Phuket’s rich natural reserves have long made it a strategic location, bringing foreigners from a far to reap its riches as early as the 1st century B.C. It has become what it is today partly thanks to Thao Thepkassatri and her sister Thao Sri Sunthorn, the former of which whose clever thinking fended-off a Burmese invasion originally reported by British Captain Francis Light in 1785. Two centuries ago, when tin was still a precious commodity, Phuket’s tin mines brought thousands upon thousands of Chinese labourers to the island who heavily influenced its culture and architecture, in contrast with the rest of Thailand. These labourers similarly went to parts of Malaysia, such as Penang, for the same purpose, resulting in much of the architecture sharing similar forms in both cities.
Today, the island stands as a monument to its colourful past, making it a fantastic place to explore on food and sight-see, showing the colonial (sometimes referred to as Sino-Portuguese) architecture directly influenced by the tin industry ties to Penang in Malaysia. Being preserved and celebrated, with renovations having been made to the most iconic of buildings, making for a great stroll back in time to days long passed, though with modern cafés, restaurants and shops to visit, many of which showcasing authentic artefacts and photos of its heyday passed-down from generation to generation. Every Sunday evening, Thalang road is turned into a colourful walking street, full of lively performances and creativity by Phuket’s locals, topped-off by a great selection of delicious street food – a must see.
For those eager to learn, we have full-day and half-day trips into the heart of Phuket, stopping by places such as the Heroines Monument and National Museum to learn about the island’s early roots, the Chin Pracha House and Old Town for its Hokkien and Sino-Portuguese influences, Wat Chalong and the Big Buddha for the island’s largest and highest temples. The Phuket Discovery and Heritage trips are a great way to soak-up some history and see Phuket like you’ve never seen it before.
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