Exploring the Other Side
Absent the fanfare of the west coast, Phuket’s east is a hub for yachties and the maritime portal to renowned Phang Nga Bay.
While not the only place to find watercraft in Phuket, you’ll discover some of the largest and most glamorous docked amongst the several marinas on the east coast. Koh Kaew and Paklok harbor (pun intended) the most well-equipped marinas including Boat Lagoon, Royal Phuket Marina, and Ao Po Grand. Sure, there’s parking for super yachts, but there’s also fine dining and shopping, and trips to Phang Nga Bay depart here. A robust marine industry exists with boat yards, dealerships, and chandleries in abundance.
Just beside the Heroine’s monument, a bronze statue paying tribute to two sisters who cleverly warded off Burmese invaders, is the Thalang National Museum. The archaeological and cultural history collection is small, but interesting nonetheless.
Heading east from the Heroine’s Monument leads to Paklok which is, at this point, more rural and less developed. You’ll find a few dining and shopping options at Cape Yamu and Ao Po Grand Marina and some local Thai restaurants and cafes sprinkled about.
While much of the island rapidly forges ahead with development, there still remains a final bastion of relative tranquility and wilderness in Paklok. It’s home to the Elephant Sanctuary which provides a loving home to elephants that are retired, have been injured, or rescued from trekking or logging camps. At the entrance to the small, but refreshing Bang Pae waterfall is the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. This non-profit organization rescues these endangered creatures from the illicit animal trade or from injury and nurses them back to health where they are ultimately released back into the wild. Gibbons were hunted to extinction in Phuket, but now a small population survives thanks to this organization.
Finally, if you want to perfect your putt, pack up the clubs and head towards Paklok where Mission Hills Golf Course is located. This seaside, 18-hole golf course has a driving range, pro shop, clubhouse, and plenty more to entertain all.