Welcome to Thailand’s biggest island and the second most popular tourist destination in the country. Phuket is both a launching point to some of the most spectacular southern Island scenery, boasting such postcard perfect beaches like Koh Phi Phi and Krabi to raucous nightlife of the infamous Bangla Road. But besides being the launching point to some of the best destinations in Thailand, Phuket is also a thriving destination itself where you can, if you choose, get away from the crowds, find quiet corner and just relax and enjoy the stunning scenery by yourself. And being an Island, you are always within a few minutes of a beach, no matter where you are.

Why Go to Phuket? 

I think the question here is more like, “Why NOT go to Phuket?” Phuket is one of the most desirable, and more affordable, tropical, beach holiday destinations in the world. There is good reason for that. Stunning scenery, beautiful sunsets, gorgeous beaches, and an inviting turquoise sea are all reasons to spend your entire holiday on this island. In fact, some tourists love it so much, they never leave.

Most people come here for the beaches. Like many of Thailand’s islands, the beaches have soft, white sand that will make you never want to wear shoes again, and the Thai hospitality does not disappoint on Phuket. The locals will attend to your every need and desire. The range of accommodation here is astounding and there is something for every budget, so don’t worry if you’re a backpacker in the midst of an eight-month trip or a luxury traveler looking for an indulgent week of sand and surf.

Not everyone goes to Phuket to languish on the beaches. Some prefer to take advantage of the water sports and incredible diving opportunities. There’s a golf course for those of you that must have it, and tropical forests for the nature lovers out there. Speedboats can take you away from the island for a day for a change of scenery and when you return, the hopping nightlife and vibrant culture of Phuket will be ready and waiting.

The famous (or infamous?) Patong Beach isn’t all Phuket has to offer. There are so many beaches here, there is one for every type of traveler. Phuket Town is an attractive option for those who don’t plan to spend all their time at the beach. Keep reading to discover why so many tourists come here every year and why so many more want to. This is your guide to Phuket.

When to Go to Phuket

promthep-capeIs there a bad time to go to Phuket? Some would say no, and I would probably agree. However, there are different seasons in Phuket that may affect what activities you want to do. Here’s the lowdown on the best time to visit Phuket.

High Season – November, February to April

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Weather during these months is mostly dry with low humidity. The sea is calm, so swimming, diving, snorkeling, and other water sports can be enjoyed with relative ease. In March, temperatures rise to about 30+ with April being the hottest month. But with little rainfall, it is an ideal time to enjoy sun and sand.

Hotel prices will be lower than in December and January, and the beaches won’t be as crowded, but there will still be tourists aplenty. Traffic can be a bit of a problem during high season.

April is also when the Thai people celebrate Songkran, a water festival meant to celebrate the beginning of the Thai New Year. I went to Thailand in April and didn’t get wet, but it is possible you could get doused with water by a complete stranger, especially in the towns. Book early for accommodation and flights because both will sell out quickly during the celebrations.

There is more chance of rain near the end of April.

Peak Season – December and January

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December means the rainy season is mostly gone and tourist numbers increase every day, especially for the New Year’s celebrations. Thailand is a Buddhist country primarily, but they do celebrate Christmas. Retail shops take advantage of the tourist numbers and decorate their shops. Hotels and restaurants even have Christmas dinner. You should check to see if this is automatically included in your room charges even if you don’t want it.

January probably has the best weather of the year with little rain and very low humidity, but warm temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius are perfect for enjoying the water. With so many tourists, the nightlife is rocking.

New Year’s Eve is one of the most popular holidays in Thailand. There are lots of fireworks and no shortage of celebrations.

No matter if you go to Phuket in December or January, I advise booking accommodation and flights early. Both months are the busiest times of the year.

Low Season – May to October

150420092509Average temperatures drop a bit, but humidity rises. On the up side, tourist numbers drop as well. Travelers can find super cheap package holiday deals during this time, but so can couples and solo travelers, and there are big hotel discounts available. It’s possible to find discounts of more than 50% on hotels, especially during May which is one of the wettest months of the year.

The pros are that the crowds are gone and there’s a more laid back atmosphere in the towns and on the beaches. There is still plenty of nightlife, you just might not have to wait as long for your food and drinks.

The big downside during these months is that the water becomes choppy and may not be ideal for diving or other water sports.

June is the best month to visit Phuket during the low season. While it might rain, showers are short. Conditions are not ideal for scuba diving, which is a down side. July is much like June in terms of weather and tourist numbers.

September is THE wettest month of the year. If you want a restaurant all to yourself in Phuket, this is the month to come. There’s virtually no traffic and the pace of life goes from slow to near stop, but you’ll be spoiled by shop owners and restaurant owners who want your business.

Local Tip: For the shoulder season where (weather patterns permitting) you get blue skies, less heat, and no cloudy days, try your luck in the middle of October. The prices will be lower, and if you are lucky, the weather about the same as the peak season. Since it’s not yet high season, there’s less tourists in the area. This is MY favorite time of the year to be in Phuket.

How to Get There

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From Bangkok

Here’s a summary of the general transport options from Bangkok, Chaing Mai, or Krabi to Phuket.

Option 1: Flights

The quickest way to Phuket from Bangkok is to fly. The flight is about 1.5 hours and by far, the quickest way to Phuket. There are two airports in Bangkok. Prices vary depending on which airport you fly out of.

Don Mueang Airport has flights starting at 3:30am and there are over 25 flights a day. Flights run from 1000 to 2300 baht depending on time of departure.

Suvarnabhumi Airport has flights beginning at 6:30am and they have about 6 flights a day. Flights run from 1600 – 2800 baht.

Option 2: Train + Bus

The train departs from Hua Lamphong in Bangkok at 7:30pm and at Suratthani you have to switch to the bus. This journey takes around 16.5 hours and costs about 1900 baht for a 1st class sleeper. A 2nd class sleeper is around 1300 baht.

Option 3: Bus

Buses depart from Southern Terminal and the journey by bus takes 13 to 14 hours. This is by far the cheapest way to go with prices ranging from 660 to 1000 baht. There are about 18 buses a day.

Option 4: Taxi

Yes, you can take a taxi from Bangkok to any hotel in Phuket for the low, low price of 13000 to 16000 baht. The company is PGS and the journey takes about 12 hours.

From Chiang Mai

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Option 1: Flight

From Chiang Mai Airport you can take a 2 hour flight to Phuket Airport on Thai AirAsia for about 3500 baht, or a 1 hour 45-minute flight on Thai Smile for about 5700 baht.

