Phuket Old Town Walking Guide
If this is your first time in the old part of Phuket Town, our Walking Guide to Phuket’s most charming streets will save you time and sweat! The historical part of Phuket Town is not huge but is still vast enough to be visited in half a day. We break it down, street by street, and describe the main points of interest and significant landmarks. It’s easy and fun to explore, even on a rainy day, and there are plenty of little cafes and restaurants to take a break and enjoy lunch or even dinner.
What to see in Phuket Town?
- Phuket Old Town Walking Guide
- What to see in Phuket Town?
- Phuket Town Historical Centre
- Street names you need to remember:
- 1. Thalang Road
- 2. Soi Romanee
- 3. Phang Nga Road
- 4. Dibuk Road
- 5. Yaowarat Road
- 6. Krabi Road
- 7. Ratsada Road
- 8. Phuket Road
- 9. Ranong Road
- Walking Map of Phuket Town
- Video of Driving Through Phuket Town
- Phuket Town Photo Gallery
- FAQs about Phuket Town
- More about Phuket Town
Expect to see a lot of Sino-Portuguese style shophouses on each side of the streets, small and colourful shops, some excellent local Thai restaurants, and lately a lot of young coffee shops. Walking around town will also be a chance for you to visit both Thai temples and superb Chinese shrines, as well as a couple of Museums.
Lately, you also can enjoy a lot of beautiful mural painting and street art ornating the walls of old buildings. It looks even better since Phuket municipality buried all electric cable underground on Thalang and Dibuk roads.
Phuket Town Historical Centre
The city centre and the famous Thalang road are the most exciting part of Phuket Town, but other streets are full of things to discover
Street names you need to remember:
|Thalang Road||China Inn, Sunday Walking Street Market|
|Soi Romanee||used to be the red-light district of town!|
|Phang Nga Road||Shrine of the Serene Light, The Memory at On On Hotel|
|Dibuk Road||The Charm Phuket, Lock Tien Food Court, Kanom Jin Restaurant, Phuket Indy Market, Raya House|
|Yaowarat Road||Old Limpanon House, Endless Summer Mansion|
|Krabi Road||Thai Hua Museum, Blue Elephant Mansion, Baan Chinpracha Mansion|
|Ratsada Road||Thavorn Museum, Old Mansion|
|Ranong Road||Phuket city market, Thai Airways heritage house|
Our suggested walking map, starting from the famous Thalang Road:
1. Thalang Road
Thalang Road (east) is where you probably will start and spend a lot of time. It’s charming and a popular Instagram playground, especially if you happen to visit during the Sunday Walking Street Market.
Don’t miss the little coffee shop right at the intersection called Chino Cafe Gallery (L). Not only they serve a good coffee with sweet Phuket round cakes, but you also can admire some excellent photographs hanging on the wall, all taken by Phuket photographers (apparently there will be a gallery soon on the second floor).
Walk further to find three famous restaurants Wilai and Kopitiam (M) are two small local and affordable restaurants serving excellent Thai food, and the famous China Inn Cafe (N) which has a more elaborated but more expensive meal in a superbly renovated Chinese style shophouse which happens to also be a handicraft shop.
Not far past China Inn Cafe (N) is a little Chinese shrine hidden inside an unassuming entrance. From there you will walk past a lot of Muslim fabric shops and tool shops whose owners are trying to continue their trade just like if nothing ever happened in Phuket. Look around for all the charming little guesthouses, bookshops, lovely small boutiques and plenty of little coffee shops.
Don’t miss the new ChimJae Walking Street (Vanich Walking Street), a very long and very narrow passage that was recently opened between Thalang and Phang Nga Road! It’s full of stalls selling original souvenirs and local snacks. Read more about Thalang road.
2. Soi Romanee
Just off the famous Thalang road is Soi Romanee (P) with all the colourful buildings that make it the most photographed street of Phuket. What is now the beautiful part of Phuket town, was the red light street of Phuket, as well as a gambling spot. You can now stay at one of the small guesthouses or have a drink at a cafe while watching the permanent Instagram competition going on here.
If you like temples, at the end of Soi Romanee (P) is Wat Mongkol Nimit (Q), a very significant temple for Phuket people, where ceremonies are often held. It’s a beautiful temple with a golden Chedi in the back and some beautiful heritage houses monks use as a dormitory.
Go back through Soi Romanee (P) and turn left again into Thalang road where you can admire a few more renovated shophouses, especially the Honda motorbike showroom built in such shophouse.
The three highlights of Phang Nga road are the Shrine of the Serene Light (W), the amulet market and the On On Hotel (V). On On Hotel (V) has an exciting story and almost everyone saw it in the movie ‘The Beach’, but not many people know that the hotel is not in Bangkok as shown in the film, but right here in Phuket Town. Until recently, On On hotel was almost as bad as in the movie and only cost 200 baht a night! In 2013 it was entirely renovated with great skill and sense, keeping the spirit of the hotel and still quite cheap, but it is not a beautiful budget hotel.
Adjacent to On On Hotel, the Shrine of the Serene Light (W) also has an anecdote. For a very long time, the shrine hid in the back of a building, and only locals knew about it. It was a secret no one wanted to share. They did a great job renovating and widening the ornamented gate, and the shrine itself was left mostly untouched, and it is now a famous landmark.
Opposite on the same street is the amulet market (X), an extended covered alley where amulet aficionados come mostly on weekends to exchange and discuss amulets. For us, it is a mysterious topic, but some rare charms have very high value depending on their age, origins and the monk who gave it.
Keep walking until the end of Phang Nga Road until you reach The Clocktower building (S) which I think used to be a police station and is now a museum. Across the street is the old Standard Chartered Bank (R) which is also a museum.
