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Thinking of going to the Phuket Vegetarian Festival?

in Tips by
phuket vegetarian festival

During the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival (or jia chai in local Hokkien Chinese dialect) is held. The colourful event celebrates the Chinese community’s belief that abstinence from meat, sex and alcohol and merit making at the many Chinese shrines and temples throughout the seven to ten-day festival, will cleanse the body, mind, and spirit.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival can be, hold on, IS a rather gruesome, crazy and loud experience, but saying all that, it is one of the most interesting, colourful, amazing and yes gruesome and loudest festivals I have ever seen.

not recommended for the faint-hearted

If the festival is on your bucket list, the finale in Phuket town is the part you cannot miss, but make sure you take earplugs and a mask, oh yes and perhaps a few drinks.

A little history lesson

It is believed that in 1825 when Phuket was the tin mining capital of Asia, a wandering Chinese opera group, who were performing on the island to entertaining the tin miners of whom a large percentage where Chinese, fell ill with malaria. The opera group decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and also pray to the Nine Emperor Gods, which they believed would purify their mind and body.

As with many stories, this one has a happy ending, and the opera group made a complete recovery, which lead to everyone celebrating the fact they had survived what was and still is a fatal illness, and a festival was held to honor the gods.

My first experience, and it was an experience

Phuket Vegetarian Festival, October 2007. I had never encountered anything like this before and, although I had done some research and knew a little bit of what to expect, I was so wrong. On the first day, the whole island seemed to be waiting for the sun to go down so that the ceremonies could start, the anticipation was like a haze over Phuket. Everyone dressed in white, the official colour for everyone to wear. I knew that each night there would be these ceremonies at all the Chinese temples around Phuket, and the ceremonies included fire walking and climbing sword ladders. I also knew that some people would become mediums for the gods, and these men and women would pierce their cheeks with metal spikes,

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Must-see in Thailand: Phi Phi Islands

in Recreation by
koh phi phi thailand islands

Ready for an adventure? Take to the sea Herman Melville style and visit the Phi Phi Islands to the southeast of Phuket. This beautiful bundle of isles in the Andaman Sea offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Add these must-see islands to your Thailand itinerary.

Koh Phi Phi Leh

Early birds get the worm, or in this case stunning views of Maya Bay featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Beach, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. A private chartered speedboat departing at sunrise from Royal Phuket Marina near Cape Yamu offers the best chance to witness this remarkable site before the hoards arrive.

The approach to Koh Phi Phi Leh is an experience in itself, as the 100-metre-high limestone cliffs encompassing unbelievably azure water come into view. Silhouetted by dense jungle, the two silky-soft white-sand beaches of Maya Bay are gradually warmed by the rising sun with the allure of lazy lounging. But wait, there’s more.

Snorkelers rejoice! This remarkable bay with depths of two to three metres is teeming with marine life in its northern section where coral reefs are more prevalent. Leap from the deck of your private charter boat or dare the 150-metre swim from the beach. Either way, be prepared to see large boulders laden with enormous sea anemones, parrotfish and photogenic giant clams posing with mouths agape.

Before departing to the next destination, venture barefoot into the jungle along a short trail shaded by a lush tropical canopy to a wooden staircase and terrace overlooking Loh Sama, reputed for its snorkelling and diving opportunities. Here you’ll see a picturesque tiny islet surrounded by crystal clear waters with traditional long-tail wooden boats moored alongside.

Phi Leh Lagoon

Opposite Maya Bay on the eastern edge of Koh Phi Phi Leh is the unbelievably green Phi Leh Lagoon. Stretching nearly 600-metres, this stunning natural wonder twists and turns down a canyon-like waterway ending in a wide picturesque lagoon with vertical limestone cliffs on all sides. Its full beauty is unveiled around midday, when the sun, like a brush to canvas, brings to life its colours, tones and textures. This is a spot to linger awhile and appreciate how nature’s artistic hand can create such a glorious site. 

If it weren’t for the ripples, you could be forgiven for thinking you were diving into a putting green on a world-class golf course.

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Yachting on Phuket – Best charters for island-hopping

in Recreation by
Bristol Charter Infinity One speedboat

“Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience.”

In 2000 Danny Boyle’s “The Beach” was released on the big screen and it was the first time I had ever seen the beauty of Thailand. The crystal-clear water, white sandy beaches with palm trees, the hedonistic lifestyle – it was where I wanted to be. In 2007 the dream came true. I moved to Phuket.

At first, it seemed like the perfect island, having an array of beautiful beaches and an exciting and sometimes crazy nightlife. For the first six months, I explored Phuket from east coast to west coast, from north to south and found it to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Yet it wasn’t until I took my first trip out on a traditional Thai Long Tail boat that I realized Phuket is one of the many beautiful islands within Phang Nga Bay.

Phuket is the gateway to over 100 islands, each one easily accessible by boat and offering something different, from perfect dive and snorkeling sites, long white sandy beaches for chilled-out lazing around, and some with shacks that serve fresh tasty local food. It was after my first trip out, that my eyes opened up to the place I now call home, and how beautiful it is. That’s when island-hopping around Phang Nga Bay became my passion.

