Wondering what to do and see in Phuket Town? Or perhaps you are still undecided whether to include Phuket Town on your upcoming trip to Phuket? In this travel guide, we give you the top sights, the best cafes, markets, and restaurants, as well as our recommendations for where to stay in Phuket Town.
As much as we enjoyed spending time at Phuket’s spectacular beaches, after a few days, we found ourselves ready for something different, and in lack of a better term, more authentic. As the days went by, we got tired of the tourist shops selling the same trinkets and T-shirts, the crowded happy-hour bars, and the watered-down Thai food.
We longed for a place with real history and culture, with cozy coffee shops, vibrant night markets, ancient shrines, stunning architecture, beautiful boutique hotels, and world-class Thai food restaurants. Surely, this was just too much to ask. Could Phuket possibly have such a place?
Thankfully, the answer was a resounding YES. It is called Phuket Old Town, and while visitors to the island often overlook it, we want to tell you why you should not make the same mistake. Read on to find out why Phuket Town, especially its old town, should be on your Phuket itinerary.
The Ultimate Travel Guide To Phuket Town
This Phuket Town travel guide gives you the best things to do and see in Phuket Town, as well as the best places to stay and eat. Phuket Town’s top attractions, sights, and activities are listed and highlighted in a DIY walking tour (with a map). Have a great time exploring Phuket town! ♥
Table of Contents:
A Short History Of Phuket Town
Before Phuket became know for flip-flops, jet skis, and stunning beaches, Phuket Town was the thriving economic hub of the island. While the island has always been rich in natural resources such as rubber trees and wildlife, it was with the discovery of large deposits of the precious mineral tin in the 16th century that the city started to grow.
Trade and development began with the Portuguese, Dutch, and soon the English followed. By the early 1900s, at the height of the tin mining boom, people from all over the world flocked to the island of Phuket. And with them, they brought influences from the middle east, China, Europe, and India.
The largest population by far was the Chinese, who made up the majority of the workforce in the tin mines and on the rubber tree plantations. They formed Phuket Town into the city we see today and soon became major players in the tin trade.
Influenced by other trade centers like Singapore and Malaysia’s Penang, the Chinese built their shophouses in the Sino- Portuguese style. The wealthiest families built their mansions in the grand colonial style. So despite Thailand never having been colonized, Phuket Old Town’s architecture is very similar to Penang and the old parts of Singapore.
In the 1960s, Phuket’s transformation into a world-famous tourist destination began. When the price of tin fell dramatically in the mid-’80s, the mines closed down, and tourism became the island’s primary source of revenue.
While tourists in ever-increasing numbers started flocking to the beaches, for a long time, Phuket Town stayed much as it ever had, going about its business forgotten and overlooked by visitors.
Phuket Town Today
In recent years Phuket Town has seen somewhat of a revival. The old part of town, in particular, has been rediscovered and gone through quite the transformation.
Many of the Chinese Singaporean-style shophouses have been renovated and turned into cozy coffee shops, artists galleries, and small shops selling designer clothes and handmade crafts. While some of the colonial-style mansions have become boutique hotels, museums, and restaurants.
Thankfully, Old Towns’ transformation has been a reasonably tasteful one. There are no Burger Kings, Starbucks, or other eyesores.
Instead, locally run shops and hip coffee shops exist side by side with ancient shrines, local residences, and restaurants that have been there for generations. On Thalang road is Phuket’s oldest apothecary, the Chinese herb shop Nguan Choon Tong has been in business since 1917.
Most of the main sights center around a relatively small area, with Thalang, Dibuk, and Krabi Road at the center. However, it is well worth venturing outside this area to experience the less-visited neighborhoods for a glimpse into local day-to-day life outside the tourist centers.
While you can explore most of Phuket Old Town on foot in a few hours, staying for at least one night will let you experience the town more thoroughly. By day the tour busses drop by, and the narrow streets fill up with tour groups in search of the perfect selfie. But once the afternoon rolls around, the atmosphere changes. Locals and visitors alike flock to the lively night markets, to shop, socialize, and eat, while world-class restaurants open their doors and serve up the most delicious treats.
Have a look at our recommended walking tour of Phuket Old Town at the end of this article for a walking route that includes all the highlights of Phuket Town.
What To Do In Phuket Town – The Top 10 Things
1. Wander The Streets Of Phuket Old Town
Much of the fun of visiting Old Phuket Town is really in just walking around exploring the narrow lanes, marvel at the gorgeous shophouses and street art, and letting your feet take you where they want to. Step inside a shop or two, visit a museum, or sit down and relax at one of the many coffee shops.
In 2016, a local initiative called the Food, Art, Town Phuket (F.A.T.) project invited local artists and some of Thailand’s best street artists to decorate Old Town’s facades with murals and lively paintings.
