If anyone is at all interested in the history of Phuket, and at the same time interested in getting a little off the beaten track, the often-overlooked Phuket Mining Museum is very much worth a look.
The location is a bit odd – on a road that many people don’t know about that winds through the hills between Loch Palm Golf Club and the British International School. However, it’s great for children.
Located around the large central courtyard are rooms that have been lovingly decorated and made to look like old streets or filled with old pictures and dioramas of mining techniques.
Phuket made its fortune through tin mining (as well as rubber plantations and fishing) well before any tourists first arrived. There’s no mining any more, but it was tin that made Phuket, built Phuket Town and changed the face of Phuket, with many immigrants heading here from China.
In the first room is a traditional island bus, while the next room is filled with old furniture, and displays of old household items.
Then you have the real meat of the museum: a very well presented educational section all about geology, with information presented in both English and Thai.
This leads through to the history of mining, with models of stone age people banging rocks together, and more specific information and life size dioramas about local tin mining techniques.
From mining, you then move onto tin processing, a room full of technical information and photos, as well as a big bench full of rocks for kids to look at. I was very pleased when my boy agreed that sand, viewed with a magnifying glass, looks like little rocks – I love watching my kids learn.
However, my wife’s favourite part of the museum is a mock up of old Phuket, a whole street with shops, a little café, a shrine and much more. It’s very well done, and you can see that the people involved in the museum must take a lot of pride in their work.
The artwork is very good, with many walls painted with street scenes that have receding perspectives, so you feel like you could almost just step into the painting and take a walk through old Phuket. My daughter even tried...
One of the best things about the museum is the low entry fee, although, if you’re a tourist reading this, it’s not the kind of place a tuk-tuk driver will want to take you (no commissions!). In sum, the museum suits those who want to learn something and see more than just beaches.
Jamie Monk works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers. For more information call: 084 626 4646 or visit: sunrise-divers.com