The best antique shopping experience on Phuket island takes place in Phuket Town. Most antique dealers retail their items in old shop-houses built in a Sino-Portuguese style that is distinctive of Straits Chinese architecture.
Most antique shops listed here are found on two streets: Yaowarat Road and Phang Nga Road, and they carry items from north and south China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, South India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Pakistan.
Along Yaowarat Road is 88 Ancient Art – a gallery with wares from Vietnam, China, and Cambodia. The owner specialises in Buddha images from the Bovan period in Cambodian history, as well as Chinese vases from the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from the 13th century to the 16th century. There is also a good collection of Vietnamese celadon on display.
On the same road, Ban Boran Antiques stocks hard-to-find gold and silver items: dowry jewellery from south India, silverware from Pakistan and Egypt, and some very rare opium weights from China. Items from Thailand include puppets made of water buffalo leather that were traditionally used in nang taloong shadow puppet entertainment. Sadly, nang taloong shows are now rare, but the intricate puppets continue to be made for the tourist trade.
Further down the road there is antique furniture from Vietnam, Burma, and Laos in Touch Wood Antique furniture shop. For collectors of colonial furniture of Victorian or Edwardian designs, this is definitely the place to go. The shop also carries a good selection of rare teak and cane furniture.
To get to Phang Nga Road from Yaowarat Road, simply turn left at the end of the street and, once there, be sure to visit Puk Shop which specialises in antiques collected from Phuket residents over many years. Do not be fooled by the shop’s display of tourist knick-knacks and mistake it for an ordinary stall.
Part of Puk’s charm is its humble appearance. Its cluttered interior has never been styled as a trendy retail outlet and has remained a pleasantly crowded mess, allowing you to discover more little treasures on each visit. Unusual and rare items include Burmese manuscripts and Chinese ceremonial chests.
Another institution on Phang Nga Road is Antique Arts which boasts a wide selection of Chinese porcelains, brass, and lacquerware from the ancient trading port of Amoy in southern China, where most Phuket residents of Chinese descent hail from. Regular trips to his ancestral village allow the shop owner to keep a good stock of furniture and other objets d’art of Chinese origin.