Phuket is one of Thailand’s top destinations for tourists around the world, and known for its white sandy beaches. It is the biggest island in the land of smiles, and also is a province, which differentiates from other islands around Thailand. The island is slightly smaller than Singapore, and it is located on the southwest coast of Thailand.
Being that Phuket can be full of tourists, but there are also many spots that are secluded and quiet. This ultimate travel guide for Phuket is going to give you choices on where to go and what to do base on your preferences.
Table of Conten
1. TOP THINGS TO DO AND SEE
Raise awareness of Thai Elephants at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary – This elephant sanctuary is credited as an ethical sanctuary because the elephants get to roam free, and by its natural habitat. You don’t get to bathe them, as they’re cooling off in their pools. The elephants were rescued all around the places in Thailand, from the streets to concerned previous owners.
You’re able to contact and check with them directly for their programs.
Visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project – The project was established to repopulate the Gibbon population in Khao Phra Taew Wildlife Park, and is run on donations. The Gibbons are rescued from all over Thailand, with various backgrounds, and different cases. There are successful stories that a lot of them are rehabilitated back into the wild.
There are no entrance fees to the project, you only need to pay 200 THB for the National Park fee and it opens daily from 9.00 A.M. to 16:00 P.M.
Explore Sirinat National Park – If you’d like to do some camping, don’t forget your tent and sleeping bag, because this is a great spot to pitch in your camping gear. You get to camp out by the beach. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot endangered Leatherback Turtles laying their eggs on the beach of this national park.
Temple hopping – When you come to Thailand, one of the things to do is immerse in Thai culture, and learn more about Buddhism. A lot of the Thai mannerisms come from the Buddhist practices itself.
Hitting the beach – Phuket has very beautiful beaches, especially, Nai Thon, Nui Beach, and Mai Khao, where they are not really packed with crowds. The tourist trap beaches are in Patong, Karon, and Kata. However, if you love socializing, those beaches might be suitable for you.
Indulge in local food – When you’re here in Phuket, Pad Thai might come across your mind first. Phuket’s got their own local dishes, and delicious eateries that you must try.
Checking out the street markets – In general, Thailand is very popular for its street markets, and street food. There are a lot of talented street vendors that cook delicious street bites, and make their own name brands, that are very affordable for budget travelers. So, check them out and support them.
Checking out the viewpoints – Don’t forget to take your phone with you for some great shots of Phuket’s sunsets on some of the viewpoints. Phromthep Cape is the most popular viewpoint for sunsets.
Island Hopping – Phuket is surrounded by islets and islands, and some of the popular ones are James Bond Island, Phi Phi Islands, Similan Island, Yao Noi Island, and Racha Islands. You can go snorkel around these islands as well, the waters of these places can be clear and sparkling blue on sunny days.
2. BEST TIME TO VISIT
Peak season everywhere in Thailand is early November to late April, and it gets very crowded, especially the beaches. Prices for accommodations, and taxis spike up, especially the prices of the accommodations.
From mid-March to late May, Phuket is very hot on most days, as this is during the Thai summer. It can go up to 40 degrees Celsius. Though, the taxi and accommodation costs become more affordable.
Early June – Early November, this is Phuket’s monsoon and low season, and not the perfect time to go diving, but great for your wallet, because it’s a lot cheaper to book your accommodations around Phuket during this period. If you’re a new surfer, this is the perfect time to upgrade your surfing skills.
3. GETTING THERE
There are a couple of ways to get to Phuket, and it depends on how adventurous you’d like to be.
By Flight – There are oversea airlines that directly fly to Phuket International Airport, so best to check the airlines you plan to travel with. You could also fly into Suvarnabhumi Airport then get a flight directly to Phuket.
Driving – If you happen to have your own private vehicle, you can drive to Phuket. There is a bridge that connects the mainland and Phuket, which is called Sarasin Bridge.
