Take a short break in your exploration day to get a glimpse of what Phuket Town looks like from the top of Khao Rang Hill (You'll see it spelled Kao Rang as well). Khao Rang used to be a fitness park, but obviously has lost its popularity... All year round, people climb up there to admire bird views of the southern part of the island: Chalong, Panwa and even the Big Buddha sitting on top of its own hill.
The best time to go to Khao Rang is for a shady lunch or a romantic dinner as three nice restaurants are built on the hill side, all offering a different angle.
Our favourite is Tung Ka Cafe, has been here for a very long time and is getting increasingly popular and so the best tables are occupied first. The second choice, less cozy, is Phuket View Restaurant which has such a large terrace they probably never have a seating problem. Then the latest addition Kao Rang Breeze, which doesn't get as much panorama as the two others, but has some of the most surprising toilets in town: one of the wall is just glass with a view... on the trees.
Or you can just sit at the panoramic terrace and enjoy the breeze after ordering some fresh fruit shakes and buy some dry fruits at one of the newly renovated shops. The only strange thing is that many signs are now written in... Russian! One of the shop is was even playing some Russian pop music to lure some guests I suppose. Slightly disturbing.
There are three ways to reach the top of Khao Rang Hill (plus a hidden one). One street, Soi Wachira, located just next to the well known Vachira Hospital leads to the very nice Wat Khao Rang (Kao Rang temple) and its large golden sitting buddha. Another way but longest and most convoluted road called Hongyok Utis Road starts right passed the 'Bangkok Hospital Phuket'. The third way is by a street called Soi Chimbi starts from Mae Luang road and passes by a small Thai Temple with its white Chedi on the right and side, and a not very well known Chinese temple on the left.
This discreet shrine is in fact near an unsuspected massive Chinese cemetery which size can only be apprehended from bird view. This immense cemetery is worth a stop, offering countless photo opportunities. Chinese cemeteries are rather colorful and decorated, nit creepy at all. Few goats are happily roaming among the colourful graves and many huge trees provide a welcome shade. Now if you are really courageous, walk all the way to the back of the cemetery... you will find a tiny staircase that will take you all the way to a small temple at the top of Khao Rang Hill. Get ready for some climb!
This temple called Wat Kao Rang Nok looks more like a monk retreat, with three wooden praying rooms sheltering statues of monks, Buddhas and several bungalows. Another less tiring way to reach it seems to be next to Phuket View Restaurant, but the pleasure of discovering this retreat after such exhausting climb was more rewarding.
Once again, I thought I knew Phuket, but I still manage to find few surprises here and there, it's mostly a question of keeping your eyes open, and be curious of everything, and NEVER assume you know a place