is the largest town and economic center of Phuket province. In Thai language, it is known as Muang Phuket. It has an estimated population of 63,000. It is not a great tourist destination, with all the exotic beaches lying close by. However, accommodation and food is cheaper here than the nearby beaches. In addition, Phuket has a Chinatown offering a great Thai-style shopping experience.
Phuket had an important place in history and many a battle was waged to possess it. This town was an important halt in the India – East Asia sea route. Tradesmen used this route for centuries to transport goods. Burmese, Portuguese and the Dutch have tried at various times during the history to take over this small town. After this came the tin mining boom, which brought with it thousands of Chinese immigrants. They settled here and infused their culture, cuisine and architecture into the local scene. Phuket Town has excellent examples of Sino-colonial architecture, Chinese temples and houses dating back a century.
If you are interested in the history of Phuket, this town has more to offer than the beach areas.
How to reach
Local buses and songthaews run between Phuket Town and other beaches from 7.00am to 6.00pm. In Phuket Town, the buses start from Thanon Ranong at Ranong market. Services to Patong Beach run every 30 minutes and takes 45 minutes to cover the distance. The fare is 20 baht. To other beaches, the fare is in the range of 15 to 30 baht. Taxis charge anywhere from 200 to 400 baht – less if you bargain hard.
Phuket International Airport is towards the north of Phuket Town, lying at a distance of 30kms. By taxi, it takes 30 minutes and 500 baht and by shared minibus, it takes 45 minutes and 100 baht to cover the distance.
The ideal means of transport around the town is tuk-tuks, which are available in plenty. Decide on the fare before boarding, as they tend to overcharge. Motorbike taxis are also available for hire. There are no public bus services in the town. Phuket Town is too big to travel on foot.
Places to see
Phuket Town has many interesting buildings dating back a century, which will interest students of architecture. Even ordinary tourists can enjoy visiting the well-preserved buildings. Some of the most important tourist attractions are:
- Put Jaw and Jui Tui Temples: These are located near the Ranong bus terminus, on the corner of Soi Phuthon and Thanon Ranong. Put Jaw temple, built almost two centuries ago, is the oldest Chinese Taoist temple in Phuket. It is dedicated to Kwun Im, the Goddess of Mercy. The neighboring Jui Tui temple is a later addition and is bigger. Here, devotees find answer to their questions by throwing two red-colored mango-shaped blocks up in the air in front of the altar. If the blocks fall on different sides the answer is taken as ‘yes’ and if they fall on the same sides, the answer to your puzzling question is ‘no’. There is no entry fee, but donations are welcome.
- Sino-Portuguese mansions: These mansions, located in Thanon Krabi, were built by the tin tycoons during the tin mining boom in late 19th century. They look impressive even today.
- Wat Mongkol Nimit: This Thai-style temple, located in Thanon Dibuk, has a beautiful towering roof and colorful glass tiling.
- Phuket Cultural Museum: This museum, located at Rajabhat University, displays information about Phuket’s history through pictures and tableaus. Entry to the museum is free.
Things to do
Phuket Town is popular among tourists as a shopping destination. Other than department stores, malls and local markets, Chinatown’s Thanon Thalang provides an incredible shopping experience. Here you will find local handicrafts, antiques and art as well as apparels ranging from designer wear to cheap stuff. Phuket Night Bazaar is another shopping location favored by tourists. However, you will get the same products at cheaper rates at the supermarket, Big C.
Phuket is very popular destination for vacation rentals. Here you can find many available vacation homes such as villa or apartment to rent. Click here
to see our collections of luxurious beach villas.