Stately Sino-Portuguese mansion on Thanon Krabi
Phuket Town (เมืองภูเก็ต Mueang Phuket) is the provincial capital of Phuket Province.
Phuket Town is the largest town in Phuket Province. It has a population of 63,000 and is the economic hub of the island. For the most part just an ordinary, scruffy provincial Thai town, it's hardly a major tourist attraction, but the Chinatown area is worth a quick look and there are some great Thai-style shopping opportunities too. Overall, accommodation and food in the town is cheaper than near the beaches, and can provide a refreshing change of pace.
Buses and songthaews connect Phuket Town to major beaches around the island, and start from Thanon Ranong at the Ranong market. To get there if you are at the old (Number One) bus station, walk back out to the road you came in on, and turn right. (Phang Nga Rd) Walk to the end of the road, about a kilometre, turn left, then right again and you will see the large blue songthaews (two- or three-bench pick-up trucks) a couple of hundred metres along on the left. The first ones you come to go to Patong. Further along, they go to the other beaches. You will also see buses going to Patong at the bus station itself, for 40 baht.
The most popular service at the market is the one to Patong (25 baht, 45 minutes) which leaves every 30 minutes between 07:00 and 18:00. Fares to other beaches range from 15 to 30 baht. If you miss the last bus back, a taxi will cost 200-400 baht depending on your bargaining skills.
The Number One (old) bus station mainly runs only buses to local destinations: one can go to Khao Lak (and Takua Pa) from here. To Khao Lak is 90 baht.
Phuket International Airport is 30 km to the north of Phuket Town, about 30 minutes by taxi (500 baht), 45 minutes by shared minibus (100 baht) or 1 hour by Government Bus from the Number One Bus Terminal (85 baht). It is possible that they stop at the new terminal, but the writer did not see any there at all.
The timetable for these buses to the airport is every 1-1.5 hours between 05:30 to 18:30, and from the airport from 06:30 to 20:45. There is a large sign on the wall with times. Pay on the bus, and not at the terminal.
Number Two (new) Bus Station.
This is some distance from the old one and most of the long-distance buses come and go from there.
To get from this one to the other (and vice versa), you will see a pink songthaew, three bench pickup truck, and this will take you to the old Number One Bus Terminal for 10 baht.
If you want to go to Patong and the other beaches directly from Number Two terminal, then you will pay 250 baht in a taxi per person, assuming they have a full load (or if not, you pay the full rate).
To get to the beaches far cheaper, take the pink songthaew to the Number One Bus Terminal and see the directions above from either the terminal or the market.
Phuket Town is just a little too big to be covered comfortably on foot. There's little organised public transport as such, but motorbikes and four-wheeled tuk-tuks whizz about looking for fares.
Detail of door relief, Put Jaw Temple
Phuket Town's low-key attractions are mostly related to its colourful Chinese history and heritage, found in the Chinatown area on the north-western side of the city around Thanon Thalang.
- Old Phuket (ย่านเมืองเก่าภูเก็ต). The beginning of the tin boom in the 19th century led to construction of many fine mansions and shops that are still well preserved. The architectural style, typical of the region, is described as Sino-Portuguese and has a strongly Mediterranean character. Shops present a very narrow face onto the street but stretch back a long way. Many, especially on Dibuk Road, have old wooden doors with Chinese fretwork carving.
Other streets, forming what might be called "Old Phuket", with similar structures are Phang-nga, Yaowarat, Thalang, and Krabi, and a walking tour of the area is easy and delightful. Some other old European-style buildings of note are the Provincial Hall, the Phuket Courthouse, and Siam City Bank.
- Jui Tui and Put Jaw Temples, corner of Thanon Ranong and Soi Phuthon (just west of the Ranong bus terminus). Put Jaw is the oldest Chinese Taoist temple in Phuket, first built over 200 years ago and dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy (Kwun Im), while the adjacent and connected Jui Tui is its larger, more modern annex. If you have a question that is puzzling you, ask it and throw the two red mango-shaped pieces in front of the altar in the air: if they land the same side up the answer is "no", while if they land on different sides the answer is "yes". Free entry but donations welcome.
- Wat Mongkol Nimit, Thanon Dibuk. A classical Thai-style temple with a soaring roof and lots of colourful glass tiling.
- Phuket Culture Museum, at Rajabhat University. It's free and very informative. Phuket's history is told in pictures and still scenes.
- Khao Rang (เขารัง) A great view of Phuket Town, the southern part of the island, and some of the offshore islands, can be obtained by going to the top of Khao Rang Hill, on the town's northwest border. There are also several restaurants featuring spectacular views of the city, a health park for exercise enthusiasts, and a comfortable, expanse of grass at the top with a bronze statue of Phraya Ratsada Nupradit, the model Governor of Phuket during King Rama V's reign.
