Phuket might be the first place in your mind when you think about holiday getaway with beautiful beaches, bright sky and relaxing ocean view. But if we talk about history and culture, this island might not be one of your very first choices.
However, every place has its back story and Phuket Island is one of them that has many interesting stories to tell. Here are some of the cultural sites in Phuket that will allow you to know more and fall for this southern island once again.
#1 Phuket Old Town – Soi Rommanee
Famous for its beautiful Sino-Portuguese architectures, Soi Rommanee is located in the heart of Phuket Old Town where Thalang and Dibuk Roads are connected. This Phuket old quarter is truly a hidden gem where you will find colorful stunning vintage houses of Thai-Chinese descendants in the past.
This short street neighborhood has many local businesses like guesthouses, shops, restaurants and cafes residing in these charming historic buildings. You can enjoy shooting photos without the interference of the electric cables like on the other places across Thailand. Rommanee Street was selected to be one of the streets in Phuket to join the free cables street programme which means all the cables are moved to the underground.
This attractive neighborhood was once a red light district for Chinese laborers in the past. The name “Rommanee” means beautiful or lovely but due to the street past, its name was later known for the naughty with the ladies instead.
These days Rommanee quarter is very popular among both international and Thai tourists. You will see many travellers and photographers come to this street with a huge camera to take advantage of these Sino-Portuguese buildings.
Soi Rommanee is really a great place to chill out, shopping and taking photos of this beautiful buildings. There are many local restaurants around there which offer great local foods like Roti, chicken curry and Thai tea. Also, you can shop for cute handmade souvenirs from postcard shop as well as local souvenirs like Thai local bathing clothes or Thai Sarong for your lady.
If you love to take things slow, visit Soi Rommanee and allows the street to bring you back in time.
#2 Phuket Thai Hua Museum
If you are not enough with the Sino-Portuguese architectures, so Phuket Thai Hua Museum should be your next visit.
Located on Krabi Road, just 350 metres from the famous quarter Rommanee, Phuket Thai Hua Museum is considered to be one of the best maintained Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket.
To guarantee its architecture’s beauty, the museum received an award from the Association of Siamese Architects for the outstanding conservation of architectural arts in 2008.
This airy Chinese vintage building has 13 rooms, exhibiting in both English and Thai languages. It will walk you through Phuket history through many facets where and when it all begun, especially the connection between Phuket and China relation.
Originally the first Chinese-language school in Phuket, Thai Hua Museum is run by Kusonsongkhroh Foundation (aka Lok Xian Kok) which supports by successful Chinese descendants in Phuket from the mining era.
Visitors can enjoy through the path and multimedia technology in the museum. The highlight of this historic mansion is the charming inner courtyard which is open to the sky, allowing the natural light to enter the building during the day.
Phuket Thai Hua Museum opens daily from 09:00 – 17.00 hrs. There are admission fees of 50 THB for Thai residence and 200 THB for foreigners. However, if you would like to take photos in the museum, you will have to pay for the fee.
#3 Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon – Heroine’s Monument
Situated on the main highway no.42 – between the Phuket International Airport and Phuket Town, Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon monument is the symbol of how brave and patriotic Thais can be.
During wartime, Thailand and Myanmar had fights over lands. The two countries had constant battles and that was when Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon came to shine with their loyalty and bravery in defending Myanmar army for five-week while they were waiting for the help from the capital.
These two courageous sisters had defended the island and received the royally bestowed title as “Thao”. Today the statue plays host to many islanders wishing to pay respect to their ancestors. And every year, during 13 – 15 March, there will be the celebration for the Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon at the monument.
#4 Tin Mining Phuket Museum
Before the sea and the sun era, Phuket was once rich in tin ore. So basically, you would say that Phuket economy back then was built on tin mining industry.
Tin mining museum is located on the road between Loch Palm Golf Club and British International School. The museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibition areas which will cover story from tin mine to an opium den. There are many sections exhibiting photos, waxworks and models.
Housed in Sino-Portuguese building, this museum is very informative, but, unfortunately, most of the signs and information are in Thai language. Therefore, it will be more useful to bring some Thai companions or guide along with you.
The attraction opens daily during 08:00 – 16:00 hrs, except on Sunday. There are entrance fees of 50 THB for locals and 100 THB for foreigners.
#5 Baan Chin Pracha
To add up to Sino-Portuguese collection, Baan Chin Pracha on Krabi Road also offers Sino-Portuguese architecture. This mansion is one of the best maintained vintage building on the island.
Runs by its owner, the mansion is partially opening for visitation, but that doesn’t mean it has less beauty when compares to other Sino-colonial style house in the town. The spot is famous and was a filming location for both Thai and International TV series.
It has many meticulous displays of a daily life of Chinese wealthy people. You will see how the kitchen looks like back in the days and how delicate of each colourful tiles on the floor.
The highlight of this mansion is the spacious open-air inner courtyard with a pond in the middle of the mansion.
Baan Chin Pracha opens from 9:00 – 16:30, except on Sunday.
#6 Blue Elephant Restaurant
If you want to enjoy the magnificent colonial architecture while dining an exquisite Thai royal cuisine – Blue Elephant Restaurant on Krabi Road is your answer.
Blue Elephant is a well-known restaurant branch based in Bangkok. It has 12 branches globally and it offers succulent high Thai cuisine in the beautiful Sino-Portuguese mansion.
Dining in an old Chinese-Colonial style building of Blue Elephant will almost make you forget about the modern world and thought that you are some royals dining in the palace. And due to its fine cuisine, the restaurant also has cooking school that offers culinary courses for those who fond of Thai cuisine.
Blue Elephant Phuket is a famous spot for wedding venue and other formal banquet events.
The restaurant opens daily from 11:30 – 14:30 hrs and from 18:30 – 22:30 hrs.