By Domestic Bus – For a fun backpacking experience, you could board the bus Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Bangkok for a 12 hour overnight ride to Phuket.
4. STAYING IN PHUKET
There are so many beaches in Phuket or areas that you can stay but written below are the places that might suit your preference.
Staying in Mai Khao – Mai Khao is the most peaceful beach in Phuket, and makes it perfect for romantic weekends.
● Who is it for?
○ For those who want to enjoy the hotel
○ Romantic getaways
○ Close to the airport
○ Some local Thai restaurants
○ Huge deserted beach
○ Hotels can be costly, check the prices before you arrive to Mai Khao
○ Far from everything
Staying in Kamala– Kamala feels more Thai than Patong, Kata, and Karon, and the beach is quiet and beautiful!
● Who is it for?
○ Easy-going holiday and 100% relaxation guaranteed
○ Peace and quiet
○ Quite secluded even during peak season
○ Short driving distance if you’d like to go Patong
○ Relaxing and slow-paced
○ Beach is a bit less attractive than Kata and Karon but still beautiful
Staying in Patong – Patong is a convenient area for those who’d like to go out at night and still get something to eat after partying.
● Who is it for?
○ Younger crowds
○ Party people
○ Easy access to food, and the beach
○ Huge choices of accommodations from hostels to secluded hotels
○ Beach can get crowded
○ Patong is not really Thailand
○ Very busy streets, and parking can be difficult
○ It can get very busy and noisy
○ Hard to find real Thai food
Staying in Karon – Karon is a convenient area for getting around without a vehicle and it’s much more relaxed.
● Who is it for?
○ Those who would want accessible facilities like the beach, restaurants, and bars but a lot quieter than Patong
○ Easier to get around for those who don’t have private vehicles
○ The beach is beautiful with beach chairs, beach volleyball, and massage services
○ Easier to enjoy Kata and Karon
○ Karon is a long street, you need to walk a lot to get to Kata Beach.
Staying in Kata – Kata is an ideal place for you to stay if you would like some extra space at the beach.
● Who is it for?
○ Those would like to relax and have accessible facilities nearby like the beach, bars, and restaurants.
○ It’s nice for first-timers
○ Very convenient to get around without private transportation
○ Lots of accommodations from mid-range to cheap
○ Beautiful sunsets
○ Gets quite hectic in high season
○ Narrow streets and long traffic, and can make it un-walkable
○ Only a couple of hotels with beach views
Staying in Nai Harn – It’s a very trendy beach, and not invaded by hotels
● Who is it for?
○ For some true relaxation
○ Good choices of local restaurants
○ Clear blue water during high season
○ Can get packed during high season and the weekends
○ Quite far from the main spots
Staying in Rawai – It’s often ignored by lots of tourists, and a lot of expats live down that area. It’s not far from Nai Harn Beach.
● Who is it for?
○ Those who don’t mind the lack of beaches
○ Lots of delicious local seafood restaurants
○ Easy access to nearby islands
○ No swimmable beach
Staying in Phuket Old Town – Explore the real Phuket and stay overnight. This old town brings history back to life.
● Who is it for?
○ If you want to see the real Thailand
○ Photographic playground
○ A lot of local food
○ Several walking markets
○ Far from the beaches
○ Limited nightlife
5. GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND
Renting a car – You can rent your car at the airport. Once you arrive at Phuket Airport, you will see car rental booths. You need a driver’s license to rent your own car. Also, there are other car rental places around the island. When you’re renting a car, make sure the company you rent from has car insurance.
Renting a motorbike – If you’re confident, and good on motorbikes, renting a motorbike can be the most convenient and easiest way to get around Phuket. You need your motorbike license, in case you get pulled over the traffic police, and of course, you would need to wear a motorbike helmet for your safety. Renting a motorbike can be 200 THB – 300 THB, depending on the company you rent from.
Local Bus – There are local busses around Phuket. One of them is the airport smart bus, which is in blue color. It only operates on the west coast of Phuket Island, the schedule is available online.
