Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket!

27 September 2016 

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2016 Schedule

The 2016 Vegetarian Festival is coming soon! Dates are 30 September to 10 October 2016. The dates change every year, as it's based on the Chinese lunar calendar. The 2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival took place from 12 - 22 October 2015 and I can tell you that in 2017 the date will be 19 - 29 October. It's my favourite Phuket event / festival and I always take too many photos! I expect the same again this year although I sold my "nice" camera a while back, and in 2014/2015 was using a combination of an old (but OK) Lumix and I took a few iPhone photos too! I am thinking of buying a new fancy camera during 2016. There is a lot to this festival, it took me a few years to understand, and there are still parts of the festival I have not seen much - I have only attended one firewalking event and it was so crowded. And until 2014 I had not experienced the crazy last night procession in Phuket Town - and this was great - will certainly be there again this year! Most of the events happen far away from the main beach areas, mostly in and around Phuket Town, or at the various Chinese shrines around the island. If you are in Phuket during the festival, do try to see something!

I have written loads about the vegetarian festival on the blog in the past and there are hundreds of photos on the blog and on my Flickr account. For general information about Phuket's most bizarre / interesting festival start here:

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - My Favourite Event in Phuket.

Recent Vegetarian Festival Blog Posts

2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival Part 1
The Crazy Last Night of the Vegetarian Festival

2014 Phuket Vegetarian Festival Part 1
2014 Phuket Vegetarian Festival Part 2
2014 Phuket Vegetarian Festival Part 3

Vegetarian Festival 2013 Part 1
Vegetarian Festival 2013 Part 2
Food at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2016 - Schedule 30th September - 10th October

The start of the 2016 festival will be Friday 30th September in the late afternoon when the "lantern poles" are raised at all the participating shrines. The Emperor Gods are said to descend down the poles into the shrines at midnight. I often attend Kathu shrine (my local) as I did in 2011 : Photos of Pole Raising and Midnight Ceremony. Not too much happens for the next couple of days, but the Chinese shrines are always interesting to visit any evening or any time during the festival really. The first big street procession will be on the 3rd October ... or actually the 2nd - a few years ago the "Naka" shrine joined as a newcomer in the festival and will likely be the first to have a procession. All the main processions pass through the old Phuket town area, all of them start early (around 7am or earlier), all finish either at Sapan Hin (south end of town) or back at their home shrines if the shrine is in Phuket Town.

Friday September 30th

At all the Chinese shrines, sometime between 4 - 6pm - raising of the Go Teng pole. Events at the shrines will go on all evening. The lanterns are hung from the pole at midnight, signifying the start of the festival. There will be plenty of firecrackers and fireworks too. In 2011, I went back to the shrine just before midnight expecting some bizarre ceremonies, but it was far more hushed and reverential and kind of spooky. Did not leave the shrine until 1am and people were still gathered there saying prayers.

1st - 2nd October - there are no big events on the first 2 days of the festival except for a small procession from Naka shrine on the 14th, but people can visit any shrine at any time, and the Jae (เจ) food is to be found all over the island but mostly around the shrines and especially in Phuket Town. The festival has many aspects and the food is one part of it. I normally try to stick to the strict diet during the festival. No meat, no alcohol. Not just "no meat" - the food is specially prepared with clean utensils and certain other ingredients like garlic and onions are not allowed due to the strong flavour. Don't worry if you are not vegetarian, almost all restaurants are open as normal in tourist areas. In fact, it can be hard to find the festival food near the beaches.

Sunday October 2nd

Street procession into Phuket Town from Naka Shrine, located next to the weekend market just outside Phuket Town. This shrine is a newcomer to the festival and has only been doing processions for a few years. I visited last year (2014) and it was quite crowded with photographers looking to get the first photos of the festival.

