International Affairs Centre, PSU Phuket
Photographer: Karim Khamzin, Flickr: kmk38
Amy Bensema, Dr. Richard L. Carhart, Karla Courey, Xiangmin Jiang, JieJie Limpanapa, Krix Luther, Cam McLean, Dr. Lynne Miller, Thakon Phewphong, and Fitri Silman
Published on October 7, 2022
Location, location, location. This is the mantra commonly used by realtors, though it also rings true for student recruitment in higher education. With the upward trend and the ever-growing demand for global student mobility, location becomes an important key component and a huge asset in the student recruitment strategy.
Apart from the study programs and facilities offered, students do care where they will study. In their decision-making process, students also consider the climate, culture, amenities, affordability, and lifestyle that the location has to offer. The uniqueness of the dining scenes, entertainment, attractions, social life, and leisure activities can be a crucial selling point to position a university as an attractive study destination with a rich student experience.
With this in mind, I chose this issue’s theme to highlight what Phuket has to offer in terms of leisure activities around the island, giving the students a glimpse of the diverse and wholesome life in Phuket.
On a different note, after nearly two years of publication, it’s bittersweet to announce that this issue will be our last issue published under Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus (PSU Phuket). The Phuket Collegiate Magazine will move to its own new domain in order to expand its content and scope independently. This is not an end, it’s a new beginning. The “new” magazine will be relaunched in 2023, so watch this space!
I want to dedicate this issue to my mentor–and above all, a dear friend–Sam Wilkinson, who passed away on June 5, 2022. He has been my biggest supporter and I’m sure that he’s very proud of what I’ve accomplished with the magazine. He will be forever missed.
Last but not least, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to PSU Phuket for the opportunity given for the magazine to flourish. Thank you all readers and writers for the support throughout the years. It’s been an amazing journey together and I hope we can continue this journey next year when the magazine is relaunched. If
If you would like to get in touch with me, drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, take care of yourself and each other. See you next year!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of PSU Phuket and its employees or the official policies of PSU Phuket. Any content provided by our contributors is of their opinions and is not intended to malign any individuals or entities.
A Celebration of Learning: The Role of Leisure Activities in Student Recruitment and Student Success
by Dr. Richard L. Carhart
I have to admit that in retrospect, and irrespective of any assignment or given job title, it seems that I’ve spent my entire career in international education as I learned early on that what is commonly called comprehensive internationalism in academe is really an integral component of any dynamic and proactive educational environment. Integrating a global perspective into the teaching, research, and service missions of higher education is critical to the viability of the institution and to the core learning it provides its students. It goes without saying that the presence of international students on our campus facilitates the exchange of people and ideas while serving to enrich the overall learning environment in which we all participate. I often recall the comments of a well-respected president of a major university in the U.S. who said that globalization broadens and enriches our students’ world…and the internationalization of our campuses prepares them to live in it. How appropriate, and really, how true.
Prospective Student’s Choice of a College or University
Factors that typically influence a student’s choice of a college or university include, but are not limited to, the perceived reputation/academic quality of the institution, the international dynamic of the institution, the availability of the desired program of study, the individual student’s potential for success and job placement, the availability of extracurricular and recreational opportunities (including sports, leisure and athletic facilities, student clubs, etc.), and the overall affordability of the institution. There are also a variety of outside influences which to a greater or lesser degree affect a student’s choice and these include the perspective of parents, the advice of close friends and peer influence, school location, and the perceived quality of teaching.
The factors influencing student’s choice are remarkably similar for international students, and with the addition of distance from the student’s home country and the perceived safety of the institution, differ only in priority of importance. For international students, the recommendation of close friends, overall cost and transportation expenses, the availability of recreational/leisure activities either on campus or in the immediate proximity, and institutional reputation typically impact an international student’s choice of a college or university.
The factors influencing student satisfaction are many and diverse including campus climate/campus life, the availability/accessibility of co-curricular leisure activities, support services available on campus, the quality of academic advising, the approachability of faculty members, the perceived quality of instruction, and campus security and safety. In the case of Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus (PSU Phuket), the campus location also seems to play a significant role in student satisfaction.
Often overlooked in the many empirical studies of university student satisfaction is the importance of the environment in which the institution is located. The rigors, demands, and stress inherent in university study bespeak a complementary and supportive environment that is designed to provide opportunities for students to relax, engage in recreational activities, and find enjoyment outside of the classroom. The research in this area is overwhelmingly conclusive–an environment that includes these components positively correlated with student satisfaction, student persistence, academic completion, and overall student success.
Phuket and International Student Recruitment
There is little doubt that PSU Phuket does indeed have a lot going for it. It has embraced globalization and multiculturalism as few universities have and made comprehensive internationalization an integral part of its DNA. The number of international programs is equally noteworthy and the vision and mission of the University embrace diversity, interdisciplinary knowledge, and international studies; all critical elements in attracting both domestic and international students. The University has articulated a bold vision, invested in that vision, and created a strategic plan to advance that vision, much to the benefit of the campus community and to the holistic and picturesque environment of Phuket where the campus is located.
