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Phuket's Quaint Little Town
Written by Administrator    Thursday, 25 March 2010 16:01    PDF Print E-mail

Don't miss a trip to see the town and its cultural treasures

Phuket town is a small urban treasure full of surprises, many of which are not readily visible to the visitor simply passing through. To really appreciate many of the attractions here one has to spend time, hunt and often walk.

The rich cultural heritage evidenced in its architecture is perhaps the foremost of attractions here. But there are also fascinating markets, Chinese shrines and Buddhist temples and shopping opportunities, both modern and traditional.

Phuket town was largely founded by Chinese who emigrated to the island to work in the tin mining business. Many began as penniless coolies but ended up as rich moguls. Thus, much of the interesting architecture of the town is Chinese in style and origin. Thai of both Buddhist and Muslim origin lived largely in rural villages, where the finest examples of their temples and mosques are found.



Viewing Phuket Town from above:
One excellent way to get an overview of Phuket town is to go to the top of Rang hill, one of the two very prominent hills on the northern edge of town. Rang is the hill to the west, the one without the TV and communications towers.


At the very peak of Rang hill is one of the best Thai restaurants on the island, Tunka Ka Café, run by a true gourmet and lover of Thai cuisine, Khun Thira. This is a great place to enjoy the overview of the town from – and a great place to eat in. Khun Thira makes sure every dish in his restaurant is just right. (if you want to see the love that goes into food here, try Thira’s Som Tum, hot papaya salad). Khun Thira is also one of the best-known characters in town, and your day is made if you chance to meet him. It's also a favourite hang-out for the Thai staff of PHUKET Magazine.

Sino-Portuguese Mansions
This description is given to several score houses set in grand gardens and built by Chinese moguls, often about 100 years ago at the height of the tin mining boom. The name reflects the influences of Chinese owners building in European style in Singapore and Malaysia, where the Portuguese had set the first standards for grand tropical mansions.. In fact, most of the Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket town were built by Italians, whom the wealthy Chinese employed. They also imported many of the materials, like tiles and fittings, from Italy.
To see more of these beautiful old houses click on Sino-Portuguese Mansions

Traditional Chinese Rowhouses
Phuket has some exquisitely preserved examples of traditional Chinese rowhouses; in fact there are a few streets lined with them. Since these are still lived in (and maintained proudly) we cannot see the interiors, which are also preserved in traditional style. But the facades alone are worth a walk down the right streets, for their traditional Chinese designs and workmanship are indeed be



Chinese Shrines
Phuket t
own has about four or five major Chinese shrines, and like the row houses, these are beautifully preserved, and well used by worshippers.




Shopping and Markets

Phuket Town offers the best shopping opportunities on the island, and the prices here are lower than those at the tourist beaches. Scattered about the town we can find shops specializing in souvenirs and handicrafts, fashion wear and tailoring, silks and many other Thai-made products. The open-air markets here are also interesting.



Dining in Phuket Town
This is Thailand, and restaurants can be found in abundance in every town, big or small. Phuket town has a good variety of cuisine available in some interesting restaurants. There are fewer tourist clients here, and more Thais and local expatriate residents, meaning that the Thai food will not usually be modified for foreign tastes as it sometimes is in the beach areas.