Phuket Town is the historic yet thriving capital city of the island. Located in the northeast corner of Phuket and home to over one third of the island’s population, it’s very much a working city and there are no beach clubs or fancy resorts to be found here. What you will find, however, is a breadth of culturally stimulating places and activities squashed into the city’s Old Town, combined with buzzing markets, charming historic streets and unique eating and drinking options.
Old Town, located along and around Thalong Road, offers a stunning taste of old Asia, with thoughtfully preserved Sino-Portuguese colonial buildings now housing numerous art studios, boutique stores and trendy cafés. And when day turns to night, the city doesn’t slow down, with dozens of fantastic local restaurants to suit all budgets and some of the island’s most interesting drinking establishments and music hang-outs.
Located in the heart of the Old Town, The Memory At On On Hotel is Phuket’s oldest hotel and steeped in history. Opened in 1929, this stunning Sino-Portuguese building was fully renovated in 2012 and offers seven different accommodation options, from luxe suites to immaculate dorms.
Raya Restaurant serves up incredible southern Thai food in a wonderfully preserved old Sino-Thai mansion with tiled floors and antique-packed display cases. The crabmeat curry and coconut milk is the stuff of legend.
The brilliantly themed Zimplex brings a touch of tech to its mixology, with lab-coated bar tenders serving up ‘molecular cocktails’ in a dimly lit science lab of a bar. Nearby Music Matter is a relaxed, compact little place with a stage for live jazz jams.
Take in the incredible colonial architecture of Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road in the Old Town. Get that ultimate Instagram shot at the disorientating Phuket Trickeye Museum that’s filled with painted backdrops that turn your 2D snaps into mind-bending 3D scenarios. Then, head up the hill and breathe in the sublime views from Phuket Town’s second highest hill, Khao Rang.
If you do just one thing…
Explore the buzzing Phuket Weekend Market (Chao Fan Market), and spend your baht on everything from incredible street food to clothing, souvenirs and plenty of bootleg goods. Skip the live animals section, though; you can’t take a parrot on a plane.