Option 2: Bus

This bus ride takes one day and 3 hours. Yep, that’s 27 hours on a bus for 1700 baht. My advice? Save money elsewhere and pay twice as much to fly.

From Krabi

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Option 1: Ferry

This ferry is run by Chaokoh Travel Center and runs once a day at 10:30am for a cost of about 900 baht. It leaves from Klong Jilard Pier in Krabi and takes you to Rassada Pier, Phuket.

Option 2: Taxi

You can decide your departure time with Andaman Taxis. From Krabi Airport to various beaches on Phuket, costs can range from 2500 to 3500 baht. From the bus terminal in Krabi, it takes about 3 hours and you can decide your departure time. Cost is about the same in baht as it is from the airport.

If you want to take a taxi from Krabi Town to Phuket, it takes about 2. 5 hours and you can use Ground Business or Andaman taxis, arranging your departure time yourself. Prices range from 2500 to 4500 baht depending on where you want to be dropped off in Phuket.

Best Things to Do and See in and around Phuket

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Phuket has some fabulous destinations, both on the island and in the area around it. You can easily spend a full week exploring the island. If you want to catch both Phuket, yet jump off to the surrounding islands, give yourself a full 3-4 days on Phuket to see the key sights.

#1 Visit Phang Nga Bay

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Phang Nga Bay is popular for a reason. It has nooks and crannies waiting to be explored, but is very popular with tourists and tour groups and can get crowded. The limestone karsts make for a dramatic backdrop, which could be how this location ended up in a James Bond movie, and it is now famous. All over the world. With everyone. But it is popular for another reason and that is because of its stunning beauty. The thing to do here is take a relaxing kayak around the various limestone islands in the bay, but preferably not with a tour group. Book your own privately.

The island in the bay made famous by the James Bond movie is called Koh Ta-pu, or Nail Island. You might want to lunch at the Muslim fishing village nearby called Koh Panyee. This entire village is on stilts, jutting out over the water. Talk about picturesque.

Fortunately, bus tours view this island from the road and never make it down to the water.

You’ll also want to check out Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. It takes about 30 minutes to drive here from Phuket and affords an incredible view of Phang Nga Bay at sunrise. Yes, it faces east and is worth the drive in the wee hours to see what awaits when the sun comes up. Note that this viewpoint is on Phuket Island, with a view of Phang Nga Bay.

#2 Old Phuket Town

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Phuket Town is unlike any other part of the island. It’s not about beaches and bars. It’s a mix of Thai, Portuguese, Chinese, and colonial architecture. There are some truly authentic and fantastic restaurants in Phuket Town. You can read about some of them in Where to Eat in Phuket. It’s a fantastic place to spend an afternoon or an entire day wandering the streets, visiting the shops, eating the food, and drinking the unique cocktails at some of the local bars. Be sure to bring your camera because there are many great photos to be had here.

#3 Bangla Road Nightlife

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Bangla Road is the most famous road in all of Phuket. Famous for what? Nightlife. All kinds of nightlife. With no shortage of bars, nightclubs, ladyboys, and exotic dancers, there’s a little something here for anyone who likes to party. If you’re going to have a good time on Bangla Road, you’ll need a great sense of humor, a sense of wonder, and a very open mind. Bangla Road can’t be fully appreciated until you see it late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.

#4 Big Buddha

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Located near Chalong Bay at the southern end of Phuket, Big Buddha opened recently and you can see it from just about anywhere in the south of the island. This ginormous statue cost over 30 billion baht and is 45 meters high. It’s at the top of Nakkerd Hills and Buddha has a view of all of Chalong, Kata, and Rawai. Visit around sunset for a particularly spectacular view and plan to have a drink watching the last sunrays vanish at one of the tiny bars on the way to the top of the mountain that overlook the water.

#5 Simon Cabaret Show

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If you didn’t get enough of the ladyboys on Bangla Road, here’s your chance to see a few more. And they are spectacular. It’s the largest transvestite cabaret show in Phuket. The costumes, the makeup, the set, all will dazzle you. This show has been around since 1991 and it is still one of the island’s biggest attractions. This is more than just a show. The performers are genuinely talented and entertaining.

It’s not a sex show and children can attend. They will be just as dazzled as everyone else. There’s comedy, music, singing, dancing, glitz and glitter. There isn’t is a dull moment. There are three shows daily and it’s near Patong Beach on Sirirach Road.

#6 Similan Islands

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Koh Similan is an archipelago 84km northwest of Patong Beach. The biggest draw here is the sheer beauty of the islands and the turquoise waters around them. This is also considered to be one of the top 10 dive areas in the world.

It’s not as immediately famous as the other islands around Phuket with limestone formations around them, but this set of islands is beautiful and known for their dramatic boulders and white coral-sand beaches. They are usually deserted, so if you’re looking for some private, romantic getaway time, this might be the place.

However, the main reason to come here is under the water. Incredible colorful coral reefs grow beneath the sea here. There are some fantastic geographical features above ground too. As you walk among the rock formations, think about how that could have happened.

#7 Sino Heritage Walk in Phuket Town

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This walk through Phuket Town with a guide explores Phuket’s rich heritage and unique architecture that seems somewhat different from what you might expect to find on a Thai island. The architecture is Sino-Portuguese and results from the time when Europeans came here to make their fortune in the tin mines, which are now long gone. You’ll also visit the busy marketplace and an old, restored mansion, and finish with a lunch of Thai specialties.

The tour includes a guided tour in English, lunch, and transport to and from your hotel. Maximum group size is eight people. It’s a little pricey at about $51 a person, but it is a half-day tour that includes lunch and transport, and it’s a great way to learn about Phuket’s rich history and get some great photos.

Local Tip: It’s hot during the day and the long concrete streets and white-reflective buildings can make the area uncomfortable during the mid-day. Plan to go around 4:30 or 5 after the sting of the sun dissipates.

#8 Koh Yao Noi Full-Day Bike Tour

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Take a visit to Koh Yao Island and you’ll see more than just the shore while exploring by bicycle. The shoreline is amazing and the beaches get a lot of visitors, but the interior of the island is often ignored, even though there are amazing things to see here. You can ride your bike and explore the traditional fishing villages for great photo opportunities. There are rice paddies and even jungles where you can see a whole different side of Thailand compared to the beaches. This island also has mosques you can view from the outside that are somewhat unique compared to mosques in other parts of the world.

This 30km bike ride through Koh Yao Noi includes the bike, helmet, and an English-speaking guide. Of course, a tasty Thai lunch is included as well. The bike ride itself is easy along even well-marked paths. Prices run about $90 per person, but keep in mind, it’s a full day of fun and a unique experience.

#9 Thai Cooking Classes

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There are many cooking classes to choose from in Phuket, and if you love Thai food as much as I do, you might be tempted to try them all! In Phuket you can choose a beginner course, a master chef course, or any level in between. You’ll learn about ingredients, flavor balance, and cooking techniques. They are available all year.

Here are some of the most highly recommended cooking schools in Phuket.

Mom Tri’s Boathouse – Every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am to 2:00pm, this two-day course will feature different courses on each day. On both days, you’ll have lunch after the class is finished. The course is 3500 baht for both sessions or just one session for 2200 baht.

Organic Thai Cooking – This very hands-on cooking school starts at an outdoor market where you’ll buy all of your fresh produce and spices while enjoying all the sights and sounds that a Thai market has to offer. You’ll also get to see their organic farm. Class sizes max out at three people, so it is a high-quality cooking experience and you’ll participate every step of the way. Classes are daily from 8:30am to 13:00 in Rawai, at the south part of the island. For 3 dishes, the cost is 1450 baht and for five dishes the cost is 2400 baht.

Pum Cooking School  – Located near Patong Beach, Pum focuses on simple dishes and traditional Thai cuisine, but suited for a fast-paced lifestyle so you’re not spending all day in the kitchen. You’ll learn recipes that you can really make at home after you leave. The class is for beginners, but experienced Thai connoisseurs will learn a few things, too. Classes are daily, so they are easy to fit into your schedule while on the island, and they last from three to six hours. You get to choose your favorite Thai dishes and the class is tailored around your choices. Prices here are a bargain starting at 900 baht. Pum also has a school on Koh Phi Phi.

#10 Visit a Muay Thai Camp

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Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) has become more and more popular in recent years since these Thai boxers have used this unique style of boxing to win matches against much more experienced combat sport fighters who don’t know these techniques. Now people come from all over the world to learn this sport. They stay for months to learn from the best, and Phuket is reputed to have some of the best Muay Thai Camps in Thailand that cater specifically to foreigners.

In fact, Phuket has more than five Muay Thai major camps (and over a dozen if you count small gyms). Most are located in the south part of the island within running distance to the beaches.

Here I have listed three of them that have excellent reputations, in no particular order. You should do your research first to find the location that offers what you want.

Tiger Muay Thai in Chalong – The biggest training camp in Thailand, this one has no shortage of trainers and trainees, all year round. This facility is large, on almost two acres, and is located near the center of Phuket. Tiger opened in 2003. There is a weight and fitness section, and other areas that are each dedicated to a different aspect of Muay Thai. As many as 250 – 400 trainees come here each month to learn from the 34 Thai and foreign coaches. MMA is serious business here. Classes run two times daily for each level of training, and private lessons are also available. Accommodation is also available. If you want a crowded, touristed training experience, Tiger is probably the place you want to be. If you want a low key more intimate training experience, look at some of the smaller gym options. Note Tiger is primarily an MMA training camp. While you can train Muay Thai as part of MMA, the focus is on MMA.

Sumalee Boxing Gym Phuket East Coast – Here you can get Muay Thai training from experts while experiencing western style service, lodging, facilities, and even western food if you so desire. This facility is on three acres and is co-owned by Thai and British owners. It’s located in the center of the East Coast. It is equipped with weights, swimming pool, yoga studio, and even a restaurant.

Sinbi Muay Thai in Rawai – Sinbi is near Nai Harn Beach and has modern, well-equipped facilities, lodging, and qualified and experienced trainers with a good reputation. The trainers have competed at Lumpinee and Ratchadamnoen, two big stadiums in Bangkok and some have even competed internationally. After a great workout here, you’ll be competing for real against others at the camp.

AKA – The most popular alternative to Tiger Muay Thai for MMA fighters who want to train in Phuket. Emphasis is on MMA training, though Muay Thai is still included as part of the regimen.

Best Places to Eat in Phuket

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Wow. Where to begin? I hope you’re not coming to Phuket to shed some pounds. While you’re not likely to gain any with all the activities on the island, the restaurants here will tempt and taunt and I don’t think you can resist.

SEE ALSO:  Top 15 Things to Do in Bangkok

Surprisingly, or not, authentic Thai food is sometimes difficult to find in tourist areas, so I’ve listed some of the best, authentic Thai places on the island along with some that serve Western, European, and other international cuisines as well. Of course, there are recommendations for where to find a great cup of coffee.

Thai Food

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#1 One Chun Restaurant in Phuket Town $ – $$

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One Chun is as authentic as they come, with dishes primarily from southern Thailand. In addition to the great food, it’s perfect for those on a budget and the relaxed atmosphere feels like you’re right at home. It’s in a historical building on Thepkasattri Road. The 13 page menu speaks for itself. It’s 13 pages of Thai food and you’ll be tempted to try it all.

#2 Raya Restaurant in Phuket Town $ – $$

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Raya is often referred to as THE Thai restaurant in Phuket. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time when you enter this Sino-Thai mansion converted into Raya Restaurant. But not converted too much. It still retains the character of the mansion and serves up a crabmeat curry and a braised pork belly that will linger in your dreams. This restaurant doesn’t even advertise. They don’t have to. Cooking classes are available here. There’s also a short but impressive wine list. Mains from 200 – 600 baht.

#3 La Gaetana in Phuket Town $$ – $$$

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This Italian gem is owned by an actual Italian named Giovanni Ferrara and his Thai wife, Chonchita. Their goal is to make everyone feel welcome – and full. While it isn’t the cheapest restaurant in Phuket Town, it is cheaper than most Italian restaurants the world over. It’s in an 80-year-old building and has colorful décor that welcomes diners and makes them feel happy. There are only 32 tables, creating an intimate atmosphere where you can enjoy an excellent Italian wine and a salmon, tuna, and beef carpaccio. Take your time here and savor the food and ambiance. Italians never rush a meal, and you shouldn’t either when you’re here.

#4 Mom Tri’s Kitchen in Kata Noi $$$ – $$$$

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Every once in a while, the perfect restaurant trifecta comes along – location, décor, and really good food! That’s Mom Tri’s Kitchen. Located in Villa Royale on Kata Beach, it will invite you in like an old friend and you will definitely want to stay a while. You’ll have views of the Andaman Sea while enjoying a choice of over 700 wines with your traditional Thai or fusion cuisine. It’s not cheap, but it is in Thailand, so it’s likely cheaper than really good Thai food, say, in Europe. The slow-cooked veal cheek in red wine sauce comes highly recommended. There’s a cooking school here too if you want to learn how to cook exquisite Thai dishes.

