It is indisputable that most travellers head straight to must-see tourist attractions of each province. But to thoroughly acquaint oneself with a certain destination, one needs to let his/her two legs and instinct lead the way to the old town or local communities. You may not only discover whole new unexpected aspect, but strolling around also reduces traffic congestion, cuts down on air pollution, and boosts your health. So this month let’s go broaden your horizon in 2 provinces of 2 different vibes. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Famous for white sandy beaches and crystal clear seawater, Phuketalso provides hipsters with a cool walking tour in its Old Town. Sino-Portuguese buildings, a hybrid architectural style between Chinese and European, exemplifies a perfect combination of ‘East meets West’ since the tin mining industry in Phuket was at its peak. Charming historic architecture of the Old Town can be seen onPhuket Road, Ratsada Road, Ranong Road, Phang Nga Road, Montri Road, Krabi Road, Satun Road, Thalang Road, and Soi Rommanee. You can simply wander around with a camera to capture impressive memories and stop by for some palatable local food.
Prominent buildings in Old Phuket Town feature Ang Mo Lao or European influenced concrete buildings. Phra Pitak Chinpracha Mansion onKrabi Road boasts the first one in town and later became the prototype of Chinese élites’mansions across the province. Another vernacular building type in the Old Town is 2-storey terraced shophouses, which are locally referred to as Tiem Chu. The uniqueness of these shophouses is their front arcade that joins up to form a roofed walkway for public use, providing a cover to shield pedestrians from the sun and rain. If you are curious about the background of overseas Chinese in Phuket, visit the Phuket Thai Hua Museum, which was established by Hokkien descendants. Previously, it served as the first Chinese language school in Phuket, but in the present-day, the lower floor has been transformed into exhibition rooms, while the upper floor is devoted for Chinese language classrooms like before.
On the contrary, if your lifestyle cannot be described by any other word but ‘slow life’, you need to put a small tranquil province like Nan on your must-visit list. The fact that most of Nan’s cultural and historical landmarks, including temples and government places, are clustered in an area called Khuang Mueang(literal meaning: an open ground in the heart of the city), making it very easy to explore the province on foot or by bike. Optionally, you can hop on the provided teams at the Tourist Information Centre on Pha Kong Road for a quick and convenient access to Nan’s major sightseeing locations. The tram tours are suitable for families with seniors or young kids, and those who do not want to travel in a hurry. Plus, all tram rides are narrated by volunteer local guides making your trips very enjoyable and informative.
The following is Nan’s top tourist attractions that you cannot miss. First, Wat Phumin has exquisitely a beautiful tetrahedron assembly hall (vihara) and ordination hall (ubosot), and a renowned mural painting of “Pu Man Ya Man whispering love”. The next place to visit is Wat Phra That Chang Kham, the temple where a royal ritual of drinking an Oath of Allegiance was conducted in the old days. The distinctive feature is the pagoda whose base is supported by elephant stucco. You’d better drop by Khum Chao Ratchabut (Mokfa Na Nan), the house of Chao Mahaphrom Surathada who was the last feudal lord of Nan. You can also visit to admire Nan craftsmanship at Wat Hua Khuang. The square-shaped pagoda in the temple looks more elongated when compared to its Lanna counterpart. The Nan National Museum is another place worth visiting. Formerly, it was Phra Chao Suriyaphong Phalidet’s palace, regarded as the grand museum made of teak and iron wood. There are stone inscriptions showing Nan’sroyal family bloodline, royal possessions, ancient photographs and invaluable black elephant tusks on display. Finally, roaming around Nan cannot be complete without inspecting Wat Min Muang where the Holy City Pillar is enshrined.
No matter what kind of traveller you are, walking tours in local communities or old town areas can fulfill your wanderlust. The moment you take a stroll is the moment you fully connect with your inner self, as you can decide your own destinations, routes or speed. At the same time, it can also open new doors to unearth history and help tourists gain an insight into the rich cultural heritage of each community. Above all, this activity is environmentally-friendly. So if you are looking for an easy and relaxing getaway, put your shoes on, and explore your favourite cities on foot.