Monday October 3rd

Street procession starting 7am for Sapam Shrine - this shrine is a few km north of Phuket Town (about a 10km walk from the shrine to Sapan Hin). To see piercing taking place at any shrine you have to be there before 7am. Try 6am. In the evening, around 7pm (better get there earlier), there will be another procession around Kathu village for the Birth and Death Gods (Lam Tao and Pak Tao). I was there last few years for this very noisy procession! A similar procession also takes place at several other shrines on the same evening. I believe there is a very big one at Jui Tui Shrine.

Below - Birth / Death Gods Procession at Kathu Shrine in 2014

Evening parade of Ma Song and god statues in Kathu

Tuesday October 4th

Today's big street procession is from Sam Kong Shrine. Procession goes from the shrine in the north of town (not far from Tesco Lotus), past the Bangkok-Phuket Hospital and through the old section of Phuket town. The shrine is not far from my house and I find that they have some pretty gory face piercing! The Sam Kong area is also a good area for food hunting during the festival though parking is a b*tch, there are stalls all along the street here for half a kilometer. It's a good one to attend early in the morning. I might even walk with them into town this year.

Wednesday October 5th

The street procession today is from Tha Ruea shrine which is in the Thalang area of Phuket in the center of the island - this used to be the main town in Phuket a couple of hundred years ago and there are several historic temples in the area and the annual Heroines Festival celebrating an important date in the history of Phuket - the Heroines story predates the Vegetarian Festival by several decades.

Thursday October 6th

Lots of things going on today... In the morning (7am), a huge street procession in Phuket Town for the Bang Neow Shrine, which is in the south of the town on Phuket Road, one of the biggest and most important shrines participating in the festival. Expect very big crowds in town on this day. I have been in town the last few years for the Bang Neow procession, but have not tried to get into the temple due to the number of people. There is also a smaller procession starting 7am from Cherng Talay Shrine which takes place in Thalang district in the Cherng Talay area. A good one to see if your hotel is in Kamala, Surin or Bang Tao beaches and you don't want to head to town.

And then ... Fire Walking at several locations including Sapam Shrine, Sapan Hin (participants from Jui Tui shrine), Baan Tha Reua Shrine and Sui Boon Tong shrine (just west of the market and not far from Jui Tui shrine in Phuket Town). Fire walking kicks off around 8pm. Maybe I'll try to get some firewalking photos again this year.

Below - Phuket Town Procession Photos - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014

Ma Song Girls in Phuket Town 2014

Vegetarian Procession in Phuket Town 2014

Friday October 7th

Street procession starting at Jui Tui shrine, which is probably the biggest shrine in Phuket town - just west of the main market. I went to see the procession in 2013 and 2014 - it was very crowded but I got lots of photos! It is hard to get into the shrine early morning, better to find a spot just outside or along the procession route - the route is always easy to find - just follow the people and the little shrines that people set up outside their houses - that means the procession is coming this way! The area around Jui Tui and along the street from the market is always busy and lined with food stalls during the entire festival.

Later in the day, there are lots of events on the schedule at various shrines including bladed ladder climbing at Sam Kong and Bang Neow shrines and "nail bridge crossing" at Sapam Shrine. Not sure what that is! We did go to watch bladed ladder climbing one time at Sam Kong, I did not take a camera as it was a bit rainy outside, the weather can be a concern at this time of year, but usually not too bad and sometimes darn hot! The bladed ladder climbing did not seem too dramatic. Can't say I saw any bleeding feet!

Saturday October 8th

Street procession from Kathu shrine to Phuket Town. It's a long walk this one, about 10km from Kathu Shrine all the way to town, around the old town and ending at Sapan Hin. Kathu is my "local" shrine. The shrine is only about a mile from my house. I have been there early (6 - 6:30am) the last 4 years to watch piercing rituals. Should try to get there even earlier. 6:30am is a bit too late really! Must make an extra effort! I think 5:30am would be better. But hard work! Things happen early in the morning that are mysterious. The piercing may freak people out the first time they see it. I am now just looking for better camera angles and want to get some video too.

Below - Kathu Shrine Piercing and Firecrackers - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Firecrackers in Kathu village

Happiness is a Vegetarian Festival Procession

Later in the evening on October 8th - fire walking at Bang Neow, Cherng Talay and Sam Kong shrines. Got to be worth a look!

Sunday October 9th

The last full day of the vegetarian festival. There is a street procession for Sui Boon Tong shrine in town early in the morning, then events such as firewalking at Kathu shrine in the afternoon - I went in 2010 and I did take some photos, but the firewalking seems to draw very big crowds. Maybe I'll try again this year at one of the shrines. Maybe come with a stepladder to shoot photos over everyone's heads! Or a GoPro camera on a selfie stick might work!

And then in the evening/night of the last day (9th October) there is be a huge procession around Phuket Town, with people carrying statues of the gods to Sapan Hin. Millions of firecrackers and fireworks. It is absolutely mad. I went for the first time in 2014. Again in 2015. And will go again now with better preparation. There is so much smoke and so many firecrackers, it's advisable to wear long trousers, a shirt with long sleeves and something more than flip flops or you'll get burnt feet! Need to wear a cloth or face mask over your face too, to avoid too much smoke inhalation! And earplugs would be a good idea. It's like a warzone. A friend had a firecracker land in his pocket a few years ago and melt his iPod!

Earlier in the evening on the last night there is the "Bridge Crossing for Purification" ceremony at the shrines. We did this in 2011 and it was an evening I enjoyed very much. Everyone in white, lots of smiles, no bloody faces, seemed like the whole village was there!

Below - Crossing the Bridge for Purification - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Crossing the Bridge for Purification

Below - Final Night in Phuket Town - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Running the Gauntlet - Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Monday October 10th

At about 5pm the lantern poles (Go Teng poles) are lowered at the shrines marking the very end of the 2015 Phuket vegetarian festival.

See you there?

Where are the shrines? Location Map - Chinese Shrines in Phuket

View Phuket Vegetarian Festival Chinese Shrines in a larger map

5 September 2016 

Wat Khao Waterfall (น้ำตกวัดเขา)

I thought we had visited all the waterfalls in the Phuket area (including north of Phuket in Phang Nga province), but I was wrong! After so many years of living here, there have been many changes. Tourist attractions, restaurants come and go, but nature will (hopefully) always be there. To the north of Phuket island, on the way to Khao Lak, there are a couple of very nice waterfalls - Ton Prai and Lampi. And there's another, much closer to Phuket, only about 10 kilometers after the Sarasin bridge, and just north of the town of Khok Kloi. I had seen the roadsign many times, but for some reason we never went to check out Wat Khao Waterfall until a couple of weeks ago. We were always on the way somewhere else, or on the way home, so Wat Khao remained unvisited. Also, I had never really seen anything about it online, and nobody had ever told me they had been until recently, we bumped into a friend while at Samed Nangshe viewpoint in Phang Nga, and he told me he'd just been to Wat Khao Waterfall, so it was in the back of my mind as we drove home from a long weekend in Chumphon a few weeks ago and saw the sign. It was 5pm and we were an hour from our house, but thought "let's have a look!"

This occasional tendency of ours to randomly detour does lead to some great finds sometimes! There is a lot to see here, but you do need to get out and explore! The side road to Wat Khao Waterfall is only about 1.5 km long, passing a temple on the way, followed by a side road heading uphill to a restaurant called "Nern Khao View Talay". Passing this, you get to the waterfall, with a fair amount of parking space. Our first visit was a quick one, as the hour was already late. We had a quick look at the waterfall. "Nice", we thought. And then since we discovered a restaurant right there near the waterfall, we decided to have a nibble. The food was decent, the beer was cold and we decided to return the next weekend.

Wat Khao Waterfall

(above) Wat Khao Waterfall. On our first visit it was very quiet (after 5pm). Nobody swimming. But it was a rather grey, drizzly day.