A Celebration of Learning
I can’t help but be reminded of the work of the late Dr. Ernest Boyer, former Chancellor of the State University of New York and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the U.S., as well as a former Commissioner of Education there. A lot of the accepted research on student satisfaction, student recruitment, student retention (and yes, student attrition) was based on his book, “College: The Undergraduate Experience in America.” He often said that our colleges and universities should emulate what he called a celebratory environment…which he concluded would do much to positively impact both college satisfaction and student success. In this context, I often wondered where it is written that university studies (and student learning) should be onerous, difficult, and even at times painful? Perhaps a good litmus test of how well we are doing–in student recruitment, in enhancing student satisfaction, in student retention, and in the internationalization of our campus–is directly related to whether students are benefitting, and yes, enjoying, our efforts on their behalf both in the classroom and in the extra-curricular recreational opportunities we provide for them. And I can’t help but wonder, “Have our students learned to celebrate learning? And equally important, are they having fun?”
The obvious association and importance of student recruitment, student satisfaction, an enlightened and celebratory academic environment, and the availability of recreational and leisure activities provided for the students simply cannot be overstated. The attention given to the synergy created by these variables, which are of paramount importance to our students, is part of the inherent advantage that PSU Phuket enjoys, given its commitment to student satisfaction. This, coupled with its scenic and idyllic location, provides a template how an enlightened university like PSU might proceed in the future, which even the most casual of observers would conclude, is uniquely promising.
About the author:
Dr. Carhart has served as President of Stamford International University, Thailand; Dean of Student Services at Maui College, University of Hawaii, USA; Provost and Campus Director of Southern Illinois University-Niigata, Nakajo, Japan; Provost of the Hawaii Technology Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; Executive Director of the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF-Fulbright Commission), Jakarta, Indonesia; and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at Thammasat University, Thailand. You can reach him via email at email@example.com.
A Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture
By Milla Budiarto
The father of modern management, Peter F. Drucker, famously wrote, “You cannot predict the future, but you can create it.” During the economic turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Jitti Intaracharoen, who goes by the name Ko Mhai, witnessed the devastation and desperation of the people in his local community in Koh Prao. As a Phuketian himself and also the Chairman of Koh Prao Mangrove Forest Community Enterprise Group, a part of the Small and Micro Community Enterprise (SMCE) self-reliance program, he wanted to help his people have a continuous and sustainable income.
The Koh Prao Mangrove Forest Community Enterprise Group comprises 22 local community members who have a common way of life in aquaculture conservation in the Koh Prao area. Equipped with his educational background in Forestry Science from Kasetsart University and Public Administration from the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), expertise in the field of aquaculture and brackish water aquatic animals (Royal Award for Outstanding Farmer 2009 by The Department of Fisheries), business acumen recognized by The Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP), and his family’s over 50 years of experience in marine aquatic farming, Ko Mhai made the strategic decision to build a platform in the middle of Sapam Bay to sustainably cultivate marine animals. He named this Intara Farm and officially opened it in September 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. With the support of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Intara Farm was able to welcome COVID-19 community volunteers to visit the farm free of charge.
To date, Intara Farm is the only black salmon farm in Phuket. It is built on a 3 rai (0.48 hectare) platform designed for a sustainable natural outdoor aquaculture right at the heart of Sapam Bay–a five-minute longtail boat ride from Laem Hin Pier, flanked by mangrove forests. At low tide, Ling Samae (crab-eating macaque) can be seen near the mangrove forest a stone’s throw away from the farm. Intara Farm is more than just a sustainable aquaculture farm, it offers enriching leisure and learning activities, and also operates a farm-to-table seafood restaurant, where all the fresh ingredients come directly from the farm.
“In the face of the unknown, entrepreneurs act.”
– Paul B. Brown, author
New Beginning, New Hope
During the pandemic, Phuket’s tourism and hospitality industry was hit the hardest–crippling the economy and leaving countless people without livelihoods. Many local fishermen found themselves unable to sell their daily catch as many hotels and restaurants were ordered to close indefinitely. The sudden surge of jobless people entering the fishing and agricultural industry in order to survive only exacerbated the already saturated market.
In an effort to avoid price volatility and collapse of the fish market, Ko Mhai took a calculated risk and bought the local fishermen’s catch at standard market price. He then placed these marine animals in his farm for conservation and cultivation. The farm implements research-based methodologies to sustainably cultivate aquatic animals without using chemicals, relying on nature as much as possible. Furthermore, the farm applies mixed-cultivation for diversification in case of low market demand. This bold decision helped generate income for so many people in the Koh Prao community.
Apart from its main goal to conserve and sustainably use the marine resources, Intara Farm wants to create a fun and educational ecotourism site where people can learn about sustainable aquaculture, explore the surrounding flora and mangrove forests, experience the way of life of the local community, engage in environmental-friendly social and leisure activities around the farm, and also taste some delectable fresh seafood at its restaurant. The fresh and crunchy green caviars (known as sea grapes) is a must-try!
Charting the Path
Ko Mhai is a hands-on entrepreneur who is not afraid of getting his hands dirty, literally and figuratively speaking. He is always around and about doing anything everywhere, so much so that you’d never guess he’s the owner of the farm. Though he doesn’t speak English that well, that doesn’t stop him from passionately sharing his vast knowledge of the flora and fauna in and around the farm, with the help of an equally enthusiastic English-speaking local tour guide named Wilaiwan Pana or Mayya.
Mayya is also a Phuket native who graduated from the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus (PSU Phuket). She was in the hotel business for 17 years before deciding to become a freelance tour guide in the last 6 years to spend more time with her family. She is no stranger to agricultural farming and fishery as they are her passion and way of life.
