Did you know that the James Bond movie “The man with the Golden gun” was shot on one of the islands in Phuket back in 1974? That island was even renamed James Bond island because of it. Great marketing tactic I must say.
A province best known for its stunning beaches, one of the top travel destinations in not only Thailand but the entire world, Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand. It is also a province.
Featuring a 148-foot big marble statue of Buddha, a vegetarian festival, prospering tin mining enterprise, Heroine’s Monument (a tribute to two of the legendary ladies of Phuket history), mountains draping over at least 70% of the Island, there are plenty of exciting places to see and things to do in Phuket.
Let’s me take you through an ultimate travel guide of Phuket, comprising of history, culture, food, language, custom, places to see, things to do and so much more.
Historical Timeline Of Phuket
Excavations suggest that Phuket has a history dating far back to 1025 AD. Apparently, it was once a part of the Shivite empire that rules all of the Malay Peninsula back then.
The island was discovered to have plentiful veins of tin which made it to become a land of competition between French Dutch and British countries.
Eventually, a trading post by the Dutch was inaugurated around 1626. The island’s western and southern areas went under foreign control as well.
France turned out the major player in the competition between the three countries, eventually ending up controlling most of the trade of tin in Phuket.
The local monarchy or in favor of the fence and Bing some death Tron RA gifted complete monopoly of tin trade to the French ambassador in 1685.
Eventually, the foreign intrusion and the exploitation of local resources by foreign powers became too much for the citizen to bear and the Siamese Revolution took place. It ended up with overthrowing of the then King Narai as well as the expulsion of the French from the island.
The Sacking of Ayutthaya & Legendary Ladies
1767 brought with it a great tragedy in the form of a Burmese attack on Ayutthaya. Rising to the occasion, the eventually crowned King Taksin succeeded in pushing away the Burmese conquerors. Siam has united once again.
One of the remarkable events that happened during the time of 1785 was the rise of two legendary ladies Thao Srishoonthorn (Mook) & Thao Thepkasattri (Kunying Jan).
The act of unifying the local denizens of Phuket and readying them as a rebel force to resist against Burmese attack and eventually succeeding in throwing away the one-month-long siege was what made them legends in local history.
They received titles from the King of that time as well.
The revival of Tin Trade in 19th Century
Around the 19th century, the production and trade of Phuket were restored by the then, King Chulalongkorn. It’s resultant in enhanced immigration of Chinese laborers making the cultural And ethnic diversity in the province mainly Chinese.
The 20th Century
The 20th century saw the fall of monarchy which resulted in Phuket becoming a province of the Thai nation.
Around the 1970s the foreign visitors discovered the various potential travel destinations around Phuket and eventually, the habitual tourists spread the word about unseen beaches and natural hidden coves in the area.
Bit by bit. the words spread and tourism became one of the primary sources of revenue of Phuket. 2004 brought with it a natural calamity, the tsunami left a lot of areas in ruins but people eventually got over it and presently Phuket is one of the best travel destinations in the world.
Culture Of Phuket
If you ask me about the main aspects of the culture of Phuket, then performative arts comes definitely the first thing in my mind.
It is not only a tradition passed down from time, it is held in awe majorly as a crucial religious practice. From their ceremonies, their players their festivals to their sacred rituals as well as the religious temples and other similar events, performative arts hold a special involvement.
Paintings & Crafts
You can see Buddha’s life depicted through the works of various artists and painters in short picture stories around the city.
The craftsmanship of local talents is also something to marvel at. You can relish watching their masterfulness in the carvings and sculptures found in the temples, created using traditional woods and stones.
Dances & Folk Music
The region is known for its elegant and highly expressive dances. The dance moves are not only for looking good, although they do look mesmerizing, each movement also has a significant meaning in the dance form.
These dance forms of the locality are known for always containing depth, conveying a unique story in each performance.
The dance forms, whether classical or folk, in Phuket, are usually supported by folk music, this gives a special flavor to the performances, enhancing the cultural experience of the audience.
The performances are usually escorted by the orchestra, which comprises of musicians, usually in groups of 5 to 12, playing musical instruments like percussion, wooden wind instruments, and flute.
Some of the classical dance forms are; fawn, khon & lakhon
Folk form variations; wai khru, ram muay
Popular local folk music forms; mor lam & luk thung
Cultural things to do in Phuket
Take a trip to Wat Putta Mongkob, Jui Tui Shrine, or Kiew Tien Shrine.
Admire the art at Patong Inn Art in Patong.
Attend a live performance at Phuket Fantasea or Thai Village in Phuket.
Food Culture Phuket: Top 7 Thai Food To Try In Phuket
No matter wherever in the world you live you must have at least once tasted or heard of Thai food.
While I can lead you through the popular restaurants and bars in the locality, how about I take you on a journey of the best Thai food that you can test while in Phuket?
So awaken that inner started Chef inside of you and let’s get it started!
Tom yum goong
If you ask me about the one food that is at the forefront of the food culture of Phuket, then Tom yum goong is definitely the one dish that can be considered the national dish of Thailand.
Although its recipe may not be a secret but even then enjoying this food in Phuket, Thailand, offers a special effect on your taste buds.
Its ingredients comprise lime leaves, shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, a few chillis, shallots as well as mushrooms and jumbo shrimp.
It’s a wholly fulfilling dish best paired with steamed rice.
A worldwide famous noodle dish comprising of bean sprouts, some tofu, onion, with chilli powder, a hint of sugar some fish sauce and finely crushed peanuts.
Gai pad med ma muang (stir-fried chicken)
Look at is known to be a destination with amazing varieties in preparing chicken such as this dish which contains cashew nuts paired so well with stir-fried chicken that it is one of the favorite choices of people with a low tolerance for spicy food.
Geng kheaw wan gai ( green chicken curry)
This tasty recipe features major ingredients such as galangal, lemongrass, sweet basil, a bit of coriander, a few bamboo shoots, a hint of cherry-sized eggplants, a good portion of coconut milk, and of course chickens. You can enjoy it best with steamed rice or flatbread. It gets its rich green color from usually either green chillis or green Curry paste used in a few diners.
Som tam (seasoned papaya salad)
If you are a fan of salads then Som tam is something you must try here. It’s one of the most popular additions to be paired with sticky rice or BBQ chicken. It contains shredded papaya prominently, along with other salad ingredients. The spiciness can vary from place to place.
Kuay tiew (noodle soup)
One of the best, easily made food to try in Phuket. It is a noodle soup, comprising of thin noodles combined with broth and meat such as pork, chicken, duck, seafood, beef, etc.
Tom kha gai (chicken dipped in coconut soup)
A delicious blend of galangal, chicken, coconut milk, and lemongrass. It’s basically chicken dipped in coconut soup. Grab a steaming plateful of rice and dig in!
Languages & Traditions of Phuket
The primary belief in Phuket is Buddhism, comprising about 95% of the Thai population.
On your tour to Phuket, you will get to see the temples, monasteries, and wats around the area, which will make it clear for you to understand that Buddhism is the major cultural aspect of the region.
The island is known for its fishing communities. The biggest community almost about 20% of the total population of Phuket, comprises the Muslim fishermen that came here from Malaysia.
One of the ethnic groups called Chao Le is distinctively known for their long-tail wooden boats, residing in the region around Ko Panyi and Rawai on the Island.
Traditional things to do in Phuket:
Be amazed at the colorful display at Chao Le Boat Floating Festival</b>
A stunning display of boats of different colors. This celebration held around night time and the festival is centered around the Cho Le gypsy tribe.
Take part in the Chinese Festivities: The Vegetarian Festival & Ghost Festival
These are two of the best festivals to occur on the island, influenced heavily by Chinese culture. The Vegetarian Festival is a festival of folk rituals as well as a myriad of vegetarian food on display, mostly the kind influenced by Chinese recipes.
The ghost fest is mostly a festival of Prayers offered to the dead, for their peaceful passing away to the afterlife.
Attend the various world events held at Phuket
The island is known to hold some worldwide events such as Phuket Travel Fair, Phuket bike week as well as Laguna Phuket triathlon.
Check the dates for the events to be held and if you are lucky you might be able to attend one of those events.
Like you must have already guessed, The official language, as well as the most spoken language in Phuket, is Thai.
While you may not be able to find much fluent English speakers among local vendors and sellers but most tourist destinations along with street vendors shops and shopkeepers are okay with the English language.
Let me help you with some of the basic key phrases in Thai, that you can use to mingle among the locals to make conversations much easy;
How are you- Sabai dee ru
Thank you- Kop koon
I don’t get it- Mai kao chai
What is this- Nee arai
What is the price- Nee tao-rai
Don’t want it- Mai ow
Hello- Sawadee krap
Prominently featuring the Sino-Portuguese style, which is known to have developed from Portuguese as well as Chinese architectural traditions, Phuket can be called the territory of architectural wonders.
Places to see in Phuket:
Let’s take a brief glance through the best places to tour around in Phuket.
Old Phuket Town
A point of merging for diverse varieties of culture in Phuket, throughout its history. It prominently features neo-classical European and intricate Chinese styles of designs.
You can take a short trip around the Old Phuket Town area. Walk along the Thalang Road, taking a glance at numerous classical structured houses and mansions.
The China Inn Cafe
It was renovated from a classical building in bad conditions. Later it became famed for its architectural beauty, as well as a genuinely local experience. It’s situated on Thalang Road in Phuket.
Some of the other good places to see in Phuket on your architectural tour;
Thai Hua Museum, Phuket Provincial Hall, and Baan Klung Jinda Restaurant.
7 Best Places to see in Phuket
Location- Pa tong, Kathu District, Phuket 83105, Thailand
Entry fee- none
Timing- Throughout the day
Location- Thanon Bangla, Tambon Patong, Amphoe Kathu, Chang Wat Phuket 83150, Thailand
Entry Fee- None
Timing- Throughout the day
Location- Karon, Meung Phuket district, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Entry Fee- None
Timing- 8:00am to 7:30pm daily
Kata Noi Beach
Location- Kata Noi, Karon, Kata, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Entry Fee- None
Timing- Open always
Phuket Weekend Night Market
Location- Thalang Road, Tambon Talat Yai, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang wat Phuket 83000, Thailand
Entry fee- None
Timing- 4:00 pm to 11:00pm
Karon View Point
4030 Karon, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Entry fee- None
Timing- Throughout the day
Phi Phi Islands
Location- Khrabi, Phuket, Thailand
Recommended travel duration- 3 days
Best time to tour- November to April
Now that you have been through this list it is time for you to start planning your own trip.
I advise you to look for the best accommodation before you reach here. The reason for that is, Phuket is one of the best travel destinations in the world. This causes most of the accommodations to be packed in the travel season.
So to save yourself the problems arising, later on, it’s best to book your accommodation early on.
Don’t forget to click some pictures as well.
Go on now explorer, have fun, Happy Travels!
2 thoughts on “Travel Guide to Phuket, Thailand: History and Culture”
hey, i have seen best tour guide for phuket specially talking about history and culture.. great cheers
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Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you liked it!