Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Phuket Old Town

Phuket Town is referred as "Phuket" on the road signs, located at the eastern side of Phuket Island. Impressed by the tourism leaflets describing the historical and cultural richness of the place, we were decided to visit the old town within the boundary of Dibuk Road, Krabi Road - Thalang Road, Phang-Nga Road, Rasada Road, Yaowarat Road, and Rommanee Road.

We used the bus service from Patong to Phuket Town. The bus station at Patong was located at the southern end of Thawewong Road by the beach. We were lucky to catch the bus by just walking half way down the road (from our hotel). The bus was blue in colour with "Phuket-Patong" written on it. We waved to the driver, the bus stopped, and we hopped in. Seats were plenty at 10:30 am. We reached Phuket Town at 11:30 am. Our return trip from Phuket Town to Patong was much faster, in around 35 minutes.

 We were in a "conventional" bus on our trip to Phuket Town (upper left), but we returned using "extra-large" version of tuk-tuk bus (upper right and lower row). Can you imagine the 30 minutes journey uphill and downhill on that "bus"? Anyway, we survived, and the experience, unforgettable.

We went to Tourism Authority Centre of Thailand at the eastern side of Chalong Road to look for more information about the attractions around the town. Then, we walked through Rommanee Road into Dibuk Road, and headed to Phuket Restaurant & Cooking School after our lunch at Dibuk Road. The cooking school is the biggest colonial mansion in Phuket. It has another name- Blue Elephant Governor's Mansion. It was the residence for the Governor of Phuket. There were another two mansions nearby, which were owned by Chinese tycoons- one was abandoned and in bad condition, while another required entrance fee. Blue Elephant Mansion is big, but far from magnificent. The renovation killed all the nostalgic feel of that building. In fact, we could find many mansions with similar designs scattered across old towns in Malaysia.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand was air-conditioned, serving free coffee and drinking water (upper left). There is a park with golden dragon statue beside it (upper right). The old buildings can be seen around the area (lower left). The walkway in front of the shoplots, or "ngoh-kaa-kee" is identified as something unique among Phuket's architecture, but the walkway is very common design in Malaysia. Almost all shoplots in Malaysia are built with "ngoh-kaa-kee".

We couldn't find much information from the tourism information center in the old town. In the center, we found a few booklets on racks, photos with description hanging on the walls (upper left), a resting area with a well which contained water inside (upper right), a few model of the old buildings (lower left), a display of Chinese food, and of course, several other items, including a conference room (not shown in the photos).

 Rommanee Road was marked by this bright pinkish shop.

Rommanee Road was quiet during our visit.

This is the typical design of Chinese residence in Phuket Old Town- face of a dragon, with the windows resemble the eyes, upper windows resemble the eyebrows, while the door resemble the nose and the mouth.

Blue Elephant banners hung by the road (upper left) marking the location of the big mansion (upper right). Well, the "blue" actually described the inside rather than the outside (lower right). The cooking class was conducted by local chefs.

We bought three different seasoning pastes from the cooking school.

From Blue Elephant Mansion, we went to Phang-Nga Road through Krabi Road. We found that On On Hotel at Phang-Nga Road was quite attractive with  strong "old-Shanghai" design. That was the filming site for the movie "The Beach". We didn't watch the movie anyway. Along Phang-Nga, we took photo of the old clock tower (a landmark showed on many leaflets). Then, we reached The Trickeye Museum at the end of the road. The museum was an highlight in a few tourism leaflets. However, we turned back without entering the museum as the entrance was over-priced- 500 Bahts per person for the so-called 3D-drawings that we could see on internet? No way. On our way back to the bus station at Ranong Road, we took a rest at Kanda Bakery Restaurant along Rasada Road and enjoyed tom yam and chicken and corn soups (the cheapest in our Phuket trip).

On On Hotel.

Old vehicles around the old town.

Phuket Trickeye with eye catching sign painted on the wall. It looked outstanding among the old and dull buildings.

Bank of Ayudhaya was a prominent landmark in the old town.

The whole old town made us felt like a modern version of Ipoh Old Town, or a tiny version of George Town in Penang. Unlike some of the heritage old towns in Malaysia, Phuket Old Town was relatively quiet. Many shops were not operational anymore. Many of the buildings were either too heavily renovated, or too old to stand still. Tourism information was shallow, without much information on cultural and living heritage (or maybe we didn't search hard enough). A bit disappointed, but it was still a fruitful trip. At least, we had seen the connection between Phuket and Penang Island in our country.

More about our sharing on Phuket:


  1. Hi,

    You walk around Phuket Town without taking any other public transport? Where did you take the bus back to Patong?


    1. Yes Jenny, we roamed around the town by foot only. The Old Town area is not big, and a travel guide by foot was provided as well. We went back to Patong by bus too. The bus station at Phuket Town was located at Ranong Road, just beside the market.