as a break from the beaches, Old Phuket Town offers good contrasts
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Had enough beaches? Want to see more of the island? Old Phuket Town is one of the best places to begin. It lies directly east of Patong, a 20 minute drive over the mountain. From Bang Tao and Surin beaches it takes about 30 minutes, and just 15 from Chalong Bay.
The island of Phuket has a mixed history, with different waves of habitation shaping its landscapes. Ethnic Thais are relative newcomers and have never lived here in significant numbers. Thus, when you visit Phuket Town it is not really a Thai town that one finds, but a Chinese one.
A flood of ethnic Chinese into Phuket started in the 1800s when they moved north from strongholds in Malaya and Singapore to exploit the local tin mines. Chinese ran the mines; Chinese made the money and built the town that became the commercial hub and administrative centre.
Phuket Town is not large, and its streets narrow. Several lines of old row houses are beautifully preserved and now form a kind of living museum. Some of these are being converted into boutique accommodations, coffee shops, galleries, and other trendy establishments intent on preserving the architecture while making them useful in modern times.
Notable for gaudy, grotesque statuary and architecture are the three Chinese shrines in town. Both very traditional and well patronized, they remain the centre of many Thai-Chinese families’ social and spiritual lives.
The town also has a variety of interesting open-air markets, restaurants and night entertainment facilities, all helping to add spice and interest to a visit here. There are reasons to visit in the morning (the fresh market) and reasons to come in the evening (dining and entertainment). There are plenty of places to dine. See what interests you most here and plan your visit to Phuket Town accordingly.