Actually, I took another photo on that visit. A sign listing "waterfall rules" had an English translation that must have come from Google Translate or something similar. Thai is very hard to translate automatically! I posted this sign on Twitter and it went slightly viral, ending up with well over 100 retweets! (see below) :

So we visited again the very next week, heading up there in time for lunch on a Sunday. And it was a sunny day too. Naturally we expected things to be a little busier. This waterfall seems to have very little promotion online, but nevertheless, the parking area was quite full when we arrived just after midday. Oh, this place seems maybe more popular than we thought! The little restaurant just by the parking area is called Krua Klangdong (ครัวกลางดง). It only has maybe 10 tables and it was all full, but we got lucky as one table was just leaving. The tables are all under grass roofs, not all packed in together. The waitress told us that during the week they are open, but quiet. Then the weekends are crazy!

Restaurant at Wat Khao Waterfall

(above) Krua Klangdong restaurant at Wat Khao Waterfall.

As we'd managed to snag a table, we told the kids to hold off on the swimming until after lunch. The staff at the restaurant were friendly, a bit hurried though! But our food came pretty fast (I mean, they don't have that many tables). Kids had simple things like fried chicken with garlic, while my wife and I ordered some more interesting dishes. The menu had some rather odd translations, just like the sign above! You cold get things like "Mushroom bloody drown", "Egg salad bully", or "Hnnoaamgngm fried shrimp". We ordered a few different dishes :

Yam Gung Siap

(above) Yam Gung Siap - crispy dried shrimp salad

Nam Prik Gung Siap

(above) Nam Prik Gung Siap - shrimp paste with crispy shrimp, served with veggies

Fried morning glory

(above) Fried morning glory

All good food, I think we'll visit again. Not a huge drive, about an hour from our house. The waterfall is right there behind the restaurant. The kids ate faster than us, and then ran off to jump in the water. Even in low season, and we'd had plenty of rain, this waterfall is not too big. There are pools to sit in and splash about. And there were plenty of families and kids there on that Sunday.

Restaurant at Wat Khao Waterfall

(above) Another view of the restaurant.

A path headed uphill on the left side of the waterfall, and I hiked up quite a long way, but couldn't see any great views, plus the path turned from good to overgrown .. I don't think many people walk up here. My wife and I did not jump in the water, just let the kids splash around for a while before heading home.

Wat Khao Waterfall

Wat Khao Waterfall

(above) Playing and cooling off in the water at Wat Khao Waterfall.

So on the way out from the waterfall, we decided to take the steep road up to the other restaurant - Nern Khao View Talay. I thought it would maybe be rather a fancy place, and indeed it was very well presented, looks like it's not been there too long. We had a look at the menu and ordered a drink. Prices a little more than Klangdong by the waterfall, but the view was pleasant, you can just about see the sea from there (see photo below).

Nern Khao View Talay Restaurant

I think we'll come to eat here sometime, either lunch or maybe a sunset dinner. Always something new to try, either because it's new, or because we just haven't found it yet. Wat Khao Waterfall can be fitted in with a tour in the area, maybe visiting several waterfalls, or on the way to Khao Lak or combined with Samed Nangshe Viewpoint or just a quick trip for lunch. Nice to have a couple of restaurants there. Keep on exploring!

Wat Khao Waterfall - Location Map

25 August 2016 

Chillva Market

Phuket has many markets that might in some way interest a visitor. The most popular is certainly the weekend market which is open Saturday and Sunday nights near Phuket Town. But it has plenty of competition now. The Indy Market opened a few years ago in the old town area and is popular with young people. And then the excellent Sunday market is on every Sunday on Thalang Road in the heart of old town. If you want a real working market (you know, vegetables, fish, meat, fruit, fresh foods) I'd suggest visiting the main market in Phuket Town or maybe Kathu fresh market. I think what people want is a mix of food/restaurants and bars and stalls selling clothes and arty things. The Sunday market is probably my favourite, but it's only in Sunday! The weekend market is an experience, but can be too busy for me. So, now there's something new!

