Phuket Town Attractions
What to See in Phuket Town
At first sight, Phuket Town appears to some visitors as a sleepy provincial capital with not much going for it by way of attractions. Yet Phuket Town is steeped in history, has many attractive and unique temples and boasts top-rate viewpoints.
A favourite with more adventurous tourists is a stroll through the Old Town, an area that lives and breathes the island’s history of tin mining, some 200 years ago. Many of the temples used as bases during Phuket’s famous Vegetarian Festival are within walking distance of each other and there is even wildlife downtown, on Monkey Hill. Here’s a comprehensive guide to Phuket Town’s attractions.
Other Attractions in Phuket Town
In a tiny alley off Rassada Road in Phuket Town, not far from the Fountain Circle and just a few steps from Salvatore’s Italian restaurant, is the Phuket Buddha image and amulet market, a specialised market that attracts many local and overseas Buddhists. In Thailand, amulets were first made in temples and handed out to followers of the Buddha’s teachings to provide them with a constant reminder of the Buddha’s values, or to commemorate highly respected monks after their death. Read More...
- Location: Phuket Town
Baan Chinpracha is a fine example of a Sino-Colonial mansion located at 98 Krabi Road. Jaroonrat Tandavanitj's late husband inherited it from his father, who in turn was the eldest son of the original owner who built it 105 years ago. The house has been used as a location in many films, both Thai and Western, including Hollywood films such as 'Heaven and Earth' and the TV series 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles'. This is the only Sino-Colonial mansion in Phuket that is open to the public.
- Opening Hours: From 09:00-16:30. Private functions are also welcome. It is closed on Sundays.
- Location: 98 Krabi Road. It’s only a few doors from the Blue Elephant Restaurant.
- Tel: +66 (0)76 211 167 and +66 (0)76 211 281
Baan Teelanka – Upside Down House - opened in April 2014 and is one of the most innovative and original attractions on Phuket Island. Located on the Bypass Road on the northern outskirts of Phuket Town, Baan Teelanka features no less than three exciting attractions/activities to entertain the whole family. Baan Teelanka itself is a three-storey house built leaning on its roof. It is adorned with a maze-shaped garden in its backyard. The Chamber of Secrets is the third activity that could be enjoyed here, with two rooms from which visitors have to escape from by finding clues and resolving puzzles in a way to open the doors.
Initiated, designed and managed by a charming Swiss-Thai couple, this well-thought-out project brings visitors into another dimension and offers sensational photo opportunities. In addition to Baan Teelanka, A-Maze-in-Phuket, and the Chamber of Secrets, the small complex features a modern coffee shop (selling drinks, snacks and sweets) and a souvenir store. Puzzling yet fascinating and fun, Baan Teelanka aims at children and adults alike as it makes everyone feel like they went too far down the rabbit-hole. Read More...
- Opening Hours: From 10:00-18:00
- Location: two kilometres from the North entrance of the By-pass Road.
- Tel: 084-4565279
- Price Range: Bann Teelanka: adult – 250 baht, children – 150 baht; A-Maze-in-Phuket: adult – 150 baht, children 100 baht (prices of Feb 2015)
The Bang Neow Shrine (also spelled Bang Niew), known also as Tao Buang Keng and Thep Rasi Foundation Shrine, is another beautiful place of worship in Phuket Town. Founded in 1904, it was originally part of another shrine at Soi Romanee in the Old Town.
It has moved a few times – strangely enough always because of fire. If looking in from the road, you’ll notice that the shrine is unusually long and has many doors. This is because it houses many shrines (almost 10 of them) that lie immediately next to each other. The most important shrine is the one in the middle, where the main deity is. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 08:30 – 22:00
- Location: On Phuket Road at the Bang Neow intersection and not far from Robinson Department Store and MacDonalds. If heading to Saphan Hin Park, the shrine is on the left-hand side of the road.