The other one is the airport bus that usually runs on the east coast of Phuket, and it is in orange color in order to differentiate from the other airport bus. The schedule for this one is also available online.
Grab Car – The Grab App is very popular in Southeast Asia. You can use the app to hire a driver to pick you up and send you off. However, it is rather costly for a short 7-kilometer ride, and depends which time of the day you’d like to be sent off. It could cost 350 THB – 500 THB for that much of a distance.
Hiring a Taxi – Taxis in Phuket are rather costly as well. They usually have green plate licenses. However, for your convenience to get from and to the airport is very quick especially if you’re with your family or friends. For instance, from the airport to the southern tip of Phuket, it could cost up to 800 – 1200, depending on which specific area you’re getting dropped off. Sometimes, they charge you for a higher price, roughly 100 THB more, if you’re using their services late at night.
Songthaews – These are the blue trucks with benches at the back, and you have to ask your hotel or the locals around the pick-up points, and how long they operate. One ride per person is 30 THB – 40 THB, depending on how big or small the songthaew is.
Tuk – Tuks – Tuk Tuks are usually in red, they look like trucks with messenger benches and boom boxes at the back. They’re usually lined up around hotel areas, and busy public and touristy spots. If you’re out at night around the tourist areas, they’re most likely going to be there. However, at night, tuk-tuk rides are more costly than day rates. In most cases, a 5-minute ride can go up to 150 THB.
Northern beaches are more secluded, and quiet. These spots are able to answer what you’re looking for, a slow and relaxing holiday at the beach.
Beaches at Sirinat National Park – Nai Yang Beach, Mai Khao Beach, and Sai Kaew Beach, are beaches within Sirinat National Park and all are connected, and they are very secluded from the crowds. If you’re looking to truly relax at these beaches, they are what you’re looking for.
Every once a year, during Songkran, a resort at Mai Khao beach supports the annual turtle release. If you’re lucky you might even get to see this, however, your chances are quite thin.
WEST COAST BEACHES
The most touristic and popular beaches are on the west coast of Phuket, and usually around the touristic areas.
Paradise Beach – If you happen to be staying around Patong, and looking for a real party, the full moon party happens to be on Paradise Beach. The full moon party scene isn’t as popular as the original full moon party in Koh Phangnan.
Kalim Beach – If you’re a beginner in surfing and staying in Patong, Kalim Beach has got some surfs during the monsoon season. Young surfers get very hyped and surf until the end of the monsoon season.
Karon Beach – Karon Beach is very popular for tourists, and it has its charm during sunsets.
Kata Beach – If you’re a scuba diver, and looking for a new spot to go on a beach dive, then Kata Beach is the place for you. The best period to go on beach dives is November to April. However, snorkeling on this beach is also fantastic, as they’re a couple of reefs on the eastern side of the beach.
Nui Beach – Nui Beach is a very secluded beach, and you must hire a driver to take you down to this beach as the roads are very rough to reach. However, the popularity of the beach has risen, and more tourists have heard about it. The best time to go is right before the peak season, and a bit after the monsoon season. This beach is a great place to relax, and go for a quiet swim.
SOUTHERN TIP BEACHES
Southern tip beaches are more popular for the locals, especially on the weekends, when they hang out with their friends and families around these beaches.
Ya Nui Beach – Ya Nui Beach is quite a small beach inside a very small bay, and not very packed with tourists on most days. However, on the weekends you can be very busy with both tourists, and locals. It is almost a secret beach, as it’s tucked but it is very popular for locals to hang out around there.
Nai Harn Beach – Nai Harn beach is inside a small bay, and you can still see Phromthep Cape from this beach. During the low season, it is fairly quiet, and calm. The locals love to come here during the weekends for family picnics. If you’re looking for authentic Thai street food, you can find some really good ones at this beach.
Lots of young surfers surf at Nai Harn Beach for some small surfs during this season. You’re able to rent a surfboard at this beach as well.