#5 Joe’s Downstairs near Patong, Kalim Bay $$ – $$$

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Joe’s Downstairs is a Phuket institution and the place to go for a luxury dining experience in Phuket. The décor is fresh and white against the blue of the sea. It’s built into the side of a cliff and provides an outstanding view of the sunset while you enjoy the incredible seafood dishes on offer here. This award-winning restaurant does not disappoint with its range of international and Thai dishes, with quite a unique presentation. Prices range from 300 to 1000 baht, roughly, depending on the course, so it’s still a great bargain for this amazing food and atmosphere.

#6 Casa Nova in Chalong Bay $ – $$

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This small Italian restaurant in Chalong, at the southern end of the island, is well worth going out of the way for. It is well-known among local expats and a big favorite because of its great Italian food and low prices. If you’re longing for something that isn’t Thai, but won’t break the bank, Casa Nova is the right place for you. Outstanding pasta and a glass of wine can both be found here.

#7 Moo in Rawai $ – $$

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This local Thai restaurant is well loved by expats and locals. If the locals love it, then it must be great! The low prices, great food, and large portions make it a favorite with everyone. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and are open late. The Panang curry and pad Thai come highly recommended, but everything on the menu is great. It is busy, so wait times can be long. Settle in with a drink to wait because it will be worth it.

#8 Green Tamarind Kitchen in Rawai $$ – $$$

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This burger joint takes burgers to a whole new level. When you just aren’t feeling like another Thai meal, go here to satisfy your western food craving. Green Tamarind is owned by a Frenchmen who takes his burgers seriously. Dinner only. They also serve Thai food, but people really come here for the burgers. This restaurant offers some unique combinations and toppings for burgers, so be adventuresome!

As a local in Phuket who lives in Rawai, Green Tamarind makes one of the best burgers in Phuket and certainly the best in the Rawai area. EAT Bar & Grill is the only place that serves a better burger in Phuket (and possible…Thailand).

Here’s a picture of their burger.

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#9 EAT Bar & Grill in Karon $$ -$$$

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Located on Patak Road near Karon Beach, EAT serves up steaks and burgers that make for quite a change from Thai. The gourmet burgers are great and the Waygu burger comes highly recommended. EAT is busy, so unless you’re alone or a couple willing to sit at the bar, it is best to book a reservation. It’s small, but has a great atmosphere and drink list. They also have free wifi. Serves lunch and dinner.

#10 Sabaijai Café in Karon $

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I can’t make restaurant recommendations without at least including one café. I love my coffee, and so do most travelers. Sabaijai is the first of two cafes I recommend, both in Karon. This Thai inspired café serves a big, delicious cappuccino and gorgeous fruit smoothies. I love the mango. They also serve some pretty amazing Thai food that you wouldn’t expect from a café. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but go inside and you’ll have a great experience. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Gluten free options are available. Alcohol is also served here and they have free wifi. Mmm, I want to go right now…

#11 Mr. Coffee Italian Bakery & Coffee Shop in Karon Beach $

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If it’s pastries and cakes you love with your cuppa joe, then Mr. Coffee is the place to find both. They also have gluten free options and serve alcohol. The coffee is top notch. The Nutella tart and lemon drizzle cake are highly recommended. The mini break breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast comes with coffee and juice and all of this will only run you about 160 baht. Cheap, good, and satisfying. What more could you ask for in a café?

How to Get Around Phuket

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Getting around Phuket island might not be as simple as most tourists think. Buses only run during daytime hours and most do not have drop offs at the main beaches. Finding a tuk tuk when you need one isn’t always easy either if you are outside of Patong or Karon. But here are some options that will certainly get you where you want to be on Phuket.

Motorbike Rentals

For about 200 baht a day, you can get a smaller motorbike for rent. The law isn’t really clear about whether or not tourists need a motorbike license, but most likely a driver’s license is enough. Motorbike insurance doesn’t exist, so don’t fall for that. The third-party insurance provided by the rental companies does not cover theft. Be forewarned.

Everyone is required to wear a helmet by law and you’ll likely be pulled over and fined if you don’t. The roads are not in great shape and traffic laws are loosely interpreted. Be careful!

Car Rentals

Some of the major rental car companies like Hertz, Avis, and Budget are located at Phuket Airport and in some hotels. There are also many local companies that might offer cheaper rates, but some people like to rent from a major company they trust. Prices at the airport are usually more than in town. You can bargain, but be sure you have proper insurance.

The least expensive option for car rentals are the Suzuki jeeps parked on the roadside in Patong. These are about 800 baht a day, and in low season they are an even better bargain. If you need a car for more than a week, you might get an additional discount.

You are required to have an international driver’s license and must wear your seatbelt. There are police checkpoints, so don’t get caught without your seatbelt on. If you’re in an accident, refer everything to insurance and do not take responsibility. Do not move your car. Call the insurance company and WAIT for them to arrive!

Taxi

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Official Taxis are now metered in phuket, but usually only available at the airport. When you get to the arrivals hall, turn right and walk to the end of the terminal. There is a surcharge of 100 baht, but it would still be cheaper than the limousine service.

Note that metered Taxis  in Phuket are highly overpriced compared to other regions, such as Bangkok. In Bangkok, one can ride in a Taxi cheaply — 15 to 20 minute rides will cost you roughly 100 baht. In Phuket, a twenty-minute ride will cost you 400 to 500 baht. Expect to pay anywhere from 5x-6x the price you pay in Bangkok.

You may see other taxis on the island outside of the airport, but they are unlicensed and you must agree on the fare and pay in advance. Be sure to haggle because the quoted price will be much higher than what they will actually accept. There is usually a 100-300 baht wiggle room, depending on where your destination is. It’s possible they will stop along the way for a “shopping trip” so be sure you specify that they take you directly to your destination.

Typically from Patong to the Airport, expect to pay about 700 to 1000 baht on average for a taxi.

Buses

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Phuket has some modern air-conditioned buses, but only in Phuket City. Each fare is 10 baht and you can flag them down along their route or go to a bus stop. Press the buzzer to get off. There are two routes. Route #1 goes between Big C Dept Store and Archeewa College. Route #2 runs between Rajabhat University and Lamchan Health Centre.

