Phuket. Known as many things, known for many things – pristine beaches and vibrant night life, it’s essentially a city that never sleeps. And recently, featured in the Michelin Guide Bangkok 2019 for its rich and unique cuisine. This is also Phuket and Phang Nga’s first feature in guide, with a total of 72 restaurants awarded the Bib Gourmand Award which recognises establishments for their good value for money, serving a quality menu for a maximum of THB 1,000 (S$41).
And while you’re more in favour of visiting Phuket’s beaches or hitting the bars and spas, there’s so much more of Phuket to explore. We take you to a few of the must-visit, must-eat-at places that you should visit while you’re in the pearl of the Adaman Sea.
The largest island in Thailand, seafood here is caught fresh off its coastal waters and sold to locals and local restaurants daily. Located at the southern tip of Phuket, the charming Ra Wai Beach is home to the Ra Wai ‘Sea Gypsy’ Seafood Market, and traditional long tailed fishing boats scattered along the shoreline – tourists get a glimpse into the lives of many local fishermen whose livelihood depends solely on its pristine waters. But as the flow of tourists start to increase, so do the prices at the markets (but still pretty affordable).
Or if Ra Wai beach is too far for your convenience, consider going down to Ranong Road where not one but two markets sit, almost side by side Ranong Road is the historical commercial hub of Phuket Old Town, and makes the two markets there (Phuket Town Central Market and Downtown Market) one of the most ancient markets in Phuket. They sell almost anything and everything, from fresh seafood and vegetables to local dried goods.
The markets open at different timings, however – The Phuket Town Central Market opens at 5AM in the morning, and closes up stalls relatively early, at 11AM. The Downtown Market, on the other hand, is a nearly 24/7 open market. It sells its produce wholesale, and you can find just about anything – exotic fruits, vegetables, meat and fresh seafood, you name it.
Speaking of seafood, Southern Thai Cuisine is famous for its use of seafood – mainly because of its readily available supply. Restaurants here get their seafood fresh from the market daily, and the food tastes so much better as a result.
Southern Thai cuisine is also known to usually be spicier than Northern Thai cuisine, so if you’re up for the heat, Phuket and Phang Nga are definitely places you have to go to visit
132/8 Phet Kasem Road, Phang Nga
Featured as a Bib restaurant on the Michelin Guide, Khrua Nong’s seafood is sourced daily and features an open kitchen, where diners can see their food being cooked before their very eyes. Tucked away in a small corner of Takua Pa, their specialties include the famous Tom Yum Goong and Soft Shell Crab so crispy and juicy it practically melts in your mouth.
Located in Phuket Town, the establishment of Raya was built over 130 years ago and was likely someone’s home until it got converted into a restaurant. Their menu mainly features authentic Southern Thai Phuket cuisine, and their famed Gaeng Pu Bai Cha Plu (fresh crab meat in coconut milk) is a must try. If you’re up for a spicier challenge, try their yellow curry with fish and coconut shoots – a dish with bold flavours and rich gravy you can’t miss.
Visit Phuket Town – the capital of Phuket city. It’s home to vibrant night life – and we don’t just mean bars, it’s also where some of the best night markets are. At the Phuket Weekend Market, feast on a buffet of street samples from fried insects to Dim Sum, and thrift items at a steal along it’s many road side stalls. There’s even a whole section with an inflated castle just for kids – if you’re tired of minding them.
Take a stroll along Phuket’s Walking Market, and you find even more bars, eateries and street food stalls galore.
The Charm Restaurant
93 Dibuk Road, Phuket Town
Or if you’re not into the crowd and chaos, visit the Charm Restaurant located in Phuket Town for a quiet and indulgent dinner. Serving the essence of Southern Thai Cuisine with nuances of Peranakan heritage, it’s one of new establishments in the Michelin Guide. Their curry paste used is made from a 100 year-old family recipe, honed to perfection. The Charm’s (not so) secret ingredient in its curry is using pineapple to balance the flavours, and their fish is cooked just before being served so what you get is very tender meat.
Going in November? Don’t miss the Patong Carnival 2019. Held for 3 days from November 1st to November 3rd, it’s a 3 day event on Phuket Island which attracts more than 20,000 visitors every year. Soak in the vibrant atmosphere teeming with colourful parades, entertainment and sporting events. The carnival also features a historical segment where you’re able to learn more about Phuket’s cultural heritage through exhibits and photos.
And if you didn’t know yet, (still within the same month!) Phuket celebrates Loy Krathong in November every year. It is celebrated on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, which is Thursday, November 13, 2019. On this night, everyone goes to the closest river, lake, beach or even swimming pool to release a floating offering, hoping for good luck in the year to come. It’s to thank the water goddess for the use of her water to grow crops and supporting life, and apologising for dirtying it. So if you’re in Phuket around that timing, head on down to the beaches in Phuket and watch a stunning light festival as they release Krathong into the water. Krathong is a small decorated round raft usually made of a banana tree trunk slice or bread is decorated with flowers, nicely folded banana leaves, a candle and three incense sticks on top. Go down to the main beaches in Phuket and be treated to a sight like no other as they release flying lanterns into the sky.
One thing’s for sure, wherever you go, you’re sure to be fed with sights, sounds and food in Thailand. Don’t just take our word for it, experience it for yourselves! You can check out the Michelin Guide Thailand’s Bib Gourmand section for the best of what Phuket has to offer – and more.