Phuket - Six of the Best
1 Simon Cabaret
At a crossroads between the airport and Phuket Town there is a statue of two famous female warriors called Muk and Chan who, in 1785, repelled a Burmese invasion by dressing up all Phuket's townswomen as men and then lining them up on the ramparts to seemingly swell the defenders' numbers.
These days, however, the cross-dressing is more the other way around.
The Thai word 'katoi' can mean either 'transvestite' or 'transexual'. If in doubt, don't ask. Whatever they exactly are, the katoi performers of Simon Cabaret having been amazing foreigners and turning Western catwalk queens green with envy for decades. This hugely popular and often hilarious cabaret wows audiences with stunning sets, glittery gowns and choreography so balletic that it would do Broadway justice. These boys who are girls stiletto-strut their stuff to full houses every night of the week - not to be missed. www.phuket.com
2 Phuket Fantasea
The very biggest of all Phuket's extravaganzas, Fantasea brings Las Vegas-style entertainment to the island. Remarkable acrobatics, amazing animal antics, dazzling light work and stunning set designs combine in a song and dance spectacular that brings to life Phuket's history and mythology in a spell-bindingly unique way.
3 Fantasy of a Kingdom Culture - Illusion Show
Particularly visually arresting are the aerial acrobatics, indoor pyrotechnics, special effects and stunts.
4 Phuket Aquarium
offers the opportunity to observe local marine life up close and without the necessity of diving beneath the waves. More than a hundred aquatic species are housed at this facility, which is one of Thailand's principle centres for research into the whales, dugongs, sharks, dolphins and sea turtles that make their homes in the nearby waters. The best time to go is in the late afternoon so that you can afterwards watch the sunset on the nearby seafront, which has a few modest and never over-crowded restaurants. www.phuketaquarium.org
5 Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Centre.
22 square kilometers of virgin forest conserve a number of wild animals which would otherwise be extinct in fast-growing Phuket. Wild boar grunt as they forage around giant trees supported by huge buttresses and thick with creepers. Towering tall, these mighty trees are alive with the cries of gibbons, civet, macaques, squirrels, flying squirrels, bats, flying lemurs and chameleons. Nearby, the park's Ton Sai Waterfall is a bit of a disappointment, even when in full flood during the rainy season.
6 Thai Village and Orchid Farm.
With 20,000 varieties of orchid and tropical trees on display, this tour follows a typical southern Thai lunch with a spectacular cultural show including Thai dances, Thai boxing, souther customs and elephant antics. Relaxation is aided by the lilting sounds of Thai classical and folk music played on traditional instruments.
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