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I’ll have the เป็ด…

in Dining by

Host to thousands of famed authentic Thai restaurants and plenty of newer culinary hotshots too, each with several exotic dishes to sample, choosing where to dine out in Phuket can be overwhelming. One piece at a time is the best way to take it all in, and this feature serves up recommendations about how and where to enjoy one very specialty entree.  

… THE DUCK, PLEASE.

From a plethora of duck or เป็ด entrees popular in Phuket, we found four dishes most likely to wow visitors and leave a lasting impression.

1- Duck Tamarind

The Duck Tamarind is a choice ambassador of the Blue Elephant’s Bohemian/Buddhist charm. Roasted duck breast is elegantly stacked atop a bed of fried, shredded kale and topped with crispy fried onions. The rice server glides from table to table, offering never-ending servings of steamy white Jasmine or organic black rice. The tart and sweet tamarind sauce provides an adhesive element for this interesting, impressionable cuisine. The crispy, savory, and tart flavors of the dish left me eagerly anticipating the next bite before I was done with my first.

The Blue Elephant
Governor’s Mansion, Phuket Town, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000

The Blue Elephant is located inside the historic governor’s mansion in Phuket Town. The trail up to the mansion is lit by tiki torches and blue string lights dangling from lanterns hanging from massive tree branches. The mansion’s green and white checkerboard floor blends well the limestone colonnades and dark-wood ceiling. The lighting from the antique chandeliers and the brass, orchid-themed sconces create an ambiance that is sleek, historical, and hip all at once. Also, there’s an abundance of blue elephant sculptures scattered about, along with traditional Thai art and pictures of King Rama IX.

Afterward, I was given a brief tour of the Blue Elephant Cooking Class room, the famous Blue Bar, the main kitchen, and the upstairs seating for larger parties. The wooden floors, contemporary shark paintings, vintage Buddhist artwork, and blend of freshly cut flowers create an ambiance that the Blue Elephant has become famous for.

The Duck Tamarind is a dish that is justifiably representative of this established restaurant’s history. The Blue Elephant has locations in Bangkok, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Malta, Dubai, Jakarta, and Phuket.

2- Stewed Duck and Egg Noodle Soup

Kitti Duck Noodle
367/30-31 Yaowarat Road,

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Thai King’s New Baht Banknote

in News/Tips by
New Baht Thailand Currency

For travel in Thailand, money basics are a need to know. The Thai Baht (pronounced /bɑːt/ and abbreviated to THB, or ฿) is the official currency of Thailand. Thai Bhat is a common misspelling! In Thai, it is written: บาท and subdivided into 100 satang. Coins come in denominations of: 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht, as well as 25 and 50 satang. Banknotes come in denominations of: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht.

A Fresh New Look

What you may not know is that in April 2018 the Bank of Thailand (BOT) began circulating a brand new family of banknotes, ‘Series 17’, the first ever to feature a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, whose revered father, the late King Bhumipol Adulyadej passed away in 2016, ending a world record-breaking seven-decade reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX, has appeared on baht banknotes for the past 70 years.

The main colours and sizes of the notes haven’t changed, with the back designs featuring images of the Kings of Thailand from past to present. The 20, 50 and 100 baht banknotes were released on Chakri Memorial Day, April 6, 2018. The final two denominations of 500 and 1,000 baht will be issued on the new king’s birthday on July 28, 2018.

Current (left) V. New (right)
Banknotes (Photos via Bank of Thailand)

The Bank of Thailand will issue a new ‘Series 17’ set of banknotes on July 28 featuring a portrait of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun in the Royal Thai Air Force uniform, to mark the 66th birthday of the King. Current ‘Series 16’ banknotes of the late king will remain in circulation. 

Creative Design & Functionality

Unlike some countries in South East Asia the banking sector in Thailand has, over the years, proven to be a major stabilising force for the Thai economy. Lessons learnt from the industry collapse over 20 years ago have seen Thai banks showing fresh resilience today, due in no small part to the regulation of financial institutions.

Once approved by the Minister of Finance, the BOT is responsible for the design, print, issuing, and management of banknotes. Although no longer hand drawn, banknote designers must be able to combine visual artistry and technical expertise with cultural identity and counterfeit deterrence features.

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Open Studios at Phuket Art Village

in Shops by
girl at phuket art village

A colourful and quirky artists’ enclave hidden away in the southern neighbourhood of Rawai, the Phuket Art Village is a hippy chic collection of working art studios; home to some of the island’s most outstanding local artists. Both eclectic and charming, the Phuket Art Village oozes artistic flair.

Home to a group of unique studios that were built by their artists (and are in many instances lived in) the Phuket Art Village functions as a creative space for both the artists in residence and the local community… travellers included.

phuket art village

As well as selling their wares on-site, the artists host painting classes, sculpture workshops, environmental awareness seminars and jam sessions. A visit to the village makes a good outing for art-lovers and groups of all ages including families (contact the venue in advance to find out about scheduled art workshops and shadow puppet shows for your kids).

