Phuket Town Travel & City Guide
Culture, architecture, markets, restaurants, cafés and live entertainment venues all in one place.
Phuket Town is an absolute pleasure to explore with its eclectic mix of ‘old meets new’ attractions combined with a strong sense of tradition that is evident throughout. The capital of the province that is Phuket should be a must visit on everyone’s itinerary.
It is home to many architectural attractions from its former days as a hub for Chinese merchants and boasts a vibrant nightlife unlike anywhere else on the isle. In addition, its wide selection of eateries offers some of the best dining that can be found on Phuket, partly due to the sheer diversity available.
Although Phuket Town offers a bustling atmosphere in its own right, it is less hectic than some of the bigger beach towns along the west coast. It has a culturally rich feel to it, which is evident along the streets of its Old Town. Here you’ll spot striking Sino-Portuguese buildings in all sorts of bright colours. With quaint cafés, boutique shopping opportunities, lively night-time entertainment and multiple markets, Phuket Town will engage your mind and satisfy your senses.
WHERE TO STAY
Since there is no beach in Phuket Town, it can offer sleeping facilities that suit any budget, from dorms for backpackers to four-star hotels with rates that are a lot cheaper than the resorts along the beach areas.
During the past few years some of the Sino-Portuguese buildings have been renovated into hip and chic boutique hotels around Dibuk and Thalang Road. Staying overnight in Phuket Town can be handy if you plan to celebrate some of the yearly festivals, like the Phuket Vegetarian festival, or if you plan to visit some of the surrounding islands since all ferry services to Phi Phi, Krabi and Lanta islands leave from its ports.
WHAT TO DO
Old Phuket Town is awash with interesting streets to walk along, such as Dibuk and Thalang roads where you’ll come across a small alleyway that connects the two, called Soi Rommanee. Here you’ll find a colourful collection of Sino-Portuguese buildings, some of which have been converted into bars, cafés and guesthouses.
Phuket Walking Street, known in Thai as Lardyai is well worth a stroll through. This lively market selling mostly food and souvenirs is held every Sunday from 16:00 to 22:00 along Thalang Road where you’ll enter through a specially constructed wooden paifang, a traditional Chinese-style archway.
Head up to Khao Rang Hill for an expansive view of the city, as well as out to sea and towards other islands. It is the second highest hill in Phuket Town where you’ll find a selection of Thai eateries at the top from where you can indulge in a sunset drink and tasty meal. The hill is also home to some rather cheeky monkeys so be mindful of your belongings.
There are a few museums in the centre of town. The Phuket stamp Museum on Montri Road shows the history of the Thai postal service and collections of Thai stamps are for sale. The Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road features a courtyard and garden that displays tin mining tools and machines, but overall explains Phuket’s history on both floors of the museum.
A butterfly farm is located on the outskirts of town and displays a fascinating collection of tropical creatures like butterflies, insects and marine life which are all arranged in natural surroundings.
Two Chinese shrines (temples) can be found on the corner of Ranong Road and Soi Phuthon.
WHERE TO EAT
Phuket Town is a mecca for food lovers and where you can find some of the island’s finest fare. There are several bespoke restaurants along roads, like Dibuk and Thalang, with both Thai and international specialities available in what are beautiful buildings both on the exterior, as well as the interior. Rassada Road nearby also has several cafés and restaurants, many that have been in residence along the road for several years and developed a high reputation.
Takuapa Road is also a great street for restaurants, where you’ll find Thai fusion mixes, as well as a unique eatery that becomes a club where you can party until the early morning hours.
Phuket Town is also full of local restaurants that may look unassuming from the outside with their makeshift tables and plastic chairs. Don’t let that put you off as the food served in these traditional Thai venues is exceptional and will give you a true taste of local flavours, from noodle dishes to soups and grilled meats to sweet treats.
Once again, market food is a must and there are several in Phuket Town to choose from. Ranong Road is home to two markets, while the mammoth Weekend Market on the outskirts of town is a food lovers’ dream.
HEALTH AND BEAUTY
Phuket Town is also home to four major medical centres in Phuket, namely Bangkok Phuket Hospital, Phuket International Hospital, Mission Hospital and Vacchira Hospital.
Phuket Town’s nightlife is quite different to other parts of the island having more of a community feel to it and attracting a mainly local and expat crowd. That said, tourists find that they are more than welcomed into the many bars and lounges scattered throughout its streets. The roads in the Old Town, such as Dibuk, Thalang and Yaowarat are full of stylish bars, some of which play live music and others that provide chic lounge settings.
There are a few sports bars and karaoke clubs around town, as well as nightclubs where you can dance into the early hours.
Nightlife in town often begins with an enjoyable meal, followed by a few drinks and then heading off to a variety of different venues. As Phuket Town is easily navigated on foot, it makes it easy to take in quite a few settings in one night.
Phuket Town has loads of shopping opportunities with a range of unique boutiques, antique shops, malls and markets, meaning you can find just about anything and everything in a range of prices that suits all budgets.
It has a few malls of its own in the centre of town that contain well-known labels, as well as stalls selling a variety of knick knacks. Ranong Road boasts two markets on a daily basis, namely Talaad Sod Satarana and Downtown Market.
The street is lined with gold shops and the markets mainly sell fresh produce and make for the ideal opportunity to take a glimpse into local life.
The road is also where the headquarters of the songteaw transportation leaves from, should you wish to venture off to another part of the island. Phuket’s famous Weekend Market, known in Thai as Talad Tai Rot is held on the outskirts of town from 16:00 to late every weekend, rain or shine. This enormous bazaar is positioned along Wirat Hong Yok Road and is where you’ll find a jaw-dropping amount of goods, both new and secondhand. It also boasts a gargantuan food section, one of its major highlights.