Going to Phuket soon? How about a do-it-yourself Old Phuket Walking Tour?
Under-appreciated and overlooked by many is the beautiful Old Phuket Town. Recently, it has applied to be a UNESCO Heritage Site and I believe it won’t take that long before it is added to the list.
I have no qualms whatsoever if I had no opportunity to visit the infamous Soi Bangla in Patong because I was too tired to explore making me just stroll around Old Phuket Town.
Walking along the Old Town of Phuket can easily be done even by kids. One will not exhaust all the artsy cafes, museum-like paint shops, trinkets & souvenir shops, heritage houses, hawker stalls, museums and vibrant shops.
Let me share with you what my do-it-yourself Old Phuket Town Walking tour.
Please note that the roads here are named after the famous tourists districts of Thailand. Maybe their way of familiarizing their visitors of other places in Thailand.
I started at Krabi Road because I was staying at the nice Old Phuket Town Hostel. Krabi road is lined-up with different shops- cafes, made-to-order Thai silk dresses and restaurant. Architecture from the olden days is still intact tso ready your camera for some captures. From Krab roadi I turn left at the narrow street going to the local fresh market where daily produce are delivered in bulk, you should go early in the morning and see the these big trucks either carrying vegetables, fruits, fish and other goodies. I have seen lots of vegetables not present in the Philippine public markets. Curry, chili and mint gave a welcome aroma that morning welcoming me to Thailand.
I continued down south which is Ranang Road then turned right right until you seeI saw Pud Jow Shrine, this is the oldest Taoist shrine in Phuket, dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. About 100 meters from there I saw another shrine- Jui Tui shrine. This they say is dedicated to the vegetarian god Kiu Wong In. Never thought that there would be a vegetarian god. Here you can talk to the shrine for help in decision-making. He would direct you to the red blocks which you will throw lightly in the air for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. After these shrines I went back to Ranang Road and walk towards the Suriyadate Fountain, very easy to locate as this serves as a rotunda. From the fountain I turned left towards Yaorawat Road (Yaorawat is named after the Chinese Town in Bangkok) and turned right on Phang Nga Road (Phang Nga is named after Phuket’s version of El Nido). From here you can easily notice the imposing Clock Tower and the Sino-Portuguese old Standard Chartered Bank.
In Phang Nga Road I discovered some ‘secret passages.’ About 150 meters on my left there was a small archway that is the entrance to the Chinese temple- the Shrine of the Serene Light, on the inner walls I saw carved murals that tell about the legendary folk hero Si-in-gui. Built in 1889 by the local Hokkien Chinese family, this shrine full of garden inside provides serenity for the busy businessmen in the city. It was a welcome breather in the city heat and busyness of Old Phuket Town. I carried on and saw On On Hotel. Every backpacker watched Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach would easily remember the hotel’s facade as shown in the opening scenes of the movie. I always thought this hotel is located in Khao San Road (the backpacker’s mecca in Bangkok). If you go inside you would see a souvenir and coffee shop.
I continued walking then turned to my left going north at Thepkrasattri and then turn left again for Thalang Road. Thalang Road is the main supplies road; still being true to its history, this road still carry the old shops back when the town is still in the tin-mining business.
There is an alley (soi) here called Soi Romanee which begs your lenses- eyes and camera, this is the most picturesque of all the alleys I saw in Old Phuket Town- pink, blue, green, yellow, white shops of different shades and sizes on my left and right. These shops sell postcards, local painting and antiques. There are also small cafes and restaurants. I bought a shirt for 120Baht (4US$) as a sign of support for local artists. I read in the guide that I should note the beautiful details on the walls and roof designs of the houses- Sino-European in its theme (Chinese-European), the overall design are of the Classic and Roman Period but the details are very Chinese. Look for houses that resemble a Dragon’s face- eyes-big side windows, the door imitates the mouth and the eyebrows are the smaller shaped higher set windows. I also noticed the electric wires here are buried adding to the historic ambiance of the street.
I tarried and saw Wat Puttamongkonnimit (yes, try to pronounce it thrice), some monks are meditating in front of Buddha when I peeked. After that I walked straight until I reached the end of Dibuk Road where I ended the tour with the Blue Elephant Mansion. Time for an iced coffee at Old Town coffee beside Old Phuket Town Hostel.
Or if the walking tour is tiring you can enjoy a local soup Char Kuay Tiew paired with a coconut juice after this walking tour.
Time Needed: More or less 3 hours
What to wear? Wear something light, shades and hat for sun protection, slippers for easy take off during temple visits and no shorts please.
If you want more ideas, you can also check 7 Things To Do in Phuket