Soi Sommani is a small laneway that lies between Thalang Road and Dibuk Road in the heart of Phuket’s Old Town. The colourful ornate two-storied Sino-colonial shophouses make this Soi (lane) a visual delight to explore.
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In the Thai language, Rommani means “happiness”. Up until the early 20th century, Soi Rommani was Phuket’s red light district, lined with brothels and opium dens, servicing Chinese labourers who worked in the tin mines.
The name of this soi is intriguing as ‘romani’ is an old-fashioned Thai word, roughly translating to ‘naughty with the ladies’. This soi was the first in the area to be renovated.
Today, the lane is filled coffee shops, bars, guesthouses, souvenir shops and art galleries. One side of the lane has been completely renovated while the opposite side has been left, more or less, as it always has been. Here is what Soi Rommani looked like when I visited in March 2011.
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