Phuket off the west coast of Thailand is its largest island. It was famous for its tin and rubber and was a trading post on the trade route between India and China that contributed to its colourful history. While the beaches are the current attraction in Phuket the townscape of the old city full of Sino colonial architecture, a holdover from its tin mining days, is unique to Thailand. Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa, one of Phuket luxury hotels is only a few minute’s drive away from old Phuket.
Many of the architectural gems are concentrated in the old city centre along Krabi and Thalang Roads, Phang Nga Road, Ranong and Rasada Roads, Yaowarat Road, Thepkasatri Road and the sois in between them. A two km heritage trail allows visitors to catch the best preserved old buildings. Sino Colonial mansions that belonged to tin barons, ornate Chinese temples, shop-houses with covered arcades are among these. Some of the best examples of shop-houses are down Dibuk Road. One of the most interesting streets is Soi Romanee between Dubuk and Thalang roads that hosted the red light district. Although the red light district is gone the lovely buildings remain converted into shops, restaurants and private houses. If the exterior of the buildings down Soi Romanee is interesting the interiors of some are even more so with old fashioned timber ceilings and antique furniture. The really grand buildings are down Krabi and Thalang Roads both of which have excellent examples of Sino Colonial Mansions. The former governor’s mansion now the Blue Elephant Restaurant, the Phuket Thai Hua Museum housed in a beautifully preserved mansion and Baan Chinpracha built in 1903 are some of the exquisite examples of Sino Colonial architecture. Other buildings of note are Phuket’s old post office built in 1932 and the city’s first hotel. Annual cultural events and other shows highlight the town’s ancient heritage.
Nigel Walters is a travel writer, who writes under the pen name, Fritzjames Stephen. His content is based on the myriad of experiences and indulgences that the world has to offer travellers across all walks of life.