Phuket. Packed with Family Fun and Adventure
On invitation courtesy Tourism Authority of Thailand Sri Lanka Office, I joined travel bloggers from across ten regional countries to experience the magic and wonder that ‘Amazing Thailand’ has to offer, especially to families traveling with children of all ages. Thailand, in fact, is most popular for uninterrupted shopping, sunny seashores and musical concerts. But heck…there is so much more!
My destination for the next three days is Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, fondly known as the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’. Needless to say, it was an exciting experience and for anyone wanting a 3-day itinerary, here it is…
Getting Down and Dirty at the Vanich Farm
Traditional farming has been a mainstay of Thai farmers for centuries with a fifth of the country’s land under rice cultivation. Farmers, wearing wide brimmed straw hats, baggy ¾ length pants, stick in hand and knee deep in mud, meticulously plant three shoots at a time into the earth.
My first stop is at the Vanich Farm, located in the heart of Phuket town. This farm promotes agro-tourism and visitors get valuable hands-on experience in the field as well as a chance to pet farm animals. I start the day by changing into the traditional farmer’s costume before being taken in a tractor to the rice field.
Situated on 72,00 sqm of land, the farm grows rice, a special kind of sweet corn, organic vegetables, and has a menagerie of farm animals including cows and buffalo, sheep, horses, goats, rabbits etc. Yes, you must spend time with these cute, friendly animals!
At the rice fields, visitors, like me, are encouraged to get into the muddy field and actually help to plough the earth in preparation for the planting of the rice. BTW, the buffalo here are white in colour!
“You want to ride the buffalo?” my guide asks me. “Of course!” And a hop (on a stool) and step (over the broad, spiky haired body) and I’m on. The gentle giant is then led across the garden, his large tongue scooping up leaves and branches along the way while I try to maintain my balance.
The Vanich Farm also has an onsite restaurant serving delicious dishes made from garden fresh vegetables and fruit. And don’t forget to try the healthy and delicious corn milk produced from the organic corn grown here.
A Flurry of Feathers at the Bird Park
Phuket’s Bird Park is a must-see for families with children. This 20-minute show featuring dancing macaws, swooping eagles, cycling parakeets, and a load of other hilarious antics by these colourful birds is held in an open air amphitheater. Of course, it’s where kids are in their element as they can volunteer to feed the birds, have hornbills land on their arms, opt to have enormous eagles swipe food off their heads, and donate 100 baht for every up close and personal encounter with these birds. But it is all worth it as this could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Once you finish the show, take a walk through the park as there are plenty of beautiful, colourful and exotic birds to see around the premises.
A Lesson in History
When visiting a new place, it is always interesting to gather some historical information. For this, the best place to visit is Phuket’s Thai Hua Museum, which chronicles the journey of Chinese migrants to Phuket during the 1800s. These migrants originally came during the tin-mining era but subsequently had an immense influence on the regions’ culture and commerce.
The Museum itself is housed in a beautiful Sino-Portuguese building that was once the first Chinese language school in Phuket. The walls are covered with information; photographs from yesteryear, artefacts from donors, stories of perseverance, imprints of courage, memories of men and matters and so much more.
Taking a Stroll
I ended the day with a stroll through Phuket’s Old Town. This is something that many tourists seem to miss out on, but well worth the walk. The streets are lined with Sino-Portuguese buildings with the most interestingly colourful facades that comprise a potpourri of cafes, souvenir shops, art galleries, hostels, hotels, furniture stores, etc.
It’s important to remember that the Thai people are gentle, hospitable people. So whether you are in a restaurant, a shop, a park or touring, they will always oblige with a slight bow and a wide smile. Thailand is also one of those countries where traveling with young children is a breeze. It is safe, clean (enough), choice for food (plenty of options for vegetarians), and great entertainment to keep young minds busy and entertained.
There is something for everyone, a motto that seems to fit Phuket’s image.
Thanks to #TATSriLanka for inviting me to Phuket and to the launch of Family Fun Thailand. My stay at Sukosol Hotel in Bangkok and Movenpick Resort and Spa in Phuket was complimentary. All opinions are, as always, my own.