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Recently, I visited beautiful Phuket in Southern Thailand as part of the production team of award-winning travel series “andiamo! UPTOWN.” We were there to produce a fresh episode of the show, which airs every Saturday in the U.S. on Magic Johnson’s Aspire Channel. During our trip to the island (which you might recognize from films like The Beach, 007’s The Man With the Golden Gun or Good Morning, Vietnam), we were joined by Soccer legend Cobi Jones, who guest co-hosted the episode (look for a mid-August premiere). Here are 10 unforgettable things Cobi and I, and the rest of the cast and crew, experienced in Phuket, and you should, too.

RELATED: 17 photos that will make you want to visit Thailand now

Photo courtesy of andiamo! UPTOWN

1. Take a wild ride with ATV Phuket

While Phuket is known for its coastal recreational offerings, you certainly should experience ATV’ing in Thailand. Select either a one- or two-hour tour with ATV Phuket and get ready to have a fun experience that many wouldn’t expect to find in Asia. One note: You will get dirty (and trust me, that’s part of the fun)—so dress accordingly.

Photo courtesy of andiamo! UPTOWN

2. Roar with the rapids with whitewater rafting

Who knew that you could experience white water rafting in Thailand? Surprisingly enough, you can take advantage of level II and III rapids in Phuket.

Photo courtesy of Sri Panwa Hotel

3. Splurge on a one-of-a-kind luxury stay

Nestled within an expansive scenic cliffside peninsula which overlooks the Andaman Sea, the luxurious Sri Panwa Hotel & Spa is an idyllic high-end resort in Phuket. Sumptuously appointed, each villa and suite comes with its own pool and amenities. Plus, their fitness center includes a kick boxing ring! More on that in a moment…

Photo courtesy of andiamo! UPTOWN

4. Explore fascinating sea caves

Thailand has some of the most scenic aquatic offerings on the planet. So on this trip, I arranged for our team to experience sea caving (check it out on the episode we produced). The John Gray company provides a very unusual sea caving tour where you’ll visit caves in Phang-Nga Bay that require you to lie down in the sea canoe in order to enter (depending on the cave, the clearance space between the tip of your nose to the ceiling of the cave “entryway” can be as close as 2 inches from your face). These caves are replete with all types of wildlife including bats, frogs, lizards and tropical insects, as well as stalactites and stalagmites.

Photo courtesy of andiamo! UPTOWN

5. Try your hand at Thai boxing

Nothing is quite like Muay Thai, or Thai boxing. Being Thailand’s national sport, it has grown in popularity over the years, so there are plenty of places for you to try it. Sityodtong Muay Thai Training camp in Pattaya (the birthplace of the sport) is popular, but while in Phuket, you can experience Muay Thai in one of the most modern camps in Thailand, Tiger Muay Thai. However, if you’re staying at the Sri Panwa Hotel, you can follow Cobi Jones’ lead and schedule a one-on-one Muay Thai training session with a Master—without ever leaving the comfort of the resort.

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6. Learn to cook delicious Thai cuisine

Despite the wonderfully complex flavors of traditional Thai cuisine, preparing these dishes can be remarkably easy. Any food fan visiting Phuket must try the Blue Elephant Cooking School where chef Nooror will take you through the steps to prepare an entire Thai meal. You’ll also get a lesson on the history behind some of the techniques and ingredients used in Thai cuisine.

Photo courtesy of Rollerball Phuket

7. Go Zorbing

Do what, you say? Zorbing, or rollerballing, is an always fun, always exhilarating sport that involves rolling down a hill inside an transparent plastic orb (think jumbo hamster wheel). Invented in New Zealand, rollerball can now be experienced in Phuket at Rollerball Phuket.

8. Visit a pearl farm

It’s amazing to see what it takes for an oyster to create a pearl. However, oysters need an ideal environment to produce the very best pearls. A visit to the Phuket Pearl Farm is very enlightening and will give you great insight about this process.

Photo courtesy of Siam Niramit

9. Catch a stunning stage show

The Kingdom of Thailand is certainly rich in history and culture, and this story is carefully told through song and dance in the visually captivating Siam Niramit show in Phuket. With elaborate costumes, high tech special effects and impressively designed scenery, the production value of this extravaganza is very high and is certainly on par with the quality of a Disney stage show.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand

10. Eat something unexpected at the Night Market

Night Markets are popular throughout Thailand, however, if you are someone who considers themselves an “adventurous culinarian,” you will fit right in at the Night Markets of Phuket: Everything from Durian fruit to scorpions to silkworms (and more) can be sampled to your heart’s content. Bon apetit!

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Tagged: Asia, Thailand

Jason Gordon

Jason Gordon

Jason is executive producer of the multiple award-winning luxury travel series andiamo! UPTOWN (@andiamotv), which airs throughout the U.S. every week on Magic Johnson's Aspire channel.

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