KaThu Mining Museum
Kathu Mining Museum, located on the road between Loch Palm Golf Club and British International School, is one of the island’s most interesting museums. It features displays ranging from tin mine models to a recreated scene in an opium den.
In the past Phuket was a major tin-producing centre and drew thousands of Chinese labourers who eventually settled on the island. In short, Phuket would not have its multicultural identity without tin. The museum covers the issue well with both outdoor and indoor exhibitions.
Outside the building, visitors will see a few styles of tin mining methods as well as some actual equipment used in the old days. Once inside, there are many exhibitions including pictures illustrating the lives and working conditions of the workers. There’s also a good section about locals who lived in Kathu Village back then. Kathu was considered a major area for this industry.
While the men went out and did the hard labour, the women stayed home to raise the children. They did a bit of extra work in their free time to help earn more money such as making brooms from reed grass and making sweet to sell. Looking at these displays makes ones feel just like you are staring at someone’s kitchen or private room when the owners were not around or unaware. They look pretty real indeed.
Opened in August 2009, the museum is a very informative cultural and historical attraction. It was built in the Sino-Portuguese style similar to the vintage mansions belong to the well-to-do Chinese families scattered around the old Phuket Town area. At first the entrance was free and donations were accepted.
Talang National Museum
This is a simple but pleasant museum covering the history of Phuket from prehistoric times to today. You can learn about Phuket's geology, earliest inhabitants, battles with Burma, the tin mining industry and rubber plantations. It also has information and exhibits about daily life in Phuket, tin mining history, the indigenous Sea Gypsy culture and the island's Chinese heritage.
In the main hall is a large statue of the Hindu god Vishnu that was uncovered from forest overgrowth in Phang Nga in the early 1900s. The image dates from the 9th century A.D., showing the early Indian influence on Thai culture. There are also displays on the art, architecture and history of other parts of Thailand, including the ancient Sukothai kingdom.
Drive north up Thepkrasattri Road (Airport Road) and turn right at Heroines Monument Circle on to road 4027. The museum is almost immediately on your right.
Phuket Seashell Museum
The Seashell Museum near Evason Resort in Rawai contains and displays valuable seashells from all over the world. Many are among the most sought-after by collectors and are from Phuket and Thai waters.
Among its impressive collection are noble volute (a heavy seashell with varied patterns), tiger cowries and stout-spine murex. In addition there are also some rarities and odd shells including the world's largest golden pearl (140 karats), large sections of sedimentary rock containing shell fossils that represent the earth's earliest life-forms, and a shell weighing in at 250 kilograms.
On the ground floor, there are many interesting gifts and souvenirs worth checking out. If you are looking for shell items, look no further as the museum’s gift shop is quite big and covers the entire area. Products include sea shell carving for indoor decoration, sea shell jewelry, key chains, shell mobiles and many more shell crafts and arts. Phuket Seashell Museum also houses a variety of pearl items such as necklaces, rings and earrings as well as mother-of-pearl dining sets including spoons, forks and knives.
Thai Hua Museum
Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road is one of the best looking and well-maintained Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket. This recently renovated building was at one stage a Chinese-language school. These days it is used as a museum, exhibition space and an occasional function hall.
In 2008, the Thai Hua Museum was given an award in the category of constitutional and public buildings by the Siam Architect Association under the King’s patronage for its outstanding role in conserving architectural arts.
The Thai Hua Museum features a charming inner courtyard, which is open to the sky. It is considered one of the highlights of this type of Sino-Portuguese structure as the courtyard helps air the house, especially during summertime. It also has a lovely garden that exhibits large and heavy tools and machines from Phuket’s tin-mining years.
There are more than a dozen interesting exhibition rooms and short films in Thai and Chinese with English subtitles on both floors of the museum. Overall, the Museum does well in explaining Phuket’s history through many different angles with explanations about the Phuket-China connection, Thai Hua as the first Chinese-language school in Phuket, the Sino-Portuguese buildings on the island and Phuket’s traditional ceremonies, as well as its local cuisine.
Almost all of the Phuket Chinese left their homeland because of poverty and the majority came from Fujian Province towns such as Fuzhou and Xiamen. And because Phuket is a relatively small island, it’s easy to find out where exactly where the well known and influential Phuket families with Chinese backgrounds migrated from. Visitors will be able to see just that in one of the display rooms.
Phuket Philatelic Museum
Located inside an 80-year-old building on Montri Road, the stamp museum looks amazing from the outside and the interior is under development but still open for the public at no entrance fee. At the moment, there are three sections inside: The first part exhibits posters explaining how the Thai Postal Service has developed since its start during the reign of forward-thinking King Rama V. The second room houses a good amount of old (some antique) equipment and machines such as telegraph tickers, telephones, and parcel-weighing machines.
The last section is a souvenir room where sets of Thai stamps are on sale, along with other items. When the project is completed they expect to have over 700 sets (totaling more than 1,000 stamps) of real vintage and interesting Thai stamps on display.