Phuket Island Town & History

Phuket Island Town & History

Junk Ceylon was the first name of Phuket in its history. This name was found on old maps of Portuguese adventurer and even the Greek philosopher Claudius Ptolemy indicated in a record Junk Ceylon in the year 157 AD. 

As far as historians have been able to trace the first inhabitants of what is now known as Phuket were the sea gypsies check it out. Enough hotels in Phuket Town with entertainment bars and nightlife girls.and on the island are around to stay for a while. 

  • Phuket in the Andaman Sea.

Phuket in the Andaman Sea means vacation pattern are changing because about 3 Million Tourists came to Phuket in 2017 and the latest holiday rush to Thailand comes from Russia and China

The former parts of the Soviet Union contributes a large tourist plus and since about 3 years thousands tourists come over the island from China.

The Thailand island in the Indian Ocean has much to offer including plenty of sun burning on white beaches and all variants of hotels and resorts plus water sports above and under the water called diving. 

Available are caving and a wild Sodom and Gomorrah style party scene with Phuket girls in tropical nights.


Phuket sea gypsies village at Rawai Beach

The sea gypsies of today are probably the real indigenous people of South East Asia. They are also called Negritos and include ethnic groups from the Malay Peninsula, the Andaman Sea and several Philippine Island tribes, Negritos are quite small in size.

A Phuket Map



Today Junk Ceylon morphed into Jung Ceylon, that's the name now for the biggest shopping mall and hotel at Patong Beach Phuket at the eastern end of Bangla Road, the most famous entertainment part on Phuket Islands with hundreds of bars nightclubs Thai Girls looking for fun and other experiences. The best panorama of Phuket Town is from Rang Hill there you can see almost all Phuket Hotels and apartments.

Ptolemy indicated

When someone travels to the Malaysian peninsula, one would have to pass a cape which he called the Junk Ceylon. A location between the latitudes of 6 N and 8 N was indicated for Junk Ceylon which is more or less the position of present-day Phuket. It seems that Junk Ceylon / Phuket was throughout the centuries regularly used by ships from Europe Arab and the south Asia subcontinent Indian plus China

The area around Junk Ceylon / Phuket was historically known to offer protection against storms and the possibility to rest and restock. Phuket becomes later known as Thalang after the city which still exists in the central part of the island.


Jetty at Chalong Bay

All this is still visible until today on Phuket's east coast are all the harbors jetties and marinas since the east coast is the safe haven among them is Chalong Bay. Even during the Tsunami disaster all damages occurred on the west coast. Phuket had a similar position as Penang in today Malaysia and both islands are very similar interconnected via rich Chinese families. The only difference today is in Malaysia the free-wheeling capitalism of the Chinese got the upper hand in Penang resulting in plenty of ugly high rise buildings all along the coast of Penang. On Phuket Island luckily the environ conscious people got the upper hand with many exceptions and only a very few high-rise buildings were constructed.

But within recent times another avalanche came over "the pearl of the Andaman Sea" and this is a serious one the people of the north of Thailand discovered Phuket as a place where money still can be made for a broad spectrum of low qualified labor in the tourism industry. This resulted virtually in burying Phuket Island under concrete and the population density is already similar to Pattaya which itself is more or less Bangkok at Sea. It is to be seen where that ends, it's a similar development which ended into the low budget mass tourism like it was and is in southern Spain. Now, this is still not finished because the Chinese and Russian tourists come over the island the rough way.

The Mon of southern Myanmar or Burma 

Phuket and south Burma (Myanmar) was always closely connected they were also known as Thalang. There are plenty of interesting connections between Thailand and Myanmar or Burma. An important part of Phuket history was during the 15th century when Tin was fund at Phuket Island. After a while the island became the leading tin source in the region, actually, it was mainly Chinese immigrant labor who did the job. Due to the local mining industry, Phuket history records show that the island become somewhat of a trading hub and Chinese merchants made lots of money.

Sino-Portuguese Style Villas at Dibuk Street

Sino Portuguese Style Villas

This is still visible today by marvelous villas in Sino-Portuguese Style in Phuket Town along Dibuk Street


Sino Portuguese Style Villa at Dibuk Street

The villas are used for tourist purposes today and the area around is already littered with the
Around Dibuk Street at night
usual Thai way of encroaching to make quick cash. It's bringing the tears to the eyes to look what they are doing around this beautiful heritage by destroying the environ and nobody cares what will happen afterward.

