Walking Tour: Phuket Town's Architectural Legacies

  • Start Phuket Thaihua Museum
  • End Memory at On On Hotel
  • Length 2.5km; two to three hours

Start with the majestic Phuket Thaihua Museum. Dating from 1934, this was the oldest Chinese school in Thailand and exhibits European-Sino-Thai architectural styles and local-life multimedia displays.

Head west along Th Krabi and wander into the gardens overlooking the Th Satun junction, where the early-20th-century Phra Pitak Chinpracha Mansion has been immaculately restored as one of Phuket's finest Thai restaurants and cooking schools, Blue Elephant.

Immediately west of Blue Elephant, a muralled alley leads to beautifully preserved Chinpracha House, built in 1903 on tin-mining wealth. It's now a private home and museum, owned by the descendants of the original builder.

Stroll north along Th Satun and turn right (east) onto brightly painted Th Dibuk, then right (south) on Th Yaowarat next to the mural of Rama IX (Bhumibol Adulyadej; r 1946–2016), and left (east) on historical Th Thalang, which is packed with rainbow-coloured refurbished shophouses – and makes a great spot for a coffee or snack break.

Just off Th Thalang is gorgeous Soi Romanee, whose vividly restored Sino-Portuguese shophouses turned boutique hotels and coffee shops shimmer under Chinese paper lanterns.

Continue east along Th Thalang, crossing Th Thepkasattri and the canal, then turn right (south) on Th Montri, and you'll spot the old post office, a classic (if flaking) example of Sino-Portuguese architecture now housing the Phuket Philatelic Museum.

Next, it's west along Th Phang-Nga to reach the renovated, yellow-washed Standard Chartered Bank, in typical Sino-Portuguese style. Thailand's first local bank, it's now an erratically open museum showcasing Phuket's Baba culture, but best admired from outside.

Directly opposite is the Thai Police Building, restored in sun-yellow, with its police-cap roof and late-20th-century four-storey clock tower.

Head west again on Th Phang-Nga, passing restaurants within lovely old shophouses, to the smartly revamped Memory at On On Hotel; Phuket's first hotel sprawls behind its gleaming-white Sino-Portuguese facade to terracotta-tiled patios, mosaic-floor halls and imposing wooden staircases.