There are several studios and galleries to explore within the village. Most are open daily, although hours vary depending on the season. Here we introduce two of the artists you might meet:

niran art gallery

Niran Art Gallery

A slight, kind and softly-spoken man originally from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, artist Niran Chanhom relocated to Phuket several years ago because of his love for the sea. And it is the sea that has become his greatest inspiration.

painting at niran art gallery in phuket

Driftwood in all shapes and sizes collected from Phuket’s various beaches are the beating heart of many of his creations. His artistic flair is perhaps best captured in his life-size wooden sculptures of fish and other marine life. These driftwood sea creatures are not only beautiful, but also reflect Niran’s hopes of protecting the ocean.

phuket art village

While making art from driftwood will always be his favourite medium, in recent years Niran has evolved his craft and taken to large canvases – often depicting a lonely fisherman with his fishing pole or catch of the day – to let his creativity explode. His abstract paintings are both bright and colourful and introduce new characters to his artistic line-up. Niran’s latest works are a series of mismatched faces and a few smaller pieces that highlight the bond between mother and child.

phuket art gallery

A visit to Niran’s art gallery in Phuket is an opportunity to admire his work and get up close and personal with the artist himself.

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‘A Chef’s Tour’ A Phuket Must

in Dining/Recreation by
Produce Market Phuket

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti

In 2017 Phuket was crowned a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO and anyone who has ever experienced real Thai food will agree that it’s arguably one of the best foods in the world. A balance between sweet, spicy, bitter, salty and sour is the main reason why Thai food is so special. But in internationally renowned Phuket, you find there’s actually much more than Thai cuisine to tantalize your taste buds.

chinese doors phuket

Having lived and worked in Phuket for the past 11 years I thought I had experienced most of southern Thai food, as well as some of the dishes from the North. In my culinary journey, (which does make me sound like a foodie millennial) have tried chicken feet and chicken heart, fried silk worms, raw prawns in fish sauce, chili and lime (this is one of my favourites to order) and a bitter-tasting green vegetable thing that to this day I have no idea what it was, although it was disgusting.

In May this year, it was announced that the legendary Michelin Guide will now include restaurants from Phuket and Phang Nga. With all the accolades that Thai food has received and now with the car tire manufacturer’s marshmallow man in the picture I thought it time to jump on the food cart wagon and see what is out there in terms of food tours and adventures.

Old Town Phuket

A CHEF’S TOUR

There are of course some fabulous cooking schools in Phuket that will teach you how to cook an authentic Pad Thai or a Green Curry, but isn’t it better to get out of the TV kitchen and hit the streets? I wanted to eat and drink with the locals. So, along with my friend we chose to go on A Chef’s Tour, which is a boutique tour that gives you a true flavor of food in Phuket and as you will find out, this tour gives you a whole lot more.

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • 4-hour guided walking tour of Phuket Old Town
  • Tastings at hidden “street eats” and local restaurants
  • History and culture lesson on southern Thai cuisine
  • Great photo opportunities
  • Drinking water and Thai refreshments
  • Private fully-licensed (foodie) guide

red Chinese lanterns Phuket

On the steps of one of Phuket Town’s largest indoor markets,

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Koh Samui’s magic rum

in Tips by
Cocktails in Koh Samui

Idyllic destination, exciting new experiences, exotic food and summery cocktails all day, right? You bet. Our Koh Samui villas offer exactly that and a whole lot more. Although, when it comes to domestic Thai spirits worth drinking, the selection in Koh Samui is underwhelming. Unless you know this: there is magic rum on this island.

magic alambic rum samui

IMAGE FROM MAGIC ALAMBIC RUM

Of the few distilleries in Thailand, Magic Alambic Rum is the only one producing a Caribbean agricole-style spirit and they offer a true island experience right here in Koh Samui – local rum tasting.

Located on the southern tip of Koh Samui, this rum distillery was founded in 2003 by entrepreneurial couple Elisa and Michel Gabrel. Elisa, originally from Martinique, and Frenchman Michel experimented with brewing alcohol from the abundance of locally-grown tropical fruits available. Unsuccessful at first, they decided to make rum in the agricole style, a process that uses distillation from freshly-squeezed sugarcane, which is readily available in North Thailand. This facility is the first French distillery in Thailand. 

koh samui fruit market

SAMUI MARKET – IMAGE FROM VILLA WAIMARIE

AGRICOLE SUGARCANE RUM

While most industrial rums are made from molasses and additives like caramel, rum agricole is an exception because it originated in the West Indies where the French government strictly controlled its production.

Agricole-style rum is made from a single ingredient: 100% pure first-press sugarcane juice, which gives it a dynamic and delicate earthy taste and a high alcohol content. Here’s how: raw sugarcane stalks are pressed to extract fresh juice, which is naturally fermented for two to three days before being distilled and put to rest in stainless steel tanks or aged in wooden barrels.

IMAGE FROM MAGIC ALAMBIC RUM

RUM TASTING IN KOH SAMUI

Visit the Magic Alambic Rum distillery in South Koh Samui for a fun memorable experience. We recommend renting a car for a leisurely day trip to this remote area. Make sure not to drive under the influence after a tasting.

Visitors are greeted by Ludovic or Martial Leplutois (owners since January 2014) with an invitation to see the rum production facilities and sample the final products in the tasting area surrounded by beautiful palm trees.

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