What to do in the Low Season
Phuket's long rainy season is well and truly upon us. The surfers are happy. Those who dislike the tourist crowds and traffic jams are also pleased. However, for most long-term residents it is that time of year when we spend long periods stuck indoors watching the rain.
It is not just the rain that restricts what we can do. There are still plenty of dry spells when we can get out and about. The other problem is that even when the weather is good, the monsoon waves are still pounding into Phuket's famous western beaches. The red flags will be flying until October so Phuket's greatest attraction of playing in the sea at the fabulous beaches is off limits.
So what can we do to entertain ourselves over these long six months? The night times are not such a problem. The nightlife scene continues unabated all year round. The problem is what to do to fill our days. Here are a few low-season suggestions to keep you entertained and get you out.
Even during the monsoon season, the beaches do not have to be totally off limits. When it is not raining, you can take a pleasant walk along any of them. I think there are also three beaches where you can safely play in water all year round.
Nai Yang is the best low season beach. There is a reef that breaks the worst of the monsoon waves so that it is safe to play most days of the year.
Layan Beach is sheltered from the waves by Kata Island. It is a shallow bay more suited to paddling than swimming but it is a great spot to take the kids for a play and safely use up all their pent up energy.
Nai Harn is the other beach where you can often have a play in the water. Not in the sea which is actually one of the more notoriously dangerous beaches in Phuket. The area at the south end of the beach where the lagoon empties out into the sea often forms a good pool for a dip. It does depend on the tide but it is an option for a good splash around.
The monsoon waves may be pounding into the western side of Phuket but the eastern side of the island remains mostly sheltered. If there is a nice day or two of weather then it is a good chance to go and see some of these lovely islands. There are some good beaches at Koh Naka Islands and Koh Rang Yai. A little further out is Koh Yao Noi. The beaches on this island are not great but it is a wonderful peaceful retreat. You can find accommodation at any of these islands and stay a day or two. You could try some of the activities such as kayaking.
There are also the famous limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay. Of course, most long-term residents have seen this area at least once but that doesn't mean it isn't worth another look.
Even the Phi Phi Islands are much more pleasant at this time of year. The crowds are gone and the buzzing speedboats have mostly moored up. The sheltered bays in Phi Phi are still great for a swim during the rainy season although the boat ride out there can be a little rough.
The rainy season is not the best time to visit the beaches but it is the best time to see Phuket's waterfalls. There are three major falls on the island. Don't expect anything amazing but they are pleasant little spots and they all have drop pools where you can jump in for an invigorating splash around. There is also a challenging trekking trail between the two falls in Khao Phra Thaew National Park.
Why doesn't Phuket have more indoor activities? It seems like a popular island with a long rainy season would be an ideal place to build a few indoor attractions.
Well there are a few. To be honest, none of them are great but the rainy season is the time to check them out. There is Thalang National Museum and Cape Panwa Aquarium. There is also the Phuket Butterfly Garden and Aquarium.
The zoo is not indoors but there are enough indoor areas to take shelter from any passing showers. Remember if you have a Thai driving license, take it to get Thai price rather than the rather exorbitant 500-baht that foreign tourists must pay.
There are quite a few ten-pin bowling alleys around. I don't fully see the attraction of the game but it is fun for an hour or two every now and then.
There are also three multiplex cinemas on the island.
Soak up a bit of Thai culture by visiting some of the more interesting temples on the island. It will probably only pass an hour or two but it gets you out of the house and you can fill the day out by searching out a good restaurant.
There are plenty of great restaurants around the island. They are everywhere. You just have to get out and explore and you will find some charming eating spots selling great food at reasonable prices. There are some lovely restaurants along the southern and eastern coasts of Phuket. I still enjoy an occasional trip to the floating restaurants off Laem Hin Pier.
Okay, it's a bit desperate but if you have time on your hands then why not
use it to better yourself. You could work on your fitness by joining a gym.
Alternatively, how about working on improving your Thai
language skills? You could start a study course. How about Thai cooking
or sharpening up your computer skills? There are plenty of options to broaden