7 Things to Do When it Rains in Phuket
Featured destinations: Phuket
Published 18 November 2016
You’ve survived the 14-hour flight, you touch down in Thailand and eagerly peer out the plane for your first glimpse of this sun-filled paradise – and your heart plummets. Rain lashes down onto the runway and droplets slowly trickle down the window panel. Have you really travelled all this way to be greeted by the same gloomy weather you left behind in England? This was the sorry sight that I was met with when I arrived in Phuket last month and admittedly, it did initially dampen my spirits (pardon the pun). But, as I soon discovered, they are plenty of things to keep you entertained when the weather isn’t on your side. Here’s a countdown of a few of my favourite activities, which kept me busy until the sun finally decided to make an appearance.
Wander through Phuket Old Town
An eclectic mix of unique shops, old printing houses, picturesque temples and quaint coffee stops, Phuket Old Town is a real gem. I spent hours wandering up and down, peering into shop windows, marvelling at colourful clothes and enquiring about handmade jewellery. This historically rich part of town is home to some of the most fascinating places – we stumbled across a traditional Thai herb shop, where jars were filled with home remedies for every ailment you can think of. I was enticed in by the intoxicating scents, as well as the sign outside, which read ‘Oldest Herb Shop in Phuket.’ Inside, the locals are only too happy to tell you all about the history of the shop, which first opened in 1917. I whiled away an entire drizzly afternoon in the Old Town, and I left feeling like there was still so much to discover. Just remember to bring your raincoat, as it isn’t undercover.
Learn to cook Thai food
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Thai food, and I can’t think of many better ways to spend the day than learning how to recreate those delicious flavours. Luckily, in Phuket there are plenty of places where you can do just that. Embark on a full-day Thai cooking class and you’ll start the day at the market, where you’ll choose ingredients for your dishes. Next, it’s into the kitchen, where you’ll whip up a variety of authentic dishes, including Tom Yum Goong and Pad Thai. And it goes without saying that you can look forward to devouring everything you’ve created before the class is up.Tess at Wat Chalong, Phuket image: Tessa Watkins
Visit a temple
Wats - or Buddhist temples - are among the most important symbols of Thailand, and I can vouch for the fact that they certainly don’t need sunshine to enhance their beauty. I visited Wat Chalong Temple on my first day in Phuket and spent several hours wandering around the beautiful buildings and stopping to look at the wall and ceiling paintings, which depict the life of Buddha. Wat Chalong Chedi, the temple’s tallest structure, is also built across three floors, so you can climb to the top terrace for a birds-eye view of the temple grounds.
See the fish
Set up as part of the internationally-renowned Phuket Marine Biological Centre, Phuket Aquarium is home to a plethora of creatures from Thailand’s lakes, rivers and the sparkling Andaman Sea. There’s even an entire tank filled with Nemos! Kids will love pointing out different fish in the impressive walk-through glass tunnel, where reef sharks and stingrays swim overhead. Afterwards, wander out onto the seafront promenade for grilled meat and a drink, or, if it’s still raining, be sure to check out the nearby Sawasdee Restaurant, which serves delicious seafood.
Shop at Central Festival
The shopping hub of Phuket, Central Festival features more than 100 stores selling everything from Levi’s to sushi. It’s easy to spend a whole day here – perusing the shops, snapping up some bargains, watching a film and dining at one of the many international restaurants. There are also countless boutiques and privately-owned shops to be found. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, treat yourself to an ice-cream at Swenson’s, or a chilled glass of chenin blanc at the Wine Connection.
Take in a museum
Phuket has a fascinating history, and with that comes a variety of museums to take your pick from when the rain refuses to let up. Take a journey back in time at the Mining Museum, or learn about Phuket’s people at Thalang National Museum. If you’re looking for something a little more niche, why not visit the Post Office Museum or the Seashell Museum? The latter displays what is claimed to be the world’s largest golden pearl, at 140 carats.
Indulge at the spa
Personally, I’d argue this is a must come rain or shine, but the blissful sanctuary of the spa particularly lends itself to rainy days. I was lucky enough to be staying at The Vijitt in Phuket, which boasts the luxurious V Spa. I was warmly welcomed inside and led to an outdoor pavilion, to the sounds of soothing music. The pavilions are surrounded by lush gardens and beautiful flowers, and I was transported to a land of calm and relaxation as I indulged in an Aloe Vera Body Wrap. What’s even better is that I emerged from the treatment room to sunshine beaming overhead - at last!
Tessa travelled to Phuket on Round the World Experts' Island Explorer holiday, which can be tailor-made to suit you. Chat to your Expert for further information and to book.