Phuket isn’t only about the beaches. Visiting this island, you can step back in time to the days when merchants visited Phuket from across Asia, to barter and meet among the mansion houses and markets of Phuket Town. Filled with interesting Sino-Portuguese architecture and a colorful mixture of shops and eating places, Phuket Town is the island’s historical and cultural soul – and it’s well worth a visit. Here’s what you need to see and do in vibrant Phuket Town.
Phuket Old Town
The Old Town is a world away from the flashy, modern resorts and spas on Phuket’s coast. In the Old Town you can see ancient temples and Chinese shrines, check out the interesting Sino-Colonial architecture, and soak up a different kind of culture. Phuket Old Town was established during the tin mining boom of the 19th century and it has several well-preserved mansions and shop houses from this period. However, the area has its modern side with the establishment of many boutique stores, trendy cafes and restaurants, and a range of bars for a drink as the sun sets.
Phuket Weekend Market
Otherwise known as Chao Fah market or Talad Tai Rot, the Weekend Market is a Phuket institution. Come here to browse the hundreds of stalls selling everything from secondhand clothes to live animals. There’s also an extensive selection of local foods, from satay to sweet pastries, dim sum to sushi.
This typical Sino-Portuguese mansion was constructed in 1903 for wealthy owners in the tin mining boom time. Take a look inside the beautifully preserved doors to see how a wealthy family lived in Phuket many years ago. This heritage building should be on the to-do list of anyone interested in history.
Phuket Walking Street
Every Sunday evening, Thai Walking Street is a popular market hosting hundreds of stalls offering a range of gifts, jewelry, souvenirs and clothes. Street snacks are widely available and here you can sample kebabs, barbecued chicken, Thai sweets and more.
Phuket Butterfly Garden
This beautiful place is also one of Phuket’s oldest attractions. Phuket Butterfly Garden & Insect World is set to the north of the town on the outskirts, and has five different areas including a spider and scorpion room, insect collection, and a flower garden where butterflies flutter free among the exotic plants. This Phuket Town attraction is one for all the family.
Thai Hua Museum
If you want to learn a little more about Phuket during its tin mining days, pay a visit to the Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road. The museum is a two-storey house that displays a range of exhibits relating to the history of Phuket and the families that made their home here. You can also check out regular art exhibitions and occasional events here at the museum.
The Upside Down House
Baan Teelanka, The Upside Down House, is an interesting new addition to Phuket Town. As you would expect, everything is upside-down in this family-friendly attraction – the three-storey house is turned on its head. There’s a maze in the garden and the house is open every day.
Khao Rang is the place to go for a great view. This is the second-highest point on Phuket and from here you can see across the town and over the south east coast to Phuket’s islands. The summit is cloaked with exotic vegetation and it gives visitors the chance to breathe a little fresh air and relax. You can also see a sitting golden Buddha at the Buddhist temple, and eat at one of the restaurants at the summit or on the way up.
Siam Niramit Phuket
This show regales spectators with a retelling of Thai history – complete with song and dance, acrobats, and martial arts. Siam Niramit Phuket is on the outskirts of town and the show takes place at 20.30 each day, apart from Tuesdays. In addition to seeing the show, you can check out the surrounding complex with its traditional houses, stores, a floating market, and a nice restaurant.
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Featured image via Walter Lim / Flickr