle it doesn't fall down) or the Backpacker Hostel by the market, there are many good mid price hotels such as Casa Blanca, Chinotel, Merlin, Pearl, The Taste and more.

The Metropole

The Metropole Hotel is located in central Phuket Town a bit south of the old town, and has 248 guest rooms. Dining options available to guests include the Fortuna Pavilion Chinese Restaurant, the Metropole Cafe serving International and Thai dishes, the Lobby Lounge with live entertainment, the poolside bar, and the executive cocktail lounge. You're also close to plenty of local restaurants, bars and shopping centers. Recreational facilities at the Metropole Hotel include a swimming pool, traditional massage center, and fitness center.

Metropole Hotel - Booking Links

Metropole Hotel Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Metropole Reviews

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

More Phuket Town Hotels
Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Phuket Views from the air

Well, time to get blogging again. I've spent a week away in Malaysia, diving at Sipadan with the turtles. It's worth getting your camera out on the flight, and if you fly these local routes with Malaysia Airlines, try to get seat 14A or 14F which are behind the emergency exit and have extra legroom, and are window seats so you can get some great views. Here's a few below...

Phi Phi Don Island

Some islands in Phang Nga Bay

Northern Phuket - you can see part of Bang Tao Beach and Naithon Beach

Back on solid ground now, back to work and not much time for blogging. Hopefully we'll go exploring this weekend. On the photo above of Northern Phuket, in between Bang Tao and Naithon, is another beach, which I believe is called Layan beach. I want to go there....in the meantime, I'll try to add on a couple of hotel recommendations. We're in peak season now, and the weather is great. But a week of travel and diving has left me tired.

If you get the chance, I do recommend a stay at Borneo Divers Resort in Mabul. Air Asia has some great deals from Phuket to Kota Kinabalu at the start of next year, and from there it's just a short hop to Tawau, from where you are looked after. I'd like to go back with my wife.

Update November 2008...

More views from the air here... we took a seaplane flight to Phi Phi and back..

Flying from Phuket to Phi Phi Island

Phuket Evason Resort and Spa

Update May 2012. It seems the Evason has closed. News Story.

Update 2015. Looks like Intercontinental has taken over, but not due to open until 2019 ... See here.

We drove past the entrance to the Evason a few days ago while on the way to Laem Ka Beach. In fact, unsure of where to find the small, unmarked road to Laem Ka, we drove up to the entrance of the Evason, where a friendly security guard told us where to find what we needed.

The Evason is another well hidden resort. Located near Rawai beach, away from all the main beaches, it has it's own private sands. The rooms are open and airy with open style bathrooms. The idea is that the rooms are open to the views rather than being a box with a window! It's not a cheap place, and has the facilities to back up the price - everything from high speed internet in the rooms to tennis courts to half a dozen on site restaurants and bars. One of those resorts you don't really want to leave!

The location is great. You're close to many of my favourite parts of Phuket down in the SW corner of the island. You can find quiet beaches, great views, temples and more within 15 minutes drive. The airport is about an hour away, Phuket town about 30 minutes.

Evason Resort Photos

Evason restaurant

Evason suite

Evason infinity pool

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Quiet Beaches - Laem Ka Beach

Update 2016 - you can now read a new post about Laem Ka Beach.

(old post from 2006)

Another small, quiet beach in Phuket, not very well known and mainly only visited by locals is Laem Ka beach. It's just north east of Rawai beach, between Rawai and Chalong and is not well signposted at all. We had never been there before today despite countless drives around the Rawai area. We first started to drive up the road to the Evason resort, but this only goes to the hotel. The friendly security guard told us to carry on towards Rawai and turn left after the 7-11. There's no big sign to Laem Ka beach, as it is undeveloped and basically off the tourist radar.

Its a small road which goes across the headland (the word Laem in Thai means Cape or headland) - very nice area full of coconut trees, but is mostly private land. Owned by who? Whoever it is has put up a rather odd scarecrow at one point to make it quite obvious that you do NOT want to go this way:

Abandon hope all ye who enter

Just above Laem Ka beach is a small parking area, and one small building selling some drinks and BBQ pork with sticky rice. You have to go down a few steps to the beach which has some sandy areas separated by rocks and stretches for about 400m I would guess. There were only a few people there, so we found ourselves a little private beach!

My son enjoys our private beach

Rocks at Laem Ka

There are views across the water (which looked nice and clear) to some of the islands just offshore - Koh Bon, Koh Lone, Koh He, and there were sailing boats out on the sea racing from Chalong. Maybe practicing for the well known Kings Cup which starts next weekend.

View across the clear shallow waters

A couple of local lads run across the rocks as the boats sail past Laem Ka Beach

We had come for a quick look but had a paddle and let the kids play with the sand and splash around. It was very nice indeed and I think we'll go back next weekend with a picnic and more suitable swimwear for all of us! It's peak season and all the main beaches are busy, but here we had all the time in the world, the sun on our shoulders and great views.

My son enjoys the view

Update 2012 - I hear that the Laem Ka Seafood restaurant is operational now, we might have to go take a look sometime!

Update 2016 - I have written a new post about Laem Ka Beach.