The Thai King during that period 

He decided that Phuket should be administered by a European, because of the large volume of European merchants and traders who took residence at Phuket Island. Between the period of 1681 and 1685, Thalang was administered by a French missionary named Renee Charbonneau.
Another important event in Phuket history was in 1785 when troops from neighboring Burma tried to invade Phuket Island. Two Phuket ladies decided to stand up and defend the Island in the name of the King of Thailand. The former governor’s widow, Chan, and her sister Muk organized the defense which lasted nearly a month.

Why the name Phuket?

The Malay seafarers and settlers who reached the western peninsular coast probably first encountered these Mon "Selang" or Selat boat people around Phuket. At that time Phuket was most likely still joined to the mainland. In 1598 the English geographer Richard Haklyut, using sailors' reports, wrote of "the mainland of Junkceylon".

In 1784 Thomas Forrest, a Scottish sea captain who came to Phuket noted that the island was still only divided from the mainland by "a narrow isthmus of sand ... about half a mile in breadth, which is covered only by high water and could be crossed on foot or by an elephant at low tide.


It was found in 1900 in thick forest overgrowth on the Phang Nga coast and confirms the early presence of Hinduism in the area. Several other ancient Hindu stone carvings and temple remains have been recovered from sites surrounding Phuket such as Takuapa, Chaiya, Surathani, Krabi, and Keddah. Analysis of the stone the statues were made from shows that some were carved in India and transported over while others were sculpted on the peninsula. Few, if any, stone buildings were built in Phuket before the 19th century, most ancient buildings or temples were made of wood and so would have disintegrated long ago in the tropical climate or will have since been built over by brick and concrete Buddhist temples and monasteries later. 

The Tin age history of Phuket

In 197x after about 300 years of extensive mining the tin ore resources of Phuket Island became exhausted. 

The tin mining had not only been the mainstay of the island's revenue before the tourism era but had enhanced the technology, politics, education, foreign affairs and employment in Thailand. 

There were, of course, many success stories but in general Phuket and its population of immigrants and locals greatly benefited from the advent of the ore mining industry.

The archives of Nakorn Sri Thammarat formerly record "Muang Takua Thalang" as one of the twelve cities of the province. This means Thalang or Phuket had been a source of tin mining (then known as Takua) for hundreds of years. According to available evidence, tin mining on Phuket began in 1528 A.D. during the reign of King Ega Thodsarot of Ayudhya. Not long before this, the Portuguese had occupied Malacca which was a trade center for their Asian operation and in 1583 they opened a tin warehouse on Phuket Island at Thalang. Tin was one of the first metals used by man, it was mixed with copper to make bronze. There are 10 types of tin mining techniques in the south of Thailand and Malaysia. Ground sluicing, gravel pumping, hydro licking, gathering hole, drifting, open pit mining, dredging, underground mining, solution mining and suction boat mining.

Historical records show tin mines of the Kingdom of Tambra Linga exported tin ore to China from the 13th to 14th century. Prior to the 19th-century tin ore was produced mainly by slaves, later Chinese people took over that job and also the trading.

In 1963 the Thai Sarco Company was founded and implemented the first tin smelting plant in Phuket. Tin ore made many people wealthy since 1983 the price of tin has steadily declined and most tin mining stopped. 

At Phuket luckily the environ conscious people got the upper hand and only a very few high-rise buildings were constructed. 

Another important event in Phuket history was in 1785 when troops from neighboring Burma tried to invade Phuket Island. Two Phuket ladies decided to stand up and defend the Island in the name of the King of Thailand. The former governor’s widow, Chan, and her sister Muk organized the defense which lasted nearly a month.

According to available evidence, tin mining on Phuket began in 1528 A.D. during the reign of King Ega Thodsarot of Ayudhya. Not long before this, the Portuguese had occupied Malacca which was a trade center for their Asian operation and in 1583 they opened a tin warehouse on Phuket Island at Thalang.

Tin was one of the first metals used by man, it was mixed with copper to make bronze. There are 10 types of tin mining techniques in the south of Thailand and Malaysia. Ground sluicing, gravel pumping, hydro licking, gathering hole, drifting, open pit mining, dredging, underground mining, solution mining and suction boat mining.

According to historical records, tin mines of the Kingdom of Tambra Linga exported tin ore to China from the 13th to 14th century. Prior to the 19th-century tin ore was produced mainly by slaves, later Chinese people took over that job and also the trading.

In 1626 the Dutch came in

They more or less took over Java and King Sontham agreed that the Dutch be the sole agents for the tin trade in Thalang. In 1667 the people of Thalang rose to fight the Dutch and subsequently expelled them from the Island.

In 1745 King Narai the Great allowed the French to be the sole tin traders on the island, but this was overturned by the succeeding king. King Pedracha who reigned from 1688 to 1703. He canceled diplomatic relation with France after ascending the throne.

