The beating heart of Phuket City, Phuket Old Town is the cultural and historical capital of Phuket, with an interesting history and architecture to match. Slightly set back from the eastern coast of the island, the old town is reminiscent of a time when Phuket was a busy trading port, with merchants from Europe, China, Malay, and Siam coming and going. Consequently the town is home to some rare Sino-Portuguese buildings that mostly date back to the late 1800s, which have been lovingly restored and painted in bright pastel colors that serve as popular photo backdrops.
The peak of the week here is the Sunday Night Market, when the whole of Soi Thalang is filled with stalls selling everything from arts and crafts to food stuff. Definitely do not eat before visiting! The area can get pretty busy at this time but don’t be put off by the crowds, it’s one of the best night markets in Thailand. The best way to take it all in is to follow the one way system and take in the length of the south side of the street, before lapping back to do the north side. Aside from Sundays, the Old Town is relatively quiet and you can often have the streets to yourself, particularly in the mornings.
Of all the Sino-European buildings you’ll wander past, a few have been turned into museums; the gorgeous time warp Chinpracha House is a must visit, as you’ll follow a guide around the lavish mansion to understand the wealth that flowed through the town; or to understand more about the history of the local Chinese community and their contribution to building the area, stop at Phuket Thai Hua Museum, which is based in a former school house.
Phuket Old Town has a great night life, attracting revelers from across the island, particularly on the weekends, with its countless, vibrant bars on every street. Good Vibes P-Town is the one to head to for live music, swing by The Library Phuket for cocktails or Rockin’ Angels Cafe for big retro vibes. The neighborhood is also a big draw for coffee lovers, as it's home to a number of excellent coffee roasters such as Campus Coffee Roaster, where the minimalist decor is as inviting as the niche brews, or RUSH Coffee Rommani, where you can watch the roasting take place.
There are a couple of great coworking spaces in the wider area such as BAYACO Coworking Space and HOMA. The former is more focused on work and the latter more focused on living but both offer excellent amenities. There are cafes to work in on almost every corner of the Old Town but our favorites are The Vegan Table, which is the best vegan spot in Phuket, or Craftist Phuket, another excellent coffee roaster with the perfect ambience for having a productive day.
Lucie Grace is a British freelance writer, based in Chiang Mai. She lived in India throughout 2020 and 2021 and misses it daily. You can read her bylines in The Daily Beast, Fodor’s, The Independent and The Times.
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