Love you long Thai!
Favorite part of Thai culture: Everything in Thailand has purpose. Everything from the structure of buildings, the way they are pointing, the way Thai people greet each other and their visitors, their rituals, their food, literally everything. Their culture is nothing short of pure beauty. They welcome so many beliefs and take the good from everyone and every religion, and then make it their own. They wish well on everyone and accept so many things as long as it comes from a place of love. There is no discrimination. They respect everybody, give thanks constantly – – including to their statues that they believe protect them and welcome good spirits. Every structure in Thailand has a “pointy top” because they want to be as close to Heaven as possible.
First of all, watching my Thailand video is a MUST! Traveling to Thailand and experiencing their beautiful culture was a once in a lifetime experience, and I want to share it with YOU! Go sea canoeing, get up close with elephants, walk the streets of Old Phuket Town, scavenger the local markets, visit Thai Buddhist Temples, and so much more! All of that is jam packed into my video, so check it out!!
WHAT TO DO
The island of Phuket is full of tons of adventure! Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, go to neighboring islands, kayak, eat delicious Thai cuisine, explore downtown, play with elephants, visit their temples and sacred grounds – – you can do it all! Their land is so unique and beautiful so you can customize your trip however you’re wanting 🙂
This was the coolest experience ever. Laying down as flat as you can on a sea kayak so you can fit through the caves during high tide…priceless. From Phuket you take an hour boat ride out to Phang Nga Bay, also known as James Bond Island. (This is where “Man with the Golden Gun” was filmed). You probably are familiar with this area even if you don’t think you are, because any picture you ever see of “Phuket” is really a picture of here! It’s breathtaking.
Hongs are everywhere. Hongs are limestone islands in the Andaman Sea. (The limestone is what makes the water green). And the only way you can get inside the islands is by entering caves via kayaks. Essentially the island is “hollow” inside and a BEAUTIFUL secret garden/jungle. You have to go with professionals to visit the hongs because you can only go when the tide is absolutely perfect. You enter at low-tide, but it can’t be too low or else there won’t be any water at all in it for you to even get through the cave. The “ground” is basically quicksand so you can’t walk in. And you can’t go when the tide is high because the entire hong is filled with water and obviously you can’t even enter the caves because the water is well above the entrances. It’s so crazy because you can absolutely see the difference of the water rising drastically when you go in and out of the caves after just 15-30 minutes. John Gray’s Seacanoe was the BEST company to work with and they are total professionals. I trusted them immensely with their tide knowledge and they were SO much fun to be around for the entire day! There are two people per kayak, plus the professional who is doing the navigating through the caves. (The kayaks are specially made for here because they have to be extremely thin and be able to deflate to fit in tight caves.
We visited multiple hongs during the day and night, swam in the sea, ate lunch and dinner on the boat, watched sunset from the sea, and engaged in an unforgettable Thai ritual called Loi Krathong – – you make beautiful offerings for the Goddess of the Sea, give thanks, let something go, and make a prayer/wish. It was a beautiful and emotional experience. Oh, and did I mention the wildlife?? There are monkeys, fish that have feet (YES, I SWEAR. THEY WALK & SWIM), bats, jellyfish, and Bioluminescence (these are single cell organisms that light up and look like fireworks in the water. You go into a really dark cave at night & start moving the water around and it looks like stars shooting. It’s breathtaking. They don’t show up on cameras so you just soak up the moment and it’s life-changing).
You can pet elephants, feed elephants, ride elephants. It’s a dream come true! They’re such magical and sacred animals. Looking into their eyes, you see their soul, and the entire Universe, I swear. Elephants are Thailand’s spiritual animal. They believe they are lucky so you see them absolutely everywhere.
OLD PHUKET TOWN
This is the historical part of Phuket City. Every building is so colorful and vibrant. You can buy knick-knacks and Thai souvenirs.
LOCAL FOOD MARKET
I’ve been to lots of food markets in different countries, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen as much food and vendors as I saw here. It’s so cool to walk around and see their unique and local food and flowers.
THAI BUDDHIST TEMPLES
I am so thankful I got to learn first hand about Thai Buddhism. I don’t think I’ve ever been surrounded by such a peaceful religion. They accept everyone for who they are and welcome you with open arms. They let you go into their temples to make wishes and they wish for you as well. It’s lovely. They take the good bits and pieces from a few Eastern religions and make it into their own.
