Secrets of Phuket Old Town
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.

Thailand, Phuket Guide (A): Secrets of Phuket Old Town

This guys offers you a look at beautiful Chinese Shrines and Buddhist Wats, as well as a taste of trading of Buddhist amulets and mixing of Chinese traditional herbs. Chinese Phuketian Culture, the original Post Office, the first hotel – and much, much more.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Secrets of Phuket Old Town
Guide Location: Thailand » Phuket
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Pud Jow Chinese Shrine / Jui Tui Chinese Shrine   Sanjao Sam San Chinese Shrine / Thye Guan Tong Chinese Shrine   Chinpracha House and Mansion / The Blue Elephant   Phuket Thaihua Museum   China Inn   Wat Mongkol Nimit   Romannee Soi   Golden Sea Dragon / Hai Leng Ong   Philatelic Museum / Old Phuket Post Office   Old Chartered Bank   Thavorn Hotel and Museum   Amulet Alley   Guan Choon Tong Herbal Store   Shrine of the Serene Light   On On Hotel  
Author: tim laven
Author Bio: I have lived with my family in Phuket for the last ten years and I love to explore things which are not always on the map.
Author Website: http://timinphuket.blogspot.com/
1
Pud Jow Chinese Shrine / Jui Tui Chinese Shrine

1) Pud Jow Chinese Shrine / Jui Tui Chinese Shrine

Here are two beautiful examples of Chinese Shrines. Their architecture is magnificent and the attention to detail is breath taking.

Pud Jow is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy and Jui Tui Shrine is dedicated to the Vegetarian God, Klu Wong.

Please note that on entering all shrines, it is necessary to remove your shoes as a sign of respect for the Gods.

In front of the shrines there is a bowl with joss sticks and close by is a small flame that you can use to light the joss sticks. If...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
2
Sanjao Sam San Chinese Shrine / Thye Guan Tong Chinese Shrine

2) Sanjao Sam San Chinese Shrine / Thye Guan Tong Chinese Shrine

Sanjao Sam San Chinese Shrine was built in 1853 and is dedicated to Tien Sang Sung Mu, the ‘Goddess of the Sea’ and ‘Saint Mother Protector of Sailors’.

The shrine is another example of magnificent Chinese architecture found throughout Phuket Town. This particular shrine is special because the Chinese believe that by bringing a new boat here to be blessed, it will be protected; I have never seen a boat here however.

Thye Guan Tong Chinese shrine is next to the larger Sanjao Sam San...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
3
Chinpracha House and Mansion / The Blue Elephant

3) Chinpracha House and Mansion / The Blue Elephant

Chinpracha House (also known as Baan Chinpracha) is at the end of a winding dirt road. Mr Tan Ma Siang, who was locally known as Praptik Chinprach, built Baan Chinpracha in 1903. His home was built in the “Angmor Lounge” style – it was the first house in Phuket built in this style.

His family and friends brought many of the pieces for his home from Europe, for example the ceramic floor tiles were imported from Italy and the fence was imported from Holland.

Chinpracha House was used...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
4
Phuket Thaihua Museum

4) Phuket Thaihua Museum

Phuket Thaihua Museum displays information and gives visitors an insight into the Chinese Phuketian Culture. The building was originally a Chinese school (Phuket Hua Bun) which opened in 1934 and it is now a renovated beautiful building.

The Chinese were drawn to Phuket because of it's convenient location for trade and of the rapidly expanding Tin Mining Industry. This led to the increase in Chinese laborers and subsequently a drop in need for the French companies. The Chinese chose to...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
5
China Inn

5) China Inn

You enter into what looks like a front room of a home, but it is devoid of technology – on closer inspection there are Buddhist figurines and old photographs displaying the Chinese Heritage of this property. As you walk through the shop-house, the walls are adorned with Chinese fabrics and figurines – the atmosphere is truly special.

As you continue towards the back, you will find yourself in an immaculately managed garden – which is also a restaurant. The food is great – paradise in...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
6
Wat Mongkol Nimit

6) Wat Mongkol Nimit

The architecture of the Wat is what attracts many people here. The Wat has the traditional high ceilings that are common to all Thai Buddhist temples, but what is most alluring here is the use of glass. There is glass throughout the temple and the Wat looks different depending on the time of day and the weather. This is not common for Thai temples and as a result the Wat Mongkol Nimit is very popular with photographers.

