It is the capital of the province of Phuket and is an attraction in itself. The most picturesque district of Phuket City is its historical Old Town: a 400,000 square meter area delimited by Dibuk Road to the North, Thepkasattri Road to the East, Ratsada Road to the South, and Patiphat Road to the West. In this historically rich part of town, you will find shrines, temples, ornate and beautifully preserved shop houses, quaint cafés, tiny printing shops, impromptu private and public museums and even a mini ex-red light district. Visit the local markets near the bus station and explore the tiny streets here and there to discover some incredible abandoned mansions.
Phuket Old Town was built on riches reaped from Phuket’s tin boom of last century. In this quarter of the town, you will see grandiose Sino-colonial mansions, once occupied by Phuket’s tin barons of 100 years’ ago. The area is compact enough to stroll around in; the best time to do this is early in the morning or after the day has lost its heat.
While the sun is still out, visit one of Phuket’s 29 Buddhist temples. Wats, or Buddhist temples, are among the most important symbols of Thailand, partly because the majority of Thais are Buddhist and partly because they are so beautiful. The island’s most frequently visited and biggest temple is Wat Chalong, located at the Chao Fa West Road. The temple was made and built in the nineteenth century. Wat Chalong has been extending a warm welcome to visitors for over a century. The Grand Pagoda dominating the temple contains a splinter of Lord Buddha’s bone. The pagoda is decorated with wall paintings depicting the Buddha’s life story and also features various Buddha images. The temple is open from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon.
It is one of the island’s most important and revered landmarks on the island. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and, at 45 metres tall, it is easily seen from far away. The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island, with sweeping vistas of the island. This spot additionally serves as a gallery and museum portraying the historical backdrop of the Big Buddha. Easily reachable via a six-kilometre road leading from Phuket’s main artery route, it is a must-visit island destination.
It is a popular Chinese temple, crucial in the lives of the islanders. Located on Phuket Road, not far from Phuket’s local market, it’s a must-see site for all newcomers to Phuket as one of the oldest and the most respected spiritual centres around. Locals often gather here to celebrate as well as to share their sorrows and hard times in life. The principal Chinese deity here, Tean Hu Huan Soy, is very much counted as a senior family member by locals. The shrine plays a pivotal role in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, an annual event held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the vegetarian festival and its accompanying sacred rituals bestow good fortune upon those who religiously observe this rite. During this time, local residents of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making. Entranced devotees known as “Ma Song” perform sacred rituals such as walking barefoot over hot coals and ascending ladders with bladed rungs. The ceremonies of the festival take place in the vicinity of the six Chinese temples scattered throughout Phuket, with the main temple being Jui Tui shrine.
Known by the locals as Naka Market and sitting just a little way from Phuket Town is a night market like no other. There are all sorts of things to buy such as fruits, old curiosities, animals and clothes. A popular event with both the locals and tourists, it is best to arrive late afternoon to ensure you get a good look around before it becomes packed. Make the most of the cheap local foods on sale like the golden buttered corn on the cob.
Offering entertainment on a grand scale, the Phuket Fantasea Show is a 140-acre complex that is filled with a range of entertainment and activities for all. There is a 4000 seat restaurant serving up a humongous buffet of both Thai and international food, a Las-Vegas style theatre show that showcases the best of Thailand’s myths and mysteries. A carnival village, shopping complex and handicrafts section also compete for your time and attention. With so much to do, it is best to arrive early to give yourself the time to see it all.
For over two decades, the now very famous Simon Cabaret Show has wowed tourists to Phuket with the most beautiful of lady boys performing night after night. It’s a one-hour spectacular display of colour, originality and fun. Extravagant costumes, make-up and sets take the audience from Egypt to Latin America to China and back to Thailand in themed displays of classical dance and song.
One of the most popular spectator sports in Thailand, and now gaining global momentum, is the martial art form of Muay Thai Boxing. The furious punches, crushing elbow strikes, lethal kicks and artful feints are even more riveting when seen live. Witness the passion and drama of Thailand’s national sport amidst crowds of onlookers whose cheers blend with the strains of high-pitched Javanese clarinets, and drums and finger cymbals that accompany the fights from beginning to end. For tourists in the Patong Beach area, nightly displays of Thai Boxing are carried out in specially built stadiums on Soi Sai Namyen.
Bangla Road in Patong is the notorious heart of all Phuket nightlife, and the battle for night supremacy is raging between Beer Bars, Live Music, Night Clubs and of course, Go Go Bars! Over the years, the centre of interest has been moving up and down Bangla road depending on seasons and popularity but the ever changing face of Patong nightlife is definitely worth a look. Of course, wherever you go in Bangla, friendly girls will call you with a big smile and encourage you to have a drink and play a few silly bar games because everyone is welcome.
40/5 Chanajaroen Road ,Tambon Talad Yai, Amphur Muang , 83000 Phuket
Tel: +66 (0) 76-397-777
Fax: +66 (0) 76-397-700