Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - Discover The Real Phuket

Peranakannitat Museum (Phuket History) in Phuket Town

Right in the heart of old Phuket Town housed inside 2 buildings you can find the Peranakannitat Museum (also called the Baba Museum), which was officially opened in May 2017 by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, but then soon after the grand opening it closed again mainly because the items on display for the visit of the princess were all borrowed from local Phuket people, and not permanent museum exhibits! I have checked now and then over the last year and a half to see if the museum is really open, and finally last weekend - yes, it was! I'll start by saying - it's still under development, but it does have 2 definite plus points - free entry and aircon!

Chartered Bank Building in Old Phuket Town

The main entrance to the museum is on the corner of Phuket Road and Phang Nga Road (see map at the end of this blog post). This building was originally the Chartered Bank, built around 1900 I think, just when Phuket Town became the main town on Phuket Island and the tin mining industry was booming. It was the first bank in town and the police station was built directly opposite (the building with the clock tower). There's no huge "MUSEUM!" sign anywhere ... I was not sure it was open, even though an "OPEN" sign was hanging on the door handle ...

Phuket Peranakan Museum

I opened the door, happy to feel aircon on a hot, hot day. Inside the room was largely empty save for photos of the princess on the wall and a couple of (quite impressive) displays of old Chinese style tableware. And on the far side of the room a desk and several surprised looking young ladies, a couple of whom were dressed in olde Baba / Nyonya style clothes. Oh my goodness! A visitor! One of the young ladies spoke decent English. I signed in to a visitors book, was given an information brochure and was happy to hear that there is no entry fee. I had a quick look at the displays in the main room (which would have been the ground floor of the bank).

Phuket Peranakan Museum

Behind the desk is a back room that was originally the bank vault. Inside is a small collection of jewellery and some explanations of what the jewellery is/was for.

Phuket Peranakan Museum

Phuket Peranakan Museum

(above) Gold jewellery on display in the former bank vault of the Chartered Bank.

I should explain a few of the meanings of words ... Peranakan is the name given to people of mixed Chinese and Malay decent. By "Malay" I don't mean "from Malaysia" but "from the Malay peninsular". In the early 19th century many Chinese left Southern China and settled in places like Singapore, Malacca, Penang and Phuket. The majority of the Chinese were male and many married local ladies. Phuket had a huge influx of Chinese at a time when the tin mining industry was taking off. The names Baba and Nyonya are also used - Baba are the men, Nyonya are the ladies. There is a big Baba Wedding ceremony here in Phuket every year which I have attended a couple of times.

So I was informed by the museum staff (volunteers, I guess, since it's a free entry!) that an Audio Visual presentation would start at 1:30pm on the 2nd floor of the museum. The presentation takes place 5 times per day at 10am, 11am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm. Every day except Monday when the museum is closed. Well .. I was there at 12:30, so had an hour to kill walking around old town and finding some cheap local food for lunch. Plenty of cafes and restaurants around old town. Back at the museum, I was taken upstairs - just me! A good view from the 2nd floor looking over the road to the clock tower - the building used to be the police station in the early 20th century ...

Phuket Old Clock Tower

The "audio visual" presentation took place in several small rooms. One of the volunteers guided me, and several Chinese tourists who also turned up to watch halfway through the first part. It started well with a film showing Chinese heading away from war torn South China to seek their fortune and ending up in Phuket after many weeks at sea.

Phuket Peranakan Museum

The second part might have been good but the sound was not working - showing the Chinese settling in to Phuket and having families. Then we had a display showing family life in a typical shophouse style house with the skylight in the middle, followed by small displays about Nyonya clothing and some local foods. It maybe needs a little more work, maybe more signs explaining things, but anyway ... free entry and aircon!

Phuket Peranakan Museum

(photos above show parts of the audiovisual display)

And that was about it .. for now. Over the road in the clock tower building, work is underway with some more presentations of photos and information. I think I'll head back next year and see what's been added. I'm a big fan of museums although I do realise most people visit Phuket for beaches and museums may not be top of the list of things to do! But I do recommend looking around old Phuket Town and so .. why not have a quick look at this museum while you are there!

NOTE - there is another place by the main road in the north of Phuket called the Peranakan Museum, quite a big place. I might check it out soon, but as far as I know it's just a couple of rooms of displays and then some souvenir shops and a restaurant .. a place for bus loads of Chinese to browse, I suspect. (website here)

More places to visit near the Peranakannitat Museum

Thai Hua History Museum
Chinpracha House
Kopitiam Cafe
Old Chinese Herb Shop
Abdul's Roti Shop

Phuket Peranakannitat Museum - Location Map

Ao Sane Beach

You might not have heard of Ao Sane beach. I know people who live here who don't know it, or they have heard of it, but have never been, or don't know how to get there! Ao Sane beach is still a small, quiet beach and when I visited last weekend (September 9th 2018), I felt like I'd gone back in time. First time I went to Ao Sane was 2006 and it's really not changed since then! The southwest corner of Phuket makes for a nice drive in a car or on a moped, there's plenty to see in this area such as the Big Buddha, Karon Viewpoint, Phromthep Cape and plenty more - see A Tour of South Phuket. The roads are quiet here and the scenery is great even if the area is a lot more developed than it used to be.

Ao Sane Beach is not well known and is a little big hidden. You need to get to the larger Naiharn Beach, and at the north end of the beach follow the road that passes around the entrance to The Nai Harn Resort. Then you have about another 600 meters of narrow, twisty cliff-side road before reaching a small parking area and a big sign saying 'Ao-Sane Bungalow and Restaurant'. If you carry on straight you enter the Baan Krating Resort.

