Understanding the history of Phuket is important to visualise how and why Phuket Old Town is the way it is today. Back in the 11th Century, Phuket used to be known as “Junk Ceylon” because it was only populated by sea gypsies and nomad tribes. Its current name came from the word “bukit” which means hill in Malay due to its hilly landscape.
It wasn’t until the 16th Century that the development in Phuket really picked up due to the tin mining industry. At its peak in the 18th to 20th Century, immigrants from China flocked to the island and that was when the town truly prospered. Sino-Colonial mansions were built, as well as many Sino-Portuguese shophouses, places of worship and schools.
The town’s thriving trade and mining industry, as well as it being a melting pot for many cultures and communities, has major influences on the Phuket that we know of today. These influences are apparent in the beautiful architecture, food and way of life of the Phuket people.
Today, the old colonial buildings preserved their facade, making Phuket Old Town a charming place to visit with many nooks and crannies to explore. It is also now infused with more modern cafes and hipster hostels, giving it a fusion vibe that is both cool, unique and definitely Instagram-worthy!
There are many places that you must visit in Phuket Old Town, such as:
Baan Chinpracha: a great example of a Sino-Colonial mansion and visitors can get a glimpse of how life was for a wealthy family back in the 20th Century. This mansion was built in 1903 and has been passed down several generations, with its current owners being descendants of the original owner!
Sunday Night Market: Night markets in Phuket are a sight to behold on their own. Often packed with locals and tourists alike, you will find anything from souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes, jewelry, antiques, street food and even pets. Check out the Sunday Night Market located in Thalang Road in Phuket Old Town. It is only available on Sundays (4-10pm) so don’t miss out!
Thai Hua Museum: Located on Krabi Road, you will find Thai Hua museum which is housed in a Sino-Portuguese building. This museum is also recently renovated and you will find an interesting insight into Thai history. There is also an exhibition space and function hall here that hosts amusing festivals all year long, including the famous Phuket Vegetarian Festival. This museum plays a big role in conserving architectural arts in Phuket so be sure to check it out!
Soi Romanee: This road is located at the heart of Phuket Old Town and is named as such because of its romantic vibe. A must-do when in Phuket is to stroll along this road as it evokes Phuket’s interesting history with its brightly-coloured Sino-Portuguese shophouses. There are lots of interesting bars, cafes and hostels here as well as Chinese shrines for prayers. This road further connects to Thalang Road and Dibuk Road, making this entire area easy and exciting to explore on foot!
At Club Med Phuket, we offer an all-inclusive package which covers your accommodation, food, drinks and many exciting activities curated to your interests. We also offer excursions to many parts of Phuket, including one to Phuket Old Town that will bring you to all the best sights here including the Thai Hua museum and a colourful fruit market.