- Saphan Hin (สะพานหิน). A land reclamation project provided abundant new land now used for parks and public facilities at Saphan Hin, located where Phuket Road meets the sea in Phuket Town. In the circle is the Tin Mining Monument, shaped like a large drill bit, dedicated to the memory of Captain Edward Thomas Miles, the Australian who brought the first tin dredge to Phuket in 1909. The monument was built in 1969 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of tin dredging in Phuket. There is a sport center in the park.
- Phuket Butterfly Farm (สวนผีเสื้อและโลกแมลงภูเก็ต). 3km from town via Yaowarat Road and the Sam Kong intersection. It has a fascinating collection of such tropical creatures as butterflies, insects, marine life all arranged in natural surroundings. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m.-5.00 p.m. Admission is 300 bath for adults and 150 baht for children. Tel: 0 7621 0861, Fax: 0 7652 3609
- Phuket Cultural Center (ศูนย์ศิลปวัฒนธรรมจังหวัดภูเก็ต). Located in the area of the Phuket Rajabhat University on Thepkrasattri Road. It displays history as well as the arts and culture of Phuket, such as houses, ways of life, and utensils of the city of Thalang in ancient times. Furthermore, the library collects books on Phuket’s history and culture. The center is open daily for free from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m., except public holidays. For a group of visitors who needs a guided tour, please address a letter of request to the Phuket Cultural Center at 21 Thepkrasattri Road, Tambon Ratsada, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Phuket, or call Tel. 0 7624 0474-6 ext. 148, 0 7621 1959, 0 7622 2370, Fax: 0 7621 1778.
- Thai Village and Orchid Farm (หมู่บ้านไทยและสวนกล้วยไม้ภูเก็ต). Located on Thepkasattri Road about 3km from town, serves daily a typical southern Thai lunch that is followed by a spectacular cultural show including Thai dances, Thai boxing southern customs and elephants. Handicrafts are also on display. The complex also houses a dining hall decorated with over 20,000 varieties of orchid and tropical trees. Digestion is aided by the lilting sounds of Thai classical and folk music played on tradition instruments. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m.-9.00 p.m. Cultural shows are performed daily at 1.00 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. Admission is 650 baht for adults and 330 baht for children. Call 0 7621 4860, 0 7623 7400 for details.
- Phuket Zoo (สวนสัตว์ภูเก็ต) Located on the way to Chalong Bay, the zoo contains a collection of Asian and African mammals and birds. Elephant and crocodile shows are performed every day. The zoo is open daily from 8.30 a.m. - 6.00 p.m. Admission is 500 baht for adults and 300 baht for children. Call 0 7637 4430, 0 7637 4424 for details.
- Thaihua Museum  Located on Krabi road in an old chinese language school, this museum tells the history of chinese imigrants on Phuket. 200 Baht entry, students 100 Baht.
- Raintree Spa Phuket, The Rain tree Spa has a variety of spa treatment menus that include traditional Thai massage, body treatment, facial treatment and spa packages. Address : 1 Montree Rd., T.Talad-Yai, A.Muang, Tel : 66 76 232054, Mobile : 66 81892 1001,Email : email@example.com
- The Bliss of Thai Chakras, a specially created combination of Thai Herb’s Body Scrub & Mask, aromatherapy body massage, Floral Water Body Spray and Thai Herbs Purifying Facial Spa. Address : 28 Phang nga Road, T.Talad Yai, Muang, Tel : 66 76 215712-3 ,Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Shopping seems to be the main reason for visitors to come to Phuket Town. In addition to local markets and a slew of malls and departments stores, Chinatown's Thanon Thalang offers a large selection of boutiques and galleries retailing traditional handicrafts as well as antiques from the region. Phuket Night Bazaar is a large area, where you can get local stuff (though you might find the same things much cheaper at the Big C supermarket!).
- Ranong Market, Thanon Ranong, is the largest local market. A warren of stalls selling anything and everything, it can be a hot, sweaty and chaotic but an interesting experience if you've not been to one before. However it is closed (2008) as they are constructing a new building.
- Weekend Market, Wirat Hong Yok Road (Opposite to Wat Naka (Naka Temple) on western end of the road). Endless stalls with the cheapest of Thai souvenirs. Also Thai people shop here, but it's anyways full of fake goods. Food court is large and is alone worth a visit.
- Ocean and Robinsons are next to each other on Tilok Uthit 1 Road. Robinsons is a big department store, and there is a Tops supermarket, as well as McD's , KFC etc.