Hok Nguan Kung Shrine at the Surin Clock Circle, near the Metropole Hotel has long been a religious centre of many Phuket families since it was founded more than 80 years ago.
The most important ritual object here is the crafted image of Ju Su Kong (hence locals refer to this shrine as Ju Su Kong Shrine.). His statue is made from sandalwood and is black from head to toe, so it’s not difficult to recognize him. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 08:00 – 18:00
- Location: at the Surin Clock Circle on Phuket Road, opposite the Metropole Hotel, Phuket Town
Jao Mae Kuan Im is a small vintage shrine on Bangkok Road in the heart of Phuket Town, just a few steps from the ‘Fountain Circle’ and the main fresh market.
The shrine celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2011 and, as its name suggests, devoted to Kuan Im, the Goddess of Mercy in Taoist mythology (also known as Guanyin and Kannon). Her image is also seen on altars in Chinese shrines, households and work situations. Read More...
- Highlights: Bangkok Road in the heart of Phuket Town. Just a few steps from the Fountain Circle and not far from main fresh market.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 08:00 – 20:00
The temple is one of the most important in Phuket and plays a pivotal part in the famous annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival. The grounds are quite impressive and display photos of the temple dating back to 1911 when the temple was just a single construction without side buildings or walls. The main building itself has been through a number of renovations resulting in a beautiful exterior and interior with three large altars full of statues of Chinese gods. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 20:30
- Location: Phuket Town
- How to get there: Next to Put Jaw Chinese Temple on Soi Phuthorn, Ranong Road, not far from Phuket’s main market.
It's a fairly short drive up Rang Hill, but a leafy and green one. There are two parking areas; one near the Phuket View restaurant and a larger one at the summit. This shady and breezy spot is very popular with couples, students and tourists alike. Here, surrounded by clipped bushes and tropical flora, you will find a statue of Kosimbee na Ranong, Phuket's forward-thinking governor of 100 years ago. Read More...
- Location: Phuket Town
This stunning shrine located in a superb location at Saphanhin Park, Kiew Tien Keng must be one of the most beautiful places of worship in Phuket.
It’s the only shrine that is located near the seashore and is considered the departure spot to send all gods/deities back to heaven on the final night of the Vegetarian Festival. It’s where the colourful parades of each shrine officially come to an end when a normal diet can resume. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Location: Saphan Hin Park, Phuket Town
Koh Sirey on the east side of Phuket Town sometimes feels more like a small cape than an island. Covering only about 20sqkm, most of Koh Sirey is delightfully free of construction and driving along its leafy eastside coastal road with its rubber plantations is a pleasure. It really is like Phuket 20 years ago. Read More...
- Opening Hours: All year round
- Location: Just east of Phuket Town. To get there means having to pass through Phuket's port area and it takes only 15 minutes or less by car from the town centre.
Toe Sae Hill in Phuket Town is sometime referred to as Monkey Hill.The reason why becomes fairly obvious after a few hundred metres when you come across a troupe of macaques munching away on fruit brought to them by locals.
Probably the highest hill in Phuket Town, Monkey Hill is home to a few TV and radio stations and a popular recreation spot where many locals jog on a daily basis. The hill has a number of great viewpoints at different levels. Read More...
- Location: Near Phuket Provincial Hall and Provincial Court in Phuket Town. If you are coming from Thepkasattri Road, take the first road left after Phuket Prison situated on Dammrong Road. This is Toe Sae Road which leads up to Monkey Hill.
Unlike many Thai provincial capitals, Phuket Town fairly shines with personality and nowhere more so than its Old Town. In this historically rich part of town you will find shrines, temples (Buddhist and Chinese), ornate and beautifully preserved 'shophouses', quaint cafés, tiny printing shops, impromptu private and public museums and even a mini ex-red light district.