Each of the islands within Phang Nga Bay has its own uniqueness. There are the distinctive features of limestone formations that rise out of the emerald waters, the best example being Koh Ta-Pu (Nail Island) known to you and me as James Bond Island. One of the most famous islands in Phang Nga Bay, having been used as the backdrop for the 1974 James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”, now due to its popularly, it is also one of the busiest islands.

you might have (what my 5-year-old daughter calls) “boat hair” but you will have memories that last a lifetime

I have two young children,

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Tropical Island Wedding Flowers

in Weddings by
bright wedding flowers in Bali

If you’re wondering what kind of fresh flowers are available for destination weddings in Southeast Asia, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the selection (and the price) of gorgeous blooms and greenery, most of which are available any time of year.

Bali wedding flower bouquetRoses and tulips foreshadowing a sherbet sunset
Villa Atas Ombak – Seminyak, Bali

Yellow and white wedding ceremonyClifftop wedding ceremony with white, peach, pink and yellow roses and ferns
Bayuh Sabbha – The Bukit, Bali

pink and white wedding bouquets with roses, tulips and lily of the incasPastel roses, pink Peruvian lilies and white anemone flowers
Pandawa Cliff Estate – Kutuh, South Bali

hanging beads with pink flowersDelicate pink roses on hanging beads
Bayu Gita Beachfront –  Pabean Beach, Bali
We Do Bali Weddings event planner

White peonies in gold vasesWhite peonies on white wicker
Villa Batujimbar – Sanur, Bali

tropical flowers wedding bouqetBouquet of roses, lilies, daisies, tuberose buds and green berries (buah buni)
Bayu Gita Beachfront –  Pabean Beach, Bali
We Do Bali Weddings event planner

White tuberose wedding bouquetFragrant long-stem tuberose
(known as sedap malam in Indonesia)
Villa Batujimbar – Sanur, Bali

wedding flowers white and peach rosesAll-white blossoms with silver dollar eucalyptus leaves
Sava Beach Villas – Natai Beach, Thailand
Liam Collard Photography

Red and purple wedding flowersGerbera daisies, red roses and purple asters with tuberose and tropical leaves
Mahatma House – Seseh Beach, Bali

Phuket wedding flower girl walking down aislePink roses, snapdragons and plenty of petals
Sava Beach Villas – Natai Beach, Phuket
Photography by Darin Images

blue hydrangeas wedding decorationsBuckets of blue and white hydrangea line the aisle
Mahatma House – Seseh Beach, Bali

Bali beachfront wedding villaBeachfront wedding altar with tropical vines and subtle white roses
Villa Pushpapuri – East Bali

Rose wedding bouquetWedding bouquet of pink and red roses with eucalyptus
Baan Paa Talee Estate – Kamala Beach, Phuket

white marigold wedding flowersCenterpiece with white marigolds, daisies and roses
Villa Atas Ombak – Seminyak, Bali

Bali wedding flower walkwayWalkway of yellow Frangipani flowers
(Bunga Jepun in Indonesia or Plumeria)
The Longhouse – Jimbaran, Bali

white orchid bride bouquetRound bouquet of white orchids, roses, hydrangea and golden dewdrop flower buds
Sava Beach Villas –

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Famous food from chefs at Phuket’s best restaurants

in Dining by

While the Thai capital of Bangkok is a globally recognised dining destination that’s on the verge of getting its own Michelin star guide, Phuket is no slouch when it comes to delicious and daring food either. The island’s rich culinary heritage can be traced back to the diverse tastes that flourished from the waves of migrant arrivals from across Asia in days past to its current status as one of the top resort islands in Asia.

Some truly talented chefs from Thailand and around the world have added their own creative flavours, colour and panache to the Phuket dining scene. Be sure to try some of these standout dishes at Phuket’s best restaurants if you haven’t already!

Bampot Kitchen & Bar

The idea behind every dish and drink at Bampot is to take local ingredients and apply the best technique for each ingredient, whether Thai or Western style, and pair complementing flavours and textures to end up with a balanced finished dish.

It’s all about great food and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere

Chef Jamie Wakeford

Bampot is Scottish Chef Jamie’s first solo venture following a career in top kitchens in the UK and Asia.

TRY:

  • Prawn bon bon, screen curry foam
  • Duck, pistachio, pickled local jubjube
  • Crab tagliatelle, yellow curry, basil

COCKTAILS?

The Tamarind and Cardamom Smash with Chalong Bay rum, tamarind, cardamom and lime reflects Bampot’s whimsical approach.

With its meticulously presented dishes and unpretentious style, Bampot has become a foodie favourite since it opened near Bang Tao Beach.

Suay Restaurant

Stepping into Suay restaurant in Phuket Town is like entering the home of a friend, with its low-key and welcoming style providing a subtle backdrop to the sensational fusion food that’s about to be served.

Created by Chef Tammasak Chootong, known by many as Chef Noi, Suay means “beautiful” in Thai and his dishes have earned him renown not only for beautiful presentation but for his bold and sassy balance of flavours.

SIGNATURE DISHES:

  • Crab curry quiche Lorraine (where he adds a bit of Thai zest to the timeless comfort dish)
  • Bite-sized Foie gras with tamarind and lemongrass dressing,

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