There is a “beach bus” called a Song-thaew, that runs between Phuket City and the beaches. They are blue and cheap. Usually the destination is on the side of the bus and you can flag one anywhere along the route. Busses run about every 30 minutes, but some drivers wait until they have enough riders to make it worth the trip. They run from 6:00am to 6:00pm.

There is an airport bus that leaves every hour to 1.5 hours. For more info on this, check out

Tuk Tuks

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You can find a four-wheeled tuk tuk just about anywhere on Phuket, but especially in Patong. They are little red vans open at the back and the side. Four or five people can ride in them. You should agree on the fare before departure. The driver shouldn’t be charging per person. Current fares are 200 baht anywhere in Paton, but some will try to overcharge. Insist that the driver take you straight to your destination with no stops.

Boats and Ferries

You can hire a boat to go to nearby islands from Chalong Pier and Rawai. Fares depend on how many people are riding, destination, and which type of boat you wish to rent. Longtail boats are cheapest, but slow, and cost between 1000 to 3000 baht depending on the above mentioned factors. Speedboats run between 8000 to 25,000 baht.

Where to Stay in Phuket

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Phuket has every type of accommodation you can imagine available to tourists on any type of budget. From inexpensive bungalows on the beach to 5 Star hotels and resorts, you are sure to find the accommodation your heart desires. During the low season of May to October, you can find fantastic deals on all accommodation, including the most expensive resorts.

For the budget traveler, your choices will depend upon location and style, and facilities may vary greatly. Certain areas of Phuket are simply more expensive than others, with Patong Beach being the cheapest option for budget travelers. Phuket Town also has great budget options for backpackers.

These are our recommendations for the best accommodation on the island of Phuket. Just click the link to be taken to each website.

Budget $10 – $100 per night

Patong Mansion Hotel

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At around $41 a night, you’ll have to pinch yourself to believe that you’re paying only $41 a night. This hotel is great for business or fun, with an amazing pool and location. It is on Patong Beach near the International Shopping Center Jungceylong and Bangla Road. The swimming pool has a view of the town. It’s a 3 Star hotel with amenities such as air conditioning, free wifi, in room massage (not free, of course), motorbike rentals, and free breakfast! There are 32 rooms here, so best to book early during high season.

The Tint at Phuket Town

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Phuket Town, perhaps because there’s no beach there, is one of the best values on the island when it comes to lodging, and The Tint is such a bargain at about $25 to $80 a night during high season, depending on the type of room. It’s unique, quirky, and fun décor with clean lines and minimal furnishings make for a comfortable stay. Amenities include free wifi, 24-hour front desk, a car park, air conditioning and fridge in the rooms, restaurant and room service. It’s a 2 Star hotel, but it seems more like a 3 Star. It’s in a great location to explore Phuket Town and all of the island.

Manohra Cozy Resort

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This 3 Star hotel is near Karon Beach and has 29 luxurious, spacious rooms with balconies in the main wing and patios in the garden wing. Rooms here have air conditioning, minibar, free wifi, free breakfast, and room service. There’s a lovely pool with views of the sunset. At $14 to $55 a night, this is a bargain at Karon Beach.

Serenity Resort & Residences Phuket

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Situated in Rawai on the east coast of Phuket, you’ll find a much more tranquil atmosphere here than on the west coast. This is a top choice for a number of reasons. Lodging here includes options ranging from spacious, modern well-appointed rooms, suites, and penthouse suites, not to mention beachside pool residences, but those will move you out of the budget category. Rooms include kitchenettes, blackout curtains, and even iPod docking stations. The pool here is surrounded by sun beds (actual beds, not chairs!) and has a stunning view of the Andaman Sea and surrounding islands. The serenity rooms and some suites are just under $100 a night, making this a luxurious place to stay without the luxury price tag. During low season, rates are even more impressive.

Midrange $100 – $160 per night

Baan Karon View

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Situated on Karon Beach, these 24 apartments are spacious, modern, and comfortable. You’ll have a living room, kitchen, and spacious bedroom for all your family members. There’s a beautiful pool, fitness center, and restaurant. Rooms are air conditioned and have free wifi and free breakfast. Balconies provide a wonderful view of the Andaman Sea. The restaurant serves Thai and international cuisine. It’s only a 15-minute drive from Patong Beach and the nightlife. Apartments range from $130 to $230 a night, but you’re getting a full- service apartment.

Amari Phuket

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This hotel is on Meun-Ngem Road, hidden away near Patong Beach, and it’s the perfect holiday spot for those looking for a relaxing holiday. This midrange option has luxurious rooms and top-notch restaurants. There’s also a private, secluded beach for hotel residents only. The Breeze Spa can help you relax if the beach and pool aren’t doing the trick. Amenities include pool, fitness center, free wifi, business center, free parking, and breakfast is also included. Rooms here rent from $135 to $450 a night, depending on season and room choice.

Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort

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Situated on a hillside near Kamala Cove, this 5 Star resort provides stunning views of the Andaman Sea and gorgeous sunsets. There are 199 rooms, each with balconies, and are spacious and luxurious. Some rooms have a private pool. The property has an incredible infinity pool with views of the sunset. Amenities include fitness center, restaurant and bar, free wifi, business center, free parking, and air-conditioned rooms. Prices range from $110 to $500 a night depending on the season and type of room.

High $160 + per night

The Surin Phuket – This luxury resort is suitable for families or couples who want to relax on the beachfront in a peaceful setting. It’s located on Pansea Beach, one of the lesser known beaches on Phuket. There are 103 cottages on this property, either hillside or beachfront, all set among coconut trees and the property leads down to a small, but delightful, coral reef. Amenities at this luxury property include a stunning pool, fitness center, spa, free wifi and free breakfast. Rooms are air conditioned and there is a business center for those who just can’t totally leave work behind. Rates are from $200 to $1030 a night depending on the type of cottage you rent.

Best Place to stay in Phuket

Normally, I list the top-rated hotel in each location, which is often the most expensive resort in the location, in this section, but listing THE best place to stay in Phuket when there are so many options is near impossible. As a result, I have listed the top midrange resort and luxury resort on the island, in my opinion. I also chose to avoid Patong as I think other locations appeal to a broader range of tourists.

Top Recommendation – Luxury – The Chava Resort, Surin Beach

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This was a tough one to choose, but when I saw the outdoor areas, I knew this was the best place to stay in Phuket. This isn’t your typical resort or hotel. It is located on Surin Beach, a stunning beach on Phuket’s West Coast. These apartments, yes, apartments, not rooms, have air conditioning, free wifi, flat screen TV (but I don’t think anyone ever uses it), a fully stocked mini-bar, and the piece de resistance is that some apartments have plunge pools. Between the great decks for sunbathing and your very own plunge pool, it was no contest to choose this as a top recommendation.

