Take a walk through Phuket’s historic Chinatown
Taking a is by far the best way to get a glimpse of Phuket‘s yesteryear through its historic buildings in the old Chinatown. The area of most interest, two or three streets with beautifully preserved old Chinese row houses, is not very large, and one can cover the area in less than an hour if desired. But you might find enough things of interest to go further afield. We offer suggestions on where to go and what to see, along with lots of photographs, on this separate page: a walking tour of old Phuket Town.
>> Phuket Town
Chinese shrines & Buddhist monasteries both give colour to Phuket Town
The religious traditions of both the Chinese and Thai are rooted in Buddhism, and both are emblazoned with fiery reds,oranges and yellows. But that’s the end of their similarities.
Chinese Buddhism emanated from the Mahayana tradition, or Greater Wheel, that spread from India to Tibet into China, collecting numerous gods and goddesses on its journey to represent different aspects of the human condition.
Thai Buddhist tradition follows the Hinayana path, and might be called more ‘pure’. technically it has no gods a all, with the Buddha himself being recognized simply as an enlightened monk and the great teacher.
The two religious traditions give Phuket some interesting contrasts, with three active Chinese temples and several Buddhist monasteries scattered through the town. Spend an hour walking and you will run into examples of each. It’s the Chinese shrines, however, that stand to impress the most, for these are obviously wealthier than their Thai counterparts. And the major Thai Buddhist monasteries and shrines, like Wat Chalong and the Big Buddha are outside the town, not inside.
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Tunk-Ka Cafe, Khao Rang, Phuket. The view from Tunk-Ka over Phuket is superb by day or night, making this a relaxing escape right in the heart of town.
Traditional markets & modern shopping malls in Phuket Town
Central Festival Phuket, Phuket’s biggest and most modern shopping mall, is just a few hundred metres west of the town itself, facing the major intersection of the north-south highway and the road to Patong Beach. Opposite this is another huge complex of home building, fitting and repair supplies. Immediately over the hill to the north of the upmarket Central Festival is the Bic C shopping mall, renown for island’s best budget shopping.
Barely one kilometre further up the main road is the mammoth Tesco-Lotus super store with the biggest assortment of foodstuffs on the island. Together these four huge complexes form Phuket’s major modern shopping district. Still, there is talk of yet another, even grander shopping mall to be built in the same area, a short distance to the west.
For more traditional markets you can stay on foot within the Town. Phuket Town’s morning fresh market may be the most interesting for foreign visitors eager to get a glimpse of Thai life, and what goes into their cooking pots. Some of the ingredients on sale here will indeed look very strange, and perhaps unappetizing. It also makes an interesting cultural lesson for children – even if their parents won’t be able to answer all of their questions. This market is close to the round-about water fountain on Ratsada Road and is marked on all maps of the town. Get there before 10:00am, when this early -starter begins to wind down.
Visit Khao Rang, Phuket’s little midtown mountain
This pretty little mountain in the middle of Phuket Town has great views and one of the best restaurants on the island. Combining a trip here with a visit to Phuket town makes an excellent outing. If you’re lucky you might also meet the local troupe of monkeys on the hill. We show some of the reasons to visit Khao Rang and its iconic restaurant here; Phuket’s Khao Rang mountain.