The Chillva market officially opened at the end of April 2016 with the aim of being a bit more cool and trendy, and without the alcohol free experience of the Indy market, which has many local teenage customers. Chillva has a mix of shops, market stalls, bars, restaurants, food stalls and often has live music too! Some of the shops and bars are open every evening, but the main market is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting late afternoon and closing around 11pm. Best to visit from about 6pm. My last visit (to take some photos for the blog!) was about 5pm and that did seem too early, it was very quiet. Gets much busier after dark and has quickly become popular.

Chillva Market in Phuket

(above) View of Chillva Market

Chillva Market at Night

(above) And a very similar view after dark with a lot more people! You can get elevated views as in places there are shops and bars made from shipping containers with seating up top. Cool!

Chillva is located in the Sam Kong area of Phuket Town, which is in the north of town. It's between the Tesco Lotus store and the Bangkok Phuket hospital, close to the Sam Kong Chinese shrine. There's a map below. I avoided the market for a few months mainly because between our house and Chillva is a big messy roadworks where an underpass has been built and it's taken a lot longer to complete than planned. We should be able to drive straight from Kathu to Sam Kong, but for a long time we've had to make a big detour down the bypass road and u-turn back towards town. That is now almost complete.

Chillva Market Phuket

(above) Another elevated view of Chillva market with the live music stage in the foreground and the road to the left. The market occupies a fair slice of land and has quite a large car park too, although one time when we visited the car park was all full and roadside parking there is like gold dust. You could park in Tesco and walk about 500 meters. Moped parking is less of a problem. As it's quite new, it is currently one of the local hotspots :) The various markets do pretty well at not clashing with each other, or are located a fair distance apart (like the weekend market is on the opposite side of Phuket Town).

So, what do we have at Chillva market? Well, first of all (on Thursday, Friday, Saturday) you have the market - lots of stalls selling clothes, arty things, and quite a lot of food stalls. It's not a huge place like the weekend market (where you can easily lose your way!) and is open air. Not too hot after dark.

Busy night at Chillva Market

Chillva Market

(above) Stalls at Chillva market

There are also a fair number of restaurants with outdoor tables, plus a seating area for eating food from the stalls. Anything from burgers to Thai noodles.

Eating out at Chillva Market

Lots of food for sale at Chillva Market

Food stall at Chillva Market

(above) Chillva is great for a cheap tasty dinner!

Aside from the market area, there are some more permanent shops, mostly selling clothes. My daughter found one she likes selling earrings. Yeh, I have a teenage daughter now.

Clothes stalls at Chillva Market

And there is a bit of night life here too! Every time I have been there was some live music, just local musicians playing or another visit there was what looked like a school talent show going on! And there's a little street of trendy bars too. Nice to sit up on the roof with a beer.

Bars at Chillva Market

Bar at Chillva Market

(above) Bars at Chillva Market.

I imagine we'll go a bit more often once all the roadworks are complete, it'll be a very quick drive from home. If someone asks which is the best market to visit, hard to answer. These places are more for locals than tourists, but I'd say try this one, and the Sunday walking street, or the weekend market if you want the big one! As a local, it's good to have these options now. A few years ago, the weekend market was on it's own.

More markets in Phuket

Phuket Weekend Market
Sunday Market in Old Town
Indy Market
Karon Temple Market
Phuket Town Fresh Market

Chillva Market - Location Map

17 August 2016 

Maireab Zaap Ver Restaurant in Kathu

The area of Phuket where we live is called Kathu. Actually Kathu is one of the 3 districts (Amphur) of Phuket, and it encompasses a large area including Patong and Kamala beaches. When people talk about Kathu they normally mean the area between Patong and Phuket Town which is largely residential but includes 3 golf courses, several tourist attractions like the Jungle Bungy Jump and the Flying Hanuman and quite a lot of restaurants, mostly catering to local residents rather than tourists. If we are eating out, we most often eat around Kathu or Phuket Town (because it's close to home) although we have some favourites in other parts of the island and some a little off the island too!