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint – This viewpoint has been discovered quite recently. It has a fantastic view of Phang Nga Bay, and you need to make a big effort from that viewpoint. You wake up pretty early to catch the sunrise, and need to drive 25 kilometers from Sarasin Bridge to get to the bottom of this viewpoint. You can hire a driver with a 4 wheeled truck to get up there, you can hike up there and it’s a rather long walk. Having a cuppa during the sunrise there is highly recommended.
You’re able to camp up at the viewpoint, and taking your camera up there is a must, you’re able to capture the milky way at 4.00 A.M.
Phromthep Cape Viewpoint – Located at the very southern tip of Phuket, this viewpoint has been irresistible to many tourists for good old sunset shots. Sometimes, watching the crowd waiting for the sun to set can be quite entertaining. The sun usually starts setting at 6 o’clock in the evening, and the colors of the sky burst into crimson orange over the ocean waters. Even though it can get very crowded, this viewpoint is still worth the hassle.
There are no admission fees.
Big Buddha Viewpoint – The 45 meter high Big Buddha has become Phuket’s major landmark. It is probably part of almost every tourist’ to “MUST DO” list in Phuket. The views on top are very breathtaking, especially in the late morning where air much cooler and fresher. A fun and active way to get up there is by doing a hike to Big Buddha in the morning.
If you decide to drive your motorbike up to Big Buddha, make sure you’re comfortable with sharp curves on the way down especially, because the main roads to the top are rather steep.
Chalong Bay is directly in front of the Big Buddha, and when the skies are all clear, you get to see Phang Nga Bay from afar. A couple steps to the west, you get to see Kata Bay, and Kata Noi Bay. If you walk around a bit more, you might even recognize Nai Harn, and Phromthep Cape. Of course, don’t miss out on the panoramic view of Karon.
The Big Buddha is still an active temple, so you have to wear pants that cover your knees, and clothes with sleeves on. They’re open from 6.00 – 19.00 every day, and no admission fees except for renting some cover-up clothes.
Rang Hill Viewpoint – This is located in Old Town, and very popular amongst Thai tourists and the locals to check out the sunset. The visitors can enjoy the view out over the town, and enjoy their evening dinner over the top of this hill.
Khao Khad Viewpoint – This viewpoint isn’t so popular amongst travelers, because it is a bit of a mysterious place. This viewpoint has a tower where you can go up and checkup levels of breathtaking views. The towers have two levels, and you’re able to see Phang Nga Bay when the skies are clear enough. You’re able to see Sirey Island, Makham Cape, Chalong, Big Buddha, and Rang Hill from this viewpoint.
There are parking spaces designed for cars and motorbikes, and a lot of days they are quite empty as the place is quite secluded. You have to drive yourself to this viewpoint. There are no entrance fees,
8. WHERE TO EAT
Tourists around the world have heard of Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup, and Green Curry. Even though Phuket has got all of these Thai mainstream dishes, each region in the land of smiles has got its own local dishes. Thailand has a variety of ethnic groups from different cultural backgrounds. If you’ve chosen Phuket for your holiday, then you’re very lucky because Phuket is a UNESCO heritage site for gastronomy.
Tu Kub Khao Restaurant – Tu Kub Khao Restaurant is one of Phuket Michelin restaurants, and one of “The Plate Michelin” restaurants.
No doubt, this is one of Phuket’s most popular restaurants for Phuketian dishes, and authentic local food. The restaurant is set in an old heritage building in the heart of Phuket Old Town. It is quite easy to spot the restaurant, as there’s a gigantic lobster on the side of the building, which is smart of them to use that as an outstanding figurine to spot their restaurant. The décor inside is very elegant, as it gives you a sense of royalty, and with a cozy and relaxing ambiance.
The visiting guests get to experience and indulge Phuket’s old heritage. This restaurant is highly suggested to be added to one of your dining lists around Phuket. They offer authentic Thai and traditional Phuket food.
