Phuket Old Town guide


Phuket is undoubtedly one of Thailand’s most visited destinations. But if tourist-laden sites like Patong aren’t your scene, we have just the suggestion: Phuket Old Town.

Located on the east coast of the island, it’s a small historic town that presents its own unique urban culture, with well-preserved Sino-Portuguese architecture all over and must-visit natural landscapes.

Here are 12 hidden gems for you to bookmark – including an antique boutique hotel, a street lined with rainbow shophouses and a clocktower that dates back to the 1900s now that the island has reopened to fully vaccinated tourists.

Other places to visit in Phuket:


Places to visit



1. Promthep Clock Tower – A building for tracking time in the 1900s



Image credit: Panorama Destination

Tucked away along Phang-Nga Road’s intersection is Promthep Clock Tower; a crowd-favourite photo spot due to the building’s summer yellow tones.

It was built in the early 1900s – for the town to keep track of time, as watches were costly back then. Until 1976, however, the building didn’t have a clock installed, till The Phuket’s Lion Club donated one.


At off-peak times, the crosswalk can even be used as your very own catwalk. Your safety comes before those Insta-likes, though.
Image credit: @gibzy_gift

If you’re heading down, be sure to check out the museum within, where you can discover more of Phuket’s history.

Promthep Clock Tower
Address: Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 24H, Daily

Google Maps


2. Soi Rommanee – an alley lined with rainbow houses



Image credit: @piak_piggypeaky

Soi Rommanee is a little street brimming with colourful charm – it’s one of Phuket Old Town’s oldest streets, with buildings dating back to the early 1900s.

Nestled right in the heart of the historical site, visitors can enjoy the East-meets-West vibes that each building’s architecture evokes.

The whole alley is lined with multi-hued souvenir shops, cafes and guesthouses. Contrary to its rainbow-hued veneer now, it used to be a red-light district.


Image credit: @piak_piggypeaky

This Phuket-born eatery named Orta Cafe is one of the places worth checking out along this street.

They craft food souvenirs from locally produced goods on the island, stocking products like durian or Tom Yum-flavoured coffee.


Soi Rommanee is just as pretty at night, perfect for romantic evening strolls.
Image credit: @thelmahui

Soi Rommanee
Address: Soi Rommanee, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 24H, Daily

Google Maps


Things to eat



3. Kopitiam by Wilai – retro Chinese shophouse



Image credit: @hollypan

The term kopitiam refers to traditional coffee shops and hawker stalls that are especially prominent in Singapore and Malaysia. Kopitiam by Wilai pays homage to the ubiquitous shophouses across Southeast Asia, as well as Phuket’s very own shophouse culture.

The retro-style Chinese shophouse serves seasonal classics like Hokkien Mee ฿105 (~USD4) – and it’s only available during Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival from 6th October till 14th October every year.


Vegetarian Hokkien Mee
Image credit: โกปี้เตี่ยม Kopitiam by Wilai – Phuket

Full-time vegetarians can be rest assured that they’ll still have access to this variation of the dish – you may request for it to be served to you once you’re there.


Image credit: @thipvii

Kopitiam by Wilai is decked out in retro furnishings that’ll transport you to a bygone era. We’re definitely reminded of those old-school Jackie Chan films shot in shophouses or small congee restaurants.

Kopitiam by Wilai
Address: 18 Thalang Rd, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: Tues – Thurs: 11AM – 8PM, (Closed on Wed)
Telephone:
+66 8 3606 9776

Kopitiam By Wilai Facebook | Google Maps


4. The Old Phuket Coffee “Coffee Station” – an antique cafe



Image credit: @grp1989

Once you walk past The Old Phuket Coffee “Coffee Station” in the island heat, you’ll definitely want to stop for an iced cold brew as well as a quick snap for the ‘gram.

Stepping into the premises, what’s immediately striking is its dark wood walls, weathered radio sets and clocks peppered all around its interior.


Image credit: @waywaychan_ch

We’re sure having a cuppa at this coffeeshop will make you wonder if you’re actually in an antique museum.


Image credit: @shimakazethailand

Kopi Cha ฿95 (~USD3), short for Thai tea with coffee and Ao Aew ฿45 (~USD2), a white jelly dessert, are the recommended menu items to try at this coffee stop.


Vintage radio sets from the 70s are never out of fashion
Image credit: @spicycinderella

The Old Phuket Coffee “Coffee Station”
Address: 2 Thalang Rd, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 9AM – 6PM, Daily
Telephone:
+66 6 4246 5562

Google Maps


Photo-spots & murals to snap



5. Phang-Nga Road – interactive 3D graffiti



Image credit: Jamie’s Phuket Blog

Ever wanted to experience what it’s like to grab breakfast with the locals whilst catching up on the town’s latest gossip? The hyper-realistic street art at Phang-Nga Road literally breathes life into the scene.


