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The Ultimate Guide to Phuket Street Art 2023

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

Phuket Street Art Guide

When you think of Phuket Old Town, the first thing that comes to mind is the classic Sino-Portuguese architecture throughout the quaint neighborhoods and roads. However, if you have a good eye for the arts and creativity, it’s impossible for you to miss the Phuket street art displayed around the Old Town. Before we get into the artwork, it’s good to know the back story of how Phuket became popular in both the food and street art scene. Starting back in 2015, UNESCO appointed Phuket as the first city in Southeast Asia to be a Creative City of Gastronomy. With that said, the scene of street art in Phuket was born.

F.A.T. Phuket Project (Food Art Old Town)

Following the selection to be a part of the creative city network, a group of local Phuketians known as ‘So Phuket’ launched an idea to showcase food-related street art throughout the old town area. The group invited both local and international artists to contribute their work resulting in murals illustrating the unique food culture of Phuket. This project soon became well-known as the F.A.T. (Food Art Old Town) Project with each mural located within walking distance of each other, making it easy for tourists to navigate piece to piece. Nowadays, the creative city of gastronomy attracts tourists from all sectors including foodies and artists to visit and take photos at each spot. If you’re looking to do the same, the HOMA Team has created a complete guide for you to follow.

Phuket Street Art Checkpoints

Old Town Phuket Street Art Map
Phuket Street Art Guide

Phuket Street Art Checkpoints

Phuket - The Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO

Under UNESCO’s Creative City Network (UCCN), as of 2021, there are a total of 295 creative cities from 90 countries around the world with only 36 represented in gastronomy. The southern island of Phuket, also known as ‘The pearl of Andaman’, was the first city in Southeast Asia to be declared a creative city of food science by UNESCO in 2015.

5 distinctive points for UNESCO’s selection of Phuket to be a part of the UCCN:

  1. Phuket has a diverse cultural heritage and is a melting pot of a harmonious multicultural society, especially in the food scene

  2. Local Phuketian food is a prominent component of all festivities, rituals, and celebrations, and is well-embedded in the local way of life

  3. Many Phuketian foods have a unique identity that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s comprised of ‘secret’ recipes that were passed down through family generations using local Phuket ingredients in the making

  4. The strong association between public and private sectors combined with local academic institutions has helped develop innovative dishes by incorporating food science in the process

  5. Phuketians are kind, generous, and filled with ‘Thai Hospitality’ characteristics; ready to share local food experiences with others under the philosophy of ‘Good Food, Good Health, Good Spirit in Phuket’

Exhibit A: King Rama IX - Dibuk Road

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : 4 Studio Phuket Model 💁‍♂️: Jonty King

In remembrance of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), a group of over 30 teachers and students from ‘4 Studio’ gathered to paint this mural in honor of his majesty under the project “100 Art for dad”. After 5 days and 5 nights to completion, the mural showcases 5 gestures of the late king including a quote that highlights the importance of unity, selflessness, generosity, and compassion within society. (Original quote below)

The artists agreed on ensuring that the artwork should not be something of extravagance to represent His Majesty’s modest legacies. In addition, the base of the mural is covered with clouds portraying King Rama IX looking over the people from heaven. On the left side of the quote, sits a painting of His Majesty on a Super Mod Sailboat where Phuket is proud to host the annual King’s Cup Regatta sailing competition in late November. Since the artwork came to fruition on the 5th of December 2016 (the monarch’s birthday), this location became a tourism hotspot for Thais and foreigners alike.

The original quote in Thai:

“ความสามัคคีนั้น หมายถึงว่ามีสิ่งใดที่อาจขัดแย้งซึ่งกันและกันบ้าง ก็ต้องปรองดองกันเสีย และหาทางออกโดยที่ไม่ต้องทะเลาะเบาะแว้งกัน พระความสามัคคีเป็นกำลังอันสูงสูงสุดของหมู่ชน”

Exhibit B: Geometric Eagle - Soi Romanee

Location📍: Soi Romanee Entrance

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Rukkij

Model 💁‍♀️: Roimee Yousoh

Just at the entrance of the famous soi Romanee right next to the Red Tortoise Mardi, you’ll see a large geometric eagle brightly colored. This flamboyant artwork and its many colors reminisce childhood snacks immersed with patterns of the local Po Thong bus that runs through the heart of Phuket Town. This piece was completed by Rukkij Kuanhavej, a local artist born in Songkla province, south of Thailand.

Exhibit C: Red Tortoise Mardi - Soi Romanee

Location📍: Soi Romanee Entrance

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Alex Face

Model 💁‍♀️: Roimee Yousoh

Right next to the Geometric Eagle sits a 3-eyed little girl with a frowning face known as ‘Mardi’. In this artwork, she is portrayed as a red tortoise symbolizing a local Phuketian snack, Ang Ku (ขนมอังกู๊) or Red Tortoise cake. To the Chinese, a tortoise is considered an ancient sacred animal that represents good health and longevity. Moreover, when one releases a tortoise back into the water, they are also releasing sorrow from their life. Therefore, Ang Ku is considered an auspicious snack and is one of many dishes of Phuket’s unique food-cultural identity. Longing for a taste? You can find the Red Tortoise Cake at Punte Food Market just nearby.

