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Melissa walking down Phuket Old Town with a blue perenakan house in the background
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The region of Phuket in Thailand is one of the most famous destinations in the world, with over 3 million tourists visiting each year! In case you’re planning a visit here and you want to enjoy more than just the beaches, then this Phuket Old Town guide is here to help!

In the following post, I will tell you everything you need to know about the best attractions, excellent hotels, where to eat – and more!

All about Phuket Town

While most travellers are aiming for those superb beaches and white sand, which are oh-so-Thailand, I’d dare to say that Phuket Old Town is a hidden gem. Yes, it’s true, the southern islands of Phuket provide some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and a party scene that people literally fly across the world to experience. However, Phuket Old Town is slightly different to that – it’s basically the cultural centre of Phuket, with a focus on art and architecture. And let’s not forget about those pretty colourful houses!

By the way, here’s a Phuket Old Town map, so you can better understand its location on the island:

Map of Phuket in Thailand with the best areas to stay marked
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RELATED READ: 13 Best Beaches in Phuket, Thailand + The Best Beach Resorts

But why should you add it to your itinerary, though?

The answer is simple: easy island access! Phuket is a big island and it can be hard to know which area is the best place to stay. If you’re planning on doing a lot of day trips across to the paradise islands off the east coast, staying in Phuket Old Town is a no-brainer. Located 10 minutes by car from the main port, staying in Phuket Old Town can save you up to an hour of driving time just to reach the port. 

This was a major deciding factor for us, as we didn’t want to spend so much time travelling and also, taxis in Phuket are expensive! You can find operators in Phuket Old Town providing both private and tour group island expeditions to Koh Phi Phi or James Bond Island, along with other islands.

Plus, it’s a great place if you want to experience a dose of Thailand’s history and culture – things you (unfortunately) won’t get to experience while you’re on the beach, with a cocktail in your hand.

Phuket Old Town - 6 Things to do

This place MAY be small, but it’s full of wonderful things to explore! Scroll down to find my recommended list of Phuket attractions you shouldn’t miss while you’re there. And the best part is that, if you only have a short time in this part of Thailand, you can easily squeeze all these in one day:

1 - Wander around on Soi Romanee Street

Melissa in Phuket Old Town wearing a pink dress in front of a pink house
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Melissa at Soi Romanee Street wearing a pink dress in front of a pink house
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Let’s start our adventure by taking a relaxing walk, shall we? Soi Romanee (or Soi Romance) is the oldest street in Phuket Old Town and one of the prettiest spots for a walk and some pictures. Soi Romanee Street is famed for its colourful Sino-Portuguese houses, now home to restaurants, shops and cafes. Tourists come to marvel at the pretty pastel colours of the architecture, which date back to the early 1900s. There are also some beautiful murals to be found here and there along the streets of the Old Town.

Other notable streets to take a walk on are Thalang Road and Phangnga Road. No worries, Phuket Old Town is quite small, so you CAN be done walking around it in about an hour – it would be hard to miss all those beautiful buildings, trust me.

FUN FACT: The word “Romanee” means “adorable” or “beautiful” in Thai, which perfectly describes this street! But there’s another explanation for this – in the old times, this street used to be the city’s red-light district, so the word used to describe the pretty ladies found here. 

2 - Learn a bit about Phuket’s history

Center of Phuket Old Town with a yellow Perenakan House and a blue bus
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I mentioned before that Phuket Old Town has a rich history and heritage – and this can be seen everywhere you look. But here are some great places to explore if you want to properly learn about the island’s history:

  • Chinapracha House – a beautifully preserved Sino-Portuguese house from 1903. The ceramic floor is simply superb! Entrance fee is 150 Baht (5 US$);
  • Thai Hua Museum – a nice Colonial-style museum where you can find out more about the Thai-Chinese mix of heritages to be found in Phuket. Entrance fee is 200 Baht (6.60 US$);
  • Ruamsahary Printing House – it is said to be the oldest printing house in Phuket and the best place to find all about this craftsmanship;
  • Thavorn Museum – located in the same place as Thavorn Hotel, this one has a rather odd (you’ve been warned!) showcase of local objects such as super old typewriters, ironing stations, decorations and more. Entrance fee is 30 Baht (1 US$);

3 - Admire some temples and shrines

Entrance of Jui Tui Shrine in Phuket Old Town
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Phuket Old Town has some wonderful shrines and temples as well, as religion has immense importance here as well as in the rest of Thailand. Here are some notable religious sites to explore while you’re around:

  • Shrine of The Serene Light – beautiful, colourful shrine and probably one of the most popular ones in the city. No entrance fee;
  • Wat Mongkol Nimit – a superb gold-roofed temple. Make sure you visit its garden as well. Entrance is free;
  • Jui Tui Shrine – another beautiful, small shrine, located only 10 minutes away by foot from the centre;

4 - Go shopping in one of the numerous markets

Busy stalls at the Sunday Market in Phuket
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Jewellery stall with hundreds of products
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Shopping for trinkets and indulging in street food is probably one of the best things to do in Old Phuket Town, that’s for sure. Phuket Old Town is an amazing place to buy locally crafted jewellery, ceramics and even books – especially on the main road, but not only. There are many options to choose from, depending on what you’re looking for:

  • Phuket Town Central Market – you can find everything here, from colourful clothes to fresh street food;
  • Phuket Town Night Market / Sunday Walking Street Market – every Sunday, Thalang Road in the centre of Phuket Old Town becomes completely pedestrianised as the Phuket Old Town Night Market is set up from 4 to 10 PM. Here you will find amazing street food options, local produce, live music entertainment and small souvenir stalls. My advice is to come here for the food! We tried a couple of dishes across a few different stalls and loved each and every one of them.
  • Amulet Marketlocated on Ratsada Road, this one is a small stretch of stalls selling blessed trinkets, Buddhist figures and amulets. The amulets are blessed by monks and are said to bring the owner certain attributes that they may be searching for – whether it be protection, good fortune, love or health. Even if this isn’t something you believe in, it’s such an interesting cultural experience! The stall owners that I met happily shared their knowledge and beliefs, always asking questions to help the customer find the amulet that best fit their needs;
  • Indy Market – a colourful, nice market open on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. There are even live performances here from time to time!
  • The Oasis Thalang (formerly Vanich Walking Street) – an indoor passageway where you can buy food, clothes and more. The walls are all covered in street art, so it’s a pretty sight regardless if you want to buy something or not!
  • China Inn – this place is also a restaurant (with amazing pork, actually, so I’m recommending it down below in the “restaurants” section!) but also a shop that sells vintage furniture;
  • Southwind Books – if you’re looking for some second-hand books.

5 - Relax in one of the cool cafes

Melissa pouring some tea sitting next to a tipi tent in a cafe
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Melissa sitting inside a tipi tent inside a cafe overlooking phuket old town streets
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Wondering what to do in Phuket Old Town on a rainy day? I got you! Phuket Old Town has a growing coffee culture – and I’m all for it! Believe it or not, you’ll find some of the cutest cafes and brunch spots in this part of the island. Sipping a coffee in a cafe is a great way to start your day, or you can even get some work done or catch up on your social media, as all cafes here have 5G Wi-Fi connection!

The tricky part? Choosing which ones to visit!

RELATED READ: No worries, you can read about my 3 favourites cafes in the city here: Phuket: 3 Best Cafés in Phuket Old Town.

6 - See the city from above from Khao Rang Hill

people at the Khao Rang viewpoint
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If you’ll only visit one viewpoint during your Thailand trip, let it be this one! Khao Rang Hill offers an amazing view over the entire Phuket Town from the viewing platform. I recommend going there at sunset for the most incredible pictures! And, as a bonus, you can also have dinner with a view here in one of the 3 on-site restaurants. If you decide to walk, it will take you less than one hour to reach the viewing platform on top from the centre of the city. You can also get there by car.

Best Old Phuket Town tours

Person driving a scooter through Phuket Old Town
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In case you want to visit (almost) everything in my guide with a guide, I definitely recommend joining an Old Town Phuket tour. There are quite some options available out there, but here I collected some hand-picked recommendations:

Best tours to the islands

Koh Phi Phi island during a beautiful sunset
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Where to stay in Phuket Old Town

Spacious Hotel room at WOO Gallery and Boutique Hotel
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RELATED READ: Where to Stay in Phuket – 7 Best Areas & Hotels

In case you’re wondering where to stay in the heart of this wonderful little town, I got you! I have selected some excellent accommodation options for you and grouped them by budget for your convenience:

LUXURY HOTEL. WOO Gallery & Boutique Hotel

BOUTIQUE HOTEL. Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel

MID-RANGE. The Besavana Phuket

BUDGET. Memory at On On Hotel – let me tell you some things about this rather famous Phuket Old Town hotel, may I? This accommodation became popular ever since it appeared in the opening of The Beach movie (Leonardo DiCaprio fans will know about this!). It’s not bursting with luxury; in fact, it’s a very good place to stay if you’re looking for an affordable hotel. Plus, it’s the oldest hotel in town, dating from 1929!

HOSTEL. Shunli Hotel

ENTIRE APARTMENT. Snoozy

Best Phuket Old Town restaurants

Melissa sitting at a table with dishes of traditional thai food
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Dishes of traditional thai food at a restaurant in Phuket Old Town
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Of course, no visit to Phuket Old Town is complete without indulging in some authentic Thai food and desserts, am I right? And, luckily for us travellers, this place in the world is not short on amazing eateries. Here are some of the best ones I can recommend:

  • Blue Elephant – This amazing restaurant is located at Phra Pitak Chinpracha Mansion and it’s a great place to try some (quite Royal!) Thai cuisine. I recommend the set menu for lunch. If you have some time on your hands and a desire to learn how to make traditional Thai dishes, I recommend booking a cooking class there as well. You can secure your spot online here.
  • Boonrat Dim Sum – some dim sum for breakfast? I’m in!
  • Tu Kab Khao Restaurant – go there for the deep-fried fish with turmeric!
  • Tunk-Ka Cafe – if you want to enjoy some Thai food with a view over the city;
  • China Inn – braised pork and some vintage furniture, anyone?
  • One Chun – Michelin-awarded place – excellent for crab dishes and traditional Thai dishes in general that will make you fall in love;
  • Keng-Tin – an 80-years-old sweet shop with lots of Thai delicacies such as pastries and cookies;
  • Torry’s Ice Cream – in case you want to end the day with some avocado ice cream;

This was my complete guide on Phuket Old Town and all its cultural and historical gems! In this article, I have told you everything you need to know about this often-times overlooked gem of Thailand – such as the 6 best things to do, which markets to visit, which tours to take, where to stay, where to eat and everything in-between!

In case you’re planning to visit more of Thailand, I recommend clicking here to read all about my adventures in this amazing Asian country!

 

xoxo,

Melissa

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    Melissa walking down Phuket Old Town with a blue perenakan house in the background
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    I’m a travel enthusiast, content creator and sun seeker extraordinaire! I love a good matcha latte, am obsessed with hats and like to give human names to the stray animals that I befriend on my travels ( I’m talking about you, Lesley!) In 2018 I took the leap and switched my London lifestyle for continuous adventures abroad.

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