Visitors to Intara Farm can walk around the farm to see and feed all kinds of marine life, learn in-depth about a few aquatic animals and pearl cultivation, go kayaking along the nature trail, participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities such as beach garbage collection on Coconut Island and mangrove tree-planting, make tie-dyed shirt using natural color from the mangrove bark, release aquatic animals to the sea, and feast on some of the freshest seafood around. Of course with a stunning backdrop and charming architecture, Intara Farm is definitely instagramable. So if you want to have a wholesome ecotourism experience and support the local community, Intara Farm is the place for you, hands down.
Phone: 082 412 8989, 081 597 8910, 099 251 9325
About the author:
Milla is passionate about four things: environmentalism, feminism, mental health advocacy, and cats. She earned her master’s degree in environmental planning and management from Louisiana State University (LSU) in the US. She is the founder and co-facilitator of Phuket Women’s Peer Support Group for Emotional and Mental Health and also the creator of Mental Health Phuket Facebook group.
20 More Hours to Go
By JieJie Limpanapa
In the past, when someone asked me about leisure activities in Phuket, I never knew how to respond to this question because I have lived here my entire life. At the time of this writing, I am 20 hours away from landing at Phuket International Airport. After spending half a year overseas, this got me thinking about the many leisurely activities available on this tiny island. Now, I think I can finally answer that question.
I have lived in Phuket for 13 years; I have seen so many beaches, sunsets, sunrises, and misty mornings to a point that they no longer stand out. However, while I was away, I sorely missed them all. Believe it or not, I actually miss going to Laem Promthep, one of the most well-known tourist attractions on the island. Many “beginners” would most likely observe the scenery from the highest point of the Cape, while “masters” like me would descend straight to the rocks and beaches–I have done that at least ten times. I enjoy spending my time watching the sunsets with my family.
Although Phuket is famous for its beautiful beaches and colorful sunsets, Phuket’s bustling night markets are worth mentioning too. Thai traditional night markets are filled with mouth-watering Thai street food stalls and makeshift shops selling clothes and a variety of things that can be purchased for a ridiculously low price. While living abroad, I’m used to buying T-shirts for $15, but in these night markets, the T-shirts cost as low as $4! Don’t worry, there are different night markets going on all across the island every day, so you will always have somewhere to go at night in Phuket.
The one place that I wish I could teleport to right now is Phuket Old Town. Wow, just thinking about it brings back a flood of memories. Walking along the street late at night, snapping pictures of the street arts on the Sino-Portuguese buildings like we were celebrities, buying things from the nearby shops, eating so many goodies from the businesses we passed, and of course, our parents letting us have some fun. The Sino-Portuguese buildings in the Old Town were built in the 16th century—this architectural style is the only one found in Thailand and existed in just a few locations in the whole world. In the Old Town, you can find numerous cute cafés that serve delicious traditional or fusion-style sweets and restaurants serving delectable meals, keeping you full for the remainder of the night.
The last thing I miss about living in Phuket is catching some sand crabs at Mai Khao Beach. These sand crabs are really tiny and trying to catch them is a lot of fun, filled with cheers and laughter. Of course, I always release the sand crabs after catching them. Beginners may have a hard time lifting up the sand crabs using traditional equipment made of wood and nets commonly used by the locals. Some restaurants around the island do make exquisite dishes out of these small critters. I usually stayed at the beach for hours and if I’m lucky I could watch the airplanes flying just above my head, landing at the airport nearby—the view was magnificent.
I really wish I could teleport home right now; I don’t want to wait for another 20 hours…… oh make that 19. Well, see you soon Phuket, and to my dear readers, happy travelling!
About the author:
JieJie is a Phuketian teenager who enjoys travelling to experience new environments and experiences to inspire her writing. Something of a polymath, she hopes to see a lot more of the world in the coming years and strives to be a perfectionist in her studies.
Bueng Kan and Phuket: Two Thai Cities with Different Cultures
By Thakon Phewphong
Have you ever heard of Bueng Kan City in Thailand? I’m sure many Thais and foreigners would probably say no, but if someone asks if you know Phuket City in Thailand, I believe many people would answer with a resounding yes. Although both Bueng Kan and Phuket are in Thailand, they have extremely different cultures and traditions in terms of tourist attractions, language (accent), beliefs, climate, music, and transportation.
Bueng Kan City, where I am from, is located in the northeastern part of Thailand by the Mekong River bordering Laos. Because Bueng Kan is a rural city that is mostly covered with forests, we don’t have any taxis, trains, or even an airport. Here, most people use tuk-tuks as a mode of transportation on a regular basis. The people here live quietly and harmoniously with nature, so you will rarely find coffee shops and cafes around the town.
In contrast, Phuket (known as “the pearl of the Andaman”) has many interesting places of attraction, leisure activities, and a convenient mode of transportation. Tourism in Phuket contributes a huge proportion of income to Thailand’s economy. I am sure that the youths in Phuket have more thorough educational opportunities since there are many well-known schools and quality educational institutions on the island.
Moreover, I believe that the people in Phuket are also more open and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, unlike in Bueng Kan. I think this is because people’s views and attitudes toward LGBTQ+ in Bueng Kan remain unchanged and I believe that outdated innovation and technology, or the lack thereof, plays a significant role in this matter. Although Bueng Kan lags in innovation compared to Phuket, its natural beauty, clean environment, and local lifestyle of the people definitely make Bueng Kan a remarkable place to visit.