- Central Festival, Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat - Phuket's branch of the Thai department store chain, also selling anything and everything but now in air-con comfort and a zero added to the price tag. It's still probably cheaper than the street markets at the beaches. The food section offers a large variety of western products and the fresh products seem to be of better quality than Big C or Tesco Lotus. Prices are much higher than the others though.
- SuperCheap claims to be the biggest and cheapest mall in Phuket, a cross between a Metro Market, Walmart, a Bazaar, and a normal local market for nearly everything from groceries to motorbike and car supplies and electronics. The best time to visit is in the evening. Take a small dinner in the nearby Thai restaurant (all you can eat for 69 baht - but when you leave something on the plate it costs 100 baht!) and afterwards join the Thai people at the market. SuperCheap is situated on the road to the airport, about 5 km out of Phuket Town centre, just behind the Esso site. Open until midnight.
- All You Can Eat, at Super Cheap. But you have to empty your plate - otherwise it costs double. That's not a joke, but very useful in keeping guests eating things they really like to eat and not wasting food. If you order water with ice, the ice costs extra!
- Chaiyo Seafood, ☎ 0 7639 3124.
- China Inn Cafe & Restaurant, 20 Thalang Road, T.Talad Yai, A.Muang, Phuket, ☎ 076 356239. Dinner in beautiful historic Sino-Portuguese building in Phuket old town with romantic atmosphere. Thai and European food. Open: Monday-Wednesday 11AM-6PM Thursday-Saturday 11AM-11PM Closed on Sunday
- Circle Cafe, On the Ranong circle, between Rasada and Yaowarat, ☎ 0066(0)76 221458. 0800-2100hrs. Home of the best coffee in Phuket! Great mix of Thai and International food, and a very friendly, young owner who will offer you great advice on what to see and do while in Phuket. Probably the best value for money in Phuket Town! Internet/wii-fii,laundry service,DVD club. Pete/Nan. I agree - fabulous coffee (http://bit.ly/jOgQfl) - have been :-) 50-200Baht.
- Farang Restaurant, next to Index (Chaloem Kiat Rd, next to Index, Phuket City), ☎ 086-9463142. Italian and Thai Food
- Fuji Japanese Restaurant, Central Festival Phuket 3 rd Fl., ☎ 0 7624 9861-2. Fine Japaneses restaurant with reasonable price
- Khrua Chamnong, Soi Ao Ke, ☎ 0 7622 0021.
- Kra Jok See, 26 Takua Pa, ☎ 0 7621 7903. Serving Thai cuisine suited for western palates, the restaurant sheds its inhibitions at 10PM when the tables are pushed back and hostesses pull guests onto the floor for dancing. Guaranteed for heaps of fun!
- Laem Hin Seafood (แหลมหินซีฟู้ด), 90/11 Mu 7 Ko keaw, ☎ 0 7623 9357, .
- Laem Thong, Chana Charoen Road, ☎ 0 7622 4349.
- Limoncello Italian FINE Restaurant, 63/202 Moo 2 Royal Phuket Marina, Thepkasattri Road, ☎ 0 76360869, .
- The Living Room Restaurant, Dibuk Road just past Montri Road.. 80-200 baht per dishes.
- Mai Pai Restaurant, 168/1-2A, Phuket Road (opposite The Books & Imperial Hotel), ☎ 0802270144, . Pizza and German Food. German Bundesliga and Premierleage Live, very friendly People.Open at 11.00 AM. Motorsbike for sell and rent.
- Mee Sapam, 58/6 Thepkrassartri Rd, .
- N C Bakery and Food, 183/6 Phang-nga Rd.
- Nai Yao, Phuket Road, ☎ 0 7621 2719.
- Natural Restaurant, Soi Phutorn, ☎ 0 7622 4287, .
- Pak Nam Seafood (ปากน้ำซีฟู้ด), 52/220, Moo 3, Rassadanusorm Road, ☎ +66 (0) 76 240 240.
- Phuket View Khao Rung, Ko Sim Bi, ☎ 0 7621 6865, .
- Raya, New Dibuk Road, ☎ +66 76 218 155. Thai cuisine, southern style. Popular dishes such as crab meat curry served with white noodles. Shrimp with tamarind sauce. Pork with garlic and black pepper. Fish with tamarind sauce. Salty pork. Fish with yellow curry and vegetables.
- La Romantica, 70 Phang-Nga Road, across from the On-On Hotel. Best pizza in Phuket Town. Large authentic thin crispy margherita for 140 Baht or numerous pasta dishes for between 140-200 Baht. Thai family run with Italian chef/owner
- Ruam Jai Restaurant, 215 Th Ranong, ☎ 076-222821. 6.00 - 16.00.