Maireab Zaap Ver opened in December 2015, located by the road between Kathu market and Loch Palm golf course, right opposite the office of Easy Day Thailand, a tour company run by friends of mine. Also on the other side of the road is Da Sandro, a very good Italian restaurant which also opened in 2015 and might be on the blog sometime soon! Maireab Zaap Ver is a family restaurant run by 3 sisters called Ree, Boo and Ta. They used to have another restaurant called Krua Maireab, on the road to Kathu Waterfall not far from the new restaurant, but this closed in 2012. We liked that place and were very happy to find they had started again!

Maireab Zaap Ver

(above) Maireab Zaap Ver from the outside.

It's become one of our "go to" restaurants if we want to eat out, not too expensive, close to home and - of course - the food is tasty! It's not a huge place, but I reckon could seat 30 people. It is right by the road, but the road is not too busy, as it's not a main thoroughfare. I don't like to eat next to busy roads if a restaurant is open sided (not aircon).

Maireab Zaap Ver

(above) Looking out to the road.

Maireab Zaap Ver

(above) Inside Maireab Zaap Ver.

Step 1 - take a seat and check the menu which is in Thai and English although a few of the translations are a bit odd. They have "deep fried platypus" on the menu for example. What the? Actually, this is deep fried duck's bills, which may sound odd anyway, but goes well with a beer :) It's not something you find in too many restaurants, but worth a try! I like to get a cold beer of course and wait for the food to arrive, which it does pretty fast.

When I find a regular restaurant I tend to have the same dish again and again, but maybe order something different on the side. The old Krua Maireab used to make the best Nam Prik Gung Siap - Shrimp paste with dried shrimp. It's spicy, salty, also a little sweet and sour (it has raw sugar and lime added). A real proper local southern Thai dish. The dried shrimp are a specialty of the Phuket and Phang Nga area. This may not be to everyone's taste, but I love it. The dish comes with vegetables and you'd normally order rice and maybe an omelette with it too.

Nam Prik Gung Siap

(above) Nam Prik Gung Siap .. I don't tend to eat all the chilies.

It's on the menu at 120 Baht (plus rice and omelette). Again, not something you find at too many restaurants. For something a bit more normal, the Tom Yum is very good here too. A big dish for 120 Baht.

Tom Yum

(above) Tom Yum with chicken.

It's a big menu, so you can find just about any standard Thai food, simple things like fried rice or fried chicken with garlic go down well with the kids, along with the Tom Yum!

Fried chicken with garlic

(above) Fried chicken with garlic + rice and a fried egg on top :)

Kana Pla Khem

(above) A favourite of my wife's - Kana Pla Kem - fried kale with salted fish. You can also get fried kale with crispy pork, which is one of my favourites :)

And (below) another look at Nam Prik Gung Siap, served with an omelette.

Nam Prik with Omelette

Lots of tasty options, and we'll be eating here quite often! An additional note - just a couple of hundred meters away is the new floating market which I will get on the blog once it's 100% finished. See you in Kathu!

Maireab Zaap Ver - Location Map

5 August 2016 

Little Amazon River Tour at Takua Pa

Last weekend we took a drive off Phuket, over the bridge heading for Khao Lak. Our original plan was to check in to a hotel and relax, but plans changed :) First we detoured for lunch and took a look at Thai Mueang Beach, which is between Phuket and Khao Lak. No hotels there, just a few restaurants and a small turtle sanctuary and several kilometers of beach. I'd like to stop there again and write something on the blog. Then, rather than check in to a hotel, we decided to drive past Khao Lak another 30km to Takua Pa. We have explored this area before, notably the old town which has a Sunday market. From our house it's about 2 hours to Takua Pa. We had checked out the "Little Amazon" location last year, but did not do the tour as the weather was not great. This time, the sky was partly blue and we decided to try something new. On arrival at the car park, we were the only people there and we wondered if it was closed, but a guy appeared to help and my dear wife negotiated a price of 1,000 Baht for 2 boats (4 of us, 2 per boat). I was not sure what the trip would be like or how long it would take. I imagine if you book in advance, they'll be ready for you. For us, we had to wait a while as the guy called a friend who turned up with small longtail engines for the little boats and after about 15 minutes waiting, we were ready to go.

