The lion share of people who go to Phuket, Thailand can be categorized pretty easily. You have lots of dirty old men heading to Patong Beach to get raucous with pros, Russians who plan to bake in Speedos on Karon or Kata beach, and backpackers who are there to spend one night before or after visiting one of the islands.
I have been to Phuket three times now and have explored pretty extensively. It’s actually an island, but is connected to the main land by a bridge. I seem to find myself there more often than not because they have a very accessible international airport that makes it too easy for me to never make it anywhere else because I’m in fact the laziest travel blogger in the world. I hate long overland (or sea) travel…don’t judge me.
But, while the beaches and nightlife are the biggest allure to Phuket, Phuket Town is actually a pretty pleasant place to spend a night. Located centrally and on the eastern side of the island, Phuket Town is not over run by tourists and you can catch a semi-authentic feel while still having all the amenities you’ll probably be interested in, like decent hotels/hostels/guests houses with AC, solid Wi-Fi and countless coffee shops that almost seem too hip to be where they are. If you plan to go on to any of the islands like Koh Phi Phi, you’ll probably be leaving from Phuket Town anyways.
Thailand was never colonized, so you’ll find very few areas with historic architecture influenced by western nations, unlike Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, etc. Phuket Town is very unique in Thailand.
Because of Phuket’s location in the southern part of the country, it had roots in trade with the rest of the region. The area was also very rich in tin which created a strong bond with the historic city of Penang, Malaysia where it was easier to ship ore for smelting than Bangkok.
The historic architecture in Phuket Town is mostly influenced by the British colonial style that you’ll find in Penang.
It’s nice to stroll around in the late afternoon and explore the old center, have a coffee or fresh juice and watch the historic buildings become illuminated to highlight their ornate details when the sun sets. You can also easily rent a scooter for next to nothing anywhere on the island and just come explore for a few hours and return back to wherever you’re staying as well.
I stayed at the Chino Town Gallery Guesthouse right in the heart of the old town, but it was on a dead end street it was very quiet. I can highly recommend it as the rooms were brand new, clean, there’s fast Wi-Fi and the owner is awesome. Her name is Poo, and she spent the last 13 years living in NYC where she even owns a restaurant in Manhattan. While nothing over the top, Poo understands what western travelers want and she delivers at a very fair price. My room only ran me about 790 baht which is less than $25 dollars (it’s high season as well).
If you want a good night out, head to the Timber Hut a couple blocks away. Mix of foreigners and Thais, awesome live band/DJ and solid food too. Not the cheapest night out, but if you’re sick of sipping the cheapest beer available with dudes in Chang singlets, most definitely check it out.
Here is some of the unique architecture in Phuket Town I thought worthy of a snap!