Tiger Kingdom, Big Buddha & Chalong Temple | Phuket Day 2
Day 2 of our Phuket trip was a city tour where we visited the following places.
- Kata Beach
- Tiger Kingdom
- Big Buddha
- Chalong Temple
As we had a full day schedule ahead, we started the day early at 9am. Panya picked us up at Sugar Palm punctually.
1. Kata Beach
Kata Beach wasn’t part of the day’s itinerary but Panya stopped by and let us admire the sea view for a short while. He also multi-tasked as our photographer! The beach was empty as the waves were strong and swimming was not allowed.
2. Tiger Kingdom
I had mixed feelings about visiting the Tiger Kingdom. Part of me felt that something about tame tigers just doesn’t sound quite right and I shouldn’t be supporting the attraction by visiting it, yet part of me want to see it for myself. So to me, this is more like a been there, done that activity and I wouldn’t do it another time.
Tickets are priced differently depending on the size of tigers you want to interact with. The cubs are the most expensive. There are 4 sizes ranging from smallest to big. We went for medium.
Smallest (2-4 months old): THB1,000 per pax
Small (5-10 months old): THB900 per pax
Medium (11-15 months old): THB800 per pax
Big (16-36 months old): THB800 per pax
TIP: You can also top up for photography services but I don’t think there’s a need for that. The handler who brings you to the tigers can also take photos for you.
There’s a cafe at the outer zone and also a signboard indicating the Do’s and Don’ts. Rule of thumb is to approach the tigers from behind and pat them firmly. The handler will also go through these pointers before letting you into the tigers’ enclosure.
When you enter the inner zone, there will be multiple enclosures on both your left and right. Only one group will be allowed into the enclosure at one time, so you’ll have to wait for your turn.
Finally our turn! I decided to let Marcus go first and be the guinea pig haha. At first, the tiger was napping so the handler used a stick to prod him and he woke up (though quite unhappily as you can tell from his face). Then the handler started asking Marcus to take his tail and pose for photos. Look at the tiger’s I-cannot-be-bothered face! He must be so sick of humans like us doing the same old thing to his tail every day.
My turn. The tiger cannot take it anymore and went back to sleep.
A photo of us. He is so handsome! The tiger I mean.
Next, another tiger who was sleeping with his belly up in the sun. I felt a little braver and went first this time.
After all our silly antics rubbing his belly and holding his paw, he’s still sound asleep.
The third and last tiger was a smaller-sized one. The first thing he did when we came was to yawn. I get the hint – we must be really boring humans. But he was still polite enough to oblige for a cute photo sticking his tongue out before lying back down and continue his nap.
The smallest and small sized tigers are kept in different enclosures, equipped with tables for you to interact with them more easily.
The big sized tigers are really…BIG! You can still take photos of other tigers from the common walkway as long as they are happy to pose for you.
TIP: Go early to avoid the crowd. It’s open daily from 9am to 6pm and we went at 10am.
We then drove half an hour to Jungceylon for lunch.
Walked around and eventually settled for Food Bazaar, the food court at Jungceylon. The payment system is like Kopitiam here in Singapore, where you top up an amount into a card and use it to make purchases. Any remaining amount can be refunded.
One of the brightest and most cheerful food court I’ve ever seen. Really like the old school theme that I can relate to as well.
Even the tables were so colourful. It was also very clean and had a gigantic maneki-neko (招财猫). Hope that helped in the business! And if you’re wondering how’s the food, I think the mango sticky rice made the deepest impression. I’ve had countless mango sticky rice at different places in Thailand and none of them had disappointed me!
The street opposite Jungceylon looked lively and interesting too but we didn’t explore. There’s also Big C at Jungceylon where you can stock up on all the junk food. I love to comb through Big C whenever I’m in Thailand!
4. Big Buddha
We took another half an hour drive to Big Buddha.
On the way, saw a guy who was riding as a pillion both topless and helmetless. An efficient way to get a nice tan. Also spotted an elephant and a nice view when we were near the top of the Nakkerd Hills. And then finally, we arrived!
First thing before you enter the premises is to cover your legs with a sarong if you’re wearing something short. They are provided free of charge.
I had the impression that Big Buddha was a common attraction in Phuket and thus, I was really surprised to find out that it is still under construction. The project began in 2009 and is still quite far away from completion as it relies on public donations.
Best view of Phuket island.
Gently rubbing the gong to produce a sound will bring you good luck.
We entered the Big Buddha to view the construction progress. It’s pretty bare inside and there are prayer sessions going on. As mentioned, the project is funded by public donation. You can make a donation to leave a note on a square piece of marble that will eventually be used in constructing the Big Buddha.
More good view of the outlying islands from the back of Big Buddha.
5. Chalong Temple
I feel a trip to Phuket wouldn’t be complete without visiting a Buddhist temple. They are so beautiful and iconic. Chalong Temple (also known as Wat Chalong) is the biggest and most popular Buddhist temple in Phuket. I can easily understand why by just viewing it from outside.
The item protected in the glass globe is a splinter of Lord Buddha’s bone.
Likewise, you have to wear a sleeved top to cover your shoulders and use a sarong to cover your legs if you’re wearing something short. No shoes are allowed in the premises too.
TIP: Avoid wearing your favourite or an expensive pair of shoes just in case it gets stolen or accidentally worn away by someone else.
One last poster worthy photo of Wat Chalong!