Chill & Relax on the Beach
Phuket has more than 40 beaches, and the Andaman Sea is warm all year round. Head to any of Phuket’s beaches, put a towel or sarong down in the sand, and enjoy a stress-free day of soaking up the sun and swimming in the turquoise waters that surround the island.
The island’s northernmost beaches, such as Layan, Naithon and Mai Khao, are often quiet even during peak season. The east coast beaches are also considered hidden gems and not often frequented by tourists. The beaches in the southern part of the island are some of the most popular.
Snorkelling and kayaking are enticing activities in Phuket, and it is possible to rent snorkelling gear for an affordable price. Additionally, beaches such as Yanui in the south, offer kayak rental for around 300 baht per hour.
Experience Local Markets
Make sure to visit any of Phuket’s extremely colourful and vibrant local markets. The atmosphere of the markets is fun and lively; they are a great place to wander and will give you insight into everyday local Thai life.
Fresh fruit and produce are incredibly affordable at the island’s local markets and often it is possible to buy homemade, pre-packaged Thai food, such as curry and rice or stir-fried noodles, for a fraction of the price paid at a restaurant.
Visit Phuket’s Shrines & Temples
In Phuket, temple-hopping is an obvious choice as all of the island’s beautiful Buddhist temples and colourful Chinese shrines are free to visit. Do not miss Wat Chalong, Phuket’s most famous Buddhist temple, or the massive Big Buddha, a 45-metre tall statue that is located atop the Nakkerd Hills and towers over southern Phuket.
Notable Chinese shrines to visit include the semi-secluded Shrine of Serene Light on Phang Nga Road, and Jui Tui Shrine which is an important site during the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival.
Enjoy Phuket’s Viewpoints
Phuket has a handful of beautiful, scenic viewpoints which are all worth visiting. Entrance to all of these viewpoints is free, and each boasts stunning island views. Do not forget to take a camera!
Phuket’s sunsets are best experienced at the southern viewpoints including Promthep Cape, Windmill Viewpoint and Karon Viewpoint. Rang Hill Viewpoint in Phuket Town affords sweeping views across the island and across the bay. Khao Khad Viewpoint, located near Ao Yon Beach, has fantastic views of eastern and southern Phuket.
Eat Like a Local
Phuket boasts some of the very best food in Thailand, and eating like a local while visiting the island is incredibly cheap. Skip the packed beachfront restaurants, and head to the local street carts which are positioned on every corner across the island. Indulge in delicious fare such as grilled meats on skewers, crispy fried chicken, stir-fried noodles, and of course, the world famous Pad Thai. For dessert, grab a sweet pancake, locally referred to as roti, stuffed with bananas and slathered in sweetened condensed milk.
For a local dining experience in Phuket Town, visit Lock Tien. This al fresco local food court has a variety of stalls and tables for dining. Here, it is possible to sample Phuket specialities such as Hokkien-style fried noodles, freshly prepared spring rolls stuffed with shrimp and pork, and Lo Ba – deep-fried pork giblets served with a sweet brown dipping sauce.
Explore Phuket Old Town
The charming Phuket Old Town district is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Phuket, and a must-visit destination while on the island. The streets of the Old Town are lined with pastel-coloured Sino-Portuguese shophouses, family-run businesses, and plenty of cafés and coffee shops.
Bring your camera when exploring Phuket Old Town as there are many interesting buildings to take photographs of and plenty of Instagram-worthy spots. Make sure to wander the streets to find the interesting graffiti art and murals painted by local artists. For a respite from the heat, grab a cool beverage and sit under the shade of the trees at Queen Sirikit Park.
Getting Around Phuket on a Budget
Public transport in Phuket is often tricky to navigate, but it is possible to get around the island on a budget. Taxi and tuk tuk prices are usually expensive in Phuket, so it is best to agree upon a fixed price with the driver before heading to your destination.
Slower, more affordable ways to travel around Phuket include the local pink and blue buses which have routes from Phuket Town to almost all of the beach neighbourhoods and major tourist attractions.
From the airport, the Phuket Smart Bus is a comfortable and convenient way to get all of the beach areas at a reasonable price. The bus is not fast, however, and travel time from the airport to a requested destination can take anywhere from one to two hours.
Where To Stay in Phuket
Phuket has accommodation options to suit all budgets, but if you are looking to save money while on the island, there are plenty of budget accommodation options and hostels. Many of the hostels also offer co-working spaces for digital nomads on the go.
There are also a few local homestay options in Phuket which make for a unique experience. For a fixed price, stay with a local family and experience the daily life of a Thai as you accompany the family fishing, visiting the farm or tapping rubber trees.
Although increasingly expensive and suffering from overdevelopment, Phuket is still a wonderful island to visit. It is possible to have an authentic travel experience on the island, on a budget, and we hope our suggestions help travellers do that.