Phuket in September – Big Buddha, Wat Chalong and Tiger Kingdom in the rain
Okay, l’ll cut to the chase here, for most of the time I was there it was wet. The fact that I totally ignored the stories I had heard about Phuket being at its wettest and most humid in September didn’t help either, because I never really expected it to rain 4 out of the 6 days we stayed there! On saying that, I have heard loads of good stories about weather in September in Phuket and so it really just must be your luck, but from my personal experience I had 4 wet days, 2 dry nights and honestly the 2 days I got of uninterrupted sunshine were absolutely worth it and enhanced my stay there in so many ways.
We stayed in Patong, and on most of the days, it looked like this…
I’m not gonna lie, it did look a bit like a beach in Scotland in Patong and I was very disappointed to see that every day the cloud just kept rolling in. However, on these days I still managed to do loads of activities including looking around the local area (buy a little rain poncho!) and visiting indoor attractions – or just braving the outdoor ones.
The problem with braving the outdoor excursions such as safaris, boat trips and tours is that the weather affects the views, the roads and the rain is sometimes so heavy that it makes it impossible to do much at all! I did manage to still see several places despite the weather and I’ve chosen to share the Big Buddha, Wat Chalong temple and the Tiger Kingdom with you, three places I visited when it was wet.
I would recommend going to see these sights so much as it just brings the Buddhist culture of Thailand to life. The Big Buddha was about half an hour in a taxi from where we were staying, and I have heard that if you go up to the for about 6pm, the sunset is sensational because you’re so high up! The views over the land are breathtaking (even in the rain!). Do make sure you cover up but if you don’t you’ll be given a sarong/robe like I was. Definitely visit the Big Buddha, the size of it will blow you away!
The Wat Chalong is the largest and most visited of Phuket’s temples, and it’s absolutely magnificent. The detail on the building outside, the walls inside and the exquisite Buddha statues that fill it’s rooms with character make it a must-see when you’re in Phuket. It was about 45 minutes in a taxi from Patong beach and was definitely worth the drive despite the rain.
The same goes with any religious place in Thailand, you need to cover up! Because the rain was so heavy that day I never managed to get any pictures outside but I did get some GoPro footage which shows the depth of the puddles outside… here is a screenshot from that video, yes it was wet but you can see the beauty of the temple!!!
After researching places to go and visit/look after tigers, I thought that Tiger Kingdom, Phuket was the place to go! I saw that it had Trip Advisor certificates and good reviews, and although I can confirm that they sell the best Thai Sangria I have tried in the bar at the start, but unfortunately that was probably the only good thing I noticed about it.
After being told that for a (pretty large) sum of Thai baht we could touch, play with and feed the animals in a ‘natural environment’, we ended up queuing for over an hour to go in to cages with the animals and pose with the animals for pictures in ways that the trainers made us do so. What really got to me about the Tiger Kingdom was that we had queued for about an hour and 45 minutes for an ‘experience’ with the smallest tigers. Everyone was given a number and it was one in, one out wit the same tigers posing.
The cubs were jumping around together and ended up getting very playful, jumping for trainers and running around not doing as they were told. The family before us had pictures of them playing and jumping until the tigers got a bit too restless and the trainers took the tigers – who were clearly getting fed up of sitting and posing with tourists for photos and just wanted to be young animals and have fun – away for about five minutes. When they came back, it was our turn to go in to the cage. What a horrible little cage to keep them in anyway, the way it was advertised made it look as though we got to see them outside in the gardens. Stepping into the cage I noticed that – peculiarly – not only one but BOTH tigers were lying, completely motionless on the floor, to which the Thai trainer motioned to her lips and said “shhh, they’re very sleepy! Too much play!”. The same tigers that had been jumping around like crazy moments before? I was gobsmacked.
I am not saying that this is the case in any way, but these tigers looked as though they had been given something to make them like this, as it is highly uncommon that two tigers at once would get ‘tired of playing’ and drop to the floor, eyes shut, not moving. I felt completely helpless and emotional that I could not do anything to free these animals. I will share one of the photos I took of the little cub lying motionless, but none of the posed ones that involved pretending to lie with and kiss the tigers etc., because I am not interested in having a copy of any of them, I felt the tigers were not treated fairly and I never realised that the same tigers are used all day every day for photos. I would not recommend, but if all you’re looking for is a photo with a tiger then it’s entirely up to you. It is still good to go and see them, although the largest one was pawing and biting the bars of the cage trying to escape – not good.
Part 2 coming soon – Phuket in the sunshine!!
Keep Smiling 🙂