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Exploring Soi Romanee


Soi Romanee (Soi Romani), in the historical centre of old Phuket town, is a short street with a long and colourful history. Today it is home to souvenir shops, fancy ice cream parlours and small but posh guesthouses, but it wasn’t always like this as long ago: the posh Soi Romanee was the red-light district of Phuket Town!

Soi Romanee in Phuket Town

We were always fascinated by the old houses and mansions of Phuket. When we first visited it, less than 20 years ago, the street was just a ghost from the past, and almost every house was just abandoned ruins. At the time, only a few curious visitors would walk this narrow street and take photos.


Soi Romanee 20 years ago


soi-romannee

A long time ago, Soi Romanee was the red-light street of Phuket town, where one would find brothels, opium dens, gambling houses and other similar ‘innocent’ entertainments. It was then abandoned, and most of the shophouses fell into wrecks and ruins. As you can see in the photo above, it was quite a sight.

People then started to realize the potential of this Sino-Portuguese architecture, and some resurrected a few shop-houses on Thalang Road with great success, China Inn was one of the first, and the gold rush was on; everyone wanted to buy one and rebuild to its former beauty, with more or less success. Even though we considered buying one, we didn’t pursue the idea once we realized what the parking problem would be.



Soi Romanee today


Little by little, house by house, Soi Romanee came back to life, first with a few tiny cafes and some offices, then a few stylish guesthouses such as ‘Phuket 346’. The street is lively all year round, especially since young travellers realized how great the alley was for selfies and Instagram photos!

Soi Romanee in Phuket Town

The street is packed with live bands and tourists during the Old Phuket Town Festival. The rest of the time, it’s a colourful street with many photographers searching for a new angle and residents going through their daily routine which has not changed since the early years of the road.

The beginning of the street near Thalang Road has been entirely restored. However, toward the end of the Dibuk Road, you will still find a run-down restaurant, a small Chinese shrine inside a house, a suspicious old hotel, and an old-fashioned hairdresser still parking his bike inside his shop. People here seem to be halfway between ‘annoyed’ and fatalistic every time a camera points at them, which happens a hundred times a day.

We love to walk these streets away from festivals when every street is peaceful, and you can actually see the houses. Early morning or at dusk on weekdays, the alley can still take you back in time, and the soul of the street remains.

Soi Romanee in old Phuket Town

Soi Romanee (or Romani, or Rommanee: pick one since even the residents don’t seem to agree on the spelling of the street) is between the famous Thalang Road on one side and Dibuk Road on the other side, just opposite the beautiful and revered Wat Mongkol Nimit.

Soi Romanee in Phuket Town



Torry’s Ice Cream

Torry’s Ice Cream is a pink shophouse beautifully renovated into an ice cream parlour. The decor perfectly fits the selfie craze that keeps young locals and travellers busy in the street. Once you are done with your outdoors photos, you can take some more inside. The ice creams are really good, and the menu includes some Phuket-based variations such as O-Aew (clear jelly served with red beans and ice cream) and A-Pong (a Phuket-style crepe with ice cream with bits of crepe inside.

Address: 16 Soi Rommanee, Tumbon Talad Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Hours: 11 am – 6 pm, Fri, Sat, Sun: 11 am – 9:30 pm
Phone: 076 510 888

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Phuket 346 Guesthouse

Phuket 346 Guesthouse

Phuket 346 is a typical Sino-Portuguese architecture shophouse converted into a guesthouse with small but comfortable rooms, a cafe, and a contemporary art gallery.

Phuket 346 Guesthouse

Address: 15 Soi Rommani, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Phone: 076 258 108

The Rommanee Boutique Guesthouse

The Rommanee is a 2-star guesthouse next to 346 and includes a small but welcoming ‘Doubrew’ coffee shop. The Rommanee is popular for its superb decor, clean room, and great central location.

Address: 15 Soi Romanee, Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Phone: 089 728 9871


Rommy Shopping

Address: 21 Soi Rommani, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Hours: 9 am – 8 pm
Phone: 099 156 9879


More photos of Soi Romanee

 


Soi Romanee in the past


Soi Romanee Map

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Other Streets of Phuket

Phuket Old Town
Our Old Phuket Town and Old Street Walking Guide will save you time and effort! The historical part of Phuket is not huge but is rich and exciting enough to explore in half a day ... Read More
Thalang Road in old Phuket Town
Thalang Road is the most famous street in the historic part of Old Phuket Town. The municipality and owners managed to revive most of the old Sino-Portuguese shophouses and bury the ugly cables Thailand is so famous for ... Read More
Dibuk Road in Old Phuket Town
Dibuk Road is one of the famous old streets of Phuket town you should add to your list while exploring. It's very colourful and easy to find, with plenty of casual cafes, shops and restaurants to enjoy ... Read More
Yaowarat Road in Phuket Town
Yaowarat Road in old Phuket Town connects the popular heritage streets of Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road and Dibuk Road, starting from the fountain circle near the municipal market ... Read More
Phang Nga Road in Old Phuket Town
Phang Nga Road is another historical street that runs parallel to the famous Thalang Road, in Old Phuket Town. Phang Nga Road maybe is less known, but it has a lot of charms, a few local restaurants, and several important ... Read More
Ranong Road - The other side of Phuket Town
While most tourists rush to the renovated old Phuket Town, mostly located around Thalang Road, we start to prefer the more authentic west side of Phuket Town, which is mostly around Phuket Town Central Market, Ranong Road and Krabi Road ... Read More

More reading

Phuket Town – A Walking Guide to Old Phuket Town

Willy Thuan
https://www.phuket101.net/
Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world early and never stopped until I settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 27 years, my passion for photography and my natural curiosity has taken me to every corner of Thailand, jumping frequently between Bangkok and Phuket and basically everywhere I could go. I run Phuket101.net and manage large international online travel guides.