In 1772 the British Captain, Francis Light, who was also very busy in Penang, came to establish a trading station at Baan Tharua. He became a good friend of the Thalang Governor. In 1824 King Rama III of the Chakri Dynasty ordered the building of a new city after the second Thalang battle.

During 1809 tin minerals were found at Baan Ket-ho or Kathu. (Currently Baan Thungkha in the Muang District). 

In 1825 Thailand signed the Berney Agreement

This signing with England which was the first trading agreement Thailand made with a western country it directly affected trading with various countries and seaports in the area namely Penang Malacca and Singapore and resulted in the mining business expansion. 

More and more Chinese people migrated to the area to work in the mining operations. At that time tin was panned from the streams using simple tools but in the Mhuang Lan or Mhuang Khra area, operators with greater financial capital used powered water hoses to break down the soil and rocks of nearby hills.

Additional to the harvesting of ore by the aforementioned methods there were other methods of mining. This was done by digging into the soil and crumbling rocks plus following the visible ore pipe

At the Mhuang Harb mine were at least 100 workers who worked over a wide area. Mhuang Jor-Ngun was on the flat ground where there was an exposed rocky mineral line. In 1861 Phuket was promoted as a leading city to be answerable directly to Bangkok and as a result of the expansion in mining; Thalang became an important town under the jurisdiction of Phuket. 

In 1867 the government began collecting taxes by means of "Mhao Muang' and in 1876, Chinese workers were rioting and united as "Ung Yee." They complained about the shortage of water needed for separating soil from ore as well as the decrease in then incomes caused by "Mhao Muang" tax system and further worsened by lowering tin prices.

In 1888 the Mhuang Cheed method was adopted from Malaya and which needed more space and water. In 1901 the first Mining Act was written and allowed Westerners to mine for ore. Some Westerners and mine owners from Penang then moved to Phuket, generally because of the exhausted tin deposits in Malaya, today Malaysia. The English Chartered Bank moved in to provide financial services to foreign-owned mine businesses in 1906.

In 1907 when Phraya Radsadanupradit (Khorsimby Na Ranong) was a regional dependant of Phuket. Edward Thomas Miles, an Australian captain established the Tongkah Harbor Company. It began to run Mhuang Rua Khud at Thungkha Bay. It was the first mining operation in the world to use marine vessels for dredging ore from the seabed and later it was ingeniously adapted to be used inland too. Mhuang Rua Khud needed high capital investment and required a large open space; its success eventually attracted other companies for Mhuang Rua Khud and a new mining era was born.

In 1930 "Mhuang Chao Fah" was opened. It was the first Mhuang Soob in Thailand. It needed a large plain, equipment and a variety of vehicles. Dikes and rail tracks for the movement of mineral ore were built.

In 1947 Thai International Airways began their regular flights from Bangkok to Phuket. 

The time the tourism industry had arrived. In 1963 some Phuket residents began doing their own version of sea ore dredging or Mhuang Pae-dood, by using small boats or bamboo rafts to dive from, they dug the mineral mixed with sand and soil from the seabed and brought it to the surface be to washed and separated on the beach.

By 1961 miners who used iron rafts retrieved the mineral by using drills for piercing the ocean floor and then vacuuming the residue to the surface, hence reducing the number of laborers needed.

In 1967 Temco Company requested government permission to operate deep sea mining, but the Phuket residents protested. In 1973 the Tourism Authority of Thailand announced its plans to develop Phuket into a major center of Tourism. 

In 1975 The government canceled all ore mining concessions for Temco Company and allowed the formation of the Phuket Tourism Business Club.

In 1988 there was the "Tantalum" case when most people from Phuket protested strongly against the building of an Ore Smelting Factory. The mining businesses were closed down and the tourism industry era began.

In the middle of 2008 the first stage of the Phuket Mining Museum project on its 400 rai plot of land at Kathu district was completed and brought into service.

Thailand islands around Phuket are not so much discovered for mass tourism. Phuket is most popular for its beaches and nightlife plus scuba diving. Great beach hotels with spas and massage took over after the millennium and beautiful tropical orchids started to be grown and sexy Thai Girls moved in from northern Thailand to work in the nightlife business.

Phuket Old Town plus History

The "Pearl of the Andaman Sea" just got an almost new airport with the latest extension finished (June 10, 2016) at the northwest end of Phuket island with a history of the continuous building. 

That made a few people very rich via family and friends connections.  Actually some time ago when I went to my favorite restaurant in town I had some time left and thought to have a look around "Dibuk Street" where most of the attractive villas are still standing since about two centuries ago.