Phuket Old Town was built on riches reaped from Phuket's tin boom of last century, when the metal was an extremely valuable commodity. In this quarter of the town you will see grandiose Sino-colonial mansions, once occupied by Phuket's tin barons of 100 years' ago. Phuket Old Town 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. There are enough restaurants and cafés to provide you with refreshments so don't bother taking a picnic along! Read More...
The Boat Lagoon Phuket, next to Royal Phuket Marina in Koh Kaew was the island's first marina complex. It is surrounded by a group of condominiums, the Boat Lagoon Resort, serviced apartments and restaurants, shops and offices.
Short- and long-term accommodation is available overlooking the marina. It has been fully operational since 1994. This circular, 180-berth lagoon was originally a tidal flat at the head of a shallow, meandering two-mile creek, Klong Tha Rua. Read More...
- Location: On Thepkasattri Road in Koh Kaew Area on the eastern side of Phuket. It sits side-by-side with Royal Phuket Marina.
- Tel: +66 (0) 76 238533 - Fax: +66 (0) 76 238541
Phuket plays host to a wonderful mix of nationalities who have chosen to live here: it has Thais, Chinese, Malays, Indians and Nepalese, a young and growing Eurasian community and a unique mix of Hokkien Chinese and Thais called 'Baba'.
The Baba community's heritage can be seen in Phuket's Old Town in its architecture, commerce, dress and way of life. The core of the Old Town essentially is made up of five roads and several 'sois' (small streets), these are Rasada Rd, Phang Nga Rd, Thalang Rd, Dibuk Rd, and Krabi Rd. This quarter teems with history and after years of neglect is currently being renovated. Read More...
Phuket Philatelic Museum
Located inside an 80-year-old building on Montri Road, the stamp museum looks amazing from the outside and the interior is under development but still open for the public at no entrance fee. At the moment, there are three sections inside: The first part exhibits posters explaining how the Thai Postal Service has developed since its start during the reign of forward-thinking King Rama V.
The second room houses a good amount of old (some antique) equipment and machines such as telegraph tickers, telephones, and parcel-weighing machines. The last section is a souvenir room where sets of Thai stamps are on sale, along with other items. When the project is completed they expect to have over 700 sets (totaling more than 1,000 stamps) of real vintage and interesting Thai stamps on display. All information will be in both English and Thai. Currently most information on display is in Thai only.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Friday from 08:30 – 16:30, Saturdays and holidays open from 09:00 – 12:00, closed on Sundays.
- Location: Next to the main Phuket Post Office on Montri Road
- Price Range: Free
Phuket Trickeye Museum is an interactive 3D painting museum offering amazing photo opportunities and great fun for the whole family. Located at the corner of Montri and Phang Nga roads in a large two-storey building that used to be Phuket Island’s unique movie theatre until 2002, Phuket Trickeye Museum features a gallery of about 100 scenes painted (and for some, sculpted) using trompe-l’oeil (French for ‘deceive the eye’) techniques in a way to place visitors in an unreal world-like place.
Trompe-l’oeil is a painting technique that originates in the antiquity; it requires a certain skill in geometry as the idea is to create a three dimensional illusion on a two dimensional (flat) support. Perspectival illusionism rules at Phuket Trickeye Museum, you will surely be fooled by the superb paintings on display there. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 21:00 (last admission 20:00)
- Location: at the corner of Montri and Phang Nga roads in Phuket Town, right next to Pearl Hotel
- Tel: 076-212806, 090-0658822
Phuket weekend market, located along Chao Fa West Road just outside Phuket Town not far from Central Festival, is a fascinating jumble of secondhand goods, curios, pirated items, live animals and a large amount of great local food to sample. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 16:00 til 21:00
- Location: Talad Tai Rot is located along Chao Fa West Road, Phuket’s main thoroughfare, one kilometre south of Central Festival shopping mall and is opposite Wat Naka, a Buddhist temple. Take a left at the first set of traffic lights.