Rooms in the apartments are spacious and modern with beautiful traditional Thai touches. Apartments are full-service and have kitchens and a dining area. The bathrooms will make you want to linger like you’re in a spa. It’s just a two-minute walk from Surin Beach, but if you’re not in the mood for sand, the stunning pool is equally as beautiful and relaxing.

The bar and restaurant here overlook the pool and offer authentic Thai cuisine as well as Western cuisine. There are other restaurants nearby. The front desk can make a reservation for you.

What does all this cost? Well, it is luxury and it is Phuket. Prices for a deluxe two-bedroom apartment during high season run about $400 a night. For about $50 more, you can have your own private plunge pool. Other apartments are more expensive.

Top Recommendation – Midrange – Nook Dee Boutique Resort, Kata Beach, Karon

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Nook Dee (it means very fun!) is popular with both beachgoers and business travelers, mainly because of the incredible facilities you get in this price range. This 2016 World Luxury Hotel Award Winner is a 5 Star boutique resort. It’s luxury at a bargain price. The location on Kata Beach is about 10 miles from the town center with easy access to many off-site facilities.

The 68 spacious bedrooms here are beautifully decorated with quintessential Thai décor and modern touches. Rooms are comfy and welcoming, but feel very luxurious. Each one has a large balcony, perfect for enjoying a drink at sunset.

On-site facilities include free wifi in all rooms, 24-hour security, a fitness center, and a beautiful infinity pool with stunning views of the sea and surrounding hillside, and a highly recommended spa. The poolside bar is casual and there’s plenty of deck space for lounging. The pool is huge, so you can find a space all to yourself. The restaurant serves Thai cuisine and wonderful cocktails.

Rooms here run about $160 a night during high season. Bargains are to be had during low season.

Phuket Area Guide

promptep-capeThe island of Phuket is divided into Phuket Town on the East Coast, Patong on the West Coast, Chalong Bay to the south, and the Mai Khao region near the airport in the north. Beaches surround the island, but the most popular are on the West Coast. I will address beaches in another section.

Here you can get an idea of what each area is like in order to help you decide on accommodation. The many beaches on the island all have a different vibe and appeal to different types of people.

West Coast – Patong

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Patong has one famous street, Bangla Road, and it has more bars and nightclubs than any other street in Phuket. So it goes without saying that this is the hub of the nightlife on the island. There are hotels here ranging from super budget to smaller resorts, and they will fit pretty much any budget. Perhaps needless to say, numerous restaurants and shops take advantage of the density of tourists here, and you can book just about any activity that appeals. There are also several cultural sights you can visit in this area.

SEE ALSO:  The Ultimate Pattaya Travel Guide

Patong is great for those on a tight budget, partiers, and people who like a busy beach atmosphere. Patong is also a very central and convenient location. If you enjoy nightlife and lots of dining and shopping, then this is the beach for you.

Negatives here, for some people anyway, are that Patong is not very traditionally Thai, there is a lot of traffic, and from May to November, low season, the sea is pretty choppy.

There are so many beaches along this side of the island, but they are not as busy as Patong and don’t have the busy party atmosphere. Other beaches here include Kata, which is pretty lively, Karon beach which is relaxed and has several large resorts, and Kamala which pretty quiet and popular with retirees. I have more information about beaches in Phuket Beaches.

East Coast – Phuket Town

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Phuket Town may not be to everyone’s liking as a place to stay, but everyone should visit. It has traditional, narrow streets with amazing food options, artisan shops, and some unique sights. If you don’t want two days of your holiday to be the same, staying here will ensure that. There is a variety of historical architecture here showing changes through the years.

It’s great for backpackers on a tight budget, historians, foodies, and avid shoppers! There are many dining options here for any budget and its charm doesn’t get old.

Negatives include the no beach, heavy traffic at certain times of day, and it’s pretty deserted on weekday nights, although many don’t see this as a negative. You’ll have your choice of restaurants with no waiting.

Southern End – Chalong Bay

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Here you will find Nai Harn Beach, an area popular with locals. There aren’t many hotels here due to the geography of the hilly cove. The harbor here is great and there are several small beaches worth a visit. Snorkeling and diving are popular here as well. Travelers will find some great restaurants here, but not much in the way of shopping. It makes for a relaxing holiday, surrounded by nature, without feeling isolated. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy diving and snorkeling and a few small beaches. There’s a beautiful lagoon here as well.

Negatives include, you guessed it, choppy seas from May to November, not a lot of shopping or nightlife, and while there aren’t many fine dining options, the inexpensive, local cuisine is amazing here.

Also, on the southern tip of Phuket is Rawai Beach. This was the first tourist beach on the island, but still feels local. There is a sea gypsy village here and many local fishermen. From here, you’re in an excellent location to visit Promthep Cape and Phuket Big Buddha. There are a lot of hotels and resorts for any budget. The low-key laid back vibe here means you won’t be bothered by pesky shops and noisy nightlife, but there are some great restaurants here.

Northern End – Mai Khao

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Mai Khao sits at the northern tip of the island, near the airport and the bridge crossing to the mainland. The beach here is 11km long and the longest in Phuket, but it is largely deserted. Here you will find palm trees, almonds, and beautiful vegetation. This area may seem a bit far from everything, but there are luxury resorts here and Splash Jungle Water Park for a change of pace from the beach. But this area has a very special attraction. The majority of the beach is part of Sirinath National Park where the Giant Ridley Sea Turtles lay eggs on the beach between November and February. I don’t know to what extent this stretch of beach is protected during this time, but as a responsible tourist, please don’t use this beach from November to February. I know this is high season, but this is a LONG beach and there’s plenty of space not occupied by turtles.

Mai Khao area is great for those who are looking to leave the hustle and bustle and have a bit of luxury and alone time. People on their honeymoon often enjoy this part of Phuket. It’s also only 5km from the airport, which is convenient, but you won’t hear the noise.

Negatives here, for some, are that there are few dining options, but the resorts have amazing restaurants with a lot of variety. You won’t get tired of the food. But there is little in the way of nightlife or a party scene. The sea is choppy from May to November and it is 30km from Patong Beach. But, if you’re here for alone time, you won’t care anyway.

Phuket Beaches

phuket-beaches-1There are over thirty beaches in Phuket, and all of them have something desirable and tempting about them. Beaches and all of the activities that come with them are the main reason people come to southern Thailand, and especially Phuket. Because I can’t review them all here, I’ve described my top choices and what appeals to the masses.

