The Phuket Gateway was completed in 2007 on the occasion of King Bhumibol's 80th birthday. The idea was to create a dramatic and interesting sculpture to welcome tourists who arrive on Phuket by road. Only trouble is, not many people visit - most tourists arrive by air, and since the airport is south of the monument hardly anyone sees it. You might pass by on a tour to Phang Nga, but the tour bus will not be stopping there. Shame, because it really is a nice place to stop for a look.
The main feature is a series of 29 pillars. The number 29 is not an accident - the numbers represent the two heroines in the war with Burma in 1785, Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon and the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Each pillar includes an engraved plaque, such as the one below, each one telling a little of the history and local culture of Phuket. See - you can learn things here! There's also a small tourist information center in one of the buildings behind the monument, as well as a little shop and a very small art gallery.
There are gardens around the monument, a nice spot for a picnic or a drink in the shade if you are exploring the north of Phuket. Also, you find a huge turtle shell surrounded by eggs. Turtles do come ashore in the north of Phuket to lay eggs. We attended a turtle release ceremony on Songkran day 2007 at nearby Mai Khao Beach.
The Phuket Gateway is certainly well intentioned, and is well cared for, but there seem to be more staff than visitors! The local community is aware of the lack of visitors and last September there was meant to be some kind of choice made by the locals in that area of Phuket - what to do with the Gateway? Well, so far nothing has changed - it's still a nice monument and worth a stop if you are passing.