4. Dibuk Road
Continue on Dibuk road to enjoy more shophouse architecture with their typical archway which was designed to keep walkers sheltered from sun and rain, keep your eye open and look for the shops selling some typical Phuket sweets and bread. If you happen to be on this part of Dibuk road at dinner time, don’t miss a chance to try excellent Phuket food at the newly renovated ‘The Charm Phuket.’
Then at the intersection of Dibuk and Yaowarat, you will find a trendy local food court called Lock Tien Restaurant (I), serving some unique Phuket specialities. Opposite of Lock Tien, have a beautiful shop called Pink Flamingo Cafe (J) found inside an old corner shop that was initially the former headquarter of the Kian Nguan Mining Company when Phuket was more known for its tin mining industry than for its tourism. Read more about Dibuk Road (a lot more!)
5. Yaowarat Road
To reach Yaowarat from the bus station, walk against the traffic flow toward the fountain circle (C) and turn left. If you are lucky, on the left you will find a dark passage leading to mysterious Limpanon House (D), a fantastic abandoned mansion, unfortunately lately the gate appears to be more often closed than opened.
Opposite to it are two antique shops worth stopping at, one is an old Kanom Jeen shop (Y) run by a young guy who was smart enough to keep the shop in its original condition, making it an exciting photo opportunity. Next to it is also an ancient pharmacy (Y) with surprising dry roots and ingredient kept in a hundred wooden drawers. If you plan to take photos in there, know that the owner can but grumpy as he probably gets more photographers than shoppers in a day, so buy something if you plan to take photos! 😀
Continue straight until you reach Thalang intersection. If you don’t have much time turn right into the famous Thalang Road and jump to #6. If you continue straight, things get a little less exciting, but you will be able to admire a few more heritage mansions.
Next to Flamingo Shop (J), are several other shops worth mentioning where some elderly ladies sit all day, selling some delicious Phuket speciality cakes and pastries. Try also the famous Ice Kachang, shaved ice with syrup on top and red beans inside, a perfect way to cool down from the heat and long walks. On the opposite side is the ancient Lock Tien food court, a place worth stopping at for a light local lunch.
If you cross the intersection and continue on the other side of Yaowarat road, you will find three small mansions well maintained, one of them is the lovely Endless Summer coffee shop and boutique (K).
6. Krabi Road
If you are not in a rush turn left to enjoy the many superb shop houses all along Krabi road, notably the surprising Thai Hua Museum (E). You should stop and visit it; it tells you what made Phuket what it is today. Several of them became coffee shops , heritage hotels and guesthouses.
Continue further until you reach the Satun road intersection where you will find two major Phuket landmarks:
The Blue Elephant Restaurant (F) is a magnificent mansion built in a vast park that used to be the governor’s residence. It is now a fancy Thai restaurant and an upmarket cooking class. The price for a meal is quite high, but you are welcome to have a drink at the bar or even browse the souvenir shop for free.
Just next to it, the Chinpracha mansion (G) is a privately owned museum that appeared in several famous movies. It is rather modest, but you should visit it as it might disappear anytime as the owner passed away not long ago.
To go back turn left at Blue Elephant (F) into Satun road the take then next right into Dibuk Road where you will find Luang Amnart Nararak Mansion (H), another beautiful Sino Portuguese still stands in its original condition.
7. Ratsada Road
If you choose to walk back through Phuket road, you will step back two buildings impressive in an unusual way. The first one is the quirky Thavorn museum (T) found hidden inside the Thavorn hotel, which was probably the first hotel on the island. The museum consists mostly of a weird collection of old toys, photos and a mountain of objects from a vague past time of Phuket, most of which are the old apparatus used along with the history of the hotel. It’s rather fun and very dusty!
Behind the Thavorn museum don’t miss the next U shape street on your left as a fantastic old mansion (U) still stands proudly beyond a wall. Most of the time the gate of, the villa is open, so if you are not shy, walk in and act normal just as I did countless times to get my photos. After this mansion, you will be pretty much on your way back to the fountain circle (C).
8. Phuket Road
Phuket road doesn’t have many significant landmarks, but it connects Thalang Raod to Ratsada road. It is mostly known for Casa Blanca hotel, Quip rooftop bar and the excellent One Chun local restaurant mentioned in the Phuket Michelin Guide.
9. Ranong Road
If you came to town on a local blue bus, you will arrive on Ranong road, next to the Phuket City Market (A) which could be the first or last item on your list. The market consists of the main building, where the bus stops, and the old open-air market just across the street. Both are fun to explore as you will see veggies, fruits and spices you might never have seen before.
In the same area, don’t miss the Thai Airways office (B), a superbly renovated white Sino-Portuguese house. You can only take exterior photos from the parking, as the building is not open to the public.
If you continue walking following the traffic flow, you will reach Jui Tui shrine (Z), a significant Chinese temple during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, and further, the unique Lor Rong market (a) selling very typical Phuket foods and confectioneries.
Note that our story highlights the main landmarks and points of interest, but there is a lot more to enjoy, so keep your eyes open!
Walking Map of Phuket Town
Video of Driving Through Phuket Town
FAQs about Phuket Town
a. Phuket has a lot to offer for a day away from the beach:
a. The heart of Phuket Town is where the old historical streets are:
a. There are many excellent restaurants to experience real Thai food:
a. You’ll find endless shopping opportunities in Phuket Town:
a. There are a few hotels in town, mostly guesthouses:
a. Phuket Town is 30 Km from Phuket International Airport, about 30-45 minutes by taxi (800 baht).