But the beauty is not limited to the glass – inside there are white...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
7
Romannee Soi

7) Romannee Soi

This small Soi, located between Dibuk Road and Thalang Road, has recently experienced a resurgence of popularity. Thirty or forty years ago, it was seen as a dark-side of Phuket Town – this was where you were able to get all manner of intoxicants and could ‘hang out’ all night.

It is a very short street, but the Sino-Portuguese buildings are slowly being restored to their previous state and now the Soi is no longer one with a bad reputation.

There are a number of small shops, cafes...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
8
Golden Sea Dragon / Hai Leng Ong

8) Golden Sea Dragon / Hai Leng Ong

There is a large Chinese community in Phuket and there is a Chinese legend that says Phuket Island is actually a dragon that has risen from the Indian Ocean. This belief is held in high regard in Phuket and so a large monument of a dragon was built in 2004 to commemorate Queen Sirikit’s 72nd birthday, the statue is the main attraction at Queen Sirikit Park.

Looking closely at the stone inscription surrounding the Golden Sea Dragon, there are some similarities to the shape of the island and...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
9
Philatelic Museum / Old Phuket Post Office

9) Philatelic Museum / Old Phuket Post Office

The Philatelic Museum is actually the old Phuket Post Office. This was where the mail was sorted and distributed throughout Phuket and it’s districts.

On entering, you immediately get a feeling of history and then by taking a step closer you are immediately enveloped by it. There is a great deal of original equipment, as well as collections of stamps that date back to the time when Thailand was referred to as Siam, telephones, uniforms, desks and much...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
10
Old Chartered Bank

10) Old Chartered Bank

In the early 1900’s tin mining was at its peak and this led to the opening of the first foreign bank in Phuket. However, the bankers worried so much that they insisted there was a police station nearby – which was built across the road.

The bank (and the police station) are no longer being used and the Thai Treasury Department has given the buildings to the Phuket Municipality. A museum, which celebrates the culture of Old Phuket and honors HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, is now...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
11
Thavorn Hotel and Museum

11) Thavorn Hotel and Museum

The Thavorn Hotel is located in the heart of the Old Phuket Town and was built at the beginning of the twentieth century by an established Chinese family, the Thavorn Wong family.

It is not strictly a museum, the hotel still operates. I advise booking in advance during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

Take a look at the lobby and the attached museum that showcases the history of the hotel. These two rooms are filled with an eclectic mix of artifacts - from clothing and swords to a piano...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
12
Amulet Alley

12) Amulet Alley

This is an alley opposite the Chinese Shrine called the ‘Shrine of the Serene’ and next to a lovely restaurant called Siam Indigo. In fact, the alley can easily be missed – be careful when you step over the open drain.

The alley is a peaceful place and is usually frequented by people who are interested in particular amulets for their own protection. Initially, these amulets were only available from a Wat, but as the demand grew for particular amulets (some are more highly prized than...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
13
Guan Choon Tong Herbal Store

13) Guan Choon Tong Herbal Store

As you wander around Phuket Town you become aware of it’s Chinese Heritage BUT unless you've seen some of the recent "kung-fu" films, you will not have experienced a place like this store.

Mrs. Sodsri Bumrungwong is the head of the family that still manages the Herbal Store and has lived there for the last 70 years. The atmosphere is overwhelming – the smell of the herbs and a variety of herbal products is mind-blowing.

I can only imagine what is in the row of small...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
14
Shrine of the Serene Light

14) Shrine of the Serene Light

Here is an example of a beautiful Chinese Shrine, it was built in 1889 by a local Hokkien Chinese family. The entrance to the shrine used to be very unassuming, even hard to spot, but recently two pillars were erected to mark it clearly. Pass through the pillars and down a very unassuming passageway and into a very special part of Phuket.

The path takes you into a courtyard with the shrine at the end, a pagoda for burning on the right and on the left a part of the original shrine on display....
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.
15
On On Hotel

15) On On Hotel

The On On Hotel was established in 1929 and has been described as a ‘maze of battered rooms’ – I would be a little more forgiving, but the property does look a little dilapidated.

The Chinese and Portuguese architecture is not new, but the building is brimming with culture – surrounding it are smaller buildings and shops. Have a coffee at the Kopi coffee shop, but do it early in the morning when breakfast it served as it does not always smell like a coffee shop.

The location is in...
Image by timinphuket under Creative Commons License.