Chalong is an area found in south Phuket between Phuket Town and Rawai Beach. This mostly residential area is also a hub for marine activities with visiting yachts moored in Chalong Bay and many dive and tour boats departing from the pier every day.
If you’re planning to visit or live in Chalong, it’s easy to find things to see and do, whether you’re in search of a great meal with sea views or a place to work out. Some of Phuket’s most popular attractions are in Chalong including the Big Buddha and Wat Chalong, and there’s a good range of places to dine, drink and shop. Read on to find out more about Chalong sights and activities:
1. Enjoy awesome views at the Big Buddha
The Big Buddha is set atop the Nakkerd hills north of Chalong Pier. The statue is an impressive sight, a white jade seated Buddha image 45 metres tall that sparkles in the sunlight. The views from the hilltop are spectacular, stretching across the south end of Phuket across Chalong Bay, over Karon and Kata beaches and all the way to Cape Promthep in Rawai.
There are many ways to get up here, with most visitors arriving by car or tour van. If you’re looking for a workout in addition to your Big Buddha visit, then walk up Soi Yodsane 1 to the hilltop – a 5-kilometre trip – or from the Karon Beach area there’s a trail leading up. Find more details on the Big Buddha at the Go Phuket blog.
2. Visit Wat Chalong
Wat Chalong is a large Buddhist temple that’s more than two centuries old. Its most prominent feature is the Phramahathat Chedi, a glittering spire that reaches 61 metres into the sky. Climb the stairs to the top terrace level to enjoy fantastic views of the Big Buddha in the distance, or peek into the main temple hall with golden Buddha statues to see worshippers making merit and praying with incense and flower offerings.
During the Lunar New Year, usually in February, the temple puts on its annual Wat Chalong Fair with theme park rides, nightly stage shows and dozens of vendors selling flowers, food, clothing and assorted oddities. It’s hot, chaotic and busy but always fun to stop by for a few hours.
3. Learn Muay Thai kickboxing
If you’re keen to learn the ancient Thai sport of Muay Thai, Chalong is a great place to go. Ever since Tiger Muay Thai opened on Soi Ta-ead in 2003, the surrounding area has developed into a thriving centre for Muay Thai, mixed martial arts (MMA) and fitness. The street is now a lively place with many restaurants, cafes, bars and tattoo shops serving the needs of all the martial arts and fitness enthusiasts who gather here.
There are several Muay Thai camps on and around Soi Ta-ead offering lessons including Tiger, Titan, Rattachai, Suwit and Dragon. Try a single class for about 500 baht or book in for a full Muay Thai immersion for a week or a month.
4. Go for seafood with a sea view on Chalong Bay
Lining the edge of Chalong Bay are a few low-key restaurants and bars that are great spots to spend an evening gorging on seafood and sipping a beer while gazing out at the yacht-studded waters.
One of our favourite Chalong Bay dining spots is Kan Eang 2 restaurant. This casual waterfront dining spot offers a great range of Thai seafood dishes including tom yam talay (spicy seafood soup), haw mok Phuket (Phuket style curried fish mousse) and gaeng giawan goong (green curry with prawn). The original Kan Eang restaurant just next to the pier is another excellent choice with a more upscale design.
5. Stroll the Parlai Pier promenade
Parlai is a quiet residential area best known for its local restaurants including Parlai Seafood and Mor Mudong. If you stop by Parlai Seafood you could work off your meal by wandering out to the end of the pier and strolling the promenade that stretches along the seafront for about 1.5km. If you walk to the end of the promenade you can look across the inlet to Borrae fishing pier.
A new Tiger Muay Thai camp has opened near Mor Mudong restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ll see some fighters doing their daily fitness runs in the area. The pier is an awesome place to go in the early morning hours to watch the colourful sunrise over the bay.
6. Join a sailing race at Phuket Yacht Club
Phuket Yacht Club just south of the pier on Chalong Bay is a great spot to meet local sailors and get involved with its regular sailing race events. The club also has lessons for kids and adults, and a small fleet of dinghy yachts available for rent (proven sailing skills are a requirement for rental).
If you’re not into sailing, the yacht club has a good outdoor restaurant that welcomes anyone to come to enjoy a meal and drink with the lovely sea views.
7. Cool down with a swim
Newsflash: Phuket is hot! The best way to cool down is to head to the nearest beach and take a dip in the Andaman sea waters that surround the island, but there are also many swimming pools to dive into in the Chalong area. Some housing estates in Chalong have large swimming pools and clubhouses that charge a small fee to enter if you’re not a resident of the estate.
One of our favourite places to swim is the large swimming pool at Land & House Park, where you’ll also find a fitness centre, a gym with badminton and basketball courts, saunas, jacuzzis, Zumba classes and a restaurant. Chaofa Thani and Phuket Country Home estates also have outdoor pools with an attached shop and café and shower facilities.
8. Hire a long-tail boat at Chalong Pier
There are plenty of speedboat day tours to Coral Island, the Raya islands, Koh Bon and more that depart from Chalong Pier. For a more local-style experience you could also hire a long-tail boat from the pier – it’s a basic style of marine transport but excellent value if you’re travelling with a group.
It takes about 20 minutes to reach Coral Island, known locally as Koh Hey, where there’s shallow waters for snorkelling and a restaurant at each of its two beaches.
9. Learn to make cocktails at Chalong Bay Distillery
Chalong Bay Distillery is found in the Parlai area of Chalong, just off the busy Chaofa East Road. It’s a friendly French-owned place with a restaurant and distillery tours. We’ve enjoyed a few evenings here sipping drinks with friends in the alfresco dining area. The rum’s made with locally-sourced sugar cane and sold in attractive bottles that make good souvenirs and gifts.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 4pm they offer a cocktail workshop that includes lessons for 3 cocktails, a distillery tour and some tapas to enjoy with your fresh drinks. The restaurant is open daily from 11am to 11pm.
10. Go for a massage or spa treatment
Phuket has some excellent spa and massage places and Chalong is no exception. Wander down any road with shops and there will certainly be a massage or beauty salon to step into within a few metres.
Lai Thai massage is one of our favourites in Chalong, just above the Villa Market at Home Pro Village near Chalong Circle. For manicures, pedicures and hair styling, Angie’s salon at Fisherman’s Way in Rawai is a good place to stop (she speaks English and German, too!). We’ve also heard good reviews about Tarn Tara Spa near Wat Chalong.