Phuket Old Town Walking Tour, Phuket

Phuket Old Town Walking Tour (Self Guided), Phuket

Phuket City, “where the emerald embrace of the Andaman Sea meets the lush greenery of the palms,” is a tourist mecca and the capital of the eponymous island in Thailand. This island is the country's largest and is often referred to as the "Pearl of the Andaman."

The name "Phuket" is believed to be derived from the Malay word "Bukit," which means hill, a reference to the hilly terrain of the island.

Owing to its strategic location at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, the region boasts a rich maritime history dating back to the 16th century. At that time, Phuket was an important trading port for ships passing through the Malacca Strait. Over the centuries, as a major stopover for merchants sailing between China, India, the Malay Peninsula, and other countries (including European, such as Portugal), Phuket was influenced by different cultures, which shaped its unique heritage.

This is particularly evident as you walk along the cobbled streets of the historic Old Town quarter, studded with heritage buildings. Dibuk Road (Thanon Dibuk), one of the oldest streets in Phuket, is lined with well-preserved, exotic Sino-Portuguese facades characterized by tiles, doors, perforated windows, and other details indicating strong overseas influence. Similarly to it, Thalang Road (Thanon Talang) also harkens back to a bygone era of colonial-style elegance and refined aesthetics.

Another charming place, where nostalgia intertwines with modern allure, is Rommanee Lane (Soi Rommanee). This colorful boulevard is a vivid canvas of local artisans, charming cafés, and artistry aplenty, all of which make it an excellent spot for photography.

The cultural anthology continues at the Thai Hua Museum and Pithak Chinpracha House Museum, exquisite repositories of Phuket's illustrious past.

As sunlight caresses the ornate Golden Dragon (Hai Leng Ong) Statue, a gilded ode to celestial benevolence, the city emanates an aura of prosperity and serendipity. Meanwhile, the graceful Buddhist temples, such as Wat Mongkol Nimit, and the illustrious Taoist shrine Jui Tui bestow a sense of tranquility upon the wandering soul, offering a glimpse into the spiritual heart that beats at the core of Phuket's essence.

In the Old Town of Phuket, mysticism melds seamlessly with festivity, beckoning the intrepid traveler to embrace its vibrant pageantry. If you want to explore Phuket's time-honored splendor richly complemented by its contemporary allure, follow this self-guided walk and enjoy your time in the city to the maximum!
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Phuket Old Town Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Phuket Old Town Walking Tour
Guide Location: Thailand » Phuket (See other walking tours in Phuket)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hai Leng Ong Statue (Golden Dragon Statue)
  • Thanon Dibuk (Dibuk Road)
  • Wat Mongkol Nimit
  • Soi Rommanee (Rommanee Lane)
  • Thanon Talang (Thalang Road)
  • Shrine of the Serene Light
  • Thai Hua Museum
  • Pithak Chinpracha House Museum
  • Jui Tui Shrine
Hai Leng Ong Statue (Golden Dragon Statue)

1) Hai Leng Ong Statue (Golden Dragon Statue)

The Golden Dragon Statue is a majestic symbol deeply rooted in ancient Chinese legend and local beliefs. According to the mythical tales, Phuket Island is believed to embody a golden sea dragon, revered as the protector of the land.

At the entrance of Queen Sirikit Park, visitors are greeted by an imposing golden-colored statue of a dragon emerging from the water. This awe-inspiring sculpture stands as a testament to the significance and reverence bestowed upon Golden Dragon. It serves as a focal point where local residents, especially those of Chinese descent, gather to pay homage to the creature. Offerings, incense, and candles are lovingly presented to honor the dragon and seek its protection for Phuket and its people.

Within the park, a wall adorned with artwork recounts the enchanting legend of Hai Leng Ong. This artistic depiction provides a figurative representation of the magnificent sea dragon and its relationship with the geography of Phuket. The wall displays the positioning of each part of the dragon's body in relation to the island. For instance, the snout of the dragon is believed to reside at the southern tip of Phuket, specifically at Laem Promthep. The heart of the dragon is said to be situated somewhere within the Phuket Town area. According to folklore, a series of hills forms the creature's long and curving body, culminating in a tail that elegantly curls back upon itself.