The project initially met some controversy, but the result has been well received and adds a bit of colorful character to the town’s old-world charm.
Previous dark alleys and drab grey street corners have been transformed into vivid works of art, many depicting scenes from the local Peranakan culture.
Like in Penang, Malaysia the street art has become extremely popular among visitors and makes for some fantastic holiday photos. So be sure to look around as you wander the streets.
Soi Romance Alley
Soi Romance or Soi Romanee, as it’s called in Thai, is the most colorful alley in Phuket Town with a string of vibrant and colorful century-old shophouses. Once it was the city’s most notorious red-light district, filled with brothels, gambling houses, and opium dens serving the Chinese tin mining workforce.
The name Romanee means beautiful or adorable, and refers to the ladies working their trade here in the old days.
For years this little alley was virtually abandoned until someone decided that it was worth preserving the unique architecture.
Since then, it has become one of Phuket Town’s most visited sights and an Instagram favorite.
It is also a popular street for couples to have their wedding photos taken.
Chim Jae / Vanich Walking Street
Vanich Walking Street is a recent addition to the Phuket old town. It is an indoor passageway that connects the two roads Thalang and Phang Nga.
All along the narrow indoor alley, vendors show off their goods, food, clothes, and crafts. Street art created by local artists covers the walls. If you need a little break, there is a nice coffee shop upstairs.
There are lots of small shops all over Phuket Old Town, selling local designer clothes, souvenirs, posters, handmade crafts, and all kinds of hipster goods.
Compared with the typical tourist hubs along the coast of Phuket, the shops here cater just as much to Thai visitors as to foreigners, and therefore, there is a refreshing lack of the typical mass-produced knick-knack.
One of the coolest shops is Ranida, with its art-gallery like display of antique buddha sculptures, beautiful organic textiles, and high fashion women’s clothing.
Maria picked up a couple of locally designed and produced skirts and blouses. If you are looking for some more unique souvenirs and gifts to take back home, then a visit to Phuket Old Town might be just the thing.
3. Art Galleries
The Phuket Old Town has become a bit of a haven for artists and artisans. Along Phang Nga road, the art galleries lie practically side by side. There is a wide range of art and painting styles on display, and we really enjoyed popping our heads in and having a look around.
Sometimes you can even stumble upon the artists themselves busy working on their latest piece.
4. Shrines And Temples
Wat Mongkol Nimit
You can actually see the ornate and colorful roof of this temple from the famous and crowded Soi Romanee. Yet, surprisingly few people take the time to cross Dubik Street and explore it.
If you do cross Dubik Street, you will find a stunning and large temple complex consisting of several beautiful gold decorated buildings, including a tall stupa.
While the temple is far from as spectacular as, for instance, Phuket’s most famous temple Wat Chalong, it has a convenient location next to Phuket Old Town. The refreshing lack of crowds makes it worth a visit.
Make sure to take a walk around the garden where every tree has a sign displaying a Buddhist principle in English and Thai.
Wat Mongkol Nimit is very popular among the locals who use it for weddings and funerals. The temple also houses a school for young monks in training.
As always, when visiting a temple, make sure to dress appropriately in clothes that cover your shoulders and knees, or else you won’t be allowed inside the buildings.
- Where is Wat Mongkol Nimit Temple: 8/1 Moo 2, Soi Mongkulnimit. Just across Dubik road opposite Soi Romanee in Phuket Old Town
- Cost: Entrance is free
- Opening hours: 7:00 am – 5:30 pm
Shrine Of The Serene Light
The Shrine Of The Serene Light, also known as Sang Tham Shrine, is a small but atmospheric shrine dedicated to the worship of Chinese gods and ancestors.
The shrine is well over a century old, built by descendants of the prominent Chinese Tan Luan Jae family in 1891.
For a very long time, it was almost unknown outside the local community. To visit it, you had to find and traverse a narrow unmarked alleyway.
When the shrine opened to the public in early 2013, they widened the once narrow alleyway and put up signs. Surrounded by a cluster of colorful buildings, it offers a peaceful getaway from the busy city.
The shrine itself is relatively small, but charming with Chinese Lanterns that softly illuminate the interior and the smoke from burning candles. Make sure to look up and see the murals depicting the deities covering the ceiling. Sadly they do not allow photography inside the shrine.
During the Chinese New Year and the yearly Vegetarian Festival, the otherwise peaceful shrine transforms into a veritable firecracker launch center, and the sound can be heard from blocks away.
- Where is Shrine Of The Serene Light: The shrine’s alleyway entrance is from Yaowarat Rd, next to the Memory at On On Hotel
- Entrance fee: Entrance is free, but donations are welcome
Jui Tui Shrine
Jui Tui Shrine, located a short walk from the center of the old town, is among the most significant Chinese shrines in Phuket.
