A walking tour of Phuket's Old Town offers the perfect chance to explore the delights of the island’s Chinese culture and history while enjoying a glimpse of the traditional lifestyle that existed long before the tourist boom.
Phuket’s fascinating history dates back hundreds of years, and if you want to delve deep into the Chinese influences that made the island’s traditional culture what it is today, then Phuket Town is a great place to start.
The Heritage Trails Walking and Food Tour takes in a selection of sights around Phuket Old Town, honing in on the rich heritage behind the bustling streets. The tour runs every Monday and Thursday from 8:30am until 1:30pm, starting form TMB Bank on Ranong Road.
If you fancy taking a trip to the local fresh produce market and one of the island’s most sacred Chinese shrines, snacking on tasty delicacies as you go, then the walking tour is definitely an unmissable addition to your Phuket holiday itinerary.
Phuket Town is rich in culture and one of the highlights of the Heritage Trails Walking Tour is the chance to pick the brains of an expert on the area's history. The town is home to Buddhist and Chinese shrines and temples, ornate shophouses and quaint boutiques and cafes, and a knowledgeable guide will explain how all this was built on wealth gained from Phuket’s tin mining boom during the 19th
century. The Sino-colonial mansions that pepper the old town once housed tin barons and their families and they are still a fascinating sight today – well worth plenty of photos.
One of the first places your walking tour will stop off is at the fresh produce market on Ranong Road. Anyone interested in authentic Thai cooking should visit this local produce market to see the mountains of fresh ingredients that create delicious Thai and Chinese cuisine, as well as to soak up the lively atmosphere. An abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, heaps of fragrant herbs and spices and endless freshly prepared snacks all make for an unforgettable sensory experience. It's a great opportunity to taste a few of the finest local street food delicacies as you explore the nooks and crannies of the market.
Shrines and Temples
After the hustle and bustle of the market, a little time to reflect in the peaceful atmosphere of the Shrine of Serene Light comes as welcome respite. Tucked away down one of the town’s small alleys, this is one of Phuket's most important Chinese temples and a delightful example of the colourful designs that combine to represent Buddhism and Taoist beliefs.
Constructed by a local family in the mid-1880s, the temple has now been restored to its full glory and features scarlet and golden animals, including dragons, lions and monkeys, all intertwined to create stunning etchings.
A trip to Phuket's amulet market is a must for an insight into local Thai culture. Amulets were originally made in temples and passed out to followers of the Lord Buddha’s teachings as a constant reminder of its values. Down a tiny alley off Rassada Road, the Amulet Market trades on these now precious artefacts, and attracts believers and collectors from around the country and even overseas. Flanked by a long row of stands, thousands of amulets are on display, in addition to images of the Buddha and other sacred items.
Unlike in the West, eating out in Asia often involves snacking on a range of tasty treats throughout the day. In Phuket Town you never have to search far for a unique and delicious bite, and one of the advantages of joining a walking tour is that your guide will be able to take you to all the best local places to sample traditional culinary offerings. With everything from savoury delights such as dim sum, noodle soups and fresh spring rolls to sweet treats like crispy sweet pancakes and coconut rice balls, you can feast your way around town like a local.