Ao Sane Beach Parking

There's space for lots of mopeds, but not so many cars. And I saw a couple of signs saying they will fine you and remove your vehicle if you block the road, so I guess there has been an issue in the past! You could also just park at Naiharn, where there is more parking space, and walk about 1 kilometer from there to Ao Sane.

Ao Sane Beach Entrance

And then you walk down a steep concrete path (see photo above) for about 50 meters to the beach. Ao Sane is not big - the beach stretches only about 130 meters from end to end with granite rocks at either end, and some pretty big granite boulders on the beach and in the sea too! The view looking east (see below) towards Phromthep Cape and Ya Nui Beach is great.

Ao Sane Beach

At the east end of the beach there are some beach chairs in the shade. Not too many, and I am guessing you'll need to pay to rent one. With the restaurant only a few steps away, this is a place you could easily sit for some hours and have a few holiday drinks interspersed with a swim or snorkel in the sea. I believe the snorkeling here is OK when the sea is calm and there used to be a tiny dive shop run by a German guy .. I know he has gone back to Germany, but I hear that he sold the place . it was not open when I visited, but maybe in high season.

Ao Sane Beach

Ao Sane Beach

The restaurant has plenty of tables, mostly in the shade. Looks pretty much like it did back in 2006. Nothing fancy, prices reasonable (maybe a bit more than I'd want to normally pay for Thai food, but ...). And very quiet and relaxing. No loud music, no traffic noise, just the sound of the ocean. I had not planned more than a quick visit to take photos, but figured a beer would be nice and why not have lunch too.

Ao Sane Beach Restaurant

Ao Sane Beach Lunch

Thai food prices were about 90 - 150 Baht. I went for fish and chips (200 Baht) and it was a very good portion! And went very well with a cold Chang beer. I sat for nearly an hour enjoying life. I think a trip with the whole family will be on the cards soon - and then I can have more than 1 beer and let my wife drive :)

To the west side of the restaurant are a few bungalows, some looking better than others. The low season rate - 500 Baht per night. Basic, but right on the beach with a restaurant next door. Deal? I am not sure where else in Phuket you can get a beachfront bungalow for 500 Baht.

Ao Sane Beach Bungalow

I need to spend a bit more time in this area. The nearby Nui Beach is on my list for a visit soon and Naiharn beach is very nice too. Rawai Beach has places to eat and you can hire boats out to nearby islands and one day I really should get to the restaurant at Bon island. Too much to see, too little free time.

Ao Sane Beach - Location Map

Doi Thepnimit Temple near Patong

I noticed a few photos appearing of a new temple under construction earlier this year on the hillside above Patong Beach and had also seen the access road to this new temple being built next to the Chinese Shrine on top of Patong Hill. I followed that road many years ago when it was a small track, looking for views over Kathu or Patong. I'd not heard any official announcements about the opening of this new temple, but I did see some signs up and lots of cars around the entrance to the access road last year, so on a sunny Sunday last weekend it was time to have a look ...

Doi Thepnimit temple is not actually a "Wat" (so it's not called Wat Doi Thepnimit). The Wat (วัด) is a larger temple that has state or royal endorsement. The Doi Thepnimit temple is a "Samnak Song" (สำนักสงฆ์) which is more like a monastery or meditation center. These places may not have all features of a larger Wat. Doi Thepnimit has really just one large Chedi with a great view and on a lower level are buildings that look like accommodation and dining areas for Monks or people coming to study or meditate.

The road to reach Doi Thepnimit temple starts right next to the shrine on top of Patong Hill, between Patong and Phuket Town .. the shrine where some people beep for good luck (style of beeping and number of beeps is up to you .. I have a habit of 4 short beeps heading towards Patong and 2 short beeps heading home. Easier to turn left into this small side road if coming from Kathu (towards Patong) otherwise you'll be turning right across the traffic. The road is concrete and very steep in places - the temple is about 100 meters / 330 feet higher than the road. It's about 1km along this road and there are some views on the way looking through the trees across the hills and the Kathu area. Just before the temple there's a right turn next to a golden Buddha statue and you drop down a little to reach the temple. There you get the best view ...

Doi Thepnimit Temple

For added Wow factor ... click here for a full screen view on Flickr (opens in a new window).

Quite impressive! And it was very quiet. Just a few visitors when I arrived. Took a few photos from above and then drove down to park under a tree outside the temple.

The one temple building is a large Chedi .. not as huge as the Chedi at Chalong temple, but impressive and very bright and colourful as it's so new! The entrance (below) is guarded by 2 Yaks (mythical giants, often seen at temples) and also by 2 Naga (7 headed mythical snakes) - Buddhist stories tell of the king of the Naga sheltering Buddha from a storm by covering him with his 7 heads, so you see the Naga in pretty much all Buddhist temples too.

Doi Thepnimit Temple

Doi Thepnimit Temple

The 2 Naga at this temple are very large! The heads are at the front of the temple and the bodies undulate around both sides of the Chedi and meet at the back where their tails entwine. I guess the 2 snakes are each about 40 meters long. It's an impressive piece of artwork.

Doi Thepnimit Temple

If you want to step inside, shoes off please. I had a quick look inside the Chedi ... There were 2 people in silent prayer just inside so I switched my phone to silent mode before snapping a photo ...

Doi Thepnimit Temple

Outside I made a little friend :)

Doi Thepnimit Temple

Very glad to have made the effort to visit. It's been a while since I blogged about a temple in Phuket .. when I first started this blog in 2006 I wanted to blog them all .. not quite there yet, but you can find more than 30 temples on this blog! Below - I found this video on Youtube showing a ceremony during construction of this temple last year ...

Doi Thepnimit Temple - Location Map