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Phuket's Old Town a striking alternative to beach culture

Thai resort island offers returning tourists historical and architectural interest

PHUKET, Thailand -- When the Thai government decided to make Phuket its first test location for reopening the country to international tourism on July 1 it was largely because of the island's well-established reputation as a world-class beach resort.

Phuket has grown steadily in popularity among international travelers since the 1974 James Bond movie "The Man With the Golden Gun" used the striking islands of nearby Phang Nga Bay as the exotic backdrop for evil villain Francisco Scaramanga's beachside duel with 007. Attracted by the area's once-pristine beaches and the emerald green waters of the Andaman Sea, 14.5 million tourists visited in 2019, including 10 million foreigners.

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