Heritage of Phuket Town Text
& photographs by Khoo Salma Nasution
Asian Public Intellectual (API) Fellow, Nippon Foundation
Famed as beach
resort, Phuket in Thailand also has an old town on the other side
of the island. The old quarter of Phuket city, formerly called
Tongkah, is the home of the Baba community, a cultural
community of mixed Thai-Chinese heritage.
of old Phuket is unique in Thailand, and rather resembles that
found in the former British Straits Settlements, particularly
Penang. Since the 1990s, the people of Phuket have spearheaded
several initiatives to showcase their cultural built heritage.
The historic centre
of Phuket town is sited between the low hills and the bay of Tongkah.
started out as a mining town, all land in the vicinity was formerly
mined and worked over until exhausted of its tin deposits.
centre of Phuket was designated as a conservation area under the
Environment Act 1992. Drawing reproduced by courtesy of City Hall.
here for map.
in the old town was formerly the most important trading street
in Phuket. Encouraged by university groups and the authorities,
the local community has started a main street movement.
Yellow flags on Thalang Road herald Phukets famous Nine
Emperor Gods festival.
the Old Phuket Town Festival has been held annually. From September
to November 2005, the Walking Street or Street
of Culture weekend bazaar will attract activities and crowds
to the old town.
the Old Phuket Town Foundation was formed with the objective of
revitalizing the historic areas of Phuket town. The Old Phuket
Foundation logo is that of a five-footway.
objective of the Old Phuket Town Foundation is to restore the
public character of the five-footway.
federal, provincial and city governments have undertaken conservation
projects on public buildings. For example, the old Phuket Post
& Telegraphic Office has been converted into the Phuket Philatelic
Museum (bottom right).
Provincial Hall (top right), a pubic building erected in the 1910s,
is located in the administrative quarter. It was gazetted by the
Fine Arts Department in 1977 and was the first building in Phuket
to receive a national conservation award.
police station with clock tower (bottom left) stands across the
road from the Chartered Bank, at the corner of Phuket Road and
Phangnga Road. They were built in the early 1900s, when Phuket
developed from a small frontier mining town into a more secure
and respectable town. The police station is now earmarked by City
Hall for an urban heritage museum.
City Hall plans to restore No. 63 Thalang Road (top right - second
house from right) into a small museum for educational purposes.