Queen Sirikit Park itself was established to commemorate Her Majesty Queen Sirikit's 72nd birthday in 2004, as part of the auspicious celebrations for her 12-year life-cycle. The addition of the dragon statue in 2006 further enhanced the park's significance, commemorating the 60th year of His Majesty the King's reign—an important milestone within the 12-year cycle.
Thanon Dibuk (Dibuk Road)

2) Thanon Dibuk (Dibuk Road)

Dibuk Road is a renowned and vibrant old street that deserves a spot on your exploration itinerary. This colorful and easily accessible road is adorned with a plethora of casual cafes, shops, and restaurants, making it a delightful destination for locals and tourists alike.

Parallel to the famous Thalang Road, where the bustling Sunday Walking Street Market takes place, Dibuk Road stretches for approximately 800 meters. Starting from the old Dibuk Mansion in the west and ending at the old Song Ho Book Shop in the east, this street is steeped in historical significance.

As you meander along Dibuk Road, you'll encounter a charming collection of old, renovated Sino-Portuguese shophouses that exude the unique architectural style of Phuket. These beautifully restored buildings, with their vibrant facades, transport visitors back in time while offering a glimpse into the town's colonial past.

What sets the west side of Dibuk Road apart is its meticulous renovation and attention to detail. Every shophouse in this area has been repainted with pastel colors, lending an enchanting ambiance to the street. To preserve the aesthetic appeal and create a visually pleasing atmosphere, all the electric cables have been skillfully buried, making Dibuk Road even more picturesque. This thoughtful touch allows visitors to capture beautiful photographs without the disruption of unsightly wires.

Furthermore, the west side of Dibuk Road boasts a delightful array of cafes and Thai restaurants, some of which have been serving local cuisine for decades. If you're seeking an authentic culinary experience, you'll find an abundance of options that showcase traditional Thai flavors and culinary traditions.
Wat Mongkol Nimit

3) Wat Mongkol Nimit

Wat Mongkol Nimit, a traditional Thai Buddhist temple situated in Phuket Town, Thailand, holds a significant place in the local community. Originally constructed in 1880, the temple was initially known as Wat Klang due to its central location within Phuket Town ("klang" meaning middle in Thai).

As a thriving and active place of worship, Wat Mongkol Nimit houses numerous resident monks who engage in daily religious practices. Many of these monks pursue their studies at the religious school located within the temple grounds. Their dedicated residence and study area are housed in a large Sino-Portuguese style building, reflecting the architectural heritage seen in various historic structures scattered throughout the Old Town quarter.

The centerpiece of Wat Mongkol Nimit is its shrine hall, a place of profound spiritual significance for Buddhist devotees. The shrine hall boasts intricate and ornate decorations adorned with gold leaf, complemented by vibrant blue and red paint. The gable end of the roof, particularly at the front entrance, showcases impressive craftsmanship and visual grandeur.

Visitors to Wat Mongkol Nimit are welcome to enter the shrine hall, provided they observe appropriate attire. To show respect, it is essential to wear trousers or a skirt that covers the knees. Additionally, shoulders and upper arms should be modestly covered. Adhering to these dress guidelines ensures a harmonious atmosphere and demonstrates reverence for the sacred space.
Soi Rommanee (Rommanee Lane)

4) Soi Rommanee (Rommanee Lane)

Rommanee Lane, located in the heart of Phuket Town's Old Town, is a captivating street that showcases the beautifully renovated Sino-Portuguese architecture that the area is renowned for. This small but vibrant street branches off from Th Thalang, offering visitors a glimpse into the historical and cultural fabric of Phuket.

In the past, Rommanee Lane had a rather colorful history, once being home to brothels, gambling establishments, and opium dens. However, through the years, the street has undergone a remarkable transformation. Today, it exudes a unique charm and has become a haven for boutique cafes, guesthouses, and trendy shops. This fusion of old-world allure and modern establishments has turned Rommanee Lane into a beloved destination for both locals and tourists.

What makes Rommanee Lane truly enchanting is its architectural splendor, with its meticulously restored Sino-Portuguese buildings. These structures showcase intricate details, vibrant colors, and ornate facades that harken back to the colonial era. As you wander along the lane, you'll be greeted by the visual delights of the well-preserved architecture, which stands as a testament to Phuket's rich history.

