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Phuket Arts and Culture - Buddhas, Grand Shows, and Old Town Art Galleries

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Phuket is best known for its white sandy beaches, clear blue water, and swaying palms, but the island also offers plenty in the way of arts and culture. Immerse yourself in the spirituality of the region at Wat Phra Yai or Wat Chalong, or peruse art exhibitions in Phuket's Old Town, before dinner and a show.

Places of worship: Phuket's Buddhist temples

 

Phuket is home to many places of worship, from tiny shrines to rambling temples and huge marble sculptures of Buddha that smile benignly out to sea. Phra Yai is the island's best-known Buddhist monument. Tranquil Wat Chalong, the former residence of respected monk Luang Poh Cham, is considered Phuket's most sacred temple.

 

Wat Phra Yai ("Big Buddha" Temple)

 

Set atop Nak Kerd Hill, Phra Yai dominates the southern Phuket skyline. At 45 meters tall, it's Phuket's largest Buddha statue, and is particularly known for its wide, gleaming white smile.

 

Soi Yodsanae, Chalong, Mueang District, Phuket 83000Tel: +66 81891 3827

 

Wat Phra Yai ("Big Buddha" Temple) website

 

Wat Chalong

 

Founded in the early 19th century, Wat Chalong is Phuket's largest temple, and several of its founders are enshrined here. People pray to the monks' statues and return to burn firecrackers when their wishes are granted.

 

Chaofa Road (West), Chalong, Phuket 83000. Wat Chalong website

Phuket's spectacular stage shows

 

Phuket's stage shows are a fun way to spend a few hours. Phuket FantaSea is the grandest, featuring trapeze artists, dancers, and elephants within its cavernous indoor arena. Sirim Nirimit, little sister to Bangkok's show, is a journey through Thailand's history and culture, showcasing dances, music, and martial arts. At Aphrodite, stars perform tributes to songs and dances from countries around the world.

 

Phuket FantaSea

 

Attractions include the 3,000-seat Palace of the Elephants theatre, where "Fantasy of a Kingdom" - a Thai take on a Las Vegas show - tells the story of the Prince of Kumala's 999 pachyderm protectors.

 

99 Moo 3 Kamala Kathu, Phuket 83150. Tel: +66 76 385 111

 

Phuket FantaSea website

 

Siam Nirimit

 

Siam Nirimit features song, dance, and martial arts. Every set and costume, from the northern Kingdom of Lanna to the mighty capital Ayutthaya, is visually arresting. A buffet dinner is served nightly.

 

55/81 Moo 5, Chalermprakiet Road, Rassada, Muang, Phuket 83000. Tel: +66 7633 5000

 

Siam Nirimit website

 

Phuket’s historic Old Town

 

The Old Town was an important trading port for the Malay Peninsula, and features many Sino-Portuguese mansions, an architectural style that blends European and Chinese motifs. Wandering the streets, you'll discover temples, old shop houses, museums, cafés, and restaurants. Along Thalang Road, you'll find batik shops run by Malays and Indians, and myriad art galleries.

 

Phuket 346 Guest house, Café, Galeria

 

Formerly an opium den, this Sino-Portuguese shop house has been transformed into a guest house, café, and contemporary art gallery. Exhibitions change regularly and include paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints, performances, and multimedia works.

 

15 Soi Rommanee, Talang Road, Tambon Taladyai, Amphur Muang, Phuket 83000. Tel: +66 7625 8108

 

Phuket 346 Guest house, Café, Galeria website

 

Phuket's museums

 

Phuket's history has Malaysian, Portuguese, and Dutch influences, and there are several museums devoted to this heritage. Thaihua Museum houses exhibits from the Peranakan Chinese community. Phuket Cultural Centre at the university explores the area's history, folk arts, and culture.

 

Phuket Thaihua Museum

 

Phuket's trade was long controlled by the Peranakan Chinese, a community also found in Singapore, Penang, and Malacca. You'll find 2 galleries showcasing Phuket's Chinese ancestry in this impressive 1930s British-colonial-style mansion.

 

28 Krabi Road, Thaladnue, Muang District, Phuket 83000. Tel: +66 7621 1224

 

Phuket Thaihua Museum website

 

Phuket Cultural centre

 

The Phuket Cultural centre showcases Andaman arts, culture, and artifacts. Exhibits include a sandalwood model of Chalang temple, and traditional ornaments, tools, and weapons crafted by local artisans.

 

Phuket Rajabhat University 21 M.6 Thepkrasattree Road Radsada, Mueang, Phuket 83000. Tel: +66 7621 1959

 

Phuket Cultural centre website