Tanon Thalang and Soi Rommanee

Tanon Thalang has always been one of my favourite parts of Phuket
 and will probably always remain so!

Traditional PhuketTanon Thalang lies at the heart of Phuket's 'Old Town' and was the first street to be renovated by have all wiring put underground. However when this started to cause problems with traffic and proved to be costly, the community agreed that the best option would be to pin the wiring to the front of the shophouses. Sadly this still means that the architecture is spoiled by a mass of 'spaghetti' wiring but does avoid repeat road works during maintenance. This renovation project is gradually continuing around the Old Town and has really made the area a fun place to visit especially for anyone who likes photography.

old Town Phuket
Repainting. July 2012
Old Town Phuket

Traditional Phuket

But it is not only photography that draws people there. It's well known by the locals as a place to buy cheap fabric and household items sold by the many Muslim shops.There are many Chinese run businesses such as Phuket's old 'super market' Sin and Lee, an old Herb Shop and a wealth of other interesting places that are popular with both locals and tourists alike.

Traditional Phuket

I remember when I first moved to Phuket that Sin and Lee was about the only place (apart from in Patong maybe) that I could buy things like Peanut Butter or Muesli. In those days there was no Tesco Lotus and the only department stores were Robinson, and Ocean (now closed) and if I remember rightly no 7/11 or other 'convenience' stores. Sin and lee opened as the first supermarket in Phuket in about 1949 importing canned food from Penang and other countries, and quickly became known as the best place to find foreign foods. I revisited Sin and Lee again in 2012 to find the same wooden and glass cabinets that I saw back in 1987 now containing a smaller range of goods perhaps due to the fact that they were re-tiling the floor. 

Tanon Thalang is best known by the locals as a place to pick up cheap fabric, clothes and furniture. I have been buying tablecloths and deckchairs there for years. There are many shops mostly run by Muslim families so it is best to avoid shopping on Friday afternoon when many will close early. Shops also close for the day to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Shops in Phuket
                               Sewing Equipment                                        Fabric and Sarongs

But there is still more to do than just shopping in Old Phuket Town! There are several small cafes and restaurants that make a perfect place to stop and relax, not only in Tanon Thalang  but also in the neighbouring streets of Tanon Krabi, Tanon Dibuk, Tanon Yaowarat, Tanon Phang Nga and Tanon Ranong. Everything from simple noodles to live music and a cold beer.

places to stay in Phuket TownRestaurants in Phuket Town
                           Phuket 43 Guest House                                 Choose your restaurant!  

Traditional Phuket
China Inn Cafe and Restaurant

Kopitiam looks like it's been there for a century but in fact only opened in 2010. It is run by the daughter of neighbouring restaurant owner Khun Wilai. The food is good, inexpensive and the atmosphere great. Lots of old photos from the family's collection as well as a collection of household antiques that help it retain the feeling of being an old Phuket shophouse.

Restaurants in Phuket
Kopitiam by Wilai, Phuket

The Glasnost Bar is owned by Mr. Puchong, a lawyer - jazz lover who will make you feel very welcome. His Bar is full of fascinating antiques and artworks that make the place much more than just somewhere to have a drink!

Traditional Phuket
Most people will spend all their time in just half of Talang Road, but if you venture further along passing Soi Rommanee on the left and cross over the intersection you will soon find yourself at Queen Sirikit Park (also known as Suan Chalermpragiat 72 Pansa), Phuket's Dragon Monument (Hai Leng Ong or Sea Dragon), and also the Tourist Office which is a great place to pick up maps and other information and therefore makes it a good place to start your trip to Phuket Town, be sure to ask them for a map that shows the 'Old Town' as this will have all the major sights, museums and temples and a suggested walking route. The building which although newly built, retains the Sino-Portugese style of historic Phuket architecture has a beautiful lobster mosaic at the entrance and is worth the visit in itself. Walk on just a bit further and you will see the Post Office on the right at the road junction, just beside it lies the old Post Office which now acts as the Phuket Philatelic Museum

Architecture in Phuket

I, like many people, love this area for the history of it's architecture. Going back to the times of Tin Mining in Phuket you will see a similarity to Singapore, Penang and Malacca. The international influence on architecture is apparent. Although commonly known as Sino- Portuguese, some refer to it as Sino-European or Sino-Colonial, but whatever you want to call it, it is an integral part of Phuket's history. Chinese families who came to work on the mines formed communities all over Phuket, opening shops and coffee houses to supply and entertain the workers and it seems that some of them have changed very little over the last 100 years. A walk down Tanon Thalang is like a trip into the past.

....ตั่วโพ้ (大坡)....หมายถึงถนนถลาง..เรียกในภาคภาษาไทยว่าตลาดใหญ่หรือ"หล้าดยั้ย"ตามสำเนียงใต้..ถนนเส้นนี้ถือเป็นถนนเศรษฐกิจเส้นแรกของจังหวัดภูเก็ต..เพราะมีสินค้าและบริการแทบทุกประเภท..ไล่ตั้งแต่ร้านโพยก๊วนซึ่งเป็นที่ชาวจีนส่งเงินไปให้ญาติ(ปัจจุบันคือไชน่าอินน์)..ร้านรับฝาก-กู้-และแลกเงินของนาเจ๊ะตี-ชาวฮินดูอินเดีย(ปัจจุบันคือร้านขายผ้าโตราคานและห้างทองประยูร..โรงแรมภูเก็ตโฮเต็ล(สงวนฟาร์มาซี)..คลีนิคหมอก็มีภูเก็ตการแพทย์(นพ.วิรัช ฐิตดิลก)..เจริญการแพทย์(นพ.สมนึก ผลเจริญ)..คลีนิหมอวินัย..คลีนิคหมอบรรเจิด..คลีนิคหมอณรงค์..ร้านขายยาจีนหงวนชุนต๋อง..โรงพิมพ์..ร้านขายอุปกรณ์การเกษตรการประมง..ร้านขายเครื่องใช้ไฟฟ้า..อุปกรณ์ก่อสร้าง..ร้านขายผ้า-อุปกรณืตัดเย็บ..ร้านขายเครื่องดนตรี..ร้านทอง..โชว์ห่วย..ร้านขายหนังสือเส้งโห..ร้านเสริมสวย..ร้านทำสบู่ชื่อปิ๊ดต้าด.เป็นต้น..เรียกว่าคิดจะซื้อหรือทำอะไร..มาที่นี่ก็ได้เกือบครบเลยทีเดียว..ถนนถลางจึงถือเป็นเส้นเลือดธุรกิจที่สำคัญมากในยุคโน้น..ปัจจุบัน..แม้ว่าถนนเส้นนี้จะไม่ได้เป็นอย่างเช่นเมื่อก่อนแล้ว..แต่ถนนถลางก็เป็นถนนสายวัฒนธรรมที่นักท่องเที่ยวมาเยือนมากขึ้นทุกปี.....
........Credit....Apinun Tunvisith...

Sirirat Building

As night falls the atmosphere in Tanon Thalang changes into a quiet street lit by small lanterns and you feel like you've taken a step back in time. See also my August 2013 visit.
Traditional Phuket