Put Jaw Chinese Temple
This is the oldest Chinese temple on the island. The original was built about 200 years ago and underwent a major renovation in 1908. Put Jaw Temple is also known as Kwan Im Teng as it was built in honour of Kwan Im, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy.
Many locals come here to seek help when they have health issues. They shake a box full of bamboo sticks until one falls out. They then use the number written on the stick to get a medication prescription from the temple (written only in Chinese) then take it to a Chinese herbal medicine shop. Many parents with Chinese heritage come to get names for their newborn babies at Put Jaw in the belief that, if properly named, their children with have a good and long life. Photography is allowed, and indeed recommended.
- Opening Hours: 06:30 – 20:00
- Location: On the corner of Soi Phuthorn, Ranong Road in Phuket Town, right next to Jui Tui Chinese Temple, not far from Phuket’s main market.
Royal Phuket Marina (RPM) is strategically located along the centre of Phuket's eastern seaboard, on the doorstep of famous Phang Nga Bay. The marina is Thailand's first world-class luxury lifestyle marina and stands on over 30 hectares (190 rai) of prime land, right next to Phuket Boat Lagoon in Koh Kaew right by the road from Phuket Town to the airport. Read More...
- Address: Address: 68 Moo 2, Thepkrasattri Rd, Kohkaew, Phuket
- Tel: Marina Enquiries +66 (0) 7637 9397-8, Fax: +66 (0) 7637 9399
Nobody knows exactly when this shrine was built. All that is known is that a well-to-do family donated a plot of land together with images of some Taoist deities to start it off. Since then the shrine has been a major part of Samkong villagers’ lives especially when someone fell ill or needed some advice to improve their health.
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Location: Along Yaowarat Road, on the north side of Phuket Town (about midway between Bangkok Phuket Hospital and Tesco Lotus.)
Saphan Hin is a popular seaside park which has had a long relationship with islanders since the boom of tin mining years ago when it was a major trading port and the only beach located in Phuket Town.
It took a lot of work, money and more than 40 years to develop it into the agreeable and functional park it is nowadays. It’s also the main venue of most of Phuket’s annual events, including the Red Cross Fair, Loy Kratong and a large procession from Chinese shrines on the last day of the famous Vegetarian Festival. Read More...
- Remarks: it is advised not to frequent Saphan Hin after 22:00
- How to get there: In Phuket Town, head east on Phuket Road
Sapam Shrine is a compact little shrine located right on the roadside on Thepkasattri Road in the Sapam Village area. It is the result of the strong faith of the Chinese migrant community from Fujian, China who settled in this part of the island for more than 200 years.
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Location: on Thepkasattri Road in the Sapam Village area, not far from the Shell Gas Station and Wat Sapam Temple.
Shrine of the Serene Light
A few doors up to the west of the On On Hotel is the Shrine of the Serene Light but you will not notice it unless you walk down a short alley to it. This shrine was built in 1889 by a local Chinese family and is relatively little known due to its concealed location.
Further east, where Phang Nga Road meets Thepkassatri Road there is an old vacated bank building facing a police station. The police station was purposely built there after dissatisfied tin mine workers threatened to loot the bank.
Sino Portuguese Style
A must-do in Phuket is a walk in the old part of Phuket City, around Thalang, Dibuk and Krabi roads. The beautiful architecture along these roads will take you back to the charm of a century ago.
According to Pranee Sakulpitpatana, a lecturer at Phuket Rajabhat University and one of the island’s premier historians, the architecture is a reflection of European influence on the island. Europeans, including the Portuguese and the British, had been interested in Phuket’s tin wealth since the 16th century.
Soi Romanee (Soi Rommanee) is located in the heart of Phuket Old Town. A walk along the soi, the street that connects Thalang Road with Dibuk Road, evokes Phuket’s interesting history. Like many streets in Phuket’s old quarter, there are lots of attractive Sino-Portuguese style shop-houses.
- Opening Hours: All year round.