The shrine is devoted to the Chinese gods and especially Tean Hu Huan Soy, the patron god of performers and artists.
Jui Tui is an old shrine with roots back to the early 1900s and is considered by many locals to be their family temple.
I would not say that it is a must-see when visiting Phuket Town, but it is a colorful temple, and the Chinese statues are beautiful. So if you have the time, pop by this shrine to have a look and take some photos, or simply skip it.
This shrine is a very active place of worship, so be respectful of that and dress modestly in clothes that cover your shoulders and knees. Photography is allowed inside the temple.
- Where is Jui Tui Shrine: 283, Ranong Road, Talat Nuea, Phuket Town
- Cost: Entrance is free
- Opening hours: 08:00 – 20:30 (8 a.m – 8:30 p.m)
5. Markets & Night Markets
No matter when you visit Phuket Town, there will most likely be a market happening somewhere in the city.
The Thais love markets, and in recent years night markets have exploded in popularity and new ones are constantly popping up.
Phuket Sunday Night Market
The Sunday Night Market on Thalang Road, also known as Lardiay (meaning “big market” in southern Thai dialect), is hands down our favorite night market in Phuket Town.
Every Sunday evening, Thalang Road is turned into a walking street filled with carts, vendors, and street musicians. The shops along the street stay open late, and locals and tourists alike gather to eat and enjoy the festivities.
After sunset, lanterns light up the colorful old buildings making this one of the most charming and lively night markets we have ever visited in Thailand.
While Phuket Town has always had its fair share of night markets, most were quite far away from the Old Town. Then in 2013, some bright people decided to start a market in the very heart of Phuket Old Town, hoping to create a bit more life in the area once the tour busses had left in the evenings.
The result was a resounding success, and Phuket Sunday Market is now Old Town’s most popular attraction.
While there are some vendors selling trinkets, clothes, toys, bags, and accessories, the focus here is really on the food. It’s a fantastic place to sample some incredible street food, especially southern Thai specialties. Try a dish or two at one vendor and then wander along until the wonderful smells persuade you its time for another treat. Wash it down with some delicious Thai Tea or perhaps a coconut shake while you relax and watch the spectacle. It is fantastic fun!
- Where is Phuket Old Town Sunday Market: On Thalang road in the middle of Old Phuket Town
- Opening hours: Sunday evenings from around 16:00/ 4 pm until 22:00/ 10 pm, but most of the action starts from around sunset.
Indy Market / Laad Ploy Khong
Indy Market (also known as Laad Ploy Khong in Thai) is a little more of a shopping market than the Sunday Night Market which is mostly about food. Although, as always, food plays an integral part in any Thai market, and also at the Indy Market.
Indy Market is held three days a week – Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. It is located on a small lane next to the Limelight Avenue Shopping Mall and within easy walking distance of the rest of the sights of the Phuket Old Town.
The market is not very large, and it won’t take you long to walk through it. But the vibe is colorful, fun, and relaxed! There is plenty of good food and snacks to sample, some live music performances, and vendors selling everything from clothes to souvenirs. However, most of it is pretty standard tourist wares.
- Where is Indy Market: Next to the Limelight Avenue Shopping Mall in Phuket Town
- Opening hours Indy Market: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from roughly 16:00/ 4 pm to 22:30/ 10:30 pm
Phuket Weekend Night Market
The big granddaddy of Phuket’s night markets is the Phuket Weekend Night Market, locally referred to as the Naka Market or Talad Tai Rot in Thai.
Divided into two sections, one covered and one outdoor, the Phuket Weekend Market stretches out across a large area. It gets very lively after sunset and exploring it is an experience.
Hundreds of stalls offer up every conceivable Thai food street dish, as well as tourist souvenirs, cheap T-shirts, clothes, watches, handbags, shoes, phone accessories, and much more. Well worth checking out if you are in a shopping mood.
We’ve put Phuket Weekend Night Market last on the list for a couple of reasons. Most importantly because it’s a little out of the way if you are staying in the old part of Phuket Town. You need to take a taxi or a Grab car, and it’s about a 10-minute drive. And while it is enormous and undoubtedly has the most variety of goods for sale, it is not as charming as, for instance, the Sunday Night Market or Indy Market.
Phuket Weekend Night Market is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but most of the action happens on Saturday and Sunday. Some stalls stay closed on Fridays.
- Where is Phuket Weekend Night Market: Chao Fa West Road, Phuket Town
- Opening hours Phuket Weekend Night Market: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from about 16:00/ 4 pm until 23:00/ 11 pm
6. Heritage Mansions
Chinapratcha House (Baan Chinpratcha in Thai) is one of the best-preserved examples of the Sino- Portuguese architecture style in Phuket.
