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As Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is a place of true diversity. From the beaches of the west, to the forests and pineapple plantations of the island’s centre, you’ll see plenty of beautiful natural and man-made landmarks here. Phuket is home to a number of quaint fishing villages, with friendly locals and welcoming restaurants serving flavourful, fresh seafood. The island also boasts a collection of stunning limestone cliffs with several unique caves to explore. Once your cruise ship has docked, you might choose to visit James Bond Island off the coast of Phang Nga Bay, or to make your way to Surin for its markets.
A hot and humid holiday destination, Phuket has its fair share of jungles and tropical plants. It’s a large island with many hills, and you’ll want to make use of public transport to get from place to place. Most people travel by tuk-tuk or use a songthaew, which is a bus made from a converted pick-up truck with a small number of seats and a roof providing shelter.
As well as providing travel along designated routes, songthaews can be used as private hire taxis to get around the island. Boats take you to the outlying islands, including the famous James Bond Island, whilst a motorbike taxi offers another way to travel if you’re exploring Phuket on your own.
Phuket Freshwater Fishing Park
At this fishing park, you’re provided with all the equipment you need to catch swordfish, piranha, carp, catfish, Siamese sharks and other freshwater fish.
Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World
You’ll see some of the world’s most beautiful butterflies at this attraction, which is located not far from the island’s university. As well as the butterfly garden, it has a beekeeping area, a silk museum and an insect museum that’s home to a plethora of live bugs and preserved specimens.
If your shore excursion includes a night on the island, then you won’t want to miss the attraction described as ‘Phuket’s Disneyland’. This theme park opens at night and rather than thrill rides, you’ll find entertainment in the form of colourful shows, pyrotechnic performances, a games arcade and a theatrical safari. There’s also a shopping street, where you can buy local crafts and souvenirs, as well as a seafood buffet restaurant.
Ornaments, pewter crafts and cultured pearls are amongst the best souvenirs you’ll find on the island. There are dozens of specialist souvenir shops throughout Phuket, as well as two large shopping centres where you’ll find recognisable chains amongst local shops selling accessories, clothes, gifts, electronics and everything else you’d expect.
The famous Weekend Market is a great place to buy second-hand goods, hand-crafted items and prepared local food that you can eat on the go. It’s the place to go for items that you won’t find anywhere else on the island, as well as gifts and Thai fashions at very reasonable prices.
The island’s locals enjoy a wide range of delicious dishes from fishcakes and grilled chicken, to spicy sausages and buttered corn. Pineapples and coconuts are often served as snacks, and are a refreshing choice, whilst braver cruisers might choose to buy deep-fried insects from a restaurant or market stall.
Fortunately, for the less adventurous, there are many eateries that serve foods you’d commonly find in the UK. Noodle dishes are usually served with chicken, pork and a selection of vegetables, whilst smoked shrimps are dished up with dried chilli. In Phuket, even breakfasts include fresh vegetables and hot curry sauces.
Before returning to your cruise ship, be sure to find some locally grown cashew nuts. These are prepared in a variety of ways, and might be dried out or fried. Vendors all have their own methods of preparation, and their own coatings to add a unique flavour to attract a steady stream of buyers.
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