Renovated heritage architecture of Soi Rommanee in Phuket Old Town, Phuket Island, Thailand.
Jason Knott/© Jason Knott
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia—in fact, one of the few in the world—never to have been colonized. But because Phuket was an important 17th-century trading port, its historic center still reflects the influence of European powers and Chinese visitors, seen in the handsome heritage buildings. Today, old mansions and shophouses (buildings with stores on the ground level and living space above) have been turned into modern-day cafés, restaurants and shops.