- Location: Just off Thalang Road, Phuket Old Town. This small street connects Thalang Road with Dibuk Road.
Thai Hua Museum
Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road is one of the best looking and well-maintained Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket. This recently renovated building was at one stage a Chinese-language school. These days it is used as a museum, exhibition space and an occasional function hall.
Thavorn Hotel Lobby Museum
Eclectic and eccentric are the two words that best describe the small museum in the lobby of the Thavorn Hotel in Phuket City. An assortment of artifacts and photos, gathered by the Chinese-Thai family who run the Thavorn group, are displayed erratically in a rather dingy and dim setting.
In addition to an extensive collection of photos of old Phuket and Thai royalty, there are traditional Chinese wedding hats, tin mining equipment, toy trains, opium smoking beds and pillows, and movie posters. Stepping into this place really does feel like entering another era.
- Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours
- Location: Thavorn Hotel, 74 Rassada Rd, Phuket City
- Tel: 076-211333-5, 076-211339
- Price Range: 30 Baht
Located along Phang Nga Road in Phuket Old Town and formerly known as On On Hotel (in Chinese, ‘un un’ means ‘happiness for all visitors’), The Memory at On On Hotel went through a complete renovation in 2012 and 2013. On On was the first hotel to open on the island in 1929 and witnessed the island’s tin-mining era. By way of contrast, in 2013, there are over 1,000 hotels in Phuket…
In 1929, the main industry in Phuket was tin mining. The area of Kathu, a few kilometres west from Phuket Town was one gigantic tin mine, with hundreds of Chinese migrants digging to excavate the metal. In Phuket Town, Ta Pan Hin was the port from where the tin was exported to all around the world, mostly aboard European ships. The grandfather of the current owner, a tin baron and trader, had the idea to set up accommodation for other traders coming to Phuket Town. The first On On Hotel had five rooms which cost approximately 80 satang (not even one baht) a night! Read More...
Wat Kajonrangsan, or Wat Kajon for short, is an unusual Buddhist temple in terms of architecture. The main building (or Pra U-bosod) was built in the Roman style (unique in Phuket). It also has a beautiful set of Thai-style pagodas.
At about 07:00 – 08:00 in the morning, visitors will come across quite a busy place. This is because Wat Kajonrangsan School is located in the same compound. It might be fun to be there early to observe the traditional Thai way of life where the temple is at the heart of everything, including education.
- Opening Hours: 07.00 – 17.30
- Location: On Ranong Road, not far from Phuket’s main market.
Wat Khao Rang
Wat Khao Rang (or Sumnak Song Khao Rang) enjoys a great location in Phuket Town, sitting on the slope of the popular Khao Rang (Rang Hill). This is where visitors can discover a large golden sitting Buddha – the first of its kind on the island. This charming temple is busy at weekends when locals pay a visit.
- Opening Hours: Daily from about 08:00 – late afternoon.
- Location: Khao Rang Hill, Phuket Town. Take the road Soi Vachira, leading from the Vachira Hospital, the temple is a few hundred metres up on the right.
Wat Putta Mongkon
Often referred to as Wat Klang (meaning centre temple) because of its location in the heart of Phuket Town, Wat Buddhamongkol has beautiful architectural features, including a yellow chedi (pagoda), a small bell tower and a Sino-Portuguese colonial mansion used as a dormitory for the temple monks. There are two ways to enter this wat; by Thepkasatri Road or by Dibuk Road opposite the famous Soi Romanee.
- Opening Hours: 07.00 – 17.30
- Location: On Dibuk Road opposite Soi Romanee in Phuket Town
Yok Ke Keng Shrine
Soi Panieng in the Samkong area is known as the home of Phuket Butterfly Farm but it also houses an interesting old shrine by the name of Yok Ke Keng. The original shrine was located on a watery rice field in front of the current location and access used to be difficult, especially during the monsoon season.
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Location: Soi Panieng, Samkong, Phuket Town.