The Sino-Portuguese architecture style was especially popular in Phuket Town from the mid-1800s to the early 1920s, during the reign of King Rama V and VI.
The Chinapratcha House was built in 1903 by the Pratipak Chinapracha family, a prominent tin mining family who emigrated from southern China.
Chinapratcha House offers a unique glimpse into Phuket’s history. The house has never been renovated and looks today much as it did when it was first built in 1903.
The house is filled with antique furniture, personal items, traditional clothing, ceramics, and family photographs, some of which are over a century old. You really feel like walking into someone’s home.
The most impressive part of the mansion is the huge colorful Italian imported ceramic floor that covers the living area. It shows the wealth of the leading tin mining families at the turn of the century. The floor must have cost a fortune!
There is a beautiful open-air center pond, typical of this style of mansions. The open-air pond helps the air circulate, lets light in, and cools down the house during the day. In the past, they would collect rainwater in the pond, but today it is the home of lots of orange and white carp fish.
Much of the house looks just as it would have had you walked in a century ago. The old kitchen looks like it is ready to fire up the stove any minute. When we visited there was a power outage making the interior a little dark, so I guess we got the real pre-electricity experience! 🙂
Be aware that this isn’t a traditional museum; there are very few written explanations of the items on display or much information about the house itself. The family still lives on the second floor, and as many privately run “museums,” the items on display are somewhat random. If you want to learn more about the house and its history, it is a good idea to join a guided tour.
The house is featured in several movies and tv series including Young Indiana Jones, and Oliver Stone’s Heaven & Earth.
- Where is Chinpratcha House: 98, Krabi Road, Phuket Town (The Blue Elephant restaurant is next door)
- Opening hours Chinpratcha House: 09:00/ 9 am – 17:30/ 5:30 pm
- Entrance fee Chinpratcha House: 150 THB = US$ 5 per person
Blue Elephant Restaurant
Right next door to the Chinapratcha House, in an old stately Chinese mansion that used to be the governor’s home, is the famous Blue Elephant restaurant.
The owner, Master Chef Nooror Somany-Steppe, is world-famous for her Royal Thai cooking. There are now nine Blue Elephant restaurants across Europe, the Middle East, and Thailand.
The Blue Elephant is upscale Thai dining at its finest and a fantastic choice for a special occasion. The mansion has been meticulously renovated, and much of the original floor- tiling and teak furnishing has been preserved. The decor is a mix of old-world Thai style elegance and some modernistic touches like the chic fluorescent-lit bar at the entrance.
Chef Nooror is famous for serving classic Royal Thai cuisine, and for taking old and almost forgotten recipes and bringing them back to life using high-quality ingredients. Make sure to dress up a bit for the dinner service.
Their lunch serving is less formal, and the lunch menu is actually not that expensive. We sadly didn’t have time to eat here this time, but we have been to the Blue Elephant in Bangkok a few times, and the food was excellent.
They also offer a cooking class where the restaurant’s chefs will teach you how to cook Thai food.
- Where is the Blue Elephant Restaurant: 96, Krabi, Tambon Talat Nuea, Amphoe Mueang Phuket
- Opening Hours Blue Elephant: 11:30/ 11:30 am – 22:30/ 10.30 pm
- More information: Blue Elephant’s Webpage
Phuket Tai Hua Museum
The Tai Hua Museum turned out to be our favorite museum in Phuket Town (and we visited them all).
The museum does an excellent job of illustrating and documenting the history of Phuket Town as well as the background and influence of the Chinese that emigrated here.
But it is the opportunity to wander around the fabulous two-story Sino – Portuguese mansion that houses the museum that makes this museum stand out.
The house was built in 1934 and is one of the best-preserved villas from this period in Phuket Town. Before its renovation into a museum, it was Phuket’s oldest Chinese language school.
There are a total of 13 exhibition rooms at the Phuket Tai Hua museum, and the items on display, as well as the multimedia presentations, have descriptions in both Thai and English.
Phuket Thai Hua is one of the best historical museums in Phuket Town, and it is the only one where we would recommend spending some time.
- Where is the Phuket Thai Hua Museum: 28 Krabi Road, Phuket Town
- Entrance fee: 200 THB for non-Thai = US$ 6,50 per person (50 THB for Thais)
- Opening hours: 9:00/ 9 am – 17:00/ 5 pm
- More info: Phuket Thai Hua Museum’s webpage
8. Aquaria Phuket Aquarium & Trick Eye Museum
The newest attraction in Phuket Town is the aquarium Aquaria (located on the lower floor/ B1 of the Central Festival shopping mall). It is apparently Thailand’s biggest aquarium with more than 25 000 different sea animals and fish of over 300 species.
