Phuket island has a strong link to the Chinese immigrant culture that prevailed through most of South-East Asia in the last century, most noticeably in countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. The Chinese immigrants gradually settled on the island, mostly in what would become Phuket City, today affectionately called the Old Town.
With them they brought their Chinese culture, that they adapted with the local customs of southern Siam in their daily life. The colorful and ornamented row-houses are a unique sight to see in Phuket.
The descendants of the Chinese immigrants still live and use the row-houses. Usually the ground floor is used as a store, and the top floor as the living area.
The new buildings in the area are also built according to the Sino-Portuguese style, to preserve this valuable heritage.
Nowadays the old town is still a bustling area great for shopping and sight-seeing.
Some shops preserve the old-style "Straits-Chinese" influence, for a beautiful effect.
Newly restored buildings are preserve this architecture, such as the front arches, and peculiarly shaped air-inlets above the windows.
The same theme and shapes will be consistently found throughout the old town, a true cultural mark.
What makes this architectual style unique is that all its elements are above all functional and compliant to the "feng-shui" traditions.
Some houses will have some variation in the shapes or ornaments, but the basic principles remain.
A great place to have more information about this interesting culture is the Tourist Information Center in Thalang Road.
Another place nearby where you can learn more about the Chinese immigrants and their influence in Phuket's history is the Thai Hua Museum.