First of all, I would like to introduce to you the word ‘Peranakan’ which means people or cultures that are a mix of Chinese and local Malay or Thai. During the 15th-17th centuries, some Chinese immigrants settled in Singapore, Malaysia, and Southern Thailand.
Penang, Phuket, Phang Nga, and Ranong were the main areas they chose to settle down in as these provinces were seaside ports that allowed them to make a living by trading local products with international traders.
Therefore, we will see some Peranakan heritage in Phuket, including old houses and traditional dresses worn by local people.
In Phuket’s old town, I would recommend you to visit ‘Chinpracha Mansion’ or ‘Baan Chinpracha’, a Sino-Portuguese styled mansion built in 1903. The house is open to public for a very small fee from 9am to 4pm every day.
When you visit this mansion, they have the dress called ‘Ke-Baya’ for rent. You can dress in Peranakan style and take photos in the real environment. Although the activity might sound a bit touristy, it is great to learn Peranakan cultures not only from the houses that they lived in, but also from what they wore. The style of outfits is truly a mix of Chinese, Malay and Thai traditional dresses.
Tip: Near Chinpracha Mansion, there are some old streets with nice cafes and local food shops. After visiting the mansion, you can chill out with your friends with a cup of coffee or tea.