Image credit: Meet Me In Departures

Adjacent to Anfield Cafe, these intricate murals depict a typical morning in Phuket that will make you feel right at home with the community – just remember to get the angle right when you’re posing.

Phang-Nga Road – 3D Graffiti
Address: Yaowarat Rd, Talat Nuea, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 24H, Daily

Google Maps


6. Phuket’s Downtown Market – Meet the “Banksy” of Thailand



Here, Mardi is depicted in a traditional sarong and pushing a cart, similar to what merchants do in Thailand’s fresh markets.
Image credit: @toffeefeefy

Alex Face is considered one of Thailand’s most popular – yet mysterious – graffiti artists. He’s even touted as the “Banksy” of Thailand in some street art circles.

If you’d like to catch one of his works IRL, head down to Phuket’s Downtown Market, where you’ll find the three-eyed bunny girl, Mardi. She’s one of Alex’s signature characters. Eagle-eyed visitors will recall spotting her all around Thailand, especially in Bangkok.


Image credit: @toffeefeefy

Phuket has many more murals hiding around the corner – so do keep an eye out for them when you’re exploring the Old Town.

Phuket’s Downtown Market
Address: 203 Ranong, Tambon Talat Nuea, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 24H, Daily

Google Maps


Where to stay at Phuket Old Town



7. The Memory at On On Hotel – Leonardo Dicaprio was here


Image credit: EDTGuide

Besides being known as a backdrop in The Beach featuring Leonardo Dicaprio – The Memory at On On Hotel is one of the oldest hotels on the island.

The hotel was originally built as “Un Un”, a name that was derived from a Chinese dialect. As that too was tricky for English speakers to pronounce, it was renamed, “On On”.

You’ll be able to spot this all-white hotel just a stone’s throw away from Phang-Nga Road in Phuket Old Town.


The second floor lobby reminds us of a living room in a small traditional Sino-Portuguese manor.
Image credit: @biahhqp

Prices for rooms used to begin at 80 satang (~USD0.026) per night back in the early 1900s. Most of the establishment’s clientele back then were merchants and sea crew who passed by on commercial trading boats according to The Cloud.

Now, the starting price for The Memory Superior room is set at ฿1,200 (USD39). Whereas, larger rooms spanning 25SQM like the The Memory Deluxe start at ฿1,395 (~USD45) per night.


Image credit: @thememoryatononhotel

If you just wanna pop over to the hotel’s reception for a glimpse of the decor, the lobby welcomes non-hotel guests.

Rest assured that anyone can use the building’s facade as a backdrop for their photographs, as long as we observe safe-distancing measures.

The Memory at On On Hotel
Address: 19 Phang-Nga Rd, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 9AM – 6PM, Daily
Telephone:
+66 7 636 3700

The Memory at On On Hotel Website | Google Maps


8. Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel – European Art Deco



Image credit: @dearapirak

A trip to Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel will probably involve a time warp of sorts. Hear us out. Think overtures of colonial architecture, consistent with Phuket Old Town’s general vibe, with old-timey and European-style influences.

Lodging options include a Superior Room – starting from ฿2,300 (~USD74) per night. A tad pricey, but their amenities include your choice of a king-size bed or twin beds, private bathrooms, air-conditioning, and a pool or garden view.


The private balconies overlook the swimming pool, making it possible to take some cool aerial-view shots.
Image credit: @nappy_nomad_


Lookout for this mini-fountain with a garden on your way in
Image credit: @dear555

This boutique hotel is within walking distance from Phuket’s bus station. Airport bus transfers to and from Phuket Airport are also available. Do note that the bus fare costs ฿100 (~USD3) per passenger.

Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel
Address: 26 Phuket Road, Tambon Talat Yai, Phuket District, Phuket, 83000
Opening Hours: 9AM – 6PM, Daily
Telephone:
+66 7 621 9019

Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel Website | Google Maps


9. Woo Gallery and Boutique Hotel Phuket – spend a Night at the Museum



Image credit: @woogalleryandboutiquehotel

Now here’s a heritage hotel and museum that has an interesting premise. Visitors get to spend a literal Night at the Museum along Thalang Road, if you get our drift.

Home to the Woo family for generations, dating back to the Hong Clan in Fujian, China, this wealthy immigrant family established the Woo Gallery and Boutique Hotel Phuket, now a bustling hotel that celebrates years of Chinese heritage.

The hotel’s grand entrance – which resembles an ancient Chinese manor – with shuttered windows, lanterns and round archways is definitely a rare sight.


Image credit: @eeeedgarrrr

The boutique is full of antiques – some that date back to the 1960s. Those with sticky fingers, should ask for permission before touching anything or preferably, stick to snapping pictures.


