A Guide To Thailand's Old Phuket Town

Discover the essence of Old Phuket Town through its historical charm, vibrant markets, and architectural marvels while immersing yourself in its rich culture
Town square buildings in Thailand's Old Phuket town
Town square buildings in Thailand's Old Phuket townShutterstock

Phuket is one of the world's most favourite tourist spots; however, most travellers tend to make a beeline for the beaches and monuments and miss out on the charms of Old Phuket Town with its Instagram-worthy cafes, Sino-Portuguese architecture and multiple shopping options. Here is a guide to help you navigate this bustling area and make the most of it. 

Night market in Old Phuket
Night market in Old Phuket Shutterstock


Phuket, with its history of tin-mining, has historically been a melting pot of ethnicities like the Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Eurasians. It gave birth to a unique Thai-Chinese Peranakan culture called "Baba."

Major European mining corporations were invited to the country in the beginning of the 20th century, and significant public infrastructure, including roads and canals, was developed. The shophouses and the large mansions from this era are among the many Sino-Portuguese architectural structures that have been saved and repaired. 

The two-storey Thai Hua Museum on Thanon Krabi, in the Talat Nuea subdistrict, is a good example of Sino-Portuguese architecture. The museum regularly hosts exhibitions on the hostory of the Hokkien Chinese migrants.

The Chinpracha House Museum is anlother beautiful Sino-Portuguese structure on Thanon Krabi. Built towards the end of King Rama IV’s reign, the building is considered to be the first example of Sino-Portuguese architecture in the Phuket province. Look out for the opulent front door with Chinese characters in gold and stained glass windows.  

Explore the café scene 

There are gorgeous and busy cafés in almost all the streets offering different cuisines like Thai, Chinese and even Mughlai. Along with this there are bakeries with pastries and tarts. 

Torry’s ice cream is one of the most famous places with unique flavours. It is located on the famous Soi Romanee road. There are also many small roadside stalls, which have very different flavors of rolled ice cream.

China Inn Restaurant is a great place to try Thai and Asian fusion meals and get a feel of the Chinese history of Old Phuket Town. ROÔF Pudding & Café on Yaowarat Road is another eatery where you can enjoy all-day breakfasts, mocktails, coffee and puddings in a fresh environment. 

A special mention to one of the prettiest cafes in this place called Aung Ku Café. It is laden with roses on a white building and offers delicious bakery items decorated so beautifully that you won’t even feel like eating them.

Shop your heart out 

There is an array of vintage and handmade shops where you may buy colourful jute bags, necklaces, and windchimes among other things. There are also a lot of shops selling outfits and textiles in Batik and tie-and-dye print. 

Street shopping in Old Town
Street shopping in Old TownShutterstock

Don't miss the Shell World Museum on Viset Road Rawai Beach, where you can marvel at the large variety of sea shells on display. If you want to do a bit of shopping here, you can pick up windchimes, keychains, magnets and other bric-a-brac made just out sea shells.

This is not even the beginning; the more you explore the region, the more new places, dishes, and items you will find. 

How to get there:

While you can explore the market on foot, carry an umbrella and some water with you because of Phuket’s unpredictable weather. You can reach this place by booking private cabs or public transport like tuk-tuks and local buses called Songthaews. The local bus station is at Ranong Road in Phuket Old Town. This place is around 30 minutes away from the most happening places like Patong beach.

So, the next time you travel to Phuket, set aside at least half a day to explore this beautiful, historical but modern street. 

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