There’s something exciting about going to a place and seeing it through fresh eyes. You get to make up your mind about things before being prejudiced by others. You figure things out for yourself and have an adventure. Unfortunately, Phuket is not one of those places.
One of Thailand’s biggest islands, Phuket is also its number one tourist destination. Millions of people from around the world flock to Phuket year round. Meaning one thing in particular: you are not going to discover it for yourself. Phuket is geared towards tourists. Even experiences sold as authentically Thai are actually put together for the purpose of foreign money.
Don’t get me wrong. You can have a truly Thai experience staying in. However, you’re not going to get it by going wherever the road takes you. You’ll end up doing the following things which you’d much rather avoid.
Avoid: Going on an elephant ride
Everyone from tour companies to independent guides you meet on the street will take you to an elephant sanctuary where they offer rides on the beautiful creatures. They will tell you that the elephants are treated well. That it’s other elephant sanctuaries tha
Instead: See the Big Buddha
Rather spend your time at the massive “Big Buddha” statue. It is Thailand’s equivalent to Rio’s Jesus the Redeemer, in that it was built for tourists. However, it is still worth a visit, especially since you have the extra time.
Avoid: Live sex shows
I get it. You’ve walked up and down Bangla Road looking for the best place to party. You’ve been bombarded by hawkers trying to take you to sexy ping-pong shows or live sex shows. At some point, you want to satisfy your curiosity.
To save you the trouble: don’t bother. There’s very little that is sexy about these shows. They’re more likely to leave you with a bad feeling. Also, although they are technically free, they’ll make you buy a drink for 1,000 baht as cover.
Instead: See a “Ladyboy Cabaret”
Thailand’s sensitivity tois hard to gauge as a foreigner. The term “ladyboy” can seem offensive to us. But a “Ladyboy Cabaret” is another name for a good old drag show. The performers are excellent, it is not exploitative, and you’ll have a lot of fun.
Avoid: Visiting “factories”
On certain tours – even those run by seemingly independent operators – you will be taken to places like a honey farm, cashew factory, and jewelry factory. If you can, tell your tour operator to skip these places. They won’t want to – essentially, they earn a commission from these places if you buy whatever they’re selling. They pretend it’s an “experience”. It’s not. You get to see people doing menial labor and then get pressured to buy something you don’t want.