Phuket in Bloom - Orchids

It's now getting into the "high" season in Phuket, with sunny skies, occasional thunderstorms at night and light winds. The "low" season ended a month or so ago. The summer months are also called the Green Season since the rain (while not being so welcome for tourists) is lapped up by trees, bushes, grass and flowers. Even with all the development, Phuket is a very green island (not that you'd believe it if you're walking through Patong). You can find countless photos on this blog showing green hills, palm trees, rubber plantations and forests. There are also lots of flowers. People here love to have plants around the house and garden and you'll find many garden shops in Phuket selling everything from trees to stones to garden furniture, and lots of orchids...

The variety of orchids is amazing. We have more than 20 species of orchid around our garden - sounds like a lot....but it's estimated there are more than 25,000 orchid species! And they sure are purty lil' things. Now I'm no gardener, and my wife tends to buy the plants and make things look nice, but I certainly appreciate orchids. Thanks to Google power, I just found out that orchids get their name from the Greek orchis, meaning "testicle". Not a lot of people know that.

So, without further ado, without any delay, here's some photos of flowers in our garden, some of them being orchids. Enjoy.

Orchid in our garden Another orchid in our garden

Orchid in our garden

Not an orchid, but it's nice, innit

Orchid in our garden

Cape Panwa Hotel

Cape Panwa is a favourite quiet corner of Phuket. Despite being home to the Phuket Aquarium and Marine Biological Centre, not many visitors head down to the far SE corner of Phuket. It's a bit of a drive from the main beaches, but if you have time and can rent a car or bike, it's a nice area to explore - lots of backroads. In this area you can also find Khao Khad viewpoint. Panwa is a quiet, mostly muslim area. The main road from town to the cape is well kept and pleasantly rolling, and there are many side roads worth following for the views. There is also a smaller road which runs along the west side of the cape, on the east side of Chalong Bay.

Right at the end of the road, near the aquarium, you can find the Cape Panwa Hotel. A great little hideaway, right on the beach and away from all the crowds on Phuket's main beaches. With all the facilities the hotel has you hardly need to leave. There are no less than 5 different restaurants and 5 bars! You're about 15 minutes drive from Phuket town, but note that its a good hour or maybe more to the airport, which is up in the north of Phuket. Cape Panwa Hotel was one of the Top 10 Hotels in Phuket that I listed on this blog in 2008.

Cape Panwa Hotel - Booking and Reviews

Cape Panwa Hotel Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Cape Panwa Hotel Reviews

Cape Panwa Hotel Photos

Cape Panwa Hotel Room View from Cape Panwa Hotel

Beach at Cape Panwa Hotel Pool at Cape Panwa Hotel

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Baan Krating Jungle Beach Resort

Phuket has many hidden corners, many quiet hideaways and some excellent hotels can be found on their own beaches, or balanced on the edge of a jungly cliff a million miles from the crowds. The Baan Krating Jungle Beach Hotel is found near Ao Sane beach, which is round the corner and along a tiny cliffside road from Naiharn beach. I've been to Ao Sane beach a few times, and thought that Baan Krating looks like a great place to stay if you want a bit of peace and quiet.

Guests at this resort enjoy a mix of jungle and beach, with the 30 chalets set in the trees above a small private beach. There's also a beachside pool. The restaurant serves the usual Thai-Western mix. If you want more food options, you'll need to get to Naiharn and beyond. The Naiharn/Rawai area has a fair number of expat residents and there are a lot of western restaurants catering to these residents.

Baan Krating Jungle Beach - Booking and Reviews

Baan Krating Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Baan Krating Hotel Reviews

Baan Krating Photos

Baan Krating Room  Baan Krating

Baan Krating Restaurant  Baan Krating Pool

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

A fantastic view from Phromthep Meditation Centre

I can't believe we never found this place before. We have driven many times around the Cape Phromthep / Rawai Beach area, and it's a great part of Phuket to explore, but somehow we missed this one... We found a great viewpoint at a Buddhist Meditation centre/temple between Rawai and Phromthep, with a lovely view of Cape Phromthep from the south and also looking across the sea to Koh Kaew Yai, a small island with a golden Buddha statue on the shore. The water looked clear, and we spotted a small private beach close to the cape that you would probably need a boat to reach.

Phromthep Cape from the other side

The water looked good for snorkeling

Buddha at Phromthep Meditation Centre

Buddha looking out to sea

We were following the back road through the west of Rawai and saw a sign saying (in Thai) "Samnagsong (or Samnaksong) Phromthep", which means "Phromthep Meditation Centre". It's a dirt road and I was a little concerned to take our car down there (it's not a fancy 4X4 you know), but it was fine, and only a couple of hundred meters long...we parked next to what looks like a small temple. There is a Buddha statue facing out to sea and a large elevated platform which I assume is for the aforementioned meditation.

The view is gorgeous. We all sat for a while on a small wooden platform looking out at the ocean, at the south side of Cape Phromthep and the island of Koh Kaew Yai, which is accessible by boat from Rawai. If you're in this area, try to find it!