The Hindu Period

In these small river-mouth communities on the peninsula west coast, Indian (mainly Tamil) and then later Arab and Persian mariners and traders developed trade connections and friendships with the local communities and rulers. These traders would often return to the same communities year after year and often stayed for months to trade and waiting for the monsoon winds to turn. They would be allocated a home and a wife for their stay and they got mixed-race children and just as with foreigners today, many decided to stay on and live there permanently. These Indian traders also brought with them their holy men who spread Hindu, Buddhist, and Brahmanist beliefs which — handily for the local leaders — included the Indian concept of a "Deva-raja" (a god-king). This promoted the idea that kings owed their power not only to the strength of arms or being born to the right father but also to divine providence. 


These local Malay, Mon and Tamil leaders gained both economically and in prestige and power from associating with these foreign traders and their holy men. In this way, the Indian religions, or at least modified versions of them, merged with the existing animistic beliefs of the locals, were adopted in much of the peninsula from around 50c) BC onwards. 

The Indian historian Professor D.P. Singhal summarizes this process: "Indians came into contact with Southeast Asia principally for commercial reasons, but they [also] settled and introduced their culture and civilization. In turn, they were influenced by the indigenous culture, laying the foundation of a new culture in the region."4 Hinduism appears to have been dominant in and around Phuket for over a thousand years between about 500 BC and around AD 700. In the foyer of the Phuket History Museum in Thalang stands a large and ancient (possibly ninth-century) stone statue of the Hindu god Vishnu and there is also one dedicated to the Chinese population.

I got a real shock when I learned that one of the two Sino-Portuguese Villa (pictured above) was demolished and another smaller building in the usual ugly contemporary Thai Baroque style was placed there instead. The first reaction was "Oh Buddha, what awful vandals are around here?" This was a real landmark for Sino-Portuguese Style they built only a handful of top local architecture designs are still existing from the last 3 century and they just demolish it. 

This is one of the ugly sides here, they do everything for money even trashing the most valuable heritage. That reminds me to the Savoy Hotel in Yangon Myanmar were they had a similar beautiful house and never even thought about it to demolishing their national heritage, they renovated it  (Phuket make billions of baht every year with tourist, Myanmar only a fraction of it) and today it's a "cash cow".  There is such an overwhelming greed for money it's only here and now.

Today Phuket  island in the Andaman Sea 

street food in Phuket City
It can function a temporary residence or long-term exile, Phuket is the right place for it. Most people are quite happy with the life at Phuket Island here, relax at the beach, have a drink on the terrace of one of the Phuket beach resorts in front of the Andaman Sea and enjoy Thai street food for relatively low prices, compared to Europe, the US, and even Singapore or Hong Kong. 
phuket town market


Everyone can have a cheap or luxury holiday or vacations. The Phuket luxury is mainly concentrated around Laguna and Bangtao Beach plus further north at Mai Khao Beach. The lower price life, in particular in terms of house rentals, hotels, and beach resort are at Phuket Town plus Chalong and Rawai Beach that is all on the east side of the Island.
Phuket Town Nightlife at Christmas
With around $ 10,- per day plus an apartment somewhere on the island. In town are plenty of apartments for about $ 150,- / month and up, you can have an easy living. This could be a quiet living or active living plus a great nightlife where there are dozens of positive thinking young Thai girls around and you pay less than $ 3.- for a small bottle of beer. You deserve the good days when you stand up late, get some Thai food, maybe fried seafood with rice and a coke for about $ 3,- just around the corner in front of the beach. There are other great Phuket restaurants serving Italian food, Chinese food, Indian food and more on the international scale.
Phuket town nightclub show
New style shopping malls and all kind of hotels have opened on Phuket island, now everyone has more or less everything virtually just around the corner. No, it's not the way to holiday heaven but a good and very affordable living. Have some Thai beach massage or visit an herbal sauna in the afternoon or maybe a Bikram Yoga studio or upmarket spa facilities with something for your health. Plus the great Thai massage or nightclub show, if you lay down at almost any beach you will be approached by women offering the original Phuket beach massage. But be careful most of this fat and ugly message women do it the hard way.

Phuket market nightlife
If you want the gentle Thai massage approach there are the parlors, preferable visited by the guys who get everything what the want. A very popular and huge massage parlor with dozens of really nice ladies is Christine Massage at Patong not only at night and at the Pearl Hotel in Phuket Town center.


Dining in restaurants or buying drinks in bars or clubs is also much less expensive as what most tourists are used to pay in their home countries.

Phuket shopping with good quality and low prices safe and quick.

Tags: Phuket Island  Town  History

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