For those of you who are interested in knowing how your favourite tipple is made you might like to head along to the Chalang Bay Rum Distillery for a fascinating glimpse into the rum making process and partake of the delicious fruits of their labour as part of their cocktail workshop.
Rum, the favourite tipple of Buccaneers, with a modern twist
The courses are run for four or more people and involve a guided tour of the plant followed by the workshops where you learn to make Lemongrass Caiprinhas, Siam Twists, Thai flings and the somewhat sinister-sounding Herbalist.
The traditional way of harvesting sugarcane is not used at the Chalang Bay Rum Distillery
The distillery goes to great lengths to ensure that the ingredients are the best available, sourcing the sugarcane from local suppliers, and gown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Thailand is one of the world’s major producers of sugarcane so it’s a match made in heaven. The cane is harvested by hand, not burned off as is common practice, which retains the natural flavour of the sugarcane. The rum is distilled using coper stills imported from France and only produces small handcrafted batches for sale.
Very appropriately Chalong, ฉลอง, in Thai means ‘celebrate’ and indeed it would be hard not to after a couple of hours of mixing and sampling these potent concoctions. You can take a 30-minute guided tour, a two-hour workshop or just hang out at the restaurant and boutique. They also hold private and corporate team building/group events as well as private birthday parties.
The bar is in an open-plan area that overlooks a lovely garden surrounded by sugarcane fields, the perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon at an award-winning rum distillery that is setting new standards of excellence in rum making right in the heart of Phuket.
When it rains it pours
For a great family fun-day experience the Phuket Trickeye Museum offers an extraordinary glimpse into the world of trompe l’oeil painting. Trompe l’oeil is French for ‘deceive the eye’, a painting technique that uses the optical illusion of forced perspective to create three dimensional paintings using two dimensions.
The gallery, housed in what used to be the Pearl Cinema, has over 100 interactive 3D paintings and sculptured creations that are great fun and offer lots of amusing photo opportunities. Each exhibit has a photo guide on the wall to show you exactly what you’re meant to do in front of each painting to get the best results and the helpful staff are always willing to take photos for you and offer useful tips.
Located at the Boat Lagoon, behind the Villa Market, and not too far from Phuket Town is Phuket’s Ice Arena, where you can enjoy a break from the tropical heat and spend a few hours pretending you are in a winter wonderland. The rink is very cold so warm clothing is a must.
Phuket Ice Arena
Classes and training are available for skaters of all levels and ability and though not cheap it’s definitely a lot of fun. You can learn with a personal coach if you are seriously interested in perfecting your skating prowess and there are even ice hockey and figure skating courses you can take.
After the fun on the ice is over you can head to the restaurant which serves both Thai and international cuisine.
In the very heart of Patong a great escape from the rain is Jungceylon Shopping Centre, where you can take in a movie at the multiplex cinema complex, knock down some pins at the SF Strike bowling centre, eat at any number of excellent restaurants that cater to all tastes, visit the Shell Museum and of course shop. There is also a kids’ playground, Kidzoona, on the top floor, with lots of bouncy rubber amusements that will keep your children occupied under the attentive care of the playground’s staff while you take the opportunity to spend some time alone shopping or eating.
And, just behind Jungceylon Shopping Centre is the excellent Banzaan Fresh Market, where you can buy the freshest fruit, vegetable and fish all in one location. There is a huge range of exotic fruit and vegetables to try as well as all the spices and herbs you could possibly need.
A huge array of fruit on offer, Banzaan Market
The best view in the house
Given that it’s an island, fish, as expected, are everywhere to be found, both exotic and edible, in the sea, in restaurants and also in Phuket’s Aquarium. The aquarium houses thousands of tropical fish and other marine life and allows youngsters to get up close with these amazing and spectacular creatures.
Sharks, everyone’s favourite nightmare
There is a very large and diverse collection of marine life on display in over thirty tanks and it has become a firm favourite with children, who get to see eels, cuttlefish, sharks and the dreaded stone fish, most of which it would be sensible to avoid in the deep blue sea.
The main attraction is a tank with a tunnel running through its centre through which you walk and are enveloped by an astonishing display of some of the most fascinating marine creatures that are found in the waters off Phuket’s coast. Every tank has highly informative texts printed in Thai and English that offer visitors a detailed description of the tank’s inhabitants highlighting conservation issues resulting from tourism and the destruction of the marine environment and a wealth of information about each species on display.
The Phuket Aquarium offers a safe haven for endangered turtles
Once outside the exhibits, there is a nature trail that takes you to the turtle sanctuary, where a great number of species are kept. Here injured turtles are rehabilitated while others of advanced years enjoy a blissful retirement safe from the dangers of life in the wild.
Baby catfish watching the watchers
Phuket Aquarium forms part of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, dedicated to research, protection and education about Thailand’s marine life and the very real threats implicit in rampant exploitation of natural marine resources and uncontrolled tourism. A trip to the Aquarium is your way of funding this very worthy enterprise.
Not someone you’d want to meet in the sea
For the serious aficionado of Muay Thai there is only one place in Phuket that offers the genuine article, the Patong Boxing Stadium on Sai Namyen Road. Here the audience is almost as colourful as the boxing itself, with a very varied and knowledgeable crowd who come to see the real deal.
Thailand’s national sport, Muay Thai
The stadium seats 350 people and has large wall fans that keep the air fresh and a big screen which displays the fight in progress. Here you’ll see some of the best practitioners of the art going all out, showing off their skills often for quite substantial prize money. There is none of the simulated, somewhat theatrical display you will see at other venues on the island. Here everyone means business and the fighters and punters take it very seriously indeed.
These fights can get very physical, often ending in stunning knockouts, and the spectacle is not for the squeamish or faint hearted, but for the pugilistic enthusiasts it’s a night out that doesn’t disappoint.