I come from a rural area in northeastern Thailand. I’ve never seen trains, corals, the sea, or even airplanes in my life. I hope one day I will have the opportunity to visit Phuket–to witness the beauty of the Andaman Sea and the corals, go swimming in the ocean for the first time in my life, participate in some exotic leisure activities, and attend events that cannot be found in Bueng Kan.
About the author:
Thakon is a Grade 11 student from Bungkan School, Bueng Kan province, Thailand. He loves writing essays in English. He is the winner of the 2021 Monomousumi International Essay Contest (India). He was also a youth representative of Thailand in the 4G Project of the US Embassy in Thailand.
Those Days in Phuket
By Xiangmin Jiang
I came to Phuket to study at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus (PSU Phuket) in August 2021 and this is my first time traveling far away from China. Since arriving here, I have met so many Thai friends at the university. I think Thai people are really friendly and sometimes, just because of one eye contact, we will start talking. Through them, I learn more about the beauty of Phuket. My Thai friends would take me to many different places to have fun and enjoy some local Thai food.
I remember the first time I arrived here, my teacher took me to a restaurant to try Tom Yum Kung soup for the very first time. To me, the taste was so unique that I cried after eating it. This made my teacher laugh hysterically.
Then, my Thai friend took me to The Coral Beach Club in Koh Hey and we had to go by boat to the island. While on the boat, we listened to some music and took many photos. I tasted several Thai fruits and we also went diving together. However, since I can’t swim, I just sat on my surfboard and paddled around. This was such a fun experience for me.
Because Buddhism has a great influence on Thai culture, I asked my Thai friend to take me to the Big Buddha so that I can experience the difference between Thailand and China. In China, the practice of Buddhism is not too strict, so people can dress casually while entering a religious site. But in Thailand, it’s very different; if you don’t dress properly, you won’t be allowed inside the temple. The site is really sacred; you could hear the sound of the sutras pouring into your mind and then you would feel as if your body and mind are being purified. The restless heart will soon calm down. It’s awe-inspiring.
I think Phuket is a place full of life and passion. I am amazed by the way people live here and how they always have a zest for life. I am also in awe of the religion and the culture here. Everything in Phuket makes me want to stay here longer.
Xiangmin or Vincent is a 2nd year Chinese student studying International Business: China at the Faculty of International Studies. He enjoys walking along the beach and playing billiards. For him, the best thing about living in Phuket is the warm weather.
Welcome to Phuketland
By Krix Luther
What do you imagine when you hear the word leisure? Most assume it means relaxing in a spa and being pampered. But leisure is simply what you enjoy doing during your free time. So, it could be different things for different people. That’s what makes Phuket such an excellent place for leisure activities because there is such a wide variety of things to do that no one would feel bored or left out.
However, many of Phuket’s leisurely activities are already known, such as scuba diving, relaxing on a beach, or going to Patong etc. I wanted to bring some light to some incredible activities that are not so well advertised on this island. So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are some new and unique things you can do during your free time.
If doing volunteer work or supporting the common good is your thing, then Phuket has got you covered. From environmentalists to animal lovers alike, there is something for you.
- Clean The Beach Boot Camp
As a Personal Trainer, I started this fantastic and unique concept in Phuket and it is now a global project. I would give free workouts on the beach if, in return, all people who attended the workout would help me clean the beach afterward. This is a great community event and an excellent place to network with like-minded people. The 45-minute workout is fun and tailored to all fitness levels. Sometimes, it is a mix of fitness and yoga. Then trash bags and gloves are given out to everyone for the beach clean-up, which lasts about 1 hour. For more information on this event, please visit their website.
- Elephant Sanctuary
Thailand has a massive stigma around elephant riding attractions. Social media over the years has revealed the dark side of these abusive animal tourist attractions, and many places have closed since. There is a new Elephant Sanctuary that has rescued some of these elephants. You can visit these rescued elephants, walk among them, feed them, and even bathe them. However, be aware that some elephant attractions may claim to be an “Elephant Sanctuary.” Keep in mind that If they let you ride the elephant, it’s not a Sanctuary! There is only one Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket now, and this is their website.
If you are a huge animal lover, I would also recommend checking out the Soi Dog Foundation.
Phuket has become the mecca for health and fitness in Southeast Asia. From detox centres to fitness camps to the abundance of Muay Thai Gyms in Phuket. Fitness tourism is enormous here, so whatever your preference, we got you covered. But most people know about that anyway. So let me tell you about some very cool, physically active leisurely things you can try.
- Surf House
Surf House is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a place you can surf, but the waves are artificial. Its jet streams of water shooting up a canopy in a ramp shape, it’s a lot of fun for all ages, and I highly recommend trying it. They say it’s more similar to skateboarding than it is to surfing.
- Rock Climbing
Whether you are a novice or a pro, Phuket has excellent rock climbing facilities. You can try real rock climbing or practice at the Rebel Rock Climbing club. This place is pretty cool and close to Phuket Wake Park, another place you can try. Rebel Rock Climbing has a training zone, boulder room, lead climbing wall, etc. You will be having so much fun, you won’t even think you were exercising.
You might be familiar with all the scuba diving tours and speed boat island trips. Still, if you are looking for something different, you should try taking a cruise on a sailing boat.
