Phuket is the biggest destination for tourism in Thailand. This is where you see all the good and bad of Thai tourism – from overdeveloped beaches and sex tourism, to tiny towns with no tourists and authentic Thailand. You’ll find great beaches and amazing activities this island, and if you stay away from Patong beach, you can avoid most of the over-development and crowds. Phuket draws a lot of tourists, and if you really want to enjoy the area, get out of the main spots.
Hostel prices – Double private rooms start at $14 USD per night, with dorm rooms averaging $7 USD or more. These rooms will have shared bathrooms and fans too.
Budget hotel prices – A night in a budget hotel will usually cost around $17 USD for a room with air conditioning.
Average cost of food – Compared to the rest of Thailand, food is a bit more expensive here. Lunch at a local Thai restaurant will cost around $3 USD. Western meals will cost around $10 USD. Dinner with drinks can typically cost around $8 USD or more. If you are having a fish meal or getting wine, expect to pay around $20 USD. In the major tourist area, you’ll probably pay 25% more.
Transportation costs- A motorbike taxi will cost on average $1.75 USD, with a tuk tuk around the island costing about $10 USD.
Money Saving Tips
Eat the street food – Speaking of street food, don’t be afraid to eat it. It’s safe- even safer than a restaurant. If it wasn’t, the Thai wouldn’t be packing the stalls each day. You’ll find the best of Thailand’s food on the street, and it will cost you a fraction of what you pay at a restaurant.
Get beer at the 7-11 – Buy your beers from the supermarket as they are much cheaper here than anywhere else. Most bars don’t have corkage fees, so you can also bring spirits and just buy ice and mixers.
Ride in a songtaew – These are converted pickup trucks are shared taxis that cost a lot less than a tuk tuk or a taxi, coming in at around $0.75 USD.
Top Things to See and Do
Cruise around Phang Nga Bay – The best way to view the awe-inspiring limestone islands is by taking a leisurely trip or cruise through the glorious emerald-green waters. With limestone cliffs and collapsed caves, you’ll really feel like you’ve found paradise. And whilst gliding through the waters, stop to enjoy some of the quiet beaches. The beauty of this place is something that you have to see to believe and is something that will always leave a memorable impression.
Visit the temples – Phuket is distinctive for its temples. One in particular that is definitely a must see is Wat Chalong. The biggest and most impressive of all of Phuket’s 29 Buddhist monasteries, it is associated with the monks, Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chaung. For this reason a lot of Thai come here to be blessed.
Skip Patong – This is the main tourist section of Phuket, filled with crowded beaches, resorts, hawkers, stores, bars, and sadly, a lot of sex tourists. Unless you want to get drunk a lot, try to avoid this beach at all costs.
Watch Thai boxing – To see something truly Thai, book yourself in to watch some Thai boxing. Saphan Hin Stadium is the destination to see regular matches or go to Patong Beach where you can watch these disciplined fighters in action.
Head to Khao Phra Thaeo – Take a trip to the Khao Phra Thaeo Conservation Development and Extension Center, a center focused on preserving the environment. The center contains a park which is home to a number of endangered animals, and also contains giant trees in the midst of dense a dense forest.
Get your beach time on Hat Karon – For a change of scenery and beach, make your way to Hat Karon. A long, white-sand beach, it is home to a coral reef which stretches towards Kata and Bu Island. It’s also possible to feast in the restaurants and shop in the tourist stores which are located close to the beach.
Stop at the Thalang National Museum – If you are eager to find out more about historical Phuket, then make a visit to the Thalang National Museum. The Museum holds an exhibition of ancient artifacts from Old Phuket and items used during the war with Burma. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the history of the island.
Enjoy the viewpoints – Phuket has many viewpoints. Promthep tends to be the most popular, but other great spots include the Kata viewpoint. Nothing is better than watching a golden sunset from these points.
Rent a bike – Renting either a bike or motorbike will give you more freedom to explore Phuket. Find your way to Laem Singh Beach, a more secluded and laid-back spot with some great snorkeling opportunities.
Explore Sirinat National Park – This national park was founded in the early ’80s, and consists of three beach areas along the northwest coast of Phuket. This is a good place for camping. During the spring, endangered Leatherback Turtles come here to lay their eggs.
Make a trip to the Similian Islands – These islands are a bit of a journey – three hours from Phuket – but they are completely worth it. The area boasts some of the best diving in the world. On top of that, the island topography is both bizarre and stunning, with unique rock formations.