Curious Places of Old Town Phuket
The name Phuket is synonymous with beaches and resorts. Indeed, this pearl of the Andaman has been generously endowed with a perimeter of sparkling white sand beaches. However, Khiri advises visitors to pull the curtain away from the coastline and journey to the interior of the island for a wealth of other places to discover including the enchanting Old Town Phuket.
Much like as in Penang, Malaysia, and Singapore during the second half of the 19th century, Chinese migrant workers from Fujian Province, China, came to Phuket in great numbers to work the tin mines. Over the years the Chinese culture blended with European colonial influences and developed into a unique and diverse expression that covers food, architecture, traditions and religion. The tin mining boom and colonial seafarers stopped a long time ago, but the legacy of this era is very much alive on the streets of Old Town Phuket.
Imagine walking along the ornate facades of historic row houses sheltered from the tropical sun under their joined verandas. These covered sidewalks have a special name called “5-foot walkways” and add to the charming splendor of the old town. Our guides like finding quaint little shops to visit such as the old medicine shop where the wizened proprietor still grinds herbs and seeds into ancient traditional medicines.
The market vendors with stalls overflowing with colorful and exotic fresh produce are a foodies’ paradise and will impress even your most seasoned travelers. The amulet market is also a surprising place in that religious trinkets can be “rented” for protection. Later we can treat guests to some delicious dim sum at a restaurant owned by generations of the same family where everything is still made by hand. Moving on, we feel traditions coming alive at a hundred year old religious shrine. On Sunday afternoons, Old Town’s main street, Thalang Road, becomes a walking street of food from around the island. Exploring Old Town Phuket anytime would make for an amazing and memorable day.
Located just half an hour away from the beach, this elegantly crumbling old neighborhood is often overlooked. Most visitors to Phuket Island are still blissfully unaware of its existence. However, UNESCO is currently evaluating Old Town for listing as a World Heritage Site, which will certainly change its tourist potential. For now, it still retains its original character and flavor for your curious travelers who are willing to take a peak at the heart of Phuket.
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