Phuket Mining Museum
If anyone is at all interested in the history of Phuket, and at the same time interested in getting a little off the beaten track (due to the back-road location), the Phuket Mining Museum is very much worth a look. Good for a rainy low season day too! I took our kids there a year ago, when it was not really open, but we were allowed in, and at the time it seemed to be almost ready to fully open. Kids liked it, and I am happy that they liked it - kids learn by experience not just from school books! Since that visit, the kids have asked several times to go again, and since the museum is only a few km from our house in the Kathu area of Phuket - see location map at the end of this page - we have driven past a few times in the last year, only to find it closed. The location is a bit odd - on a road that many people don't know about that winds through the hills between Loch Palm Golf Club and the British International School. Now they say that the museum is fully open, although only from Monday to Friday. I have not seen any official announcement or any great publicity, but I certainly do recommend a visit. Entry fee only 100 Baht for adults, 50 Baht for kids.
We took the kids on children's day - a Thai holiday when all kind of activities are arranged for kids all over the country. I had read that the museum was now open and entry was free on kids day. My wife did not go on our visit last year, but she enjoyed the museum too. Around the courtyard (see photo above) are rooms that have been lovingly decorated and made to look like old streets or filled with old pictures or dioramas of mining techniques. Phuket got rich on Tin Mining (and rubber and fishing) well before any tourists came here. There's no mining any more, but it was tin that made Phuket, built Phuket Town and changed the face of Phuket with many immigrants heading here from China.
First thing you see - a bus, not a really old one, but something for the kids to pose on. It's parked in a room with all the walls painted like an old street, quite good artwork. The next room is filled with old furniture, photos, displays of old household items etc...
Then you have the real meat of the museum - a big educational section all about geology, the structure of the earth, very well presented, with information in English and Thai. This leads through to the history of mining in general with models of stone age people banging rocks together, and on to more specific information and life size dioramas about the tin mining techniques used in Phuket over the years.
Not done yet! From mining, you get to tin processing, a room full of technical information and photos.. and a big bench full of rocks for kids to look at. I was very pleased when my boy agreed that sand, viewed with a magnifying glass, looks like little rocks. I like that, I like watching kids learn.
There's more! My wife's favourite part of the museum is a mock up of old Phuket, a whole street with shops, a little cafe, a shrine and more. It's very well done, you can see that the people involved here take a lot of pride in their work. Here's the tea lady making a nice cuppa...
And here's me inside an old house (well, a room made to look like an old house, full of old household items, I know my mum will want to have a look next time she's here!)
The artwork is very good. Many walls are painted with street scenes, with receding perspective so you feel like you could just step into the painting and take a walk through old Phuket. My daughter tried ...
I hope the museum really really is open now, we had a word with them about opening on weekends.. I think the problem is that the museum is basically a government building, the construction was paid for by Kathu municipality and is staffed by people who are used to working 5 days a week! We pointed out that a lot of local people would like to visit with their kids, but can't do that during the week of course, because kids are at school. I hope the museum gets a few tourist visitors too. The low entry fee is good, although it's not the kind of place a tuk tuk driver will want to take you (no commissions!). Will suit nerdy tourists, my kind of people who actually want to learn something and see more than beaches. This is Phuket too, you know, and Phuket has a long and interesting history.
Other museums in Phuket:
• Thai Hua Museum
• Thalang National Museum
• Phuket Museums
Also of interest historically:
• Phuket Heroines Festival
• Phuket Heritage Trails
• Phuket Baba Weddings
Phuket Mining Museum - Location Map
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