Phuket may be famous for its beaches, but Thailand’s largest island is also home to a diverse food scene. It’s a diversity that reflects the heritage of the island with influences drawn from southern Thailand, China and Malaysia. From simple street food to fine dining, there are a multitude of tempting options in Phuket. And none more so than in Phuket Town which was awarded the title of UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2015. The prestigious listing recognises the eclectic local food scene, not just in Phuket Town, but across the island which makes Phuket such a fabulous destination for foodies.
Long before Phuket’s tourism boom, it was tin mining which was the most important industry on the island. During the 19th century overseas merchants and Chinese workers flocked to the island. The descendants of those original Chinese settlers are known as Peranakan or Baba. Today’s generation of Baba who live in Phuket are proudly Thai and proud too of their heritage. Baba food is a unique combination which draws on influences from Hokkien Chinese, Malay and southern Thai cuisine.
Wherever you choose to stay in Phuket, make the time to visit Phuket Town. The historic Old Town area is home to photogenic Sino Portuguese architecture, atmospheric places to stay and a fabulous food scene. Wander around Phuket Town and you’ll notice a series of colourful murals. The street art in Phuket Town was commissioned as part of Phuket’s UNESCO gastronomy listing with many of the murals celebrating Phuketian food and culture.
Must try dishes in Phuket
There are plenty of local dishes to choose from and if you ask a dozen locals what their favourite dish is, you may well get a dozen different answers. This is just a small selection of local dishes to try when you visit Phuket.
- Dim sum (steamed dumplings with different fillings)
- Roti (Thai style pancakes often eaten with savoury dishes like curry)
- Khao tom haeng (dry rice porridge)
- Mee pad Hokkien (Hokkien-style fried noodles)
- Fresh seafood
- Moo hong (pork belly stew)
- Kung pad sataw (stir-fried shrimps with stink beans/petai)
- Kung sieb (crispy shrimps in chilli paste)
- Kanom jeen Phuket-style (rice noodles with curry added on top)
- Local desserts include o-aew (jelly dessert with shaved ice), ah-pong (crispy crepes made with coconut milk), ang-ku (tortoise shaped cakes made with sticky rice flour and mung beans) and tao sor (Chinese-style pastry with sweet or savoury filling)
Where to eat in Phuket
Whether you consider yourself a foodie or not, do make time to visit Phuket Town. Many of the restaurants in our two featured videos are located in Phuket Town and we’ve included a map at the bottom of this page to show you where to find the locations mentioned. In this first video, Thai traveller Art Thomaya shares some of his favourite places to eat in Phuket.
Restaurants featured in this video:
- Boonrat Dim Sum
- Kanom Jeen Pa Mai
- Kan Eang at Pier
- Rustic and Blue by the Sea
- Baan Ar-Jor Museum Homestay (Toh Daeng Vintage Dining )
- Palai Seafood
- Go Benz
- Project Artisan
- Day and Night 0f Phuket
If we whetted your appetite with the first video, MasterChef finalist Dr Boss introduces you to yet more gastronomic delights in Phuket as part of his Master Chef Turns Master Tour Guide series.
Restaurants featured in this video:
More places to try in Phuket Town
- Aroon Restaurant
- Blue Elephant
- Kopitiam by Wilai
- Tu Kab Khao
- Mee Ton Poe
Map of featured restaurants
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