Since ancient times, Phuket has been on well-established trade routes and frequented by traders, explorers and other, less than honest, travellers. Tin mining played a pivotal part in the development of the island. When that industry petered out, the immigrant Chinese population settled down and profited from the rubber industry. Sea gipsies also played their part in the formation of modern Phuket. Catch up on local history at Phuket's fascinating museums, listed below.

    Baan Chinpracha is a fine example of a Sino-colonial mansion in Phuket Town. One of its most attractive sections is the inner courtyard, which is open to the sky (originally with a well). This beautiful house is kept in fine condition – you can see vintage Italian floor tiles, some original furniture that was imported from Europe and China, and many old pictures of the Tandavanitj clan.

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    Location: 98 Krabi Road, Talat Nuea, Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)76 211 281

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    Phuket Cultural Centre at Rajabhat University

    Phuket Cultural Centre at Phuket Rajabhat University has a modest exhibition showcasing the life of local southern Thais and Phuket’s unique history and culture. The 3-storey space also displays a simulated Thai-Chinese house, a handful of vintage tin-mining items, old ceramics from China and the Netherlands, Thai shadow puppets, as well as a model of a local sea gipsy village. You might require a guide as the centre's exhibitions are in Thai.

    Location: 21 Thepkassatri Road, RaSsada, Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)

    Phone: +66 (0)76 523 094

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    Phuket Mining Museum showcases the island's history as a major tin-producing centre in Thailand. Exhibits range from tin mine models to a recreated scene of an opium den. Located in Kathu, it's a highly informative cultural and historical attraction. It was built in the Sino-Portuguese style, similar to vintage mansions scattered around the old Phuket Town area.

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    Location: Moo 5, Khatu-Nakoh Road, Kathu, Phuket, 83120, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)81 535 3187

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    Phuket Philatelic Museum

    The Phuket Philatelic Museum is part of the Phuket Post Office on Montri Road. You can find several exhibitions within the 1-storey museum, including one which details how the Thai Postal Service has developed since its start during the reign of King Rama V. There are many old (some antique) equipment and machines such as telegraph tickers, telephones, and parcel-weighing machines. The museum also has a souvenir room selling sets of Thai stamps and unique items. 

    Location: Phuket Post Office, Montri Road, Talat Yai, Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)76 216 951

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    photo by easyKL (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Phuket Seashell Museum in Rawai presents a collection of valuable seashells from all over the world. Many are among the most sought-after by collectors and have been sourced from Phuket and Thai waters. The museum is very well put together, with 4 main exhibitions – information is available in both English and Thai. To get to Phuket Seashell Museum, drive from Chalong Circle all the way down to Rawai. The museum will be on your right-hand side.

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    Location: 12/2 Moo 2, Wiset Road, Rawai, Muang, Phuket 83130, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)76 613 666

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    Phuket Trickeye Museum is an interactive 3D painting exhibition offering amazing photo opportunities and great fun for families. Located on the corner of Montri and Phang Nga roads, it has a gallery of about 100 painted and sculpted scenes using trompe-l’oeil (French for ‘deceive the eye’) techniques, placing you in hilarious unreal world-like situations. It can take up to 2 hours to explore the entire museum. Drinks and snacks are available right in front of the museum’s entrance.

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    Location: 130/1 Phang Nga Road, Talat Yai, Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)76 212 806

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    Thai Hua Museum in Old Town Phuket occupies a well-maintained Sino-Portuguese building on Krabi Road. Besides the main museum, there's an exhibition space and an occasional function hall. There are more than a dozen interesting exhibition rooms, along with short films in Thai and Chinese (with English subtitles) on both floors of the museum. 

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    Location: 28 Krabi Road, Talat Nuea, Phuket Town, Phuket 83000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)76 211 224

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    Thalang National Museum exhibits ancient artefacts from Phuket as well as the Andaman region's long history. It's where you can learn about the famous Battle of Thalang where the well-known Two Heroines Chan and Mook (featured at a monument on the main road nearby) defended the island against the Burmese in the 18th century. The main hall displays a 9th-century statue of the Hindu god Vishnu which was discovered in Phang Nga in the early 1900s.

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    Location: 217 Si Sunthon, Thalang, Phuket 83110, Thailand

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +66 (0)76 379 897

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    Thavorn Hotel Museum

    Thavorn Museum in Phuket Town displays an assortment of artefacts and photos, gathered by the Chinese-Thai family who runs the Thavorn Hotel group. Located in the hotel's lobby, these items are displayed erratically in a rather dingy and dim setting. You can see many traditional Chinese wedding hats, tin-mining equipment, toy trains, opium smoking beds and pillows, as well as vintage movie posters. 

    Location: Thavorn Hotel, 74 Rassada Road, Phuket Town, Talat Yai, Phuket 83000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)76 211 333

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    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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