- Siam Bakery, 13 Thanon Yaowaraj (north of the Ranong traffic circle). French-run bakery offering pastries and drinks (~50 baht) in pleasant air-con surroundings.
- Stek Sam Kong (สเต็กสามกอง), 367/26-28 Yaowarat Rd, ☎ 0 7621 7190 -1.
- Thainaan Restaurant (ไทนาน), 16 Wichit Songkhram Road, ☎ 0 7622 6164-7.
- Thung Kha Café (ทุ่งคา คาเฟ่), Khao Rang. average price per dish from 80 - 120 baht.
- Watermark Bar Restaurant, Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina 22 /1 Thepkrassartri Rd, ☎ 0 7623 9730.
- Weekend market, Opposite Wat Naka..
- Watermark Bakery patisserie, Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina 20/17 Moo 2 Thepkasattri Rd., ☎ +66 (0)76 238941.
- China House, 43 Thanon Yaowaraj. Chinese tea and other drinks in an impeccably tastefully restored shophouse that doubles as an art gallery. On the expensive side though, with drinks 50-100 baht.
- Coffee Max, on the roundabout where Thanon Ranong meets Thanon Yaowarat. Small, friendly coffee shop offering hot and cold coffee and tea drinks and a selection of pastries and cakes. Free Wi-Fi for customers.
- Michael's Bar, 12 Takua-Pa Road. Owned by a British expat, a friendly, low-key place to grab a few drinks at a reasonable price. Has Wi-Fi or a solitary PC for customer use, free for the first 20 minutes. Good Happy Hour prices.
- Smile Cafe Newly opened cafe near the junction of Thanon Montri and Thanon Phang-Nga, run by a friendly young Thai couple who make a great ice-blended coffee or green tea.
- O'Malley's Pub 21 Montri Road, Muang Phuket, 83000. Phuket Town's oldest pub, a mere 5 minute walk from the main bus terminal. Good selection of beers, wines and spirits at very reasonable prices. Free pool, darts and Wi-Fi internet. All sport shown on two large flat screen TVs. Good selection of food and bar snacks. Recently opened hostel above the bar with dorm beds starting at 190B per night, the cheapest in Phuket Town.
To get there: Come out of the bus station on to Phang Nga Road and turn right. When you get to the Phang Nga/ Montri crossroads, turn right and walk straight for approx. 300m. The pub is on the left, just past the large Seng Ho bookshop.
- Ban Nai Inn, 22/98 Luang Poh Cham Rd, Soi 1 A. Muang. Tel +66 76-214907-9, Fax +66 76-232276. Small guesthouse directly behind the long distance bus terminal (walk past the motorbike taxi drivers). Rooms are basic, and include TV, refrigerator, A/C, separate shower and wardrobe with lockable drawer. Little English is spoken, suggesting that this is a destination more popular with Thai tourists.
- Crystal Guest House (คริสตัล เกสต์เฮาส์) 41/16 Montri Road (Tel: 0 7622 2774-5, 0 7622 6245), 26 rooms: 250-450 baht
- Damrong (ดำรงค์) 52 Luang Pho Road (Tel: +66 7621 1704), 45 rooms: 180-280 baht
- Down Town Inn (ดาวน์ทาวน์ อินน์) 56/19 Ranong Road (Tel:+66 7621 6884-5), 24 rooms: 250-450 baht
- Imperial Hotel 51 Phuket Road Tel: +66 7621 2311, 48 rooms, 650-750 baht
- Crystal Inn (คริสตัล อินน์) 2/1-10 Soi Surin Montri Road (Tel: 0 7625 6789 Fax: 0 7625 6666 www.phuketcrystalinn.com), 54 rooms: 900 baht
- Imperial Hotel 51 Phuket Road (Tel: 0 7621 2311, 48 rooms, 650-750 baht. Rooms have free WiFi, mini bar with fridge and cable TV.
- Lub Sbuy Guest House - Tel. +66-7623-2210. Very new (2010) clean, safe and friendly modern guesthouse/hotel, just around the corner from the bus station but overpriced for what it is. Basic rooms (with fan) at 700 baht and air-con rooms at 1000 baht available, dorm 250 baht.
- Phuket Backpacker  - Tel: +66-7625-6680. New (2005) establishment for western travellers, with sociable common room and kitchen facilities. It is in the center of town, next to the local food market on Ranong Road. Fan cooled rooms at the back are popular with cockroaches and mosquitos, so be prepared to share or fight for your space (and bring your own lock for the door). Fast and free WiFi, but the range does not extend to the outlying rooms. At 550 baht for a double room with fan (July 2010) the rooms are pretty pricey considering the facilities and the condition.