It is particularly fun to see the feeding of the animals (check their webpage to see when), like otters, penguins, stingrays, and sharks.
Just next to Aquaria, you find the world’s first augmented reality (AR) art museum – Trick Eye Museum. The Trick Eye Museum is not really a typical museum but rather a collection of optical 3D illusions that you can interact with and take photos with. If you are traveling with kids, then you can easily spend a couple of fun hours here taking creative photos of each other.
- Opening hours: Every day, 11:00 am – 19:00/ 7 pm (last entrance 18:00/ 6 pm)
9. Khao Rang Hill – Phuket Town Viewpoint
From Khao Rang hill, you can see all across Phuket Town and even spot Phuket’s famous Big Buddha on the mountain ridge.
The viewpoint consists of no less than three restaurants, a park with exercise equipment, a children’s playground, and a viewing platform.
It’s a great place to enjoy the sunset and watch the lights come on in Phuket City below.
We walked to the viewpoint from our hotel in Old Phuket Town, and it took us less than an hour. The end of the hike is a little steep, but nothing too demanding.
Be careful of the traffic if you do this hike after dark since parts of the road lack a proper sidewalk, and you need to walk on the shoulder of the road at times. You may also run into some monkeys along the way, although we only saw some high up in the trees.
While we did meet quite a few people doing the walk, most people come to Khao Rang Viewpoint by car.
- Where is Phuket Town Viewpoint: On top of Khao Rang hill overlooking Phuket Town
- How to get there: Take a taxi, order a Grab car, or walk (about a 1-hour walk from Phuket Old Town).
- Opening hours: Open 24h but most people come around sunset
10. Coffee Shops
It seems like just about every house in Old Phuket Town has a coffee shop these days. So if you are a coffee enthusiast or appreciate a charming cafe, then you have come to the right place!
Here is a list of some of our favorites cafes in Phuket Old Town:
China Inn Cafe
China Inn Cafe sits in the middle of Thalang Road and is well worth a stop if you are feeling a little hungry or thirsty.
The old Sino-Portuguese house has been lovingly restored and now houses a restaurant as well as an antique shop.
The menu is predominantly Thai-inspired, but there is a wide variety of options available, including some vegan-friendly dishes. The food is both tasty and affordable.
You can choose to sit either inside, in the lovely backyard garden or street-side with a view of the lively Thalang Road.
- Where is China Inn Cafe: 21 Thalang Road, Phuket Old Town
- Opening Hours China Inn Cafe: 10:30/ 10.30 am – 18:00/ 6 pm Monday – Wednesday (open until 21:00/ 9 pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday)
The Shelter Coffee
A small unpretentious little coffee shop that serves up some real barista-quality coffee, all-day breakfast, healthy smoothie bowls, and homebaked pastries. Here you can order almost any sort of coffee from Americano, Espresso, Latte, Cappuccino, and many more.
We stopped by for breakfast and tried both their fruit smoothie bowl and the full American style breakfast and washed it down with some freshly squeezed orange juice. We then grabbed a Thai Ice Tea to go. It was all delicious!
There is a lovely green garden in the back.
- Where is it Shelter Coffee: 97 Dibuk Road, Phuket Old Town
- Opening Hours Shelter Coffee: 07:30/ 7:30 am – 17:00/ 5 pm (closed Wednesdays)
The Bookhemian is a fun mix of a coffee shop and a book store and is an excellent spot to enjoy a coffee while leafing through a book.
The quirky interior gives it a bohemian vibe, and there is a reading room upstairs if you want to settle in.
The menu consists mainly of coffee, breakfast, light snacks, and some pasta dishes.
- Where is Bookhemian Cafe: 61 Thalad Road, Phuket Old Town
- Opening Hours Bookhemian Cafe: 09:00/ 9 am – 19:00/ 7 pm (Saturdays & Sundays open til 20:00/ 8 pm)
Cafe Del Sol
Cafe Del Sol is a chilled coffee shop with a stylish modern interior. If you miss the trendy western coffee shops, then give this place a try.
It’s the sort of coffee shop where you can relax with a magazine, do some web surfing, enjoy a tall latte, or have some lunch and a piece of cake.
- Where is Cafe Del Sol: 61 Thalad Road, Phuket Old Town
- Opening Hours Cafe Del Sol: 08:00/ 8 am – 20:00/ 8 pm
Where To Eat In Phuket Town
Phuket Town is one of our absolute favorite places in Phuket to eat. The food here is something completely different than the typical tourist Thai food served at the beach resorts. The town’s unique mix of Chinese, Muslim Thai, and Indian food cultures has blended to create one of the most exciting and varied cuisines in Thailand.