You definitely can’t miss some of their signature dishes:
● “Moo Hong”, Pork belly steamed with pepper and garlic
● “Pla Sai”, Small deep-fried fish in turmeric
● “Gaeng Som Pla” Yellow curry with fish, which is quite spicy and sour
One Chun Café & Restaurant – Another one of Phuket’s most popular restaurants. Though, One Chun Café & Restaurant got reviewed by the 2020 Michelin Guide Review, and was rated as one of the “Bib Gourmand” restaurants. It offers a wide range of authentic and traditional southern Thai food.
Here’s a little blast to the past, the inner décor is set inside of one of the history Sino – Portuguese buildings, and it features Chinese style wooden furnishing. The owner of the restaurant adds some other finishes with old school toys, and household objects.
If you happen to be there, it’s highly recommended that you can’t miss dishes:
· Crab Meat Curry and Coconut Milk Served with rice vermicelli,
· Moo Hong
· Thai shrimp paste served with fresh vegetables.
Kan Eang @ Pier – If you’re looking for a romantic dinner by the beach with some authentic local Phuket dishes, Kan Eang @ Pier is the place to be if you’re around the southern tip of Phuket.
This restaurant serves a variety of local Phuket dishes as well and of course other traditional Thai dishes that are very popular around the world. Though, their core philosophy is fresh seafood in authentic Thai dishes, and this original idea all came from the owner catching fish each day and barbecuing his daily catch with his friends.
They’re open every day from 9.00 A.M. – 18.00 A.M., and you’re able to reserve your table, just in case they have run out of tables for you to dine out.
EATING OUT LIKE A LOCAL
Arun Pochana – This restaurant is Halal certified. If you’re a huge fan of roti, and Thai tea, then this is the place to go. It is also located in Phuket town and very popular for locals that workaround there to go out for lunch. The restaurant is quite small, and often very crowded during the weekends, especially during lunch. This place serves very authentic southern Thai food, and with some Malaysian – Thai curries.
They have an extensive selection of roti, from roti smeared Nutella till a batter of charcoal dough. Ordering roti with iced Thai tea on a hot day is perfect for snacking out at this place.
Boonrat Dimsum – This is Phuket style Dim sum, and they have been serving since 1917.
Their original and traditional recipes were brought with them from mainland China. In the late 1800s, Chinese immigration had peaked, and Phuket mostly had Chinese influence. That’s why a lot of Phuket dishes are Chinese influenced.
There are three branches in total, and the branch in Phuket Old Town is the first one to be established. This is a breakfast place, and opens every day from 6.00 A.M – 10.00 A.M, and you wouldn’t want to sleep in if you’re into dumplings and dim sum. Though, varieties of the dumplings have pork in them, and perfect for pork lovers.
The Pad Thai Shop – The Pad Thai shop is a very small shop, and it is very popular amongst the locals, Asian, and Russian tourists. Don’t be fooled by the name, this is no ordinary shop that has only Pad Thai. Even though their Pad Thai is cooked with fresh ingredients, their chicken and beef noodles are able to make you forget that you wanted Pad Thai in the first place.
Their beef noodles are very popular, and the beef broth is very rich in flavor. You don’t need to add extra condiments to give some extra tastes to your beef broth. They also have other local and simple Thai dishes that you can order. Though, you are most likely going to have to wait for your order to be cooked for a while as there are long food orders. If you don’t want to wait for your food, you would need to order beef or chicken noodles to satisfy your hunger.
They’re open every day at 8.00 A.M. – 17.00 P.M. except on Sunday, and always packed during lunch. So, be sure to come before lunch hours, as they do have very limited parking spaces, and you might have more luck driving your motorbike there.
Rawai Boat Noodles – This is a halal-certified restaurant, andnot only do they serve a bowl of delicious boat noodles with chicken broth, but they also have a variety of simple and local food. It is very popular amongst locals, expats, and tourists, and the dishes are very affordable. They use high-quality ingredients and recipes, and one dish of kra pao beef on top of rice is only 60 THB. For some of you, you might have to pack half of your food home, because portions are quite big.