About Ang Ku (Red tortoise cake)

This traditional Phuketian snack is made out of sticky rice flour mixed with natural red food coloring. The inside is filled with scrambled golden bean paste and then steamed to perfection. Red Tortoise cake is often served at celebratory events such as Chinese New Year, the Chinese Ghost Festival, and as an offering when worshipping the gods.

Exhibit D: Kopi Tiger - Phangnga Road (Sinthavee Hotel)

kopi tiger phuket street art

Location📍: Entrance to the Sinthavee Hotel Parking Lot

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : P7

As you’re strolling down Phangnga Road, you’ll notice on the wall of the Sinthavee parking lot, a variety of colorful murals. One of the murals is another tiger work representing Phuket’s style of coffee known as ‘Ko-Pi’. This style of coffee incorporates black coffee with condensed milk and is often accompanied by afternoon snacks. If you’re looking to experience ‘Ko-Pi’, have a look at Kopitiam by Wilai or Kopi de Phuket, both located within a 5-mins walk.

Exhibit E: Surfing Bird - Phangnga Road

Location📍: Jeed Rad Nar Yod Pak

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Muebon

Models 💁‍♂️: Jap Sukchan & Jonty King

This artsy piece by local artist MUEBON is displayed on the side wall of Khun Jeed Yod Pak Restaurant opposite the Chinese New Year mural. The artwork illustrates a playful-looking bird/chick dressed in style, surfing with a sea turtle while dropping eggs. This represents what once used to be a popular sight for Phuketians; observing sea turtles of the Andaman Sea choosing the beaches of Phuket as a haven to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, due to the mass tourism that the island has been experiencing in the past decades, this phenomenon is now a rare sighting. However, during the pandemic, officials from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources recorded that a green turtle came ashore to lay 125 eggs on Ao Sane beach in Rawai.

About the artist

The word “MUEBON” (มือบอญ) in Thai means restless hands or hands that can’t keep still and constantly causing a mess. While this term has a negative connotation for Thai, in English (and French) it has a positive meaning. Muebon has steadily built up his reputation as one of Asia’s most talented street artists since graduating back in 2005. His trademark has now been featured all over the world, from the streets of Thailand all the way to exhibitions in Sydney, Tokyo, Moscow, and Chicago.

Exhibit F: Vegetarian Tiger - Phangnga Road

Location📍: Sintavee Hotel

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Rukkij

Model 💁‍♂️: Jonty King

Just a few steps away from Kopi Tiger, in front of the Sintavee Hotel, you’ll find another geometrical piece by local artist, Rukkij (รักกิจ). This colorful lion head represents Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival or commonly known as Jae Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ).

On the artwork, you’ll notice many features symbolizing this traditional festival such as firecrackers and 9 Chinese lamps welcoming the nine deities from heaven. Throughout this festival, Phuketians, especially those of Chinese descent will observe a vegetarian diet over this period.

About the Vegetarian Festival

The Vegetarian Festival or Jae Festival is celebrated from the eve to the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. During this period, you can expect to see yellow Chinese flags decorated throughout the streets, especially near Chinese temples. Many worshipers dressed in white or yellow will come out to pay their respects to their ancestors with stages, decorations, parades, and hundreds of food stand flooding the streets with a variety of vegetarian dishes. For this year, the festival will be celebrated over 10 days from 25 September to 4 October 2022. Luckily for HOMA, Lim Hu Tai Su Shrine (Samkong Shrine) is within walking distance so guests can enjoy the close-up action.

Exhibit G: Saeng Tham Shrine - Phangnga Road

Saeng Tham Shrine - Phangnga Road

Location📍: Saeng Tham Shrine

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Ludmila Letnikova (Luda)

Model 💁‍♂️: Jap Sukchan

Walking through Saeng Tham Shrine’s entrance past the Chinese-style arch, it is impossible to miss the artwork on the walls that shows ancient Chinese traditional-style puppets. These puppets known as ka-le puppets (หุ่นกาเร่), are dressed up in traditional Chinese clothing and are used for the ceremony of worshipping the gods. Right next to the puppets, you’ll see a couple performing the ceremony by holding incense in their hands praying as they offer the gods auspicious food presented on the table. This is the only street artwork that is not created by a Thai national.

Worshipping the Chinese gods

In Phuket culture, it is customary to offer food, fruits, and assorted snacks (such as red tortoise cake) to gods and ancestors in return for good omen and blessings. Apart from the artwork, Chinese puppets are also used as entertainment through live performances in order to entertain and please the deities in return for good blessings and that your prayers come true.