It’s a little-known fact that Phuket Town actually was the first Asian city to be recognized as a “City of Gastronomy” by Unesco in 2015, before other more culinary famous cities such as George Town in Penang, Malaysia.
We loved exploring the varied choice of restaurants in Phuket Town. From the old traditional places serving recipes handed down through generations to restaurants where young chefs experiment with modern-style Thai and even international cuisines.
Add in some of south Thailand’s best street food, and Phuket Town quickly became one of our favorite food cities. So much so, that we at times drove into town from the beaches just to have dinner here.
A great way to try the specialties of Phuket is to join this Phuket Old Town 15-Taster Food Tour. This is a 4-hour small-group tour with a maximum of eight guests. An English-speaking foodie guide will take you around the city to some of the most unique restaurants, cafes, and local markets in Phuket Town. Along the way, you will learn about the city and its culture and history.
Click here for more info on the Phuket Old Town Food Tour
Or why not learn how to cook authentic Thai food yourself by joining a Thai cooking class. In this 4-hour cooking class, you learn to make the most delicious and famous Thai dishes like Phad Thai, green, curry, mango sticky rice, chicken satay, and so on. The tour starts with a visit to the local market in Phuket Town.
Our 5 Favorite Restaurants In Phuket Town
1. One Chun
One Chun is one of our favorite restaurants in Phuket Town with its cool and quirky interior, fantastic food, friendly service, and affordable prices! You won’t find a lot of tourists here, but plenty of locals know and appreciate this little gem.
The interior is retro-inspired with exposed brick walls and vintage memorabilia covering the walls, including old photo and movie cameras, records, and clocks.
We love their signature dish – the slowly steamed pork belly in pepper and garlic sauce. The meat is so tender it falls off the bone! Some of our other favorites include the Kang Poo (yellow crab curry), the papaya salad, and the fried pork in chili and garlic.
If you are a seafood lover, there is also plenty of excellent seafood options on the menu, like the deep-fried red snapper with mango salad.
One Chun has been recognized with a Michelin guide Bib Gourmand rating for its superb food at affordable prices.
- Where is One Chun Restaurant: 48/1 Thepkrasattri Road, Phuket Town
- Opening hours One Chun Restaurant: 10:00/ 10 am – 22:00/ 10 pm
Raya is the sister restaurant of One Chun (above). Raya is, however, slightly more expensive and upscale than its little sister One Chun. The menus at Raya and One Chun differ, but you can’t go wrong at either restaurant. They are also located so close together that you can easily visit both, have a look around, study the menu, and then decide where you want to eat.
Both Raya and One Chun serve excellent and authentic Thai food. So whichever one you end up at, you’re very unlikely to be disappointed.
Raya Restaurant is housed in a cool old Sino-Thai mansion dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Although it has been renovated, most of the interior is originally intact like the staircase and beautiful floor tiles.
It is a world-famous restaurant and has had both big movie stars, members of the royal family, and prime ministers as dinner guests.
Raya’s most famous dish is their fantastic crabmeat curry served with rice vermicelli. Other signature dishes by Raya’s chef and owner Khun Kulab, are caramelized and braised pork belly, spicy Phuket prawns, deep-fried sea bass with shallots, and red chilies in tamarind and lemongrass sauce. They are all worth a try!
Raya Restaurant also holds a Michelin guide Bib Gourmand rating.
- Where is Raya Restaurant: 48/1 Dibuk Road, Phuket Town
- Opening hours Raya Restaurant: 10:00/ 10 am – 22:00/ 10 pm
SUAY (Cherngtalay) Restaurant offers a modern take on the traditional Thai kitchen and is more upscale than most Thai restaurants in Phuket Town. The food is northeastern Thai food that Chef Tammasa, who was trained and grew up in Germany, has added his unique twist and magic to. It was one of the absolute best dinners we had in Phuket!
We decided to sit outside overlooking the garden. I had the Roasted duck in red curry with lychee and pineapple, and it was fantastic! The lychee gave it a unique sweetness that I won’t soon forget.
Maria’s braised beef cheek in Mussamun curry with coconut gnocchi, edamame bean salsa, and cashew nuts was so flavourful and tender it fell off the bone at the lightest touch. Add to that some of the best herb fruit drinks ever, and we couldn’t have been happier.
They also serve some tempting desserts (still regret not ordering that Creme Brulee) and have a well-stocked selection of wines, but we were too full to eat or drink more. We also regret that we did not opt for one of their brilliant set menus as they seem like a good value.
SUAY has a plate rating in the Michelin Guide.
- Where is SUAY: 50/2 Takuapa Rd, Phuket Town
- Opening SUAY: 17:00/ 5 pm – 23:00/ 11 pm
4. Tu Kab Khao
Tu Kab Khao is an elegant traditional Thai restaurant located in a grand century-old stately manor. The interior has a certain old-world Thai elegance about it with velvet sofas, marble tables, and antique furnishings while pictures of the royal family adorn the walls.