They’re open every day from 9.00 A.M – 17.30 P.M., and you should be there before or after lunch, because this place gets packed with their regular customers, and there are limited parking spaces.
Chillva Market – This market is very trendy and popular for the locals. It gives out a bohemian vibe, and where you can try out some street food right next to an outdoor concert in the evening. If you’d like to try some interesting snacks invented by young Thais, this is where you should go.
The market operates from Wednesday to Sunday from 17.00 to 23.00 every week. You can drive there with your own car or motorbike.
Phuket Sunday Walking Street – This whole street in Thalang Road of Old Town turns into a lively and vibrant street market. Half of the market is filled with delicious street food, and this is your chance to try out some of Phuket’s local snacks. The Phuket locals are bringing back some of their old memories of their local bites and to share with others.
This market only operates on Sundays from 5.00 P.M. to 9.00 P.M. Every week, if you’re staying in Phuket Old Town, it’s very walkable, but if you’re staying somewhere else, having your own vehicle is recommended but you need to park only in designated spots.
9. NIGHTLIFE IN PHUKET
Illuzion – Bangla Road is the heart and soul of Patong nightlife, however, not all deserve stars. Illuzion is considered the best night club in Phuket, and DJs from around the world play their gig here, including Tiesto. It is gigantic, and fits about 5,000 people inside there.
The club entrance fee is free but the drinks are more costly than other bars and clubs in Patong. They’re open from 9.00 P.M to 4.00 A.M.
The Hard Rock Cafe – If you enjoy live classic rock, Hard Rock Cafe is always to die for. Located in Patong, and ideally near the luxury hotels that cater to the hard dying fans of Hard Rock Cafe. The restaurant has a live stage for live music settings and is able to accommodate people up to 300 tables with a bar area, and the Rock Shop for rock fans.
It also features a hardwood cooker meant for classic rib fans, and some of their barbecued meats along with some award-winning bar drinks menu.
They operate from 11.00 A.M. – 2.00 A.M. every day, and it’s advisable to walk there if you’re staying in Patong, because there is no parking space there.
Paradise Complex Patong – This is Phuket’s short street with gay bars and restaurants. All the bars here have nightly drag shows, and the entrance is free, though, visitors are expected to buy drinks. The street starts getting more lively around 10.00 P.M. to 11.00 P.M.
This street is open every night from 8.00 P.M. to 10.00 P.M.
After Beach Bar – Enjoy your cocktail drinks or bottle of beer with a beautiful sunset at the After Beach Bar. Reggae fans would love this bar, they play Bob Marley songs, and great vibes at night. The bar gets a stunning view of the beach, and they operate 10.00 A.M. – 10.00 P.M. every day, and you can drive to the bar. No entrance, you just need to buy drinks and some food.
10. SHOPPING IN PHUKET
Shopping in fancy malls in Thailand can be the same price as some countries overseas, for instance, Singapore or Dubai.
JungCeylon – Located in the heart of Patong, and the most popular mega-mall on Phuket Island for international shopping. This mall is quite huge, and you need more than several hours to check out JungCeylon if you’re a serious shopaholic. You will come across a lot of designers and high-end international brands, which is a paradise for serious shoppers.
JungCeylon is also more than a shopping mall, but it also has some accommodations for you to reserve your holiday around the Patong area if you miss some of the city life, because it does have a bit of some city touches in it. They operate from 11.00 A.M. to 10.00 P.M.
Central Phuket – Central Phuket isestablished with two wings, Central Floresta and Central Festival. It’s one of the mega malls in Phuket, and as well as Thailand.
