The beginning of the tin boom during the Nineteenth Century led to construction of many fine old mansions and shops still well preserved. The architectural style, typical of the region, is described as Sino-Portuguese and has a strongly Mediterranean chracter. Shops present a very narrow face on the street but stretch back a long way. Many, especially on Dibuk Rd., have old wooden doors with Chinese fretwork carving. Other streets, forming what might be called “Old Phuket”, with similar structures are Phang-nga, Yaowarat, Thalang, and Krabi, and a walking tour of the area is easy and delightful. Some other old European-style buildings of note are the Provincial Hall (Sala Klang), the Phuket Courthouse (San Changwat), and Nakhon Luang Thai Bank.
More than one hundred species of sea life are on display at the aquarium, many of them taken from the water around Phuket. Open daily, 8:30 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Admission is 5 Baht for children and 20 Baht for adults. The aquarium is located at Cape Panwa, on the island’s extreme southeast. A Songtaew (local bus) can be taken from the Talad Sot, or Fresh Market. Tel. (076) 391126.
Phuket Butterfly Farm and Aquarium
Tropical species of butterflies, other insects, and many kinds of marine life are on display. Located in Sam Kong about 3 kms. from downtown Phuket. Open daily, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.Tel. (076) 215616, 210861.
A land reclamation project provided abundant new land now used for parks and public facilities at Sapan Hin, located where Phuket Rd., meets the sea in Phuket Town. In the circle is the Tin Mining Monument, shaped like a large drill bit, dedicated to the memory of Captain Edward Thomas Miles, the Australian who brought the first tin dredge to Phuket in 1909. The monument was built in 1969 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of tin dredging in Phuket. The Sport Center is located in the park.
Phuket Sea Shell Museum
Perhaps the world’s most valuable collection of seashells has been put on display at Phuket Seashell near Rawai Beach on the island’s southwestern shores. The emphasis is on shells from Phuket and Thai waters, which are among the most sought-after by collectors, however shells from every part of the world are featured. Wherever they originate, each shell in the Shell Museum is the best of its type–very often the only of its type. Displays have been created in a logical order, and visitors can see at once differing characteristics among related species. There are numerous rarities and freaks including the world’s largest golden pearl (140 karats), large sections of sedimentary rock containing shell fossils that represent the earth’s earliest life-forms, and a shell that weighs 250 kilograms. One of the world’s great private museums, the Shell Museum is open daily from 8:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. For details call 381266, or 381274.
Thalang National Museum
Ancient artifacts from Phuket ‘s long history are on display; the oldest were found on the west coast. In addition there are exhibits detailing the famous Battle of Thalang involving the Two Heroines, daily life in Phuket, and the Sea Gipsy culture. Tel. (076) 311025, 311426; open daily except holidays 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Located just east of the Two Heroines Monument on the Pa Khlok Rd.
Thai Village and Orchid Farm
Also on Thepkasattri Road, the village serves daily a typical southern Thai lunch that is followed by a spectacular cultural show including Thai dances, sword-fight ing, Thai boxing,demonstration of old time tin-mining, southern customs and elephants. Handicrafts are also on display.
The morning showing starts at 11:00 a.m. the evening showing at 5:30 p.m. Tel. (076) 214860, 237400