It looks like an expensive place, but the prices are quite reasonable.
The food lives up to the elegant interior with an extensive menu of delicious dishes. Their specialties include spiced fresh crab meat curry and slow-cooked pork.
Tu Kab Khao has received a Michelin Plate rating in the Michelin Guide for its Thai food, based on the family’s recipes. Unfortunately, we only had time to stop by for a light lunch, but everything we tried tasted fantastic! We will for sure be back for dinner next time we are in town. There is live music in the evenings.
- Where is Tu Kab Khao: 8 Phang Nga Road, Mueang Phuket, Phuket
- Opening hours Tu Kab Khao: 11:30/ 11:30 am – 23:00/ 11 pm
5. Abduls Roti Shop
Abduls Roti Shop is an absolute classic on Thalang Road in the heart of Phuket Old Town. They have been serving up Indian food for over seventy years!
Their rotis are handmade street side, and the pots of different curry dishes simmer inside the rustic interior.
Abduls Roti Shop is far from fine dining, but an authentic, homely Muslim restaurant that serves up some of the best rotis anywhere.
Stop by for lunch and enjoy some perfectly fried crispy rotis with some chicken or a beef massaman curry stew.
- Where is Abduls Roti Shop: Thalang Road, Phuket Town
- Opening hours Abduls Roti Shop: 06:00/ 6 am – 24:00/ 12 pm (midnight)
Where To Stay In Phuket Town
Most visitors to Phuket Town come on just a day trip. But if you have the time, I would recommend staying a night or two in the Old Town itself. It is in the evenings when the daytrippers have left the town, that the streets quiet down and you can really enjoy the atmosphere.
Also, Phuket Old Town has a fantastic variety of beautifully restored boutique hotels, hip hostels, and cozy, affordable guesthouses. So it is a shame not to spend a couple of nights here.
Below are what we believe are the best hotels in Phuket Town. They are all centrally located within easy walking distance of the sights, cafes, and restaurants, and offer excellent value.
The Memory At ON ON Hotel
The Memory at On On Hotel was first made famous in 2000 through the Hollywood movie “The Beach” when it doubled as the run-down dump of a Khao San hostel that Leonardo De Caprio’s character stayed at.
Its history is much older and the building dates back to 1927 and the height of the tin mining boom. It was the first hotel in Phuket Town that opened its doors to visitors.
The Memory At On On Hotel is a stunning boutique hotel in Phuket Old Town
Until just a few years ago, you could stay here for only 200 THB = US$ 6 a night and “enjoy” precisely the same comforts as Leo did.
Then in 2013, they did a complete renovation of the entire hotel, and today the Memory at On On Hotel is a beautiful and chic boutique hotel, modernized and comfortable in the classic Sino-Portuguese style fitting such a historic mansion. They also have a “The Beach” room, modeled after Leo’s room, but thankfully much more comfortable.
Click here for latest prices (Booking.com)
Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel
We stayed at the Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel and liked it so much we ended up extending it for a few days extra. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel in a classic mansion with friendly staff and comfortable rooms. We had the standard room, but there are also superior rooms with a balcony available.
Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel is an extremely good value with big, beautiful rooms
We loved our room, the light, and fresh design, hardwood floor, comfortable bed, and relaxing sofa. Every day we were there, the staff surprised us with a little complimentary treat brought to our room. There is even a small swimming pool on the roof, excellent for a refreshing dip after a day of sightseeing.
The location is perfect with Thalang Road just around the corner, and there are tons of excellent restaurants nearby. The cozy cafe downstairs serves ups some delicious cakes.
Click here for latest prices (Booking.com)
For more tips on where to stay in Phuket, read our complete guide to Phuket’s beaches and hotels here.
The Ultimate Walking Tour Of Phuket Old Town
Most of the sights are located in a reasonably small area making Phuket Old Town an ideal area to explore on foot.
Below we have outlined a walking tour that will take you past most of the highlights of Phuket Town:
Our recommended walking tour of Phuket Old Town
Our recommended walking tour starts at the corner of Thalang and Thepkrasatree Road (no 1 – Ranida Shop & Art Gallery).
- Head down Thalang Road and take a right onto Soi Romance (2) with its string of colorful Sino-Portuguese shophouses.
- Head across Dubik Road and visit Wat Mongkhon Nimit Shrine (3).
- Return through Soi Romance and continue along Thalang Road with its shops and coffee houses like Bookhemian (4) and China Inn Cafe (5).
- Turn right into Chim Jae Walking Street (6) and follow it until you get out onto Dubik Road.