Just like JungCeylon, you will find expensive designer brands, and the Central Department store, which is a shop, and has brand shops inside it, often has its own discounts and sales. If you’re looking for designer brands with the recent trends on promotion, Central Phuket might be the place for you. You can bring your own vehicle and park in their parking space. They open from 10.30 A.M. – 10.00 P.M.
Premium Outlet Phuket – The place is a paradise for shoppers who aren’t serious about the seasonal trends, and keeping up the fashion. If you’re into name brands, the Premium Outlet is the place to go to, because the sales can go up to 80%.
The products are rejected from the factory or out of seasonal trend, and still in 100% shape. The outlet is quite huge, and may take a while for you to figure out what you would like to get. A lot of the products get huge discounts, and you can’t believe that they’re name brands.
There are also some fast-food restaurants if you need a quick bite for your hunger. It opens every day from 10.00 A.M. – 21.00 P.M.
Naka Market – Naka Market is a gigantic and spacious market, and you can find tons of things, from souvenirs to phone accessories. Though, it’s not so easy to get lost in this market, but it can very busy, so you have to be very careful of pickpocketing.
If you’re looking for shopping on a budget, this place is the place to go. It isn’t so fancy but you can find a lot of things here. You don’t have to worry about getting hungry, this place has got tons of food stalls lined up just to serve your dinner. Thailand is well known for its street food stalls, and this is the market for you to try some street food.
11. IDEAL DURATION OF STAY
The perfect duration of staying in Phuket, ideally, should be 3 days. Since you’re in Thailand, you’d want to explore more of Thai culture, and the ways of life in Phuket.
Here’s a sample of your itinerary:
● Day 1:
○ Morning: Big Buddha and Wat Chalong
○ Afternoon: Karon or Kata Beach
○ Sunset: Phromthep Cape
○ Evening: Local seafood by Rawai Beach
● Day 2:
○ Morning – Afternoon: Island hopping, snorkeling
○ Evening: Chillva Market
● Day 3:
○ Morning: Cooking Class
○ Afternoon: Shopping
○ Evening: Nightlife
12. MONEY SAVING TIPS
Staying in Phuket for several weeks can be costly if you don’t manage your money wisely, and work on your research properly.
1. Eating street food or where the locals eat – Thailand is well known for its street food, and a lot of street food vendors charge you more than half less of the price, and the food is more authentic than a lot of the restaurants. There are many tiny restaurants that cater to the locals, and if you spot locals eating out with a mixed blend of tourists, that’s where you should go, because the food price is fixed to everyone. Do be careful some places charge a bit extra, and call it “farang price” meaning foreigner price.
2. Cooking at your accommodation – There are apartments that charge daily rates, and provide your cooking equipment in your room. Cooking while you’re on holiday will save you tons of money if you aren’t much of a foodie. You can get a whole kilogram of oatmeal for only $2 USD at Makro SuperMarket.
3. Buy alcoholic drinks at Super Cheap – Super Cheap is Phuket’s local convenience store, and you can basically get almost everything there in bulks. Getting a beer there is even a couple of Thai Baht cheaper than 7/11.
4. Renting out a motorbike or riding songtaews – As said earlier, hiring a taxi here is very costly. Riding songtaews can save you tons, although, it can take you a while to get where you want to be. And renting out a motorbike can save you tons as well, you just need to be careful of other motorists on the road. A lot of them love to drive really fast.
5. Take free shuttle services – If your hotel/area has got free shuttle services, this is a great way to save money. When you book your hotel, you can check if your hotel provides these services. These free shuttle services usually drop their guests off at popular places within the area.
6. Low season is good for your wallet – Prices drop like crazy during this season, and it is much quieter.
7. Be confident in bargaining – In the local street markets, if you intend to buy several items, it’s easier for you to bargain, so the more you buy the cheaper the price gets. There are some locals that are struggling to pay for their bills, and chipping in the full price of your single purchase could help them a lot.
8. Bring your own water bottle – Tap water isn’t drinkable in Thailand, but however, having your own water bottle will always come in handy.