- Sailing in Phuket
One of the most incredible things about living in Phuket is that we are on an island surrounded by other beautiful islands. So, a great way to spend the day is to hire a boat and check them out. However, the typical speed boat tours can feel a bit rushed and uncomfortable. One of my favourite boats is a sailing catamaran like the ones Sea2Charters has. They’re comfortable, relaxing, and open so you can socialise or sunbathe on the deck. Using one of these boats makes the journey just as remarkable as the destination. However, sailing boats are limited to how far they can go on a day trip. So, if you are looking to go a little farther, say a day trip to Phi Phi or Racha Islands, with the same sort of comfort and relaxed experience, but with the advantage of speed, then a powered catamaran like Blue World Safaris is your best bet.
- Boat Parties
Perhaps your idea of leisure is blowing off some steam at a party, but why go to regular old Patong to party. Try one of the local boat parties and sunset cruises like Hype Boat Club. Similar to Sea2Charters sailing boat but a lot bigger and built for partying, with a DJ booth, dancing area, bar etc. It’s quite a popular cruise and a unique experience.
Staying at Home
What do you do if it rains? Most of what is suggested above are only enjoyable in Thailand’s typical sunny weather. But sometimes, it can also get too hot, or you might be too sore from one of the Phuket fitness activities. You don’t want to get bored at home, so let’s introduce something unique then.
This might seem like a strange suggestion for one’s leisure time. However, gaming is a massive part of most men’s downtime in the western world. It has become a significant part of Thailand’s youth today. With the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) recognising eSports as a professional sport in September 2021, gaming is becoming an acceptable career choice. But not just gaming, a lot of people during the lockdowns in the pandemic turned to streaming, either on YouTube, Facebook Gaming or Twitch. Many international schools are recommending Minecraft to their students and parents. It’s a game that comes with educational benefits rather than mindless violence. Minecraft has been proven to help kids improve their maths skills, problem-solving abilities, encourage teamwork, and manage resources. The game can be played on any device such as PlayStation, Xbox, PC, and all mobile devices. So, if you need to distract the kids whilst you do some of your own leisurely activities, this is an excellent choice for the whole family. You should join this Minecraft Discord for more information.
There is a gaming community called Salty Zombies, based in Thailand that runs a Minecraft server for people in Phuket and Thailand to play on. It soon became one of the most popular Minecraft servers in Asia. So, if gaming is something you do for leisure, then there are local servers for you to play on. Salty Zombies don’t just host Minecraft, they also have games like RUST, Atlas, PZ, Conan, Valheim, 7 Days, and a lot more. So if you’re wanting to spend some time relaxing at home, why not jump on one of their local servers and play with other people in Phuket?
About the author:
Krix has lived in Thailand for 15 years as a Personal Trainer and an entrepreneur. He is also an avid free diver and environmentalist who started his own beach clean up organization called “Clean The Beach Boot Camp.”
Discover the Diversity of Phuket’s Dining Scene
By Amy Bensema
Phuket is a foodie’s paradise. While best known for its stunning beaches and the electric nightlife of Bangla Road, the dining scene in Phuket is not to be missed. Dubbed a ‘City of Gastronomy’ by UNESCO in December 2015, Phuket’s gastronomy continues to go from strength to strength.
Locals, expats, and travelers to the island will be delighted to know that Phuket’s dining scene caters to all budgets – it really is possible to be as low-key or extravagant as you like! So, whether you are looking to tuck into street food favorites, indulge in a fine dining experience, or taste the explosive flavors of southern Thai cuisine, Phuket offers an array of dishes to tantalize the taste buds and please discerning palates.
Sample the Best Street Food
Street food in Phuket is a foodie’s dream come true. Stroll through the stalls and stands of Phuket to sample heaping plates of Pad Thai, succulent skewers of grilled meats and poultry, fresh and spicy salads, as well as savory snacks and sweet treats.
So, now that your taste buds are tempted, where can you find the best street food in Phuket? The honest answer is – everywhere on the island! However, here’s a few recommendations to explore.
Lock Tien Food Court on the corner of Dibuk and Yaowarat Roads in Phuket Town features stalls serving a number of typical Phuket dishes including Po Piah, fresh spring rolls, and Loh Bak, deep-fried pork offals served with deep-fried tofu and red chili sauce.
Head to A Pong Mae Sunee on Soi Soon Uthit for the best A Pong on the island. A Pong is a thin and crispy deep-fried rice flour pancake that resembles a crepe. This shop makes both sweet and savory forms, and it’s fun to watch the owners shift the street snack over hot coals.
The street food market at Kalim Beach is a great place to grab some cheap eats and watch the sunset. The market sets up every afternoon and the various stalls offer up favorite delights such as grilled chicken with papaya salad, roti, noodle soup, and a variety of spicy curries.
More classic street food dishes and snacks can be found at any of the daily markets across the island. Visiting a market is an exceptionally fun way to eat your way around Phuket. Plus, do not forget your camera as you are bound to get some great shots of all the delicious food being sold.
Dine at Local Michelin Guide Restaurants
Phuket was included in the Michelin Guide Thailand for the first time in 2019. The presence of the revered guide on the island gave Phuket the dining scene exposure it was lacking and so very needed. Since then, a list of unassuming local restaurants have been featured with listings such as Bib Gourmand – which recognizes friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices – and the Michelin Plate, which is less prestigious than the Bib Gourmand but signifies the restaurant is included in the Michelin Guide.
With 58 restaurants in Phuket now listed in Michelin Guide Thailand, foodies are spoilt when it comes to sampling authentic Thai cuisine at affordable prices. However, three recommended local Michelin Guide restaurants that will leave a lasting impact on the tastebuds include Mor Mu Dong, Jadjan, and Khun Jeed Yodpak.
