Much of the Phuket City Center area is home to quaint cafés, tiny printing shops, and private and public museums. Popular attractions include Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village, where visitors can enjoy folk dances, Thai boxing and elephant shows.
The Old Town (Dibuk, Krabi and Thalang Roads) is lined with ornate shophouses and beautiful colonial Sino-Portuguese mansions built by Chinese tin barons over a century ago. Visitors exploring the area on foot can also take in a number of nearby Chinese shrines, such as Put Jaw and Jui Tui, near the fresh market.
A spectacular view of the city, jungle and sea, can be enjoyed from the top of Khao Rang, a hill on the city’s northwest edge. A couple of good restaurants are located here, and visitors can take in the view with a delicious meal. There are a number of diverse dining options throughout the city, and establishments cater to locals and expats, as opposed to tourists. Nightlife is similarly oriented towards locals.
There area has several department stores, and a number of boutiques and small galleries along Thalang, Yaowarat and Phang Nga roads selling antiques, ceramics and paintings. Phuket Night Bazaar also sells locally-made handicrafts, and a weekend market opposite Wat Naka has endless stalls with the cheapest of Thai souvenirs.
While the range of accommodation options is slightly limited, hotel rates in the city are less than near the beaches, and songthaews provide inexpensive access to the rest of the island. An abundance of motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks also make getting around the city easy. Visitors can also catch a ferry from Rassada Pier to Koh Phi Phi, Rai Leh, or any of the surrounding islands.