Phuket Old Town
Beyond the natural paradise of shimmering emerald oceans and beautiful expanses of beach, lies a charismatic, cultured side to Phuket which many tourists overlook. If unique architecture, incredible local dining and hidden street art are your thing then you can’t afford to miss the short journey inland to Phuket Old Town.
The major roads in the old town neighbourhood including Thalang road, Phang Nha Road, Di Buk Road, and Krabi Road are all brimming with art and culture. The history of Sino-European buildings in the district can be traced back to when Phuket was a seaport and a vital tin trading city that was visited by people of all nations. Naturally, some of those visitors stayed on and this led to cultural integration and the birth of a colourful multicultural community. One of the most outstanding architectural features is “Ngo Kha Khi”, a long arcade that connects a row of shophouses, most of them simultaneously serving as “Tiam Chu”, meaning that the upper floors are used as a living space while the shop area is located on the ground level. There are also “Ang Mo Lao”, residences of Phuket’s wealthiest families in the past.
Phuketians have kept the city’s appeal firmly alive via the collective conservation of traditions, customs and especially the culinary identity that has brilliantly melded together the culture of Hokkien Chinese, Malay, Muslim and native local recipes. Some unforgettable dishes are Khanom Cheen Sen Sot (Non-Fermented Rice Vermicelli), Roti Nam Kaeng Khai Dao (Roti Served With Soup And Fried-Egg), Seo Boi (Phuket Dim Sum), Khao Yam (Southern Spicy Rice Salad), Mi Hun Nam Sup Kra Duk Mu (Southern Stir-Fried Noodles Served with Pork Bone Soup), Loba (Deep-Fried Chinese Five-Spice Stewed Pork and entrails), O Tao (Hokkien Oyster Omelet with Taro), Khanom A Pong (Hokkien Crispy Crepe), Khanom Pao Lang (Charcoal-Grilled Sticky Rice with Coconut and Shrimp Powder fillings wrapped in Banana Leaves) and O Eo (Phuket Shaved Ice with O Eo Jelly). Travellers can seek out their favourite bites morning, noon and night and support local businesses in this city, which UNESCO recently dubbed a City of Gastronomy.
Phuket Old Town is also alive with colorful street art that serenades the distinctive local way of life and myriad of local traditions. On the town’s walls you can see a grandfather selling O Tao, a grandmother heading to the temple, young couples in traditional Baba-Yaya wedding costumes, the Buddha image procession around town during the vegetarian festival and Mardi in red turtle costume for Pho To Festival. There are also various museums that portray Phuket from interesting perspectives which further encourage visitors to learn and experience the values and essence of the province for themselves. By indulging in tasting the local flavours and exploring the winding alleys of the old city, tourists help increase the community benefits, reigniting a sense of pride in the local culture and a desire to cherish and maintain it for future generations.
- Bike around the old town admiring the architecture and tasting local food as you go.
- Travel like a local on a local two-seater minibus or “Rot Pho Thong”.
- Follow the colorful trail of street art that portrays the local lifestyles and famous traditions of Phuket.
- Visit disguised museums on street corners.
Best Time to Visit
- All seasons, October to April is recommended.
- Chinese New Year Festival which portrays Phuket’s local culture is a highly recommended time to visit.