- Grab some tasty coffee and something to eat at the Shelter Coffee (7) and follow Dubik Road until you get to:
- The Blue Elephant Restaurant Manor House (8) and Chinpratcha House (9) – Phukets best-preserved colonial-style mansions.
- Head back onto Thalang Road and stop at Phuket Town’s best historical museum – Thai Hua Museum (10).
- Turn right onto Yaowarat road and follow it until you reach Phangnga Road.
- On Phangnga Road, you can visit the Shrine of The Serene Light (11) and the On On Hotel(12) (Leo’s hostel in The Beach movie). There are also lots of nice art galleries along here.
- If you are traveling with kids, then the Trickeye (14) museum is a fun stop.
- For dinner, we recommend the One Chun Restaurant (15) or the close by Raya.
- If you are in town on Wednesday to Friday or on Sunday, then end your day at either the Phuket Indy Market (Wednesday – Friday) or the Sunday Walking Market.
A great way to see the Phuket old town is to join a guided walking tour – Phuket Old Town Private Tour With Dinner.
On this 5-hour walking tour, a local English-speaking guide will show you all the highlights of the old town, and tell the town’s rich history. Along the way, you will get to try different street foods unique to Phuket, and the tour ends with a delicious Thai dinner with a fantastic view. The guide can also speak German and French.
Click here for more info on the guided Phuket Old Town tour
When To Visit Phuket Town
Phuket Town can be visited at any time of the year. But if you have the opportunity to visit during one of the town’s many festivals, it can make your experience extra special.
The most famous festivals in Phuket Town are:
Old Town Cultural Festival – February
In February, during Chinese New Year, the Old Town Cultural Festival celebrates the Baba culture with films, food, and local customs. It’s all centered around the old town, and the traffic along Dubik, Thalang, Krabi, and Phuket road is cut off and these streets are turned into walking streets.
It’s one big fun celebration with everything from live music, dance performers, Chinese dragon processions, free boat rides on the canal, movie screenings, cultural happenings, and lots and lots of delicious street food. The festival lasts for three days, and most of the action takes place from the early afternoon until around midnight.
Vegetarian Festival – September/ October
The Vegetarian Festival, also known as Nine Emperor Gods Festival, is held every fall in September/ October. The exact dates vary from year to year depending on the lunar calendar. It’s celebrated in other parts of Asia as well, but the festival in Phuket Town is pretty unique.
This is a religious festival with roots in Taoism and devotees gather at every Chinese Shrine around the city. Hundreds of booths displaying vegetarian dishes pop up all over the place. The festival starts with the raising of a giant bamboo pole, inviting the gods down from above. Then for the next few days, there are celebrations, plenty of firecrackers, body piercing ceremonies, and lots and lots of delicious vegetarian food.
The festival attracts a considerable number of photographers who come to capture the colorful processions with everyone dressed in their liveliest colors, the quite extreme body piercing rituals, and the spectacle of thousands of firecrackers.
On the flip side, most restaurants take the week off so getting anything other than vegetarian food might be a bit of a challenge. And did I mention that the firecrackers are really really loud…(!)
How To Get To Phuket Town
If you’re coming from Phuket Airport, you may be told that there is no bus to Phuket Town by taxi drivers and private tour companies. This is not correct, there is an hourly government bus that runs from Phuket Airport to Phuket Town (look for its bright orange color).
Phuket Town is roughly a 40-minute drive from the airport, and a taxi or a Grab will likely cost you about 6-700 THB = US$ 22.
After a long flight, nothing is better and more convenient than to have a private driver with a comfortable air-con car waiting for you at Phuket Airport and drive you to your hotel.
Driving from the famous west coast beaches like Patong and Karon takes about 30 minutes by car/ taxi. There are also regular minivan busses from Phuket Town to Patong beach.
Well, that is it! We hope you find this Phuket Town travel guide useful and that it will help you get the most out of your trip to Phuket.
And if you are planning to stay a few days in Bangkok as part of your holiday, then make sure to check out our many Bangkok articles including our 3-days Bangkok Itinerary filled with all the highlights of Bangkok, and our guide to the best places to stay in Bangkok.
Read next – our other articles about Phuket:
- Where To Stay In Phuket – Out 10 Favorite Beaches & Hotels
- Tropical Beach Bliss – Bang Tao Beach, Phuket
- A Travel Guide To Patong Beach, Phuket
- A Travel Guide To Karon Beach, Phuket
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Have you been to Phuket Town, or are you planning on heading there during your stay at Phuket? Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about Phuket Town. Do you think we missed something that should be included in this guide? We would love to hear from you in the comment field below!Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, and we will earn a small percentage of the sale if you purchase through them at absolutely no extra cost to you! This helps us keep the content up to date, create new travel guides, and keep the website going. Thank you! ♥ For more information, see our disclosure here.