Rommanee Lane truly comes alive at night when Chinese lanterns illuminate the street, casting a soft and warm glow. The atmosphere becomes magical, inviting visitors to take leisurely strolls and capture stunning photographs. The blend of the captivating architecture, the gentle glow of lanterns, and the bustling energy of the street creates a memorable experience that highlights the allure of Phuket's Old Town.
Thanon Talang (Thalang Road)

5) Thanon Talang (Thalang Road)

Thalang Road, located in the historic part of Old Phuket Town, stands as the most renowned street in the area, enticing visitors with its rich heritage and captivating ambiance. With a successful revitalization effort by the municipality and property owners, Thalang Road has breathed new life into its old Sino-Portuguese shophouses while skillfully burying the unsightly cables that Thailand has become known for. This transformation has turned Thalang Road into a veritable paradise for selfie enthusiasts.

As you stroll along Thalang Road, you'll find yourself immersed in a tapestry of small cafes, traditional and trendy boutiques, and a handful of restaurants. What unites these establishments is their recognition that an attractive cafe draws in more customers. Therefore, they have adorned their spaces with captivating memorabilia from Phuket's past, creating an atmosphere that not only offers delectable treats but also provides abundant selfie opportunities. Some of these cafes are truly stunning, adding an extra layer of charm to the street.

An intriguing characteristic of Thalang Road is the uniformity of its shophouses' design. These structures are built to be long and narrow, with tiny facades that aid in keeping the interiors cool by allowing the breeze to flow through. Each shophouse typically features a door flanked by windows on either side, with two smaller windows positioned above them, resembling eyes. The covered space in front of each shophouse extends into a long archway, providing shade, shelter, and an area to display items for sale.

Thalang Road also hosts the famous Phuket Sunday Walking Street Market. Stretching for 360 meters, the Sunday Walking Street Market has quickly gained popularity since its inception. Every Sunday, from 4 pm to 9 pm (and often extending beyond), the once quiet Thalang Road transforms into a vibrant and lively street teeming with activity. Visitors and locals alike flock to Thalang Road to immerse themselves in a sensory delight. The street is adorned with numerous stalls offering an array of goods and delectable treats. From handicrafts and souvenirs to local snacks and street food, there is an abundance of choices to explore and indulge in. The atmosphere is electric, with the sound of chatter, the aroma of delicious cuisine, and the colorful displays creating an unforgettable experience for all.
Shrine of the Serene Light

6) Shrine of the Serene Light

The Shrine of the Serene Light is a captivating ancient Chinese shrine that holds a significant place in the local community. Once shrouded in secrecy, it was considered among the finest hidden gems of Phuket Town. However, with the widening and grandeur of its entrance, it has now emerged as one of the most popular shrines in Phuket.

Founded in 1891 by the Tan Luan Jae family, descendants of whom are still involved in its maintenance and preservation, the Shrine of the Serene Light is also known as the Sang Tham Shrine, bearing various name variations depending on the language and dialect. Though modest in size, this shrine boasts an extravagant and visually stunning appearance.

The architectural design of the Shrine of the Serene Light reflects its rich heritage, showcasing distinct features commonly found in Hokkien-Chinese shrines. Its terracotta-tiled roof and single-story construction are reminiscent of traditional Chinese architectural elements. These characteristics not only evoke a sense of cultural identity but also add to the shrine's allure and visual appeal.

As visitors approach the shrine, they are greeted by the intricate craftsmanship and ornate detailing that adorns its exterior. Intriguing patterns, vibrant colors, and symbolic motifs contribute to the shrine's captivating aesthetics. Inside, devotees and visitors can partake in spiritual practices, such as making offerings, lighting incense, and offering prayers for good fortune, prosperity, and protection.

The Shrine of the Serene Light holds a special place within the Phuket community, attracting both locals and tourists alike. Its historical significance, architectural beauty, and the spiritual ambiance it offers create a serene and reflective atmosphere. Visitors are encouraged to respectfully observe the customs and traditions associated with the shrine, contributing to a harmonious experience for all.
Thai Hua Museum

7) Thai Hua Museum

Situated on Krabi Road the Thai Hua Museum is housed within a meticulously maintained Sino-Portuguese building. Nestled in the heart of the Old Town, this museum offers visitors a captivating glimpse into the region's history and cultural heritage. Recognized for its commitment to preserving architectural arts, the Thai Hua Museum received a prestigious award in 2008 from the Siam Architect Association, with the patronage of the King.

Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted with a wealth of intriguing exhibition rooms spread across two floors. These rooms provide a comprehensive overview of Phuket's history, with informative displays accompanied by short films in Thai and Chinese (with English subtitles). Through these exhibits, the museum sheds light on various aspects of Phuket's past, such as the Phuket-China connection, the significance of Thai Hua as the first Chinese-language school in the area, the prominence of Sino-Portuguese architecture on the island, and the vibrant local ceremonies and cuisine that define Phuket's cultural fabric.

One of the standout features of the Thai Hua Museum is its charming inner courtyard, which serves as a focal point within this traditional Sino-Portuguese structure. The courtyard not only enhances the building's architectural aesthetics but also plays a functional role by allowing air to circulate, particularly during the hot summer months. Additionally, the museum's lovely garden showcases a collection of large tools and machinery from Phuket's tin-mining era, providing further insights into the region's industrial history.

The Thai Hua Museum excels at presenting Phuket's rich heritage through a multidimensional lens, offering visitors a comprehensive understanding of the island's past. From its intricate connections with China to the cultural significance of Thai Hua as an educational institution, the museum illuminates the diverse facets of Phuket's history. Furthermore, the museum's exhibits delve into the architectural marvels of Sino-Portuguese buildings scattered across the island and provide an in-depth exploration of Phuket's traditional ceremonies and delectable local cuisine.
Pithak Chinpracha House Museum

8) Pithak Chinpracha House Museum

The Pithak Chinpracha House Museum stands as a remarkable testament to Sino-British architecture and offers visitors a captivating glimpse into the colonial era. This privately-owned mansion, built in 1903 by its original owner whose name it bears, has become a treasure trove of historical and cultural significance.

Originally a private residence, the Pithak Chinpracha House Museum opened its doors to the public after the passing of its owner. This decision allows visitors to step back in time and appreciate the architectural grandeur and rich heritage of Sino-British design.

Over the years, the house has undergone meticulous renovations, ensuring its preservation and prime condition. The mansion's colonial-style architecture, with its characteristic features and detailing, transports visitors to a bygone era. The centerpiece of the house is the courtyard, where the women of the household traditionally conducted daily cooking and washing activities. This central area exemplifies the cultural practices and family dynamics of the time.

Each room within the Pithak Chinpracha House Museum serves as a preserved piece of history. The walls are adorned with a captivating display of old photographs, priceless artifacts, ceramicware, and antique furniture sourced from various parts of Europe and China. This curated collection showcases the multicultural influences that shaped Phuket's history, offering a glimpse into the lives and tastes of the mansion's former residents.

As visitors explore the museum, they are transported back in time, immersing themselves in the ambiance of a bygone era. The Pithak Chinpracha House Museum serves as a cultural time capsule, preserving the essence of Phuket's colonial past and serving as a bridge between generations.
Jui Tui Shrine

9) Jui Tui Shrine

The Jui Tui Shrine is a colorful and magnificent temple. Hidden behind the bustling food stalls, this shrine is over 200 years old and dedicated to the worship of the Goddess of Mercy. The name "Jui Tui" is derived from the words "Jui," meaning water, and "Tui," meaning mortar, referencing the wide canal and water at the entrance of the shrine.

As the oldest Chinese Taoist temple in Phuket town, the Jui Tui Shrine showcases traditional Chinese architectural elements and design. The shrine's exterior features intricate detailing reminiscent of Buddhist temples, vibrant wall banners adorned with ancient dragon motifs, and Chinese lanterns. The unique architecture of the shrine resembles a headless and tailless turtle, adding to its distinctive charm.

Stepping inside the Jui Tui Shrine, visitors are greeted by the fragrant scent of incense that fills the air. The interiors depict various Chinese gods, creating a spiritual and reverential atmosphere. Devotees and visitors come to offer prayers, seek blessings, and pay respects to the deities represented within the shrine.

The Jui Tui Shrine was originally constructed in 1911 with a thatched roof by the owner of the garden, who donated the land for the shrine. God Jee Jo, a medium, urged the villagers to build the shrine, leading to its establishment. In 1982, the shrine underwent further development with the participation of numerous vegetarian participants, enhancing its present strength and beauty.

The Jui Tui Temple hosts two significant annual events: the Sae Yid (God's Birthday) and the Vegetarian Festival, which is celebrated in the 9th lunar month. The shrine holds particular importance during the Vegetarian Festival, as it is considered the birthplace of this ritualistic event. The festival is dedicated to the Vegetarian God, Kiu Wong In, and spans nine days. It is observed by devout Buddhists who believe that participating in the festival brings good fortune and blessings.

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