- Phuket Cyberinn Hotel  - Tel: +66-76220 100. Phuketcyberinn on Soi 4 off Bangkok Rd is in the heart of Phuket Town. A 3-storey hotel is surrounded by many shops, street bazaars and wonderful old buildings. Easy to reach many beaches around Phuket. 750 baht.
- Phuket Resotel 2/6 Luangphor Rd. 076220965, email email@example.com. This hotel is some 500 metres from the Number One bus station. To get there, go to where the airport bus arrives/leaves the terminal, and go from the rear left of the bus station beneath the large tree and into the street beyond. Walk along this street to its termination some 200 metres distant, then turn left. The hotel is some further 300 metres to your left immediately before this road intersects with another. A/C throughout, with a lift, and for 690 baht a double, you also get breakfast, a quite good buffet. Price is still the same at May 2011, if you book as a walkin. Online is 800 baht. Rooms are a little worn, but clean. Plenty of channels on the TV, and the shower water is hot.
- Sino Inn Budget Hotel -Tel+66 76234423-4, Fax +66 76234425. On Mea Luan Road close to 7-11. Rooms with en suite toilet and shower with hot and cold water, fridge, mini bar, TV and air conditioning. Clean, comfortable and fully furnished with a balcony. Free mini bar and WiFi internet access is available in all rooms. Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Old Phuket Daily Apartment -284 Phuket Rd. Tel+66 (0) 76 355 959. 5 minutes by foot from old Phuket Town. Spacious and very clean rooms with a very modern and artsy decor, A/C, cable TV, open air patio with free coffee/tea and free WiFi throughout the building. The staff is very friendly (English in varying degrees, but all very helpful). They even encourage you to leave your comments (with drawings) on their lobby wall. It would be advised to carry one of their business cards, as taxi drivers seem to still be unfamiliar with it by name. 500-750 baht.
- Baan Suwantawe, 1/9-10 Dibuk Rd. (at the corner of Dibuk and Montri Roads), ☎ +66 76 212 879, . A gem of a small hotel (~24 rooms) centrally located. Small (great) staff, so not a full-service hotel, but otherwise exceptional. All rooms overlook a pristine pool. Rooms include A/C, fridge, hot water thermos, utility kitchen sink, giant TV. Free WiFi in lobby. For 100 baht/day reception will give you a patch cable for Internet in-room. Covered parking garage. Maybe Thailand's best book store across the street. Highly recommended. 1,200 baht low season.
- Bhukitta Hotel & Spa ((Bhukitta Hotel & Spa)), 28 Phang nga Road, T.Talad Yai, Muang, Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand, . Located in the heart of Phuket City providing easy access to old town and many attractions. The design of the hotel combines an elegant blend of contemporary design with a modern Thai touch, all the latest amenities and free WiFi. 1,250 - 4,500 baht.
- Daeng Plaza (แดง พลาซ่า), 57 Phuket Road, ☎ +66 7621 3752, +66 7621 3966, +66 7621 6428 (fax: +66 7621 3884), . 1,000 - 1,400 baht.
- Metropole Phuket, 1 Soi Surin, Montri Road, ☎ +66 76 215-050, 214-020-9 (fax: +66 76 215-990), . Large hotel, 5-10 minute walk from the main bus station and the market. May once have been an opulent choice, but it feels like a decision was made some decades ago to spend minimal effort on upkeep or cleaning of the hotel--at least the cheaper rooms and the "gym" are in desperate need of renovation. Free WiFi. 3000 baht/day.
- Royal Phawadee Village, 3 Sawatdirak Rd., ☎ +66 76 344 622 (email@example.com), . Thai-style pavilions are placed strategically throughout the resort leaving open spaces for our exotic Thai flora to flourish. From 2,500 baht.
- Sino House Phuket Hotel and Apartment (โรงแรมชิโนเฮ้าส์ ภูเก็ต), 1 Montree Rd., Tambon Talad Yai, ☎ +66 76 232494, +66 76232495 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +66 76221498), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Boutique business hotel in the heart of Phuket Town. Providing clean and fully furnished rooms with A/C and free high speed internet access in rooms.
- Thavorn Grand Plaza Hotel, 40/5 Chanacharoen Rd., ☎ (+66 76 222 240-50, . The Thavorn Grand Plaza is an efficient city hotel with a relaxed resort ambience. ″.
Catch a ferry from Rassada Pier to Koh Phi Phi, Rai Leh, or any of the surrounding islands.
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