The historical and administrative center of Phuket traces its roots back centuries – first to the early European traders and later to the Chinese immigrants who arrived here during the 19th-century tinmining boom. Today, Phuket Town continues to thrive as one of the island’s most authentic cultural areas, with magnificent archi tectural treasures, Chinese shrines, colorful markets, and restaurants that serve some of Phuket’s most delicious local cuisines.
1- Ko Sirey
Linked to Phuket Town via a small bridge, Sirey Island features hilly forest trails that wind their way through rubber
plantations. Perched on a hilltop, Ko Sirey temple enjoys sea views and features a large reclining Buddha image in its main hall.
2- Sunday Walking Street Market
Thalang Road closes to traffic from 4pm every Sunday for this colorful market , which offers many locally made craft items, along with clothes and good food stalls. The historic buildings here are illumin ated for the occasion.
3- Naka Weekend Market
Located close to the Nakaram Temple on Virat Hongyok Road, this market is the ideal place for buying food, souvenirs and gifts, as well as a huge variety of clothing.
4- Marvelous Architecture
The distinctive style of architecture found in Phuket Town’s old shop houses and mansions is known as
Sino-Portuguese. This highly attractive blend of Eastern and Western styles dates from the late 19th century (see pp14–15).
5- Chinese Shrines
Vibrant and colorful art can be admired at Chinese temples (see pp46–7) through out the town. The shrines play
an important role dur ing the Chinese New Year and the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival.
6- Monkey Hill
Although the views from atop near by Rang Hill are more impres sive, Monkey Hill offers a more unusual experience, as hordes of macaque monkeys con gre gate near the hilltop. Keep hold of your belong ings – the monkeys may try to snatch them.
7- Phuket Cultural Centre
Located on the Rajabhat University campus, this museum houses old Thai shadow puppets, tin-min ing artifacts, historic photographs, and books on local culture.
8- Suan Luang Park
This pleasant garden with lovely lotus ponds comes alive in the early mor nings, when people come to exercise and
perform Tai Chi.
9- Rang Hill
Wonderful views of Phuket Town can be enjoyed from the summit of Rang Hill, where a breezy, tree-shaded park
also provides a relaxing venue for a picnic, some exercise, or simply reading a book.
10- Phuket Vegetarian Festival
This annual festival is held over nine days in late September/early October. Some devotees perform shocking rituals
of self-mutilation, so it’s not for the squeamish.
ORIGINS OF THE VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL
In 1825, a traveling Chinese opera company in Kathu contracted malaria. According to
legend, the afflicted nursed themselves back to health by following a strict vegetarian diet to purify their minds and
bodies, and to honor the nine Emperor Gods of Chinese Taoism. After they recovered, the first Vegetarian Festival was held to thank the gods.
NEED TO KNOW
Sunday Walking Street Market: MAP P5; Thalang Road (between Phuket and Yaowarat roads); 4–10pm Sun.
Naka Weekend Market:
MAP J3; 4–10pm Sat & Sun
Phuket Cultural Centre: MAP K2;
21 Thepkasatri Road; 07621 1959 (ext 148);
8:30am–4:30pm Mon– Fri; closed week ends and public hols.
Avoid walking tours at midday – the streets can be unbearably warm.
Try the iced coffee at Thungkha Kafae atop Rang Hill.
Sample a chili dog from the Tuk-Tuk Diner, which parks at the west end of the Thalang Road market.