The family admires the view

Closer view of Koh Kaew - can you see the Buddha? Click to enlarge.

Update: March 1st 2007...

Give me 1000 Baht or piss offWe went back for a look at the view with my mother, the view is still great, and all was fine until we stopped to say a little prayer in the temple. We dropped some money in the donation box and this elderly Monk (see photo) started talking to my wife about all the people who had donated for helping to build a new building on the site. Indeed he had a book with names of people who had donated. My wife told him we'd already left a small donation thank you very much, have a nice day. As we started to leave he started ranting about if we don't want to donate 1000 Baht we can p1ss off and never come back..not very good behaviour for a monk, is it? My wife says she has never heard a monk talk like that before. I'd say it is rather likely that we will follow his advice and not return. What is the world coming to? You may expect tailors or massage girls to harrass you in Patong, but old monks in a temple?

Chalong Jetty (Chalong Bay)

On Sunday evening we took a walk along Chalong Jetty. It may not sound very exciting, but in the evening there are a lot of local folk walking or jogging here, getting fresh air and exercise. You get some lovely views across Chalong Bay to some of the offshore islands such as Koh Lone, Koh Bon and Koh Racha Yai, and there are hundreds of boats in the bay – everything from dive boats to catamarans to speedboats and a couple of huge sunset cruise boats.

Chalong Bay, Phuket

Chalong Bay, Phuket

The jetty is relatively new. It was completed in about 2002 and is around 600 meters long. Before this new jetty, which was built to serve the countless tourist boats that depart from Chalong (for diving, fishing, snorkeling, sightseeing), there was only a rickety wooden jetty, barely wide enough for 2 people to pass each other. When we went on dive trips we normally had to walk out across the bay through the sand and silt, carrying dive gear out to a longtail boat that would take us to the dive boat. Now you have jetty buses that carry passengers up and down (private cars not generally allowed). The dive boats and others wait at the end, where there is space for 6-8 decent sized boats to tie up.

Chalong Bay, Phuket

I do like a walk along the jetty, and the kids like to see all the boats. Not far from the jetty are several restaurants. For many years we went to a place called Danang Seafood (we must have eaten there 20 times), but it closed in about 2008. We have also eaten at Kan Eang 2, which is right next door. There's also a fancy Kan Eang @ Pier restaurant right by the pier. And a new place called Vset - which I hear is VERY fancy. Fancy = Not cheap :)

Chalong Jetty, Phuket

If you visit Phuket and take any kind of dive trip, snorkel trip etc., it’s likely you’ll see Chalong Bay. I like the area. You are not far from Chalong Temple, and Rawai beach is only 5km down the road. Also, the access road to the Big Buddha is close to Chalong Circle (a roundabout with 5 exits, one of which goes to the jetty). It’s a good area to rent a bike and explore. Chalong is only about 6km from Kata beach, or about 15km from Patong.

Boat at Chalong Bay

Chalong Jetty - Location Map

View Chalong Jetty, Phuket in a larger map

Loy Krathong - 5th November

Note : this post was from 2006. We always do something for Loy Krathong and I have blogged several times about the festival ..

Loy Krathong 2008
How to make a Krathong
Loy Krathong 2007

Loy Krathong is one of Thailand's more famous celebrations, a festival with ancient roots which (for me) boils down to saying thanks for the water and letting your bad luck drift away. It's not a huge celebration here in Phuket, but nevertheless just about everyone does it - I mean everyone makes or buys a "kratong" and sets it adrift on a body of water somewhere. And there are some parties going on and fancy dress competitions and so on.

We just headed for Bang Wad Reservoir, Phuket's largest water supply. A LOT of people go there. Its located in Kathu district. To get there you drive into the Phuket Country Club.

The event there was better organised this year - in 2005 it was a bit of a scrum to find parking spaces. This year the police and local officials made sure people did not drive right up to the reservoir. It did mean a 5 minute walk up the road to the dam, but we are just about able to manage a walk of this distance! My daughter carried our Kratong :

My daughter holding our Kratong< We set it adrift on the reservoir. In the Kratong we put some coins and snips of hair from each of us. The wind was light but blew out most people's candles. Ours managed to stay alight as we watched the kratong drift away: Our Kratong (the one at the front)

At the reservoir were plenty of people making and selling Kratongs and also a competition for the biggest and fanciest kratong (made by local schools etc..):

Big Kratongs Winning Kratong

Kratong sellers try to tempt us with their handiwork

Golf carts from the country club carry kratongs

We decided also to let a paper lantern float up for us. These lanterns are not so common in Phuket compared to Chiang Mai, but I saw more this year than last year. Come to think of it I don't recall seeing any at the reservoir last year. Being rather keeniow (Thai word for tight arse) we opted for a cheaper plastic lantern for 50 Baht (it was 100 for the paper ones). Ours nearly burned up before floating away into the sky and, with a breeze picking up, soon disappeared from sight.

Here's some other people letting lanterns go:


We had thought to head down to Chalong Bay too, maybe eat by the sea as we did last year, but we could see rain was on the way. So, another Loy Krathong over, hopefully any bad luck has been cast adrift and we can look forward to another happy year!