There are 7 main Buddhas that they pray to based on the day of the week they were born. (So of course we had to bust out our phones and Google what day of the week we were born!!) When you walk in the door (shoeless) you grab a pre-made bundle that includes incense and 3-5 little pieces of gold flakes individually wrapped in white paper. You kneel a certain way (because your feet aren’t allowed to face the Buddha), and a Thai Buddhist has to light the incense for you and bow, then will hand you your incense to place while you make a wish for a family member. Then you walk over to your Buddha that you would pray to based on what day of the week you were born. Each Buddha represents something different. Drew’s was Wednesday, which was health & wealth. I learned I was born on a Tuesday and my Buddha represented that I was going to Heaven. You then take each gold flake one at a time, and place them on a body part of the Buddha that you wish to receive good fortune from. For instance, I placed one of mine of the heart for love — one on the mouth for speaking — and one on the hand for writing. You will have a little bit of excess gold flakes left on your fingers when you are done with the ritual. You then put the flakes on the top of your hand or forehead until they fall off by themselves. (pictured below). It was the MOST LOVELY, MOVING experience I will always cherish. Did you know they use gold everywhere in Thai Buddhism because they say, “It doesn’t matter how many times you burn gold, the color is still pure gold.”
Wat Chalong is the #1 temple to see. It’s the most historical and most meaningful. The Buddha that is inside this temple was dug up from the ocean after it was purposefully drowned during a war with Malaysia so the Buddha would be protected. There is an entire story on how they had to pray to be allowed to bring it up from the water and bring it to where it belongs. You will see monks roaming the sacred grounds and locals doing their spiritual routines. There is a tall lion outside with a big hole underneath where people light firecrackers to celebrate when something they have prayed for happens. (We were lucky enough to see someone light one. How cool??) Make sure you bring a local or hire a tour guide to go with you so you can learn their special beliefs and soak up their knowledge to gain understanding of their peaceful religion.
Big Buddha is the #2 ranked temple to visit and is one massive Buddha that people love to visit for a cool picture because of how big and unique it is.
SPIRIT HOUSES/WHERE WE STAYED
You will see spirit houses everywhere, including on the beaches. These are “homes” that welcome the good spirits into the area. Sometimes you will see the most elaborate “houses” because they want to treat the spirits as they deserve. You will also see Buddha statues, monk statues, and lion statues in the front of every home and backyard (including the one we stayed in). This is for protection of the people inside the home. When you see “offerings” such as flowers adorning these statues, it’s the Thai people thanking them for protecting them and only allowing good into their home or place of business. Also, the home we stayed in was feng shui. You saw the same amount of numbers repeatedly throughout the home. Every picture below is from the lovely home we lived in for the week.
There are many gorgeous beaches surrounding the island. Some of the most well-known ones are Kata, Freedom, Kata Noi, Ya Nui, Surin, Paradise, and Patong. Grab a coconut, a drink, and just chill and admire the landscape of the mountains meeting the sea.
It’s so funny because I thought I had Thai food before (because I have in America). I was wrong. In America they glob on heavy sauces, heavy noodles, and heavy flavors. That’s not Thai food. Thai food is so light. Seriously, even though you eat noodles for basically breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you don’t feel guilty or overwhelmed with what you would think of if you were eating “American Thai.” The veggies are native to Thailand and fresh. The noodles are so thin and airy. Apparently the further south you travel in Thailand, the spicer the food is. Phuket is basically at the southernmost tip, so if you don’t like heat on your food, make sure you ask for not spicy! Also, they secretly put oyster sauce in everything, including vegetarian dishes. So specifically ask for soy sauce if you don’t want oyster sauce.
leaving thoughts… Thai people will now forever be some of my favorite people. It was the most cultural trip I have ever taken. I loved every single thing. Except one thing… the Thai massage. Oh, and Lotus Flowers are so beautiful.
Where we stayed:
We stayed in a gorgeous private home through a company my family is a part of. I absolutely recommend staying at Trisara. We went there one day for dinner and it was the most gorgeous hotel ever with seriously more than 5-star service.
Where to eat:
We had a private chef come to the house and cook for us most of the days. We ate at Trisara one night and were in love with the setting, the food and the service. You eat under palm trees looking out at the Indian Ocean. Blue Elephant. Kruvit Raft (this is the most local place ever and you take a boat out to literally a raft that is a floating restaurant. They catch the fish right there & bring it in). Another day we ate on John Gray’s Seacanoe boat via their entire day excursion and their food was so great!
Where to go:
The Hongs of Phang Nga Bay with John Grey’s Seacanoe, visit elephants, go to Old Phuket Town, Phuket City, Wat Chalong Temple, Big Buddha, go to the beaches, explore the local food market, Phi Phi Islands.
Where to fly into:
HKT. But of course, coming from America, you will have to connect at least one time, if not many times. We flew Atlanta to LA to Seoul, South Korea, to Phuket. My Mom and sister flew Atlanta to Seattle to Seoul to Phuket. And my brother flew Seattle to Vancouver, Canada to Hong Kong to Phuket. There are many ways to get there, but connecting somewhere else in Asia will be a necessity. We flew Asiana Airlines on the way to Phuket and were so impressed with them. I will fly them again next time we go to Asia. We flew Korean Air on the way back and they were totally fine and very safe, we just really enjoyed Asiana. We flew in business suites every leg which was GREATLY appreciated on those long flights!
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