Tag Archives: phuket history

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Phuket Old Town

008The old town of Phuket has a lot more personality than most provincial capitals in Thailand. Rich in history, this part of Phuket has shrines, Buddhist and Chinese temples, old shop houses and even a red light district.

The town was constructed with riches gained from the islands boom in the tin industry, many Sino-Colonial mansions, once occupied by Phuket’s tin barons still, stand today as a reminder of the towns wealth some one hundred years ago.002

The best time to explore Phuket’s old town is early in the morning or later on in the afternoon, when the heat of the day has subsided. There are plenty of quaint cafés and restaurants in this area where you can take some refreshments and watch the world go by.

 

0016A fine example of a Sino-Colonial mansion can be found at 98 Krabi Road. Baan Chinpracha will give you a unique insight into how wealthy families in Phuket used to live as well as a unique opportunity to meet Jaroonrat “Daeng” Tandavanitj, who inherited the building from her late husband’s father who was the eldest son of the original owner Phra Pitak Chinpracha who built it in 1903. Most of this interesting house is open to the public, you will be able to explore two upstairs bedrooms, the kitchen and the ground floor where you will discover vintage Italian floor tiles as well as many items of the original furniture imported from China and Europe. Perhaps the most attractive feature of the house is the central inner courtyard that opens out onto the sky. In Sino-Colonial style houses the inner courtyards represented the heart of the house where women would chat, cook and wash their clothes and being open topped this area was also a useful way to bring a cooling breeze into the house during the stifling summer months.

One of the most attractive and best maintained Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket is the Thai Hua Museum on the Krabi Road. Once a Chinese language school the building now plays host to a Museum, exhibition space and function hall.  Like Baan Chinpracha, the Thai Hua Museum has an open air inner courtyard, it also has a lovely garden. A trip to the museum is a great way to discover the history of Phuket through many different angles and explanations. 009

Another interesting building is the Phuket Provincial Hall. This public building was erected in the 1910’s and can be found in the administrative quarter. It was gazette by the Fine Arts Department in 1977 and was the first building in Phuket to receive a national conservation award.

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Another building that acts as a reminder of the affluent days of tin is the police station with its clock tower that stands across the road from the chartered bank at the corner of Phuket and Phangnga road. Both were built in the early 1900’s. The police station is now earmarked by City Hall for an urban heritage museum.

0013A wonderful mix of nationalities have made Phuket there home, Thai’s, Malays, Indians, Chinese, Eurasian and even  Nepalese as well as a unique mix of Hokkien Chinese and Thais called Baba. The Baba community heritage can be found in the architecture, dress and way of life in Phuket old town.

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Neglected for many years the core of the town including Rasada Road, Phang Na Road, Thalang Road, Dibuk Road and Krabi Road are now being renovated. No visit to Phuket would be complete without a visit to this unique, historical and very interesting area.

Phuket

Next destination: Phuket Island

Phuket also known as the pearl of the south is one of the southern provinces of Thailand. It neighbours the provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi, but being an island it shares not land boundaries with them. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is located on the west coast in the Andaman sea and is connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges.

Phuket Island

Phuket has a rich and colorful history. Pre tourism the island found its wealth through tin and rubber. It was one of the major trading routes between India and China and found itself often mentioned in the ship’s logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders.

Phuket, formerly known as Thalang, is a name derived from the word bukit in Malay that means hill. The name Thalang was derived from the old Malay Telong that means cape. On European navigation charts the island is marked as Jung Ceylon.

Old Phuket

The Dutch and the English, and after the 1680’s the French all competed for a part of the tin industry in Phuket during the 17th century. In 1680 the French East India Company paid a visit to the island and left with a full cargo of tin. The Siamese King Narai, wished to reduce Dutch and English influence on the island and named Rene Charbonneau, a French medical missionary, the governor of the island, a title he held until 1685.

In 1785 the island was attacked by the Burmese, Francis Light of the British East India Company and one of the first to arrive on Penang Island in Malaysia, witnessed the Burmese preparing for the attack when he passed the island. The attack resulted in a month long siege of the capital, but by March 13th 1785 the Burmese were forced to retreat from local forces assembled by Than Phu Ying, the wife of the recently deceased governor and her sister Mook. The women both received royal titles for their efforts.

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Phuket went on to become the administrative centre of the tin producing southern provinces and in 1922 it became a province in itself.

Phuket is a very mountainous island. It is estimated that the island has a total area of around 576 square kilometers. The island is 536 miles from Bangkok and forest, rubber and palm oil plantations cover around 60% of the land.

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The islands sandy beaches can be found on the west coast where the most popular tourist destination of Patong can be found. This area has colourful nightlife and cheap shopping. Other popular areas include Karon, Kata and Kata Noi beaches. Kamala, Surin and Bang Tao beach to the north are less developed and popular with families and those looking for a more peaceful island experience.

08There are many islands to the southeast, including Bon Island, just a short boat trip away. There are several coral islands to the south of Phuket, the Similan Islands lie to the northwest, and Phi Phi Islands to the south east, popular with snorkelers and scuba divers.

Phuket enjoys a tropical climate, with a dry season from November to April and a rainy season that runs from May to October. The average annual temperature is between 29 and 33 degrees.

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Phuket international airport is located in the north of the island that services scheduled and charter flights from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

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