Because of its strategic location along Andaman Sea, Phuket history has been colorful and exciting. From being an Indian settlement to almost being an English colony, the island’s rich history has helped shaped its colorful culture and customs.
Ancient Phuket History
The island has been established in as early as the first century BC, when Indian settlers arrived to the island. Located along the paths that link China and India, the island served as the shelter and reprieve of foreign traders.
In the third century AD, famed Greek geographer Ptolemy managed to arrive at the harbor, which he then referred to Jung Ceylon. This was the island’s moniker for several centuries, as seen in ancient Siamese maps.
Formerly part of the Sirivijayan Empire of Sumatra, the atoll was incorporated to Thailand in the 13th century. This was made possible by the Sukhothais who seized control of the isle. Jung Ceylon eventually became part of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which obtained their tin from the island.
Colonial Phuket History
Because of its location and natural resources, the island became a point of interest for many colonists. In the sixteenth century, the Europeans arrived at the island and redefined Phuket history.
The Dutch, English and French traded with the Thais. However it was the latter that gained monopoly of the island’s resources. Through King Narai, the French remained in control of Jung Ceylon’s tin, until they were ousted by the Siamese Revolution.
Great Britain almost invaded the island; however the English decided to settle in safer Penang, Malaysia instead.
A notable point in Phuket history is the year 1785, when the Burmese tried to invade the atoll. Fortunately, a ship of the British East India Company saw the preparation, and informed the locals about the impending attack. Instrumental to the defeat of the Burmese are sisters Than Phu Ying Chan and Mook, who organized as many soldiers as they can to repeal the invaders.
Phuket history is undoubtedly colorful, and it has influenced the island into the beautiful key that it is today. Without these ancient and colonial influences, the island would not be as unique as it is today.