Despite Phuket’s growing tourism industry, Old Phuket Town seems to be a destination often overlooked by travellers.
The large part of the town’s charm lies in the fact that it is so removed from the glitz, beaches and partying that tends to dominate other tourist-orientated towns in the city. Thalang Road, the main street and heart of the town, is lined with beautifully preserved Sino-Portugese houses that echo its glorious past as a centre for tin trading and production.
Today, many of the buildings have been restored and converted into cafes and stay houses, however it still manages to exude a distinct joie de vivre from yesteryear. From just simply walking down the main road and adjoining streets, you can easily gain a unique insight into the Phuket’s heritage and its a great starting point to learn about the city’s history.
The stretch of Thalang Road is occupied by a mixture of stay houses, garment/craft stores, souvenir shops and eateries located inside unique Sino-Portugese style buildings.
Buildings aren’t the only things that have been preserved, but so have some of the often unnoticed aspects of the interiors – such as the tiles and flooring.
On Sundays, some of the stores are closed and its little quieter during the day to make way for the market that operates in the late afternoon.
You wouldn’t be able to guess what kind of place this is from the outside, but as the name suggests, Bookhemian is more a modern cafe/book shop with a bohemian and warehouse type of feel.
In addition to western style breakfasts, coffee and tea, you can also purchase artisanal goods like ceramic cups and plates from local Thai designers and of course, books.
When visiting Bookhemian, make sure you head to the back of the cafe; it looks a little like an art gallery itself. Not only do they serve good coffee and Thai Milk teas, it’s a lovely place to just unwind and enjoy some of the relaxing music played throughout the cafe.
With its gorgeous, colourful pastel facades, Soi Romanee is undisputedly one of the most recognisable streets in the Old Town, so it’s hard to imagine that this was previously home to the city’s red light district, one filled with brothels and opium dens.
Walking down Soi Romanee now, it seems rather peaceful (just be careful of the motorbikes) and whilst its mainly stay houses that occupy the street, it’s definitely worth visiting for the architecture.
For a traditional, classic Thai meal, you definitely cannot miss Raya.
Set inside a beautiful, Sino-Portugese style mansion, Raya delivers authentic, home-style dishes and carries an old-world, rustic charm.
Highly recommend two of their signature dishes, the crispy Tamarind and Lemon grass Fish, and the Coconut and Curry Crab (rice noodles are served on a separate plate), a Phuket specialty.
Time: Phuket town is located on the eastern part of Phuket so it can take between 30 minutes – 1 hour via car from most hotels on the west coast
Cost: Between 1000-1200 Baht via taxi
61 Thalang Road
Tambon Talat Yai
48 Dibuk Rd
Tambon Talat Yai
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm