Phuket Thailand Travel Guide: Island Adventure and Scenic Beauty in Budget Price

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Phuket Travel Guide – top things to do in Phuket, Thailand

Are you planning to visit Phuket, Thailand, soon? And, wondering what is Phuket best known for or when is the best time to visit? In this ‘Phuket Travel Guide’, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan a memorable trip at a budget price.

Amazing Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world, welcoming a whopping 40 million foreign arrivals every year, of which 10 million visited Phuket in 2019. Compare this to the 0.50 million foreign visitors to Goa. According to a report released by Columbus Direct – Phuket gets the highest number of visitors per square mile per day in the world – an average of over 25,452 visitors per day. So, what is it about Phuket that attracts tourists so much? 

What is Phuket best known for?

Located in southern Thailand, Phuket is the biggest Island in Thailand and sits on the Andaman sea. Being an island paradise, Phuket is surrounded by many magnificent Beaches such as Rawai, Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata Yai, Kata Noi, Surin, Bangtao, Mai Khao, and many more. Phuket is renowned for its exotic islands, blue ocean waters, white sandy beaches, exciting adventure activities like snorkelling and diving, and spicy Thai cuisine. It isn’t all just beaches though; Phuket is also known for its cultureamazing temples, and vibrant nightlife. By observing Phuket’s rich culture, welcoming atmosphere and colourful history, you can see why the island is a hotspot for tourists in Thailand. Phuket has a considerable Chinese influence, so you will see many Chinese shrines and Chinese Restaurants around the City. I also loved Phuket for being a tropical paradise. It is almost as big as Singapore, covering more than 5,800 square feet of area. Wherever your eyes go, there is greenery all around.

Atoll, Angsana villas, Phuket, thailand

Phuket has so much to offer that it’s impossible to cover everything in 3-4 days. Therefore I decided to explore Phuket differently this time, and here is what I did.

My trip to Phuket

During my ten days trip to Thailand, I kept four days exploring Phuket. Being a nature and adventure lover, I kept a mix of activities that could give me a decent taste of the island in a non-hurried manner. My ‘4 days in Phuket’ itinerary consisted of a blend of a few ‘must-visit places in Phuket’ and some hidden explorations. Health and Wellness programs balanced the adrenaline rush of the adventure activities. And, if days were so action-filled, nights were an equally fun affair with stunning night shows.

Here’s a YouTube video of my experience in Phuket

Before I share more details about my trip, let me tell you some crucial points.

How to reach Phuket

Getting to Phuket from India or any other destination is not difficult. There are several ways to reach the island. 

Flight

The fastest and often cheapest way to reach Phuket from Delhi or anywhere else is by flight. There are also direct flights to Phuket from India, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany, among other countries. Some airlines with frequent routes between India and Phuket are Go First, IndiGo, Thai Smile and Thai Airways. Many websites claim that the cheapest month to fly to Phuket is August. If you are not flying directly to Phuket, you can also fly in from Bangkok as there are regular flights from the capital. At times you can get a flight ticket as cheap as 1500 INR for one way.

Road

Another option to reach Phuket is taking a minivan or bus from other regions of Thailand, including Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Na and Surat. Buses in Bangkok take up to 13 hours to reach Phuket. Both air-conditioned, as well as non-air-conditioned buses, are available at different prices. Thailand is generally very safe but beware of pickpockets at bus stations and touristy areas.

Exploring Phuket

Phuket is an island with a good road network. Commuting within the island isn’t difficult at all. You can either hire a cab or a scooter. We hired a scooter @400 THB per day plus petrol costing around 100 more. This was enough for exploring the island from North to South in 24 hours.

A Taxi from the airport to your hotel could cost anywhere between 500 THB to 1250 THB, depending on where your destination is. For more details, check out Phuket airport taxi prices. You can either hire a local cab or call GrabTaxi. The taxi fare in Phuket charges a minimum fare of THB 50 plus THB 8 per Km, costing you a total of THB 58 Km. For details, check out the Taxi Auto fare website.

What to do in Phuket – popular and offbeat places 

The most often asked questions are ‘what can you do in Phuket in 4 days?’ or ‘what are the best things to do in Phuket?’ Well, a lot, depending on what’s your appetite and interest. This fabulous island has gained tremendous popularity because of its incredibly vast range of attractions, activities and tours – from stunning white sand beaches and natural wonders to glittering temples and buzzing nightlife. And, the best part – unlike other expensive destinations, Phuket has tons of attractions for every kind of traveller – from budget backpackers wanting to party hard to adventurers seeking some epic outdoor action to those just looking for a relaxing luxury getaway for a few days. So, if you are looking to spend a few days in Thailand, here are some of the things you can try:

Here are the Top 10 Things to Do in Phuket Thailand Right Now

Popular activities to do in Phuket

Island Tour

Phuket is particularly special because of the hundreds of islands surrounding it, many uninhabited and surrounded by some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world. Therefore island hopping is one of the most popular things to do in Phuket. The island hopping activity is usually a full-day activity, depending on which islands you want to explore. Phi-Phi islands, Maya Bay, Maiton Island, Khao Nai Island, Similan Islands, Racha Island, Koh Lipe, and Koh Lanta are just a boat ride away. The half-day tours start at 1500 THB/person and go up to 13000/person, depending on what you want. 