Exhibit H: ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’ selling O-Taw

‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’ selling O-Taw

Location📍: Tian Tian Cafe

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Pichit Paidan

Models 💁‍♀️: Roimee Yousoh & Patricia NR

This unique piece of artwork truly brings to life a traditional Phuket cultural scene of an uncle and auntie selling from their street food cart. The artwork is portraying Hokkien settlers who work together to make a living by selling O-Taw, a traditional Phuket dish. Right next to uncle and auntie sits a grandma wearing a lace blouse and Patek sarong with a food pinto on the table.

What is O-Taw?

O-Taw (โอวต้าว) is a mixture of deep-fried and stir-fried food groups. The main ingredients usually consist of a blend of taro and small oysters (locally known as หอยติบ) stir-fried with eggs, soy sauce, sugar, chili flakes, topped with fried garlic, and served with fresh bean sprouts and Sriracha chili sauce. O-Taw soon became an essential for Phuketians as a snack between meals or a late-night craving.

Exhibit I: ‘Mardi’ in Baba - Downtown Plaza

‘Mardi’ in Baba - Downtown Plaza

Location📍: At the exit of the Downtown Plaza

Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Alex Face

Models 💁‍♂️: Jap Sukchan, Jonty King, & Roimee Yousoh

Located towards the exit of Downtown Plaza where local fruit markets come to life during early morning hours is the artwork of Mardi wearing a ‘Baba shirt’ with a colorful sarong pushing a cart full of money. The word ‘Baba’ is used for representing a mixture of local Phuketian and Hokkien cultures molded together. The Baba-style shirt, as seen worn here by Mardi, is more commonly worn at weddings but the artist infused the dress to match a market style due to the location of the mural.

What is Phuket Baba?

As mentioned earlier, Phuket’s multicultural society is one of the main reasons UNESCO proclaimed the island as a creative city. The diversity of Phuket originated from the era of King Rama III to King Rama V (the 1820s to early 1910s), where Thailand absorbed a significant number of Hokkien refugees immigrating from Fujian province who were escaping political turmoil and the Chinese famine. The majority of settlers arrived with junk boats (Sampao) to settle in Melayu and Penang of current-day Malaysia while many chose Phuket as their destination. Many of the Hokkien settlers would start running small family restaurants bringing local food from their Hokkien roots to Phuket town.

As time went on, the way of life of once foreign settlers and those of local Phuketians started to blend in with one another eventually creating a unique culture of their own known as ‘Peranakan’. The word Peranakan is derived from Malay describing new generations of locals with mixed-parentage or a hybrid of Chinese and local origins, commonly known in Thai as ‘Phuket Babas’. This well-integrated culture is estimated to represent at least 70% of contemporary Phuketians today. For more info on Phuket Babas, please visit the Peranakan Museum.

Exhibit J: Tawatchyont Bike Shop

Tawatchyont Phuket Street Art

Location📍: Intersection of Thalang Road and Krabi Road Artist 🧑‍🎨 : 4 Studio Phuket

Model 💁‍♂️: Jonty King

Tawatchyont not only sells old motorcycle parts but also handles repairs for vintage bikes. The old bike shop is located right at the intersection of Thalang and Krabi road. Another piece by 4 Studio that brings out the cultural side of Phuket to life through realistic drawings. From once a bustling area where locals would bring in their motorcycles for repairs and children taking their bikes to refill the tires for free, to now a famous hotspot for street art lovers.

Bonus Exhibit: HOMA Coworking Space

Location📍: HOMA Phuket Town Artist 🧑‍🎨 : Jan Kailand

Located close to Phuket's old town in the Samkong neighborhood lies one of the newest co-working spaces on the island. The facility is fully-equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi, individual soundproof pods, and meeting rooms, inspiring you to achieve work goals in time to enjoy an amazing sunset at their panoramic rooftop pool.

About the artist

Jan Chaisri or known as 'Kailand' is a local Phuketian who graduated in product design but has a strong passion for street art. Kailand’s moniker translates in southern Thai dialect as “naughty boy”, and his impish style floods HOMA's co-working space with humor, vitality, and purpose set to energize Phuket’s new generation of digital nomads. The hyper-realistic freestyle fantasy cartoon mural lights up the workspace and holds pride of place that matches HOMA's young and vibrant crowd.

About HOMA Phuket Town

HOMA is a network of sustainable, pet-friendly serviced apartments with co-living facilities. We blur the lines between residential and hospitality through affordable pricing. Whether you’re looking for 1 day or a 1-year stay, we’ve got you covered. At HOMA, we offer a variety of room types, from studios to 3 bedroom apartments with luminous co-working spaces for remote working, daily fitness classes, and a captivating sunset view from the longest rooftop pool in Phuket. Be a part of the sustainable living tribe and live a better life with HOMA.