More information  

Phuket is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Phuket as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Phuket’s different areas.

Thai Hua Museum

Our rating:


Phuket is a multicultural island with a large ethnic Chinese community. The Thai Hua Museum chronicles the journey of Chinese migrants to Phuket during the 1800s tin-mining era and their subsequent influence on the region’s culture and commerce.

Help us hold our breath. Donate to Travelfish today!
Click here for more information on how you can help.

Thai Hua is a 1930s schoolhouse turned museum.

Thai Hua is a 1930s schoolhouse turned museum.

Housed in a former Chinese school built in 1934, the museum’s exhibitions are a mix of old photographs, illustrations and descriptions in Thai and English. The original immigration papers of some of the island’s migrants are also on display.

Attractively laid out and informative, the museum also doesn’t shy away from some of the darker aspects of Phuket’s history including bits about the Angyee, or secret Chinese mafia groups who helped orchestrate workers’ rebellions in the late 1800s, and the opium trade, complete with a life-sized statue of a pipe-smoking addict.

Many compelling photos of Phuket life in the days of old are on display.

Many compelling photos of Phuket life in the days of old are on display.

There are a few puzzling omissions here, like a display about the school’s history, with a paragraph that reads, “With regards to political reasons in 1941, all Chinese Language Schools’ licenses were revoked and the building was neglected for 6 years.” No further elaboration on these “political reasons” is provided.

This was, of course, during World War II when Phuket was occupied by the Japanese for a time, but there is no mention of this at Thai Hua Museum. Insight into this forced school closure and what went on in Phuket during wartime now seem lost to history.

Other rooms provide a good overview of the Chinese cultural influences, including one that features locally known artists of puppet theatre, calligraphy and sculpting. Another display is all about clothing, and how Phuket attire blended Thai and Chinese fashions, as well as the Baba (Straits Chinese) style seen across Southeast Asia. The infamous Phuket Vegetarian Festival is explained, as well as the Por Tor festival and various Phuket-Chinese beliefs and ceremonies including marriage and death rituals.

Panels and pictures reveal the colourful culture of Phuket's Chinese community.

Panels and pictures reveal the colourful culture of Phuket’s Chinese community.

One large room focuses on the origins and contents of Phuket cuisine including its famed khanom jeen noodles. We’d highly recommend visiting this display before venturing out to the Phuket streets, where you’ll find all of these dishes still being served at many local shops.

Given that the museum is funded by private foundations run by some of Phuket’s most prominent Chinese descendants, it’s understandable that one section, the “Patronage Room”, is devoted entirely to the history of eight families who are still major players in business and politics in Phuket and the Andaman region.

The descriptions of the men who arrived from China and built their wealth in Phuket are rather hagiographic (two are described as being the “God of Tin” and “Creator of Palm Kingdom”, for example), but they do give you a good idea about how the show’s run here on the island.

Chinese puppet theatre is one of the traditional arts in focus here.

Chinese puppet theatre is one of the traditional arts in focus here.

Thai Hua Museum offers an enlightening, if not complete, place to learn more about Phuket history and how it’s been shaped by its Chinese migrants. And, unlike most museums we’ve seen in Phuket, which exude a certain dusty neglect, it’s well maintained and modern.

With a lot of panels to read and few interactive displays, young children may not get much out of this museum. If travelling with kids, you might prefer to just wander the Old Town streets nearby to experience the thriving Chinese culture still evident in the mansions, shrines, shops and restaurants of the area.

Book a flight, train, bus, taxi or ferry in Thailand with 12Go Asia

Popular attractions in Phuket

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Phuket.

What next?

 Read up on where to eat on Phuket.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Phuket.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Phuket? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

Experience the Andaman Sea
Experience the Andaman Sea
Ad Spend 3 days / 2 nights on The Junk
From US$400.

Read more

See below for more sights and activities in Phuket that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Phuket? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

Top of page