Image credit: @aomkanitaa

If you want to find a place to stay at this lodge, 25SQM rooms like the Woo Classic start from ฿1,790 (~USD58); offering amenities like a courtyard and garden view and free Wi-Fi.

Woo Gallery and Boutique Hotel Phuket
Address: 43/1 The Phang-Nga Road, Talat Yai, Phuket, 83000
Opening Hours: 9AM – 6PM, Daily
Telephone:
+66 7 635 3719

Woo Gallery and Boutique Hotel Phuket Website | Google Maps


10. Thu Gub Khao – Michelin-starred Thai food



Michelin-starred cuisine awaits guests within this colonial building.
Image credit: Open Rice

Thu Gub Khao is a Michelin-star restaurant that remains a mainstay even among locals. Expect authentic Phuket-centric cuisine and other Southern Thai delicacies, from Pineapple Yellow Curry to seasoned Giant Lobster dishes..

Curiously, the name of the eatery pays homage to its history: “Thu Gub Khao” refers to a small casing for food that helps to keep insects away, and is used in many Thai houses.


Image credit: @mkdragon

Their dishes have variations of spiciness depending on your tolerance. If you’re unsure of what spice level is the best fit for you, do ask the staff for recommendations.


Image credit: Tukabkhao Phuket Local Food Restaurant

We’d recommend visiting only on an empty stomach as the star of the show is their juicy Dragon Lobster, priced at ฿399 (~USD12.97) per 400g-500g.

You’ll even get to pick how your lobster is going to be cooked for the same price, Krapow-style or otherwise.

Thu Gub Khao
Address: 8 Phang-nga Rd, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 11.30AM – 9.45PM, Daily
Telephone:
+66 7 660 8888

Thu Gub Khao Website | Google Maps


11. One Chun Cafe & Restaurant – street food & local Phuket fare



Image credit: @kp_kanhatai

We’ve covered a Michelin-starred restaurant that’s more upmarket, so here’s one that stays true to local fare for the masses.

One Chun Cafe & Restaurant is famous for several dishes that have widespread appeal, due to their roots in hawker culture.

What we love about this particular restaurant is the vibe that it seems to exude, thanks to the presence of fascinating knick-knacks and gadgets.


Image credit: @kp_kanhatai

Look carefully, and you may even spot old-school cinema projectors, which are prized among collectors.


Pad Thai Kung, Braised Pork ฿195 (~USD6) and Southern-Style Crab Curry ฿370 (~USD12).
Image credit: @placesandfoods

Expect familiar staples like Pad Thai Kung ฿180 (~USD6), for instance, and Southern-Style Crab Curry ฿370 (~USD12), home-cooked dishes that will warm your bellies and hearts.


One Chun Namprik Set ฿425 (~USD14) – Crab egg chili, shrimp paste, and salted deep fried pork.
Image credit: @adambeechinor

One Chun Cafe & Restaurant
Address: 48/1, Thep Khasatri Road, Talad Yai, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 10AM – 10PM, Daily
Telephone:
+66 7 635 5909

One Chun Cafe & Restaurant Facebook | Google Maps


12. Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant – picturesque 360-degree views and steak dinners



Image credit: @cake_couper

To put things into perspective, all one needs sometimes is a different view. And when it comes to views, look no further than Khao Rang Viewpoint.

Perched atop the Old Town’s most famous hilltop, visitors who make the trip can view the little town in full 360-degree glory.

Be sure to have your cameras ready – this all-around view will allow you to peer across to surrounding hillscapes and the clear horizon in the distance.


Dazzling night lights from town against a pink-hued sunset
Image credit: @mnz_mailuof

Besides gaining access to one of the most scenic panoramic views in town, you can also treat your date to a picturesque alfresco dinner at Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant.


Image credit: @porsche.pcp

For a rough gauge of the price point, a serving of Ribeye Steak here will cost you about ฿620 (~USD20).

So we’d save this for that special date night for you and your SO, or perhaps as the grand finale to a day well-spent at Phuket Old Town.

Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant
Address: 145/5 Patiphat Rd, Tambon Wichit, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Opening Hours: 10AM – 10PM, Daily
Telephone:
+66 7 635 5775

Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant Facebook | Google Maps


Phuket Old Town has hidden gems tucked in every corner


Even though Phuket is a beautiful island, it’s much more than its beaches. The Old Town district is certainly filled with hidden gems that’ll allow you to discover Phuket’s past, and explore its rich history.

Now that travel measures are easing in Thailand, it’s never too early to start planning a trip so that we can begin our adventures right away.

Places to explore around Thailand:


Cover images adapted from (L-R): Panorama Destination, @hollypan, @nida.ka

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