Little Amazon Tour - Entrance

Little Amazon Tour - Entrance

(above) At the Little Amazon entrance. The sign below says "Welcome to Thailand river jungle version of the Amazon. Here you will experience ancient Banyan trees, exotic animals, and other beauties Thai nature has to offer." We were not sure what to expect. I was hoping for some big snakes!

The first section of the river took about 45 minutes, sometimes using the engine, sometimes just a wooden paddle. It was a narrow, jungly tributary of a larger river that leads to the sea at Ban Nam Khem. We moved slowly and after the first few minutes where we followed a road, we were really "in the jungle" :) While being on the lookout for giant pythons, we checked out the jungle scenery.

Little Amazon Tour

My daughter and I shared a boat and we loved the aerial roots hanging down from the trees. We were at low tide and you can see that the roots would dip into the water at high tide. These are banyan trees? I'm not sure!

Little Amazon Tour - In the Jungle!

(above) Paddling down the river

Little Amazon Tour - Enjoying the ride!

(above) Father and daughter time! We enjoyed our little boat ride. Oh, yes and we did see some snakes, and a fleeting glimpse of a few monkeys and some crabs :) I should have brought a decent camera with me, because the snakes we saw were all in trees and not easy to photograph with an iPhone! If you want photos, bring something with a good zoom lens.

Little Amazon Tour - Spot the Snake

(above) Can you see the snake? We did see quite a few, all lounging around in the trees.

When I check the map, I can see that this 45 minutes only took us a short distance - less than 1.5km from the starting point, so we were indeed going slowly! We then hit a much wider river, about 30 or 40 meters wide, and turned left downstream towards the sea. As the boatman said - go this way to Phuket! And we turned on our engines and got some nice breeze blowing. It had been a bit hot and sweaty there on that little jungle river!

Little Amazon Tour - Boats on the river

(above) Zipping along the "big river"!

And we had company on this bigger river. There is a network of rivers in the area. If we had turned right we could have joined a bigger river, headed further north and ended up at the sea 15km further north. Takua Pa actually used to be a well known port for traders hundreds of years ago. The wide rivers provided a safe, sheltered place to anchor, just as the sheltered east coast of Phuket did, and Phuket was also an important trading port. Bt we didn't see any big boats here, only little longtails like the one below ...

Little Amazon Tour - Speed Longtail!

We passed under a road bridge, somewhat destroying the illusion of remote jungle. Next to the bridge was a small fishing village, which is actually only a few km from Takua Pa town. Indeed if we carried on the same road from Takua Pa, passing the entrance to Little Amazon, we'd have arrived at this village :)

Little Amazon Tour - Fishing Village

And then we had a little photo stop on a sandbar in the middle of the river. Just around the corner from the bridge and village and probably about 4km from our starting point. Hey this is not actually the Amazon, just a Little Amazon! The boat guys took some nice family photos for us.

Little Amazon Tour - Sandbar

The trip back the other way was faster, only about 20 minutes all the way home. In all, the trip was about 1 hour 20 minutes.

And here's a nice little video showing some of our trip ...

I found out later that this Little Amazon trip can be booked via my friends at Easy Day Thailand, so I do recommend contacting them. This can be combined with other places and attractions in the area like Khao Sok National Park, white water rafting or some waterfalls. It's easy enough as a day trip from Phuket, though better as an overnight trip and a day trip is even easier from Khao Lak.

After the trip, we actually decided to drive home and save money rather than staying in a hotel :) There's actually rooms right there (sorry, don't know the price!) and a restaurant. We had an early dinner there (decent enough Thai food at a decent price) before driving home to Phuket. I think if we get some English visitors who want a little jungle experience, we'll come again.

Little Amazon - Location Map