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Phuket Town

Long before flip-flops, glossy resorts and selfie sticks, Phuket was an island of rubber trees, tin mines and cash-hungry merchants. Luring entrepreneurs from the Arabian Peninsula, China, India and Portugal, Phuket Town (เมืองภูเก็ด) became a colorful blend of cultural influences.

Today, the Old Town is a testament to Phuket's history, but it's also the island's hipster heart, attracting artists and musicians in particular, which has led to noticeable gentrification. Century-old hôrng tăa·ou (shophouses) and homes are being restored, vibrant street art is popping up and it can feel like every other building is now a fashionable polished-concrete cafe.

But Phuket Town remains a wonderfully refreshing cultural break from the island's beaches (easily reached by sŏrng·tăa·ou). Wander down streets lined with distinctive Sino-Portuguese architecture, arty coffee shops, experimental galleries, boutique hotels and incense-cloaked Chinese Taoist shrines, before sampling the island's most authentic Phuketian cuisine and Phuket Town's very local bar scene.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Phuket Town.