The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently joined together with Mr. Patcharapol Tangruen (aka Alex Face), a well-known and influential graffiti artist in Thailand, to paint the old Phang Nga mining town with a creative street art titled ‘Check in Phang-Nga: The Charms of Kra Phu Nga’ and promote tourism to the quaint former mining town.
The move is in line with the Thai government’s and TAT’s strategy to spread tourism to secondary destinations whilst developing another dimension to tourism in Phang Nga that moves beyond Thailand’s typical attractions of sea, sun, and sand.
Mr. Chuchart Oncharoen, Director of the TAT Phang Nga Office, said, “These ongoing creative tourism activities help to generate more income for local communities and bring tourists from Khao Lak and Phang Nga who want to experience the local way of life. It also helps adjust the ratio of international and local tourists, as we hope to attract more Thai travellers and increase the ratio of domestic tourists to about 35-40% up from currently 28%.”
Alex Face adorned walls around Phang Nga town with three unique versions of his signature creation, a child known as Mardi, which has a third eye in the middle of its forehead. The three installations include:
Mardi ‘History of Mining’ – in this painting Mardi reflects on the history of Phang Nga during its mining heyday.
Mardi ‘Lion Dance’ – here Mardi is a lion dancer on a wall opposite a Chinese shrine as an ode to the Chinese community’s long history in Phang Nga.
Mardi ‘Memory in the Bottle’ – Mardi wears his signature fluffy outfit looking at a Chinese junk in a bottle reflecting the long history of trading between Phang Nga and those from faraway lands.
The creative street art installation follows an ongoing project to increase the average length to stay and expenditure in Phang Nga. This started with the ‘8 Check-in Points” of Takua Pa old town’s historic landmarks, street art, temples and local culture, going out and about in the unique wooden wagon pick-up truck. The project hosted about 80-100 tourists daily who visited Khao Lak, Mueang Phang Nga and Takua Pa.
This enabled Takua Pa to welcome the return of its popular Sunday market for 13 Sundays during this year’s rainy season. The market is scheduled to be back this high season, starting from November and will run for six months. It is likely to become a year-round market next year, according to Mr. Chuchart.
In 2020, the TAT Phang Nga Office plans to promote the town of Kapong – also known for its rich mining history. The town is located in a mountainous area; hence, it also offers ‘mist-shrouded’ attractions, orchards and plantations. The plan is to introduce at least 10 check-in places plus a high-season market every Saturday, starting from January next year.
In addition, TAT Phang Nga Office is also planning to organise a ‘Phang Nga Pateh’ Festival during this coming Christmas, promoting the unique Southern Thai style textile Pateh. The idea derived from the success of ‘The Charms of Kra Phu Nga’ Festival held from 25 to 26 July, 2019, promoting local food and handicrafts whilst showcasing local fan dances, Nang Talung shadow puppetry and Manorah dance performances.