Whether you’re looking for some romantic alone time with your partner or a party on the beach, Phuket has both and everything in between. They all have restaurants and food sellers within range, so you don’t even have to pack a picnic. May through October the monsoons make swimming unpredictable, so do not ignore the flag warnings!

Here are the pros and cons of some of the top beaches on Phuket.

Nai Harn Beach

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A favorite of locals and expats, it is situated at the southern end of the island. Its pros are that it isn’t usually crowded since it’s in the south, and there’s even a nearby lake and playground. From November to April it’s great for swimming. There aren’t many hotels here, so it’s peaceful and the local restaurants make this a great place for a sunset drink. Cons? There’s only one. From May to October there are strong undertows and swimming is not advised.

Banana Beach

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Little-known Banana Beach is a true gem in Phuket. It’s only 180 meters in length and the water is clear and beckoning. This isolated spot on Phuket might just be the spot for that romantic getaway with your partner. The only con is that high tide can reach tree line, so be careful where you set up shop on this beach.

Bangtao Beach

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If you’re a luxury traveler, this beach will appeal to you. It’s six kilometers long and is home to many luxury resorts and villas. In contrast, it’s just a few minutes from Cherng Talay, a traditional Thai fishermen’s village. They still fish, farm, and tap rubber here. The northern part of the beach is not developed and is a great place for some alone time. There are a few bars and restaurants here that are also good. There’s one con, in my opinion, and that’s Laguna Phuket, which is one of the largest resorts on the island. It sits in the middle of the beach.

Patong Beach

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Patong is the most famous beach on the island, but that doesn’t mean it is the best beach for you. In fact, it may mean the opposite. If you don’t like crowds and parties, then you’d best avoid Patong Beach. There are a lot of activities for play and a lot of nightlife for partying. When I say there are hundreds of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, I mean closer to a thousand. To survive Patong Beach, you need to adopt a “Mai Pen Rai” or “It doesn’t matter” attitude. One pro is that it is a backpacker haven and budget accommodation is everywhere here.

Surin Beach

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This beach is called “Millionaire’s Row” because of the luxury resorts and celebrity spots. Million dollar homes sit on the hill above with views of the beach and the Andaman Sea. Even though it is popular with the tourist crowd, it feels more like a village. You’ll also find upscale restaurants here, as well as wine bars.

You can read about more beaches in the Phuket Area Guide section of this post.

Diving In & Around Phuket

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Like many islands off the coast of Thailand, Phuket gets a special section devoted to diving. It is truly a spectacular experience in Phuket. The Andaman Sea around Phuket is one of the world’s top ten locations for diving.

Day trip diving excursions run all year to Koh Phi Phi and Racha Islands. All levels of experience are welcome. If you want to dive but don’t have your PADI certification yet, you can get it in Phuket during your holiday. Where? Here are some recommendations for Phuket’s highest-rated dive centers in no particular order. Prices will vary, as will quality.

Dive Centers in Phuket

Dive Asia on Kata and Karon Beaches – This dive center has been around since 1988. It’s actually Phuket’s first PADI 5 Star Career Development Center. They offer a wide range of diving courses and IDC programs. All levels, from beginner to expert can train here. They have a branch on Kata Beach, which is their main office, and a branch on Karon Beach Road in Karon.

Aussie Divers Phuket on Patong Beach – This facility is a PADI 5 Star IDC dive center and a great choice for those looking to get certified while on holiday in Phuket. It’s a small facility and they focus on personalized service in a professional atmosphere. They have a variety of courses and offer several day trips.

Sea Fun Divers on Karon Noi Beach and Kata Noi Beach – This is another 5 Star PADI dive center. They have two branches at Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort on Karon Noi and also in Katathani Phuket Beach Resort on Kata Noi. You can get certified and book day trips at both locations. Divers of all levels are welcome.

Diving Locations in and around Phuket

Dive sites around Phuket are almost too numerous to name, so here’s a top five list. For more recommendations, see my guide for Koh Phi Phi because many of those dive sites are also great day trips from Phuket. Keep in mind that these are just a starting point. For the true scuba diving enthusiast, the sites to explore are almost endless.

Anemone Reef

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About a mile north of Shark Point, Anemone Reef is a one-of-a-kind dive site with a 30-meter-tall limestone pinnacle jutting out from the floor of the sea almost to the surface. This reef, barely under the water, is hazardous for ships, so you won’t find a lot of traffic here. It gets its name from the thousands of sea anemones sticking to every available surface. As they sway with the current, you’ll think this rock is alive. You’ll also find a wide array of tropical, colorful fish, and even barracuda.

King Cruiser Wreck

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This site is just what it says it is. A shipwreck, and it happened when King Cruiser, a passenger ferry, got off course and struck Anemone Reef in 1997. A shipwreck was the one thing missing from the Phuket dive scene until then, although there is another shipwreck now at Rachai Noi. King Cruiser is between 12 and 30 meters deep, so it’s a perfect depth for exploring. It’s a great dive site now, and will only improve with time.

Koh Dok Mai

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This small island is en route to Shark Point as you leave Phuket. It’s the best wall dive in the Andaman Sea. Doc Mai rises out of the sea like a beacon. This limestone rock is an unusual formation with walls that drop to the floor of the sea and they are teeming with sea life. In addition to all of the sea life and colorful coral you will witness, you should also be on the lookout for Moray eels.

Rachai Noi

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The smaller of the two Rachai islands, this site is for experienced divers because of deep water and strong currents. Underwater you can see large boulders that are home to manta rays and whale sharks. From the southern point of this island there is a shipwreck that attracts a lot of sea life. Many dive companies will only bring divers with advanced certification to this island due to the conditions of the water.

Richelieu Rock

Located 18 kilometers east of Surin Island (which is not a great diving spot) is Richelieu Rock. You can only see it at low tide and it is well-known as a fantastic place to swim with whale sharks. This is a rare experience, not available in most of the world. For some reason these huge sharks are attracted to this rock. February through April is the best time to visit to swim with these gentle giants in clear water.

Phuket West Coast

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These sites are great for snorkelers or beginner divers. Water depth is around five to six meters and they are easy to get to from the shore. One of the best is right off the beach from Kata in the strait that separates it from Koh Po. You can also consider Patong Bay, Bang Tao Beach near the airport, Paradise Beach, and Freedom Beach.

