As Thailand’s largest island, Phuket has built a reputation as a party island; full of sun, sea and a thriving nightlife. Patong Beach is a popular spot for tourists looking for bars and restaurants whilst authentic towns and quieter beaches can be found elsewhere in Phuket.
There are some great day trips available to visit neighbouring islands such as Phi Phi or the James bond Island, as well as activities for those looking for some adventure. Thai boxing is a popular choice for many whilst Temples and Buddhas are also among the bars of Phuket as well as some scenic walks and view points. You can take a day trip for a tour of the island, which often includes an elephant ride and visit to the beautiful waterfalls. A thai cookery class is a favourite activity of ours whilst in Phuket.
Hostel/Budget rates – Private rooms and dorm beds can be found from 250฿ per night based in Patong Beach whilst dorm beds can be found 300฿ in the Kata beach area.
Midrange Hotel rates – Budget hotels in Patong can be found between 650฿- 1200฿ whilst hotels at a similar standard in Kata can be found between 500฿ – 1500฿.
Luxury Hotel rates – 1500฿+ for Patong Beach and 1850฿+ for Kata Beach. Both beaches and islands off Phuket offer top rated private villas and bungalows a lot cheaper than those found in the Maldives or similar.
Transport – Walking around the area is the best and cheapest option, with day trips relatively cheap. Tuk Tuks cost around 335฿ around the island whilst motorbike taxis cost around 60฿ – 80฿.
Average cost of food – Phuket is more expensive than most other areas of Thailand, with many western meals costing upwards of 330฿ with a nice two course meal and drinks costing around 500B. A thai or local restaurant will set you back around 100฿ for lunch and 400฿ – 600฿ for dinner. Local beers are often under 100฿ whilst imported beers are found between 100฿ – 140฿.
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – Dfeel Hostel is a popular place for those heading to Patong beach. With dorms starting at 250฿ and private rooms starting at 275฿ per person, this is a great choice for those looking for somewhere to relax near the beach and in walking distance to the bars and restaurants. Those looking to stay in the quieter Kata area, check out the FIN Hostel Phuket Kata Beach, just a 5 minute walk to the beach and dorms starting at 250฿ as well as private rooms available for 425฿ per person.
Midrange – Apsara Resident Phuket is a Modern take on the traditional thai styled residence, just 500 metres from Patong Beach; private rooms start at 294฿ per person. The Chanalai Romantica Resort is a top rated 4 star hotel in Kata beach, costing just 975฿; rooms with pool access are available.
Top End – Royal Pawadee Village Patong is a top choice for this looking for some luxury and relaxation; unfortunately it was fully booked during our previous stay to Phuket. Nestled in a tropical garden setting, rooms start from 1650฿ a night. During our stay at Patong Beach, we spent 4 nights at the Safari Beach Hotel, which offered close proximity to the beach and restaurants as well as a fantastic pool area. Room prices seem to have risen since our stay, costing 2750฿ a night. Kata Lucky Villa and Pool Access is a stunning hotel with villas starting at 1940฿ a night.
How to get there
There are a few different ways to travel to Phuket from Bangkok.
Fly – Flights from all major airports fly to Phuket; often via Bangkok. When traveling from Bangkok, flights can be found from 1500฿ and upwards with budget airline; Air Asia. The beaches of Phuket are about 45 minutes to an hour away from Phuket International Airport, with taxis available from the airport and costing around 500฿ – 600฿. There is an airport bus service that runs into Phuket City costing 85฿ with taxi and Tuk Tuks then available from the bus station to the beaches for 300฿ if that is where you are staying. Shared minibuses are also available from 160฿ – 180฿ per person but don’t leave the airport until full and can be slow, with various drop offs. Some minibuses in Phuket also stop at a travel agent on the way, hoping to gain commission on those selling tours etc. An airport bus is now available from Phang-Nga Road to Phuket International.
Bus – Day and night buses are available from Bangkok, taking around 12 hours. You do get to see some lovely countryside during day buses and the Government VIP buses offer nice chairs and a direct journey. There have been many reports in recent years, of bags and items going missing during long bus rides on private companies buses. Avoid private company buses being sold in popular tourist spots such as Khao San Road. Buy your ticket directly from the bus station and stick to the Government run buses.
Ferry – Ferries are available from Phi Phi, Koh manta and Krabi, with journeys from Phi Phi taking 90 minutes and leaving twice a day.
There are buses available between Phuket City and the surrounding beaches with fees starting at 15฿. If you have a driving license, you may wish to rent a motorbike to get you around Phuket but take care as Thailand’s lack of hideaway code and poor roads often lead to rider injuries and fatalities. Long-tail and speed boats can be hired for a pleasant trip around the island, whilst ferries and tour company boats are available for trips to near-by islands. Meter taxis are normally only available from the airport with many taxis in tourist areas being unlicensed taxis. Agree on the fare beforehand and don’t be afraid to haggle. If your unsure, ask your hotel to order you a taxi.