Phi Phi Island, Phuket, Thailand
Visiting the Phi Phi Islands is one of the top things to do in Phuket, Thailand
Phang Nga Bay

The jaw-dropping limestone cliffs and flooded caves are on every traveller’s list visiting Phuket. Though extremely touristy, you can book a Phang Nga Bay tour even one day before you plan to visit it. Thankfully, this attraction is open throughout the year.

Phang Nga Bay is extremely touristy but definitely one of the top things to do in Phuket, Thailand
Phang Nga Bay is extremely touristy but definitely one of the top things to do in Phuket, Thailand
Big Buddha

The 45-meter tall white marble statue sitting atop the Nakkerd hill in the south of the island is a must-visit site in Phuket. Although the road to get up here is steep but well-paved, the panoramic view from the top is worth the climb. Once you reach the top, you can see the whole of Chalong Bay to Phang Nga in the North and Kata Beach in the south. While descending, I recommend stopping at one of the many little panoramic bars to get a bird view of Karon Beach.

 Big Buddha is definitely worth a visit attraction in Phuket, Thailand
Big Buddha is definitely worth a visit attraction in Phuket, Thailand
Enjoy the nightlife in Phuket

If you like to imbibe the local culture vibe, then you must experience the nightlife of Phuket, where you’ll be greeted by colourful lights and smiling faces, inviting restaurants, tempting salesgirls, alluring bars, and of course, dancing girls. The night could be as sober or as wild as you want. You can party in Bangla Rod, or if you feel a bit more adventurous, you can visit a Go-Go bar to see what the fuss is all about. But if you are not a party animal, you can enjoy the Sunday Street Market on the old Thalang road of Phuket Town or try the local delicacies at many of the town’s night markets. Some are only weekend markets. Also, if you can take the time out, you must check out the Simon Cabaret. But make sure to book in advance.

 Big Buddha is definitely worth a visit attraction in Phuket, Thailand
When in Thailand don’t forget to enjoy the nightlife of Phuket.
Other attractions

If you have time, check out the Old Phuket Town, Chalong TempleKaron Beach, Karon Temple and Karon Viewpoint. From the latter, you can enjoy a panoramic view of three magnificent bays – Kata Noi Beach, Bay of Kata and Karon Beach. If you love sunset, you must check out the Laem Phromthep viewpoint, which features the most beautiful sunsets in Thailand.

270-degree panoramic view from Big Buddha Phuket - Chalong Bay, and beyond it, you will even see Phang Nga Bay
270-degree panoramic view from Big Buddha Phuket – Chalong Bay, and  Phang Nga Bay

Offbeat activities to do in Phuket

But if you are someone who wants to give the touristy activities a pass and try out some offbeat adventures in Phuket, then here is what I recommend:

Water Sports in Phuket

Besides snorkelling and scuba diving in the Andaman Sea, you should try out sailing, kayaking and SUP paddling in Phuket lagoons, lakes or rivers. I had a great time trying them out at Angsana Villas Phuket under the supervision of my guide, Kiattisak, who is lovingly called ‘superman’. He is an ex-Mai Thai Boxing champion.

Definitely try water sports in Phuket, Thailand
Definitely try water sports in Phuket, Thailand
Water Sports in Angsana Villas, Laguna Phuket, thailand (for web res)-min
Enjoyed doing water sports with my guide, Kiattisak, who is lovingly called ‘superman’.
Go island hopping on a 2-wheeler

Phuket is exceptionally green and very picturesque. Some of the most stunning and tranquil beaches with hardly any crowd are tucked away in North Phuket, such as Mai Khao, Khao Lak, Nai Harn, Nai Yang, and Banana beach

Nai Thon Beach - Many beaches in North Phuket are very pristine and devoid of crowds
Nai Thon Beach – Many beaches in North Phuket are very pristine and devoid of crowds
Flyboard light show, dinner and cocktails on a floating restaurant

If you want to create some fantastic memories, then ATOLL is the place to be. Imagine sitting in the heart of Laguna Phuket’s gorgeous lagoon, watching the golden sunset while sipping your vibrant cocktail and relishing the contemporary chic cuisine with a once-in-a-lifetime flyboard show being the highlight. And you are getting served champagne from your flyboard artist. Sounds fun, right?

Enjoying the setting sun in Andaman Sea and Angsana Villas Lagoon from Atoll Phuket
Enjoying the setting sun in the Andaman Sea and Angsana Villas Lagoon from Atoll Phuket
Hidden staircase at Nai Thon Beach

If you love visiting hidden spