Many examples of Phuket culture and arts can be found inside the wats and the museums. These beautiful buildings not only provide beautiful photo opportunities, but they also offer an overview of Phuket's rich history.
As each wat is a religious temple, conservative dress is required. Cover your shoulders, chest and legs. Footwear should be removed when entering some of the buildings, and avoid making yourself higher than any statues of Buddha. When in doubt, follow the actions of the locals, or ask them for help and advice.
As the most important Buddhist temple in Phuket, Wat Chalong is an impressive example of Thailand’s different architectural styles. Many locals visit the temple to pay their respects to several famed Buddhist monks, which you can learn about through an exhibit found inside the temple compound. This is also home to a bone fragment of the Buddha housed in the Grand Pagoda.
The Thalang National Museum will start to give you an insight into Thai culture from the moment you see it, because it has been designed in the style of traditional houses in the area. Step inside to enjoy exhibits that represent the region's story, from early settlements to the devastating 2004 tsunami.
Located in the Thalang district, Wat Phra Thong is one of the oldest temples of Phuket. Inside you’ll discover a half-buried golden statue of Buddha. Legend has it that anyone who tries to dig it out becomes cursed. The Wat Phra Thong buildings also house a small exhibit about the tin mining era with items donated by the locals.
Housed in a beautiful Sino-Portuguese-style building, Phuket's Thai Hua Museum is a must-visit for anyone wanting to learn more about the Chinese settlers of Phuket. Spanning across two floors and the courtyard, see exhibits that represent their history, culture, and influence. Don’t leave this one off your itinerary if you’re interested in Asian history.
Nagas (dragon-like snakes) and yaks (blue monsters) guard the Wat Karon, which is a popular attraction for visitors staying in Karon Beach. On Tuesdays and Fridays, a market is held inside the compound and here you’ll find clothes, souvenirs, and street food – perfect for rounding off your visit to the temple.
If you want to see how the rich inhabitants of Phuket used to live, visit the Chyn Pracha House. Although privately owned, many of its beautifully preserved rooms are accessible to the public. You can tour the mansion and see the kitchen with its clay pots and brass pans as well as the bedrooms with lace-covered steel beds and wooden furniture.
When it's time for a celebration, the locals of Phuket will drop by the Jui Tui Shrine. This colourful compound houses Chinese deities like Tean Hu Huan Soy, the god of artists and performers. At Jui Tui, it’s traditional to throw firecrackers into a pot and light fortune sticks. It also hosts the annual Vegetarian Festival with its intimidating facial piercing tradition.
A small island connected by bridge to mainland Phuket, Koh Sirey is an attraction because it’s home to the sea gypsies and a beautiful hillside temple. Visit Wat Sirey and you'll find many golden Buddha statues inside elevated rooms. The largest of these is a reclining Buddha. When you step outside, take a moment to enjoy great views of Koh Sirey and Phuket.