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Out there: fantastic vistas that could be different but just as good on Phuket

Photo Special: Does Phuket Need a Cable Car Now?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Phuketwan News Analysis: Photo Special Above

WE HAVE made a thorough environmental impact assessment on the introduction of a cable car to boost tourism on Phuket to decide whether the right kind of ride would be a useful money-spinner for the island.

The conclusion: A cable car similar to the one on Hong Kong's Lantau island would probably work best going up to Phuket's Big Buddha from Patong, rather than out to the sacred island off Cape Promthep.

The environment? Well, we figure a bit more concrete won't do any harm, as long as the cash comes rolling in. Isn't that what everyone wants, and is there any likelihood of preventing Phuket becoming one big city?

Our findings are based on a comprehensive assessment made two minutes after riding the Hong Kong cable car. But don't be too concerned about the cost to Phuket: we've waived our usual 30 million baht fee.

We did take a few risks, though, in becoming Phuket's voluntary assessors. The latest addition to the 5.7 kilometre Ngong Pingo 360 ride is the Crystal Chamber, a car with a see-through glass floor. It's a little scary as your sneakers appear to float on thin air, 200 metres above a canyon.

Daunting? You bet. Especially as we rode the cable car on a day when the temperature dropped to about eight degrees, and the chill wind whipped in from the South China Morning Sea. Sandals and shorts proved a little too tropical.

After making the 5.7 kilometre jaunt to the mountain top, an adventurous traveller will find everything he or she could wish for in the mock-historic village: loads of souvenir shops, several places to eat, a 7-Eleven and a Starbucks.

Above the village lies the Tian Tuan sitting buddha statue, the reason for the cable car. At 38 metres, it looks handsome on the hilltop.

But at 45 metres, and covered in white jade, Phuket's own sitting buddha is considerably larger and perhaps even more attractive.

The panoramic views from the cable car are stunning, especially out across Hong Kong airport, where the clouds are shared with flights taking off and landing.

Directly below could be seen walking trails.We actually chuckled when we saw a weary woman negotiate a set of steps on her hands and knees.

Hong Kong may be crowded with high-rise apartment blocks, but the surrounding territory remains ideal for an escape to nature.

The sanctity of the religious nature of the sitting buddha has been preserved by keeping the cable car terminal and the ''village'' on a slightly lower level. With a million visitors annually, the Ngong Ping clearly attracts tourists to Hong Kong . . . and money

Could something of this kind work on Phuket? Sure, especially if the towers took a circuitous route up the heights from Patong, taking in the best views on offer.

Does the cable car in Hong Kong work within the natural environment of Lantau Country Park? Certainly, although the towers and cable can clearly be seen by walkers.

All Phuket needs now is a national government with a few billion baht to spare and the capacity to spot a good idea when they ride on one.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Spot on. I say go for it. More potential than many other ideas being thrown around by career bureaucrats at the minute.

Posted by Duncan on November 18, 2009 14:45


"loads of souvenir shops, several places to eat, a 7-Eleven and a Starbucks".
Sounds dreadful.

Is there any overall management plan for the BB site?
I live on the hill and am at the top regularly, every week one more piece of land being cleared, one more ramshackle 'restaurant' being built.
The road is barely adequate, still unsealed in places, treacherous over the monsoon months . . .
Does anyone take responsibility for the total 'vision' that is to be Big Buddha?

Posted by Anonymous on November 18, 2009 16:05


South China Morning Sea? As opposed to the evening one? 555!

Posted by L on November 18, 2009 16:17


"going up to Phuket's Big Buddha from Patong".... Better look at a map first before trying that. The Big Buddha is miles from Patong..

A cable car starting from Patak road between Karon and Kata would have to be feasible. It could start from somewhere near Kata temple. But I think they have to get the Buddha finished and get the road finished first before such high tech (for Phuket) plans are considered!

Posted by Jamie on November 18, 2009 17:47


Please forget it. It would not be good for anyone, and I would not trust a cable car built by a company/country which does roads like the one behind Jungceylon :-(

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on November 19, 2009 00:39


In dreams only, Tuk-tuk drivers would never let it be built. Like a coastal bus route they would block anything that might mean they lost income.

Posted by Tony Sowton on November 19, 2009 17:48


Can you imagine the amount of graft the cable car project would incur! Phuket must be one of the most corruption-ridden spots in the universe. Living here you get to know that graft is what gets the job done, what gets you off the speeding fine, what gets your passport stamped, what gets, what gets, what gets......

Some years ago there was a proposal to run a bus service between Karon and Patong - to date none such exists - but it never happened - even today if you want to take a bus from Patong to Karon you must first go to Phuket town. Mad, crazy, stupid but why?

Because the TukTuk drivers wouldn't have it and because the tuktuk owner was a man of considerable power. So the cable car project - which is a great idea, which would generate even more tourism revenue - would be impossible because of corruption.

Editor: Anonymous, some people have lived on Phuket for years and never been asked for a bribe. If you go through life with cash in your hand, you will always find people who take it. This is not to say there is no corruption, but it may not be as widespread as some people insist. And without evidence, claims of corruption remain largely based on hearsay. For example, you say a bribe is a way of getting off a speeding ticket. We've never seen a single speeding violation in the monthly police statistics - as far as we can tell, police on Phuket do not pursue speedsters.

Posted by Anonymous on November 20, 2009 10:37


We do not need MORE construction in Phuket. We need to preserve what little jungle and trash-free areas we've got.

Rather than put money into a cable car, how about legalizing scooter rentals (yep... it's technically illegal for a tourist to drive his own vehicle without a Thai driver's license) or --better still-- break the back of the tuktuk mafia!

Put a dawn-to-3am bus service between Kata and Patong, and extend into the wee hours the routes from Patong to Phuket town.

A cable car is insignificant compared to the huge negatives of extortionate tuk-tuks, trash, and tourist-milking schemes.

Posted by Anonymous on November 24, 2009 10:32

Thursday July 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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