Pink car and building

Old Phuket Town & Monkey Hill

  1. Sino-Portuguese architecture
  2. Alex Face Mural Graffiti
  3. Soi Ramanee Street
  4. Wat Mongkol Nimit
  5. Blue Elephant Governor’s Mansion & Cooking School
  6. Jui Tui Shrine
  7. Phuket Town Central Market
  8. Shrine of the Serene Light
  9. Phuket Sunday Walking Street Market
  10. Monkey Hill

1 of 10 – Sino-Portuguese Style Architecture – Thalang Road

This architectural style is found throughout Old Phuket Town.  It is characterized by blended elements of Chinese and European building design with colourful facades, decorative tiles, complex stucco work and intricately carved wooden doors and arched windows.  The buildings date back to the early 1900s, when Phuket Town was going through a tin mining boom. Most of the tin trade was dominated by Chinese merchants until the early 20th century. The tin mines generated huge profits and the elaborate designs seen in the Sino-Portuguese style buildings were created as the nouveau-riche used these elements as a mark to highlight wealth and status of the building’s owner.

2 of 10 – Alex Face Mural Graffiti

Alex Face is one of 12 artists commissioned to create murals around Phuket Town to highlight the food and local lifestyle of the island in celebration of the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy title bestowed upon the city. The listing recognizes the unique local food of Phuket with influences drawn from Thailand, China and Malaysia. Alex Face is a famous graffiti artist known for his trademark character Mardi that he incorporates into most of his work.  Also check out the other stunning murals and beautiful street art found on the sides of buildings mostly along Phang Nga Road in Phuket Old Town.

3 of 10 – Soi Ramanee Street

Soi Ramanee is a short, quaint, narrow street with an interesting history.  It used to be the red-light district of Phuket where one would find brothels, opium dens and gambling houses.  Today these same buildings house upscale guesthouses, ice cream parlours, gift shops, boutiques and cafes.  Check out Boubrew Coffee & Craft for great coffee or try a Thai milk tea on ice.  They also have yummy craft chocolate. At the corner of Soi Ramanee and Thalang Road is where the Sino-Portuguese style of architecture is most concentrated.  This famous section of Old Phuket Town with all its historic charm, colour and memorabilia from the past makes for Instagram heaven.

4 of 10 – Wat Mongkol Nimit


This Buddhist temple is very large and it’s roof is easy to spot at the end of Soi Romanee.  Take the time to walk there and see it’s impressive gardens.  It was built in 1880. Famous for its golden statue of Buddha and unique architecture.  It is home for many monks who live and study at the school here.  You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them performing some of their daily rituals.  Each tree in the garden of the temple has a Buddhist quote with it.  These words of wisdom are written in English and Thai as an offering of advice.  A visit in the morning is a great time to enjoy the beauty of the place when it is quiet and peaceful and a perfect surrounding for those who like to meditate.

5 of 10 – Blue Elephant Governor’s Mansion & Cooking School

Yellow mansion

The Blue Elephant Restaurant and Cooking School is located in the Governor’s Mansion.  This former palace is a splendid example of the local Sino-Portuguese colonial-style architecture and is set amongst immaculate grounds.  The restaurant specializes in Classic Royal Thai cuisine presented in a manner such as would once have been uniquely created for the Royal Palace.  The interior has been exquisitely restored showcasing chequered tiled flooring and sweeping teak stairway with lavish colonial-Chinese décor.  The impeccable service truly matches the fabulous ambience that has been created.  The Blue Elephant Cooking School is also found at this location and offers discovery classes to learn how to cook like a Thai chef preparing 4 or 5 recipes in a half day program.  The morning session incorporates a trip to the market.  After the class you get to savour what you have prepared in the delightful restaurant.

6 of 10 – Jui Tui Shrine

Jui Tui Shrine

This is one of the island’s oldest Chinese Taoist shrines with 3 large altars and a “firecracker house” where people ignite firecrackers in gratitude of an answered prayer and to celebrate good fortune.  The temple grounds are quite impressive.  At the prayer hall, hold and shake a bamboo cup containing fortune sticks to find out your fortune. Match your stick number revealed with your fortune paper and have a monk help you translate. It is a very respected and spiritual centre and accordingly plays a pivotal part in the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival one of the most auspicious events on Phuket Island held during the ninth lunar month usually in September or October.  The festival is renowned for its extreme celebrations such as firewalking and body piercing.

7 of 10 – Phuket Town Central Market

This downtown market is one of the oldest fresh markets in Phuket.  It is open almost 24/7.  It is located in a small soi (alley) off Ranong Road in a large yellow building with 4 elaborate floors.  Many vendors from other markets in Phuket come to do their shopping here.  Vegetables and exotic fruits, meat, fish and seafood, condiments, snack, tea/coffee and ready-made dishes are available.  You will also find handmade hats, baskets and tools thrown in with cheap clothes and shoes.  Tourists are always welcome and direction signs are in both English and Thai.  The place exudes an infectious energy with bright colours, pungent smells, perpetual crowds, noise and the buzz of everyday life on the island for locals.

8 of 10 – Shrine of the Serene Light (Saeng Tham Shrine)

Shrine of the Serene Light (Saeng Tham Shrine)

This beautiful old Chinese shrine was founded in 1891.  It is modest in size but extravagant in appearance.  It has a very distinctive architectural design with single storey construction and terracotta-tiled roof, a common feature in Hokkien-Chinese shrines.  The Shrine of the Serene Light is a place of sanctity and worship to Chinese deities.  The interior is quite dimly lit due to the use of Chinese lanterns and candles.  There you will see the Si Yin Gui murals, stained by over 100 years of burning candles and incense.  Of note, photography is not allowed in the main section of the shrine.  The outside is very bright and colourful, with intricate designs on two arches leading into the shrine’s entrance from the peaceful courtyard.  Entrance is free, although donations are welcome.

9 of 10 – Phuket Sunday Walking Street Market

Along Thalang Road is where the island’s famous night market the Sunday Walking Street Market (locally called Lard Yai) takes place every Sunday evening from 4pm to 11pm.  Discover some typical southern Thai culinary specialities as well as local handicraft and gift stalls.  This weekly event is definitely family-oriented.  Enjoy street performances, music and dancing.  The street all lit up at night, with lights and lanterns amongst the beautiful coloured buildings makes for a great festive atmosphere with the opportunity for Instagram photos everywhere you turn.

10 of 10 – Monkey Hill


As you make your way up one of the highest hills in Phuket Town you will discover why Monkey Hill aptly gets its name.  In no time you will come across macaques.  An incredible opportunity to interact with wild monkeys. There are approximately 600 monkeys living in groups all over Monkey Hill.  You can drive a car or a motorbike up to the top or the road to the summit is closed to traffic from 5-8pm to give people a chance to walk up and watch the sunset at the viewpoint.  Once at the top you are rewarded with breathtaking views of Phuket.  It is roughly an hour and a half round trip on foot depending on your level of fitness and the number of pictures you are taking.  The road isn’t that long but it sure is steep.  An amazing experience.