Rachai Yai

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This larger sister island to Rachai Noi offers great diving all year, but the visibility may vary by season. At the northern end of this island are two stunning bays with clear, deep water and amazing coral. Both bays are about 40 meters deep. But the best diving off this island is on the east side where the current gently carries you alongside a wall of coral and you’ll be surrounded by tropical fish.

General Tips for Phuket Travel

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Responsible and Respectful Tourism

There is much that can be said here about responsible tourism in Phuket, and all of Thailand for that matter. But I will keep it to a minimum. I have already explained how to be responsible and respectful of the Giant Ridley Sea Turtles in Mai Khao, so I will not belabor the point here. There are other things to consider as well when visiting Phuket and they will help this island to remain a paradise.

Phuket, while it is large and close to the mainland, is still an island. This means limited resources are available and waste disposal is a problem. Please be conservative in your water usage. Try to avoid drinking bottled water. I mentioned in my article on Koh Lanta about carrying a water bottle with a filter, and this is certainly an option here on Phuket if you bring one from home.

Plastic bags are a huge issue. Please avoid using them. Cloth bags weigh nothing and take up zero space in your luggage. Bring them from home for transporting groceries or other items when you’re shopping. Think of the turtles. Swallowing plastic bags leads to a slow and painful death, and hundreds die this way every year. Drinking straws are an equally big problem for the sea life, so please do not use them on the island.

Please do not ever ride elephants. It hurts their spines. There is a long history between Thailand and its elephants. I won’t go into it here, but don’t ever ride them or encourage any kind of show or activity that involves elephants performing and doing anything unnatural for an elephant. They are meant to be wild animals, but this is an impossibility for some in Thailand due to previous circumstances. Not all sanctuaries deserve the name of sanctuary.

Responsible and Respectful Driving

Be aware that there is a helmet law on Phuket, so always wear a helmet when riding a motorbike. Also, be careful when riding through puddles as they often conceal potholes.

Thais don’t view traffic laws so much as laws, but more like guidelines. Not very strict guidelines at that. Driving on Phuket, whether in a car or on a motorbike, is not for the faint of heart. Proceed with caution. The accident rate is astounding.

Internet Cafes

Many hotels and resorts now offer free wifi, even in the rooms. Many internet cafes are scattered around, and several restaurants, including every Sandwich Shoppe and Mj Fresh Coffee, offer free internet. Bean & Gone Coffee Shop on Patong Beach also has good coffee and free wifi. There is enough free wifi on offer on Phuket that you really shouldn’t need to pay for it unless you’re there work. In that case, see the next section on

Coworking/Digital Nomads

Internet on Phuket is pretty reliable. It is an island, and weather can make internet service unpredictable, but Internet service is very well-established on the island.

Coworking/Digital Nomads/Expat Living

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Coworking/Digital Workspace for Digital Nomads

There are several coworking/digital workspaces in Phuket, but the two we recommend are STASH and HATCH. Here’s some information on both.

STASH is located on the east coast of Phuket Island and offers a coworking space along with hostel and private accommodation along with a great social scene, pool, and snacks. There’s also a Friends Club where people can practice English and meet new people. Accommodation includes hostel-type bunks and private rooms with a king size bed and air conditioning. If all you need is a coworking space, it is 99 baht per day, 249 baht per day if you want hostel accommodation, and 499 baht per day for 2 coworking spaces and a private room. No alcohol is allowed at STASH.

HATCH is also located on the east coast, not far from STASH, but it is a straight up coworking space. There is no accommodation here, but the coworking space is sleek, comfortable, and modern. For two hours, you’ll pay 100 baht per person, and for one day it’s 250 baht per person. You can also buy pass cards and there are meeting rooms you can rent as well.

Expat Living

There are more than 200,000 expats living in Phuket. Many of them came on holiday, took one look around, and decided not to leave, or at least decided to return to live here as soon as possible. Some of them find a job and other create their own jobs. Digital nomads and restaurant owners are among some of them.

Living costs are expensive compared to the rest of Thailand, but even Phuket is less expensive than much of the rest of the world. The quality of life on Phuket is excellent with good infrastructure and roads, excellent hospitals, and beautiful scenery.

A visa is required to live in Thailand, but there are options. Permanent residency is quite difficult to obtain, but a non-immigrant visa is an option. They are fairly easy to obtain, but the process is a pain and it can be costly.

There are several employment options available for expats, but a valid work permit is required and taxes must be paid.

A Budget for Every Traveler

Budget

The budget traveler to Phuket might find it to be more expensive than other Thai islands, but still within a backpacker’s budget. Hotels on Patong Beach or in Phuket Town will be your best bet to find a good value at a low price, though you can find some good deals (especially in off season) in some of the less touristed areas like Rawai.

You’ll likely spend more per day than you would on other islands, but cheap accommodation and food are well within reach if you look around.

It’s possible for a budget traveler who does his research to spend less than $40 a day on lodging and food, so the cost of the rest of your trip would depend on what activities you want to do and, well, how much you drink.

If you are willing to live for a longer duration as an expat, it’s possible to live quite cheap in Phuket by renting long term (apartments or houses). Long term rentals can range anywhere from $150 a month to $2000, depending on how fancy you want your place. If you live on a the cheap as an expat and are willing to rent a local style apartment or house and eat primarily Thai Food, you can live on about $15 to $20 USD a day at the budget level.

Midrange

Midrange travelers can enjoy Phuket with quite a few luxuries that you might not expect, especially in regards to your accommodation. With a budget of $100 to $150 a day, you can enjoy semi-luxurious accommodation and fine meals with sunset views. But like any traveler, your activities and alcohol can dramatically impact your expenses on the island.

High End/Luxury

Even though Phuket is more expensive than most other places in Thailand, the luxury traveler still won’t spend as much as they would in other parts of the world. If your budget is above $150 a day, you can enjoy every luxury Phuket has to offer when it comes to accommodation, food, nightlife, and activities. The sky is the limit for the luxury traveler.

The Final Word

Phuket is not just a launching point to some of the top destinations in Thailand, it’s also a destination in itself.

If you are traveling to Phuket, make sure you do check out some of the best sights in the surrounding area which are all only a couple hours away by boat or car.

Where to Go From Phuket: Other Southern Destinations

Koh Lanta, one Thailand’s hidden secrets is about three hours away by boat. Koh Phi Phi is less than an hour from Phuket by speed boat. Krabi is about 3-4 hours by car (or the same on boat). And of course, from Phuket it’s fairly easy to head to Koh Samuai, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan by bus. There are also some smaller islands you can reach by boat from the island: Koh Ya Noi and Koh Ya Yai.