Phuket Town

The Many Faces of Phuket Town

The historic Standard Chartered building and clock tower
Phuket Old Town | Thailand Cr: Travel Online

Phuket Town is the capital, administrative center, and main business district of this island province, but an eclectic assortment of past, present, and emerging culture gives it a unique flair. 

Compared to it’s rough and tumble character in the golden days of mining, Phuket’s center of commerce has evolved and transformed into its current, more modern version of itself. It’s not quite Bangkok, however, with bustling university campuses, vibrant markets, stylish cafes, popular markets, and a renowned culinary scene, it has its own brand of midsize-city charm. 

Thalang Walking Street Market at night
Phuket Old Town market Cr: Amazing Thailand

What is most often one’s introduction to the city is the Old Town area with its photogenic Sino-Portuguese buildings. Thalang Road and surrounding streets have morphed from storefronts sporting utilitarian goods, to trendy clothing and jewelry shops and hipster cafes. Thalang Road is closed to traffic on Sunday evenings and a family-friendly walking street emerges with vendors, music, and plenty of tasty eats. 

A selection of dim sum dishes
Dim Sum Cr: MyLifeTravel

Speaking of food, the local selection will keep the busiest foodie busy for ages. In fact, Phuket Town has been designated one of only 36 UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy. This likely comes as little surprise to anyone who has spent time in the city. Culinary traditions run deep and the local cuisine is a unique blend of southern Thai, royal Thai, Chinese, and other international fare. When Chinese immigrants flooded the island to capitalize on the tin mining boom, they naturally brought along their cooking styles. This is obvious with the multitude of dim sum joints billowing steam each morning and offering stuffed rice buns (sarabao), rice porridge (khao tom/jok), and rice noodles with a variety of curries and vegetables (kanom jeen)

Blue Elephant's historic governor's mansion
The Blue Elephant

A number of restaurants in Phuket are known for offering excellent example of local fare including Tu Kab Khao, Mee Ton Po, The Blue Elephant, Siow Jung Sin, and One Chun Cafe just to name a few. 

In addition to the Thalang Road walking street, other markets such as the Naka weekend market and Chillva market offer a nice way to spend an evening perusing the wares and sampling the snacks. Saphin Hin is a public park which often hosts a variety of events including food fairs, live music, and more. 

There are plenty of other reasons to find yourself in Phuket Town, including a visit to the immigration or transport offices, Rassada Pier to catch a boat to Koh Phi Phi or Krabi, one of the international hospitals, or to enjoy a night out at a jazz club or one of the many swanky cocktail bars.