Long before flip-flops, glossy resorts and selfie sticks, Phuket was an island of rubber trees, tin mines and cash-hungry merchants. Luring entrepreneurs from the Arabian Peninsula, China, India and Portugal, Phuket Town (เมืองภูเก็ด) became a colourful blend of cultural influences.
Today, the Old Town is a testament to Phuket’s history, but it’s also the island’s hipster heart, attracting artists and musicians in particular, which has led to noticeable gentrification. Century-old hôrng tăa·ou (shophouses) and homes are being restored, vibrant street art is popping up and it can feel like every other building is now a fashionable polished-concrete cafe.
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