A Town of Tradition and Treasures

A Town of Tradition and Treasures

Phuket town is a small urban treasure full of surprises, many of which are not readily visible to the visitor simply passing through. To really appreciate many of the attractions here one has to spend time, hunt and often walk.

The rich cultural heritage evidenced in its architecture is perhaps the foremost of attractions here. But there are also fascinating markets, Chinese shrines and Buddhist temples and shopping opportunities both modern and traditional.

A Town of Tradition and Treasures

Phuket town was largely founded by Chinese who emigrated to the island to work in the tin mining business. Many began as penniless coolies but ended up as rich moguls. Thus, much of the interesting architecture of the town is Chinese in style and origin. Thai of both Buddhist and Muslim origin lived largely in rural villages, where the finest examples of their temples and mosques are found.

Viewing Phuket town

One excellent way to get an overview of Phuket town is to go to the top of Rang hill, one of the two very prominent hills on the northern edge of town. Rang is the one to the west, the one without the TV and communications towers.

At the very peak of Rang hill is one of the best Thai restaurants in the city, Tunka Ka Café, run by a true gourmet and lover of Thai cuisine, Khun Thira. This is a great place to enjoy the view of the town from – and a great place to eat in. Khun Thira makes sure every dish in his restaurant is just right. (if you want to see the love that goes into food here, try Thira’s Som Tum, hot papaya salad). Khun Thira is also one of the best-known characters in town, and your day is made if you chance to meet him. And since Tunka Ka is a favourite hang-out for the Thai staff of PHUKET Magazine, you might well find us there also – always with Som Tum on the table.

Sino-Portuguese Mansions

This description is given to several score houses set in grand gardens and built by Chinese moguls, often about 100 years ago at the height of the tin mining boom. The name reflects the influences of Chinese owners building in European style in Singapore and Malaysia, where the Portuguese had set the first standards for grand tropical mansions.. In fact, most of the Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket town were built by Italians, whom the wealthy Chinese employed. They also imported many of the materials, like tiles and fittings, from Italy.