Located in a mangrove forest in Phuket’s Palai neighborhood, Mor Mu Dong is a totally unique local food experience. The rustic restaurant specializes in seafood and southern Thai cuisines. Note that the food is often spicy, but it is absolutely delicious. Make sure to order Mor Mu Dong’s signature dish, Pla Tu Yat Sai. It is a zesty stuffed fish full of fresh flavors.
Owned by a former 5-star hotel chef, Jadjan is located on the outskirts of Phuket Town and is well worth visiting. Situated in a small shophouse, the restaurant is famous for its intensely flavored southern Thai food. The restaurant is often busy, but the prices are affordable. The crab meat curry with betel leaves is highly recommended!
A favorite in Phuket Old Town, and often recognized by the long queue winding down Phang Nga Road, Khun Jeed Yodpak is a hole-in-the-wall eatery that serves up fantastic food. The restaurant is famous for its Radna, a savory noodle dish featuring a variety of meats and vegetables slathered in a gooey gravy. Other noteworthy menu items here include both the pork and chicken satays and the Chinese fried radish.
Experience the Island’s Coffee Culture
Coffee culture in Phuket is booming, cute new cafes and coffee shops are opening all the time. Coffee lovers will rejoice in the fact that it is now possible to get a variety of artisanal brews and specialty coffees in Phuket, as well as traditional kopi served with sweetened condensed milk.
With so many cafes and coffee shops to choose from, it can often be hard to know where to go to get a caffeine fix and perhaps a sweet slice of homemade cake. A one-of-a-kind coffee shop that has it all is หนัง(สือ)2521. Known to expats as Bookhemian, the coffee shop is located in the heart of Phuket Old Town on Thalang Road. Here, you can find exceptional coffee, scrumptious light bites, and a variety of activities including film screenings and art exhibitions.
For those looking for a traditional coffee fix, visit Kopi de Phuket on Phuket Road in town. It’s a Chinese-style cafe that serves up varieties of Thai tea as well as local Phuketian dishes and snacks. Kopi de Phuket is a great place to enjoy coffee and have breakfast.
Now that you’ve been exposed to the diversity of Phuket’s dining scene, the only thing left to do is go out to eat!
About the author:
Amy Bensema is a Phuket-based copywriter. She seeks out unique local experiences and off-the-beaten-path destinations that truly highlight the island’s natural charm and Phuketian flavor. Amy writes feature articles on travel, hospitality, leisure, and Phuket’s dynamic dining scene for a variety of local and international publications.
The Benefits of Yoga as a Study Aid
By Fitri Silman
With the increasing pressures to ace the exams and the stress of entering a competitive job market, many students and educational institutions around the world are turning to yoga to help reduce stress and anxiety and increase academic excellence.
Here, we look at five reasons why incorporating yoga into a study routine may benefit the student’s overall academic performance and wellbeing.
Improve Attention and Focus
Yoga employs a number of centering techniques, such as mindful breathing, to improve concentration.
When teachers at Edmunds Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa, USA introduced a “Be Well” discussion on wellness into their morning routine, followed by breathing exercises and mindful meditation, they noticed the result immediately. The students’ test scores improved by more than 18 percent. One teacher commented, “Practicing yoga and taking these mindful pauses throughout the day is like hitting the reset button, for all of us. I was going to leave teaching. I was so overwhelmed. Not anymore.”
Any amount of pressure, academic or otherwise, can lead to stress if not properly managed. Yoga provides coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and anxiety, and can leave the practitioner with an improved sense of wellbeing.
In her research paper titled, “The Role of Yoga in Education,” Daniela Cvitkovic observed that, “…yoga has proved to be effective in treating a variety of conditions and diseases. Practicing yoga can help reduce stress, anxiety symptoms, and depressions.”
Further study on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques in “Reducing Stress in School-age Girls Through Mindful Yoga,” Laura White pointed out that such techniques can lead to both an acknowledgment of stress and improved coping mechanisms.
Students who are required to memorize and recall large amounts of information may benefit from making yoga a part of their daily routine.
In a study comparing a control group of students who incorporated yoga into their day and those who adopted general physical exercise for the same period, N. K. Namjunath and Shirley Telles found that the group who practiced yoga performed better on memory, planning, and cognitive-based tests.
The yoga training consisted of standing postures (asanas), voluntary regulated breathing (pranayama), internal cleansing practices (kriyas), devotional songs, meditation, and relaxation techniques.
Enhance Physical Wellbeing
To maintain optimal performance across all areas of life, balance is key. However, in times of severe academic pressure, with looming exams or deadlines, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of exercising as part of the day.
As a form of mindful movement, yoga is particularly well-suited to provide non-competitive, gentle ways to engage in physical activity. Yoga movements can be enjoyed even in the shortest of time, with minimal equipment needed, meaning that students can incorporate routines as part of their study breaks.
Special yoga routines may be designed for morning flow, which provide the practitioner with the physical and mental readiness to get the most from their day, or designed with relaxation and stretching in mind, serving as a reward for a successful day of learning.
One of the dangers of a rigorous academic workload that requires long study hours can lead to incorrect posture due to the time spent sitting down. This poor posture can develop into major health complications and structural issues, such as the dreaded bad back.