There are some cafes and restaurants that are trying to encourage consumers to reduce single plastic bottles, and there you can refill your water bottle. There’s an app you can download called Refill My Bottle, which helps you to locate refillable water stations in developing countries.
13. COSTS & SUGGESTED BUDGET
If you’re on a backpacker budget, you can eat out on local food for $2 USD (60 THB) for each meal, this budget doesn’t include alcoholic drinks. One can of Singha beer is $1.5 USD (45 THB). You can find hostels in Phuket that are $5 USD (150 THB) per night during the low season if you intend to stay more than 3 nights. There are plenty of free activities and attractions, and on this budget, you can spend more on other activities that you’ve always wanted to do.
The Mid -Range budget – if you intend to stay in Phuket for 1 week during the low season at a 3-star hotel, you can spend $30 USD (900 THB) per night at a boutique resort with breakfast buffet included. Phuket can be very expensive if you look at the wrong places. You can dine out at a Thai restaurant, and spend $10 USD (300 THB) on two meals, if your breakfast is already included in your accommodations. $20 USD (600 THB) is based on public taxi fees and daily car rental. As a mid-range budget traveler, you could have the luxury to spend a bit more on attractions as well, this includes guided tours or day trips for $33 USD (1000 THB).
You can still stay at one of the most luxurious resorts and hotels in Phuket and you can enjoy all-inclusive packages offered by them. There are some 5-star properties that offer $82 USD (2,720 THB) per night with all-inclusive meals, and beautiful beachfront in Nai Yang or 8 nights with 4 free nights, all-inclusive meals, activities, and transfer service provided by the property.
The chart below is a guide based on personal experience, and gives you a solid idea of the expenses in Phuket, however, each traveler spends differently:
|Accommodations||Food||Transportation||Attractions||Average Daily Cost|
14. STAYING SAFE IN PHUKET
Looking out for petty crimes – Scams and pickpocketing are very common in touristy places in Thailand in general. If you’re going to touristic places full of people, make sure you tuck away your money well. You can still get scammed by taxi drivers in Thailand, and even the Thai tourists get scammed, especially to those who are new to the area.
If you’re going out for a drink at the bars down at Bangla Road, do be aware that your drinks could be overcharged, even though you have ordered only one beer.
Female Solo Travelers – If you’re a woman, it is best to avoid the party areas, and not walk alone under dim street lights at night.
Travel Insurance, better safe than sorry – Getting good travel insurance can save you lots of issues, in case of injuries, and other issues that may occur. You can never be too careful.
15. TRAVEL TIPS ESPECIALLY FOR FIRST TIMERS
Currency Exchange – Thailand uses the Thai Baht, and you’re able to exchange money at the airport if you carry some cash on you and later you can do that at banks. Exchanging money at local banks is much safer than the currency booths.
If you prefer to use your ATM card, it is the safest to withdraw money at the bank’s ATM machine.
Avoid peak season – If you avoid going to Phuket during the peak season, you’re going to avoid the mass crowds on the beach, high prices, and the crazy hustle-bustle of the island. It’s much easier to explore the island by avoiding the peak season, and you wouldn’t want to be rushed around during your holiday.
Book tours and activities through your hotel or a reputable tour operator – If you’re looking for some activities to do on Phuket, make sure you’re booking with a reputable operator. There are tons of unprofessional ones around Phuket that try to scam tourists.
Learning some Thai customs, especially the DO’s and DON’TS– When you travel abroad, it really helps if you learn their customs and mannerism, because you would want to avoid offending anyone. You can ask your private tour guide, Thai friends, or hotel staff on these Thai customs.
In Thailand, it is very offensive if you touch somebody’s head, point your toes directly at someone, and put your feet up high in public.
It is a criminal offense to the Thai monarchy, and the kingdom still has some of the strictest lese majeste laws, even if you are an occasional visitor, this is something you need to be aware of. The person can be imprisoned up to 15 years, if they decide to defame the Thai Monarchy.