I have a confession, I have a bit of obsession. I love elephants and collectibles made in their likeness. It all started when I was a little girl, and my mother gave me my first wooden carving of a small elephant. She told me that if I collected eight and followed the "rules" my life would be very lucky. Well, I've definitely been lucky so far and now more than a decade later, my collection of eight elephants has grown exponentially to say the least. You may be wondering what were the rules? To start off, the first eight elephants must be made of different materials, one of wood, another of glass, steel and ceramic; one must be given as a gift, the next bought, another inherited, and the last of the firsty lucky eight must be 'stolen'. Since I completed my first lucky eight
, my hunt for unique and different elephant collectibles grew, I added elephants made of fabric, jade, paper and other materials and I am always on the lookout for my next elephant to add to the family.
Knowing this about me, you can imagine how excited I was when my husband told me we would be going to FantaSea
in Phuket, Thailand.
A short drive from Patong Beach on the island of Phuket, FantaSea
is located on Kamala Beach. We opted to take advantage of their van services, which was really convenient as they picked us up and dropped us from our hotel in Phuket Town.
This cultural theme park is truly one of a kind and is open only in the evenings. There is so much to see and do, the grand highlight of course would be the famous 'Fantasy of a Kingdom' Cultural Illusion Extravaganza, a show featuring the beautiful elephants of the park and held in their grand Palace of the Elephants Theatre.
I got to be a princess for day - there's a thai costume rental and photo shop inside Carnvial Village, some people thought I worked there and started taking photos, it was so funny!
The show is really quite random with all kind of acrobatics, Thai dancing and fire being used, but it is really exciting and a feast for the eyes. So much is going on at the same time, I suggest you get a seat near the middle as people in the front were complaining they couldn't see everything going on above them (the acrobatics are positioned around the mid-front section of the theatre's ceiling).
Another Tip: Cameras are not allowed inside the theatre show, but you'll need a camera for photos when you're outside, so my advice is don't take any big camera like DSLR since you'll have to hand in your bag and it takes a long time to wait to check it in and out. Bring a small camera, or your cellphone with a camera would be even better and turn it off.
As the show isn't scheduled until the end of the evening at 9pm, and since you should arrive at the theme park around 6-6.30pm, you'll have just few hours to explore all the fun things the park has to offer. When you first arrive at FantaSea
, you'll be transported into a colorful world. Magic Mountain is the first landmark to greet you as you enter, and it is a grand welcoming.
Welcome to FantaSea
There is a long street called 'Carnival Village', a shopping street that showcases all kinds of Thai handicrafts, silks, souvenirs and what I was most looking forward to – tons and tons of elephant things. There are also a variety of fun carnival games, live street performances and shows. Also along this street, you'll find the 'Similan Entertainment Center', an undersea themed game arcade.
Picking out my next addition to the lucky elephant collection
The other major highlight of an evening at FantaSea
is their dinner buffet at The Golden Kinnaree Buffet Restaurant.
A grand and spacious dining hall is flanked with white and gold. It's a beautiful restaurant with equally delicious food. We were lucky to be seated in the White Dining Hall. Guests can also opt to have a Seafood dinner at Suriyamas, the connecting restaurant adjacent to the Golden Kinnaree.
Inside the Golden Kinnaree Main Dining Hall
Tables are assigned at the time of ticket issuance, if you can request to be seated in the white dining room, it's absolutely gorgeous, it doesn't cost extra and it has the same menu as the main dining hall, you can also go outside in the main hall for the specials on the side buffet
Inside the White Dining Room
The dinner buffet includes a wide variety of thai and international cuisine. There are two different menus for Spring (April-October) and for Autumn (November-March). Vegetarian food is also available, just be sure to let the ticketing officer know at the time of purchasing your tickets. Halal is also offered and this is served in a special Muslim-only area. If you don't wish to try the buffet (although you really should, it was an amazing part of the whole experience) you can opt for FantaSea
's a la carte restaurant inside the Carnival Village.
An unforgettable dinner
Before we headed to the show, our final stop for the evening, I was so excited to live out my lifelong dream – to touch a real, life elephant. If you've been to Thailand before, you'll be aware that a lot of elephants aren't always treated the best, but at FantaSea, the elephants looked healthy, well fed and quite happy. I was so happy to get up, close and personal with these gentle giants. While I am sure they'd probably be even happier in a more natural environment, it was nice to see that people were treating them with respect here. Just outside the theatre doors is the elephant area where you can (for a fee) ride an elephant (maximum 2 people), feed them (with a bucket of bananas you can purchase from the stalls), take some photos, or just stand close to them and feel happy (like I did).
My encounter with Wa-ri the Elephant
Overall, if you love elephants, FantaSea will definitely be a fun experience for you, and even if you don't, it's something different and exciting - a great way to see some of Thailand's culture too. It is still a theme park so expect a few unforeseen expenses for things like games and souvenirs.