Phuket: Muay Thai Weekend & Elephant Sanctuary
Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee! If you know me by now, you know I love keeping active and traveling is my passion. I love sitting on the beach, listening to music and sipping on fruity drinks with cute umbrellas, but what I really enjoy about being on a holiday is the adventure aspect! GUTIP - HK PEEPS, if you're looking for a perfect weekend getaway that is not too costly, short flight time, and you get to kick some butt, definitely check out Phuket and sign up for a muay thai bootcamp!
HK Express offers cheap flights to Phuket which departs Friday evening at 9:30PM and leaves Sunday evening at midnight. This means you don't have to take any days off from work and you can enjoy two full days!
For our short stay in Phuket, we booked the ocean view suite at The Nai Harn which is a 5 star resort in the south (1 hour drive from airport). Each room has an expansive terrace with a canopied four-poster daybed with privacy curtains. It's the perfect spot to relax after a full day of muay thai training. The beach is close to the hotel (not private); they even set up the umbrella and provide towels. I absolutely loved the breakfast buffet. They had both thai and western options, and my favorite - a congee station. I highly recommend this hotel if you're ever in Phuket. However, it's a bit isolated from the main tourist areas.
My friends and I decided to sign up for the muay thai bootcamp at Sinbi Muay Thai. It was clean and the trainers are full of experience & knowledge. One day of training only cost 600 baht or 18 USD. The schedule is 7:30AM to 9:30AM and 4PM to 6PM. We spent the break back at our hotel, which is about a 10 minute cab ride, lounging by the pool and drinking fruity cocktails. It was rewarding after two full hours of punching and kicking. The menu for the pool bar was quite extensive, however very over priced. The pool service was friendly and the ice water infused with fruits was a nice touch.
I use to take kickboxing 1-2 times a week in NY before I moved to HK at the Mercedes Club and absolutely loved it. It was a good place to relieve from stress and at the same time burn some calories. However, taking Muay Thai in Thailand was a truly incredible experience. The facilities are incredible, the place is vast and I found the staff and trainers to be both friendly and knowledgeable. I learned techniques that I never learned before. The Muay Thai training was very intense but fun! The instructor to student ratio was great, hence everyone got a good dose of attention and there was even 1 on 1 padwork available which I didn't expect for group classes. On Sunday's, they only do 1 on 1 training which is flexible to your schedule! It's only 700 Baht per hour and you can pick which trainer you want to work with. Don't forget to purchase one of their muay thai shorts for a great souvenir to take home!
Now, let's talk FOOD! Picture this - you walk into the restaurant and there's music blasting, it's dimly lit, loads of helium balloons hitting the ceiling, and strobe lights. The food is unlimited DELICIOUS thai dishes and you see people dancing on their chairs. After a certain time, they remove the tables and food and there's a DRAG SHOW! It's absolutely EPIC and a night to remember. For 3000 Baht per person, book a table at Ka Jok See and you won't regret it. My friend may or may not have received a lap dance from one of the lady boys. The owner of the place actually walks around feeding you shots of mojiito and shooting you with water guns!
If you want the best mango sticky rice, you should order it from the restaurant at The Nai Harn. You can even order this with room service, which is what we did. The restaurants at the hotel are a bit expensive but the food was tasty!
Besides Muay Thai in Phuket, we also went island hopping. I would advise you skip this because the islands of Phuket are not that great #sorryimnotsorry. The boat ride was extremely bumpy and unenjoyable. Definitely take motion sickness pills beforehand if you do decide to go. However, it was still a great time because I was with my boyfriend and close friends.
On another trip to Phuket, I went to Elephant Hills which is an elephant sanctuary located north of Phuket. It was truly a fun and unique experience. Elephant Hill is Thailand’s first Luxury Tented Jungle Camps, combining the camp idea of African national parks with the Thai tropical forest environment. I'm all about camping and nature if its "glamping" and there's toilets and showers involved! During my trip to Elephant Hills, the company picks you up from your hotel in Phuket and drives you to Khao Sok National Park (duration ~3 hours). I booked the 2 day 1 night tour, but I wish I stayed longer! It cost around 400 USD which includes all transportation/transfers, food, activities, tour guide, and accommodations.
The tent was super comfortable and thankfully comes with a real bathroom, comfy bed, and electrcity. The beds were huge and extremely comfortable as well. Make sure to close the zipper every time you enter/leave the tent because of the bugs outside! It was all worth it because of the amazing view, the secluded feeling, and the ELEPHANTS!
The main reason I booked the tour was the elephants! We had so many interactions with the elephants, one of my favorite animals. We got to feed and bathe them. I chose to visit an elephant sanctuary because I found out that the tourist elephant riding business was terrible for the well-being of these elephants. They actually abuse and drug these elephants to make them work everyday and allow tourists to ride them. Please keep this in mind next time you're in Phuket.
The food was all inclusive with the package and it was DELICIOUS! We even had a thai cooking class in the evening! They showed us a documentary about how thai Elephants differ from African elephants. The entire trip was a great learning experience.
On the first day, we did a kayaking trip around the rain forest for an hour. Don't worry, you have a personal guide who will help you row your kayak while you take photos and enjoy the scenery of Sok River.
On the last day, we did a morning rain forest trek around the national park. It was a good way to exercise and burn those calories after all the food I consumed in Thailand. During the trek, we stopped by their rubber tree farm and learned how they extract the rubber.
After our Elephant Hill tour we got dropped off our hotel at The Quarter Phuket in Surin Beach. We booked a 2 bedroom duplex for four people, but got upgraded to a three bedroom penthouse with a private infinity pool. The service was impeccable and the staff were very friendly. The rooms were comfortable, but there was tons of critters running around. I was disappointed with the breakfast selection because the options were scarce. The online photos were a bit deceiving. The hotel has a lot of potential, but it is worn down and needs some TLC. The hotel was a short walk away from local restaurants and shops. Surin beach was a 10-15 minute walk away, but it wasn't a very nice beach. It was dirty and had tons of stray dogs inhabiting the beach. I'm not sure if I'll stay in the Surin Beach area the next time I visit Phuket because there's not much to offer.
All in all, I love Phuket because there is so many things you can see and do. From Muay thai to playing with elephants, there's endless possibilities. The best time to visit Phuket is during their dry season, which is November to February. Their monsoon season is mid-May to October, which could mean heavy rain or scattered rain showers.
I already booked my third trip to Phuket for end of March. Let's see what else I can discover during my trip then!
Hotel The Nai Harn (recommended)
The Quarter Phuket (not recommended)
Food Ka Jok See - Drag show and Dinner
Things to do:
Sinbi Muay Thai
Elephant Hill tour