The practice of various asanas on a regular basis leads to correction of posture, enhanced flexibility, and improved balance, as it brings equilibrium to the whole body.
About the author:
Fitri Silman is the CEO and Founder of Fit Yoga, a luxury wellness brand offering stylish, multi-purpose yoga apparel.
The Growth of the Muay Thai Business in Phuket: A Tale Borne out of Love
By Dr. Lynne Miller
Diana Campillo was a PhD student at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County, USA. 9/11 gave her pause for thought, deciding she would like to travel more. She went to China on a whim. The friends she met there persuaded her to accompany them on a visit to Thailand even though she had no particular interest in the country. Nevertheless, she thought she would join the group to find out more about the place everyone spoke so highly of. Little did she know that Thailand would not be the only thing she fell in love with on that trip.
It was during a boat trip to the Similan Islands that she met the guy who was to become the love of her life. Tuk, who was born in the back of a Tuk Tuk (hence the nickname), was a 24-year-old Muay Thai fighter on the cusp of retiring from his stadium fighting career in Bangkok. His fighting name was Sakaddao Sor Ayupinda. In the peak of his career, he fought all over Thailand as well as in Australia.
Love was quick to bloom and Diana decided to give up her studies and her life in America to stay in Thailand to be with Tuk. The question was, how was she going to achieve this? In common with most retiring Muay Thai fighters, Tuk had little to show for it financially. Diana had 10,000 USD in savings.
Diana came up with the idea of opening a gym in Phuket that would cater for foreigners, including women. At the beginning of the millennium, there were many small village gyms in Phuket, primarily focused on training young Thai boys. Elsewhere in Thailand, there were a few larger gyms such as 13 Coins in Bangkok, Fairtex in Pattaya, and Lanna Muay Thai in Chiang Mai. Tuk and Diana visited them all. Diana felt that together they could come up with something even better in Phuket.
It took a while to persuade Tuk that it was a good idea. A gym focusing on foreigners was difficult for him to comprehend, especially the idea of including women. It was almost unheard of. He did eventually relent but initially suggested women could train at the new gym, but they wouldn’t be allowed to enter the ring. Diana dug her heels in and insisted women have full access to all aspects of the training. In the early days of their gym in Phuket, one of Tuk’s primary responsibilities was to teach the other Thai trainers how to work with women.
In 2003, Tuk and Diana took the brave step of signing a 10-year lease on some land in Rawai and so Rawai Muay Thai came into being. Diana was full of trepidation in signing a 10-year lease as her original intention was to give it a go for a few months over the summer.
They had a huge task in front of them. It was before the days of smartphones and social media such as Facebook, which was launched in 2004. Diana knew nothing of websites and programming so they partnered with an Australian, Danny Avison. He was the person who developed their first website in HTML format. This was groundbreaking as few Muay Thai gyms at that time had a website. Some smaller Thai gyms still do not have one! Danny eventually went on to open his own gym, Phromthep Muay Thai.
Nearly 20 years later, Rawai Muay Thai still exists, although now it is based in Khao Lak, Phang Nga province. Tuk and Diana got married eight months after meeting each other. She didn’t tell her parents until after they were married. Her father, who was the Mexican Ambassador to Indonesia during his career, took a laissez faire attitude and gave his full support to Diana and Tuk. They are still very much involved in their Muay Thai business and have two beautiful daughters who have yet to decide whether they wish to carry on their parents’ legacy.
Diana’s vision and what she succeeded in achieving together with Tuk can be credited as the foundation on which the huge growth in Muay Thai tourism in Phuket is based.
Ascertaining the actual contribution of Muay Thai to the tourism economy in Phuket is difficult. It is true to say, however, that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people came to Phuket every year for the sole reason of practicing Muay Thai.
Many Muay Thai gyms in Phuket can be traced back in one way or another to Tuk and Diana’s gym. For example, the founder of Tiger Muay Thai (Will McNamara) started his journey training at Rawai Muay Thai. Tuk remembers him well. He was a big guy and holding pads for him was very challenging for the much smaller Thai trainers employed at their gym. Tiger Muay Thai is now well-known for training UFC fighters and for turning over hundreds of students a day.
As the volume of Muay Thai tourists has grown, so has the number of gyms to service them. The opening of all those gyms stemmed from love in one way or another. Some owners simply love the sport. Others love Thailand and, like Diana, opened a gym as a means to stay. Others just love doing business and saw Muay Thai as an opportunity.
The exponential growth in the number of gyms on the island has led to increasing diversification. Many have diversified into other Martial Arts such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The style of gyms has changed too and some of the facilities are vast allowing them to cater for large numbers of students at any one time.
In my own gym, Sumalee Boxing Gym, traditional Muay Thai remains at the core of our business. We have distinguished ourselves by focusing on busy professionals and expatriates looking for a retreat to experience traditional Muay Thai and yoga whilst recharging in our secluded environment. More recently, we have rethought the restaurant concept in conjunction with a sports nutritionist to place emphasis on fuelling, recovery, and flavour for our guests.
Since Rawai Muay Thai opened its doors in 2003, Phuket has become known as a centre for fitness and wellbeing. The fitness industry here is burgeoning. Some of the foreign owners started their journey training at Rawai Muay Thai. Tuk and Diana are two modest people to whom so much can be attributed in terms of how the tourism-related fitness industry in Phuket has developed.
About the author:
Dr Lynne Miller is the founder of Sumalee Phuket based in Thalang. She has been involved in the Muay Thai business in Phuket since 2009. Together with her daughter Rhian, she opened her own Muay Thai gym in 2011. She is the author of the book “Fighting for Success: Unravelling the Muay Thai Business in Thailand.” Contact Lynne via email at Lynne@sumaleeboxinggym.com or send a message via WhatsApp +66(0)880173020.
As Peaceful Haven for Rescued Elephants
By Cam McLean
Located on the west coast of the beautiful island of Phuket–in close proximity to Layan, Bangtao, and Surin Beaches–is the accredited, sustainable, and ethical Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve. A must-visit site for anyone wanting to experience a unique community-based elephant sanctuary that also includes a restaurant and a host of wellness and educational workshops.
Founded in 2019 by a New Zealand expat Cam McLean, it has not been an easy ride navigating the turbulent waters of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve had barely opened its door for a little under 2 months before the pandemic hit, resulting in a 15-month closure, untold heartache, and financial and emotional stress.
Good things are meant to survive, and the Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve did survive, backed with strong community support and a revised open-door policy offering a host of activities and workshops to cater to many interests.
Two beautiful elephants, Lotus and Bow, have been rescued from a life of riding tours, chains, and abuse, to live in a safe and protected life at the reserve, together with 3 adopted dogs, 17 ducks, and around 20 chickens. Cam is busy raising funds to be able to rescue more elephants and has plans to further expand the Reserve.
Cam and his team have also worked very hard to offer visitors an educational program where they are immersed into the elephant’s world in a natural and unobtrusive manner that doesn’t stress or impact the elephant’s freedom. The natural jungle hike where guests enjoy a walk side-by-side with the elephants through our lush tropical reserve is one such activity. Another is the Elephant Dung Recycling Center where guests learn how to make recycled paper from treated elephant dung!
A full list of the activities available at the Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve include:
- Half-day elephant care adventure programs,
- Short (90 minutes) elephant care adventure programs,
- Private elephant care adventure programs,
- Thai cooking school (coming soon!),
- Ban Chang restaurant observation deck,
- Regular weekend and private guided adventure hikes,
- Daily yoga,
- Kids drama workshops,
- Singing bowl sessions,
- The Waldorf School Phuket,
- Events and team-building programs,
- Birthday parties, Elephant Dung Recycling Center, Kids zone with trampoline, swings, seesaw, lego, games, & lots more!
So, the next time you are visiting the Cherngtalay area, be sure to drop by and visit the Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve and help support the wonderful work they are doing.
About the author:
Originally from New Zealand, Cam has been living and working in Asia since 1994 and based in Phuket since 2016. Cam founded the Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve in 2019 and has a passion for the outdoors, traveling, adventure, and animal welfare.
By Karla Courey
Pablo, we’ve traveled the world together for over ten years. We saw a total of 31 countries and over 100 different cities. On our most recent trip in Phuket, Thailand, you decided to wobble away and I am left with only the memories and stories to tell. We spent close to two weeks in Thailand, enjoying the beach, hanging out with the elephants, tigers, and amazing people, trying new foods, and walking all over Phuket. My heart wants to believe you wanted to stay on the continent of Asia.
Your journey started from Cleveland, Ohio, when you were put in a cardboard box with a love letter and a promise ring. I was living in Okinawa, Japan at the time when my current boyfriend, now husband, decided to surprise me with you. Looking back, I wish I would have started capturing our moments a lot sooner. I know you are just a little old stuffed animal, but to me you were my traveling partner. My travel companion who never said no to climbing, swimming, going on adventures, and especially to be in the pictures.
We met in Asia and now you stayed behind in Asia. A relationship of 10 years has wobbled away and you left me here just reminiscing on our adventures together. I lost you while walking back to the hotel, within 10 minutes I noticed that you had fallen out of my pocket. I retraced my steps and searched everywhere for you, hoping that I would find you–but I didn’t. I cried the whole way up and down the street; a grown woman, a 31-year-old successful teacher, realtor, and photographer, crying for a stuffed penguin. I hope that the person who found you loves you, takes you on trips, and adores you the way I did.
Pablo, you left me with a broken heart, and the thought of replacing you hurts me. No matter where I went, you were always there with me. I don’t remember when exactly I started taking photos of you, but I am so glad I did. Although sometimes I would forget to snap your photo, you were always inside my backpack pocket sticking your little head out. I’ve always had a love and passion for penguins, that’s why out of all the stuffed animals, you were picked and sent to me.
Pablo, you were always there for me during important milestones in my life. From taking my first solo trip to Japan, to getting engaged in Punta Cana, to getting married on the beach in Cancun, Mexico. You were placed in my flower girl’s basket on the day of my wedding, and seeing your little head popped out during my ceremony brought me so much joy. I never realized how much you meant to me until I broke down in tears when my mom decided to give you a wash after our trip to Guatemala. You smelled like the ocean and were so dirty with specks of black sand, but that’s what made you, YOU. I didn’t want to wash you because seeing you dirty like that gave you character and told a story.
My Pablo, my little traveling buddy, I hope that one day we will meet again. My heart hopes that someone found you, reads this article, puts you inside a cardboard box, and sends you to me like the first time we met.
About the author:
Karla’s parents are immigrants from Guatemala, so traveling outside of the country as a child was not possible for her due to her parents’ immigration status. Nevertheless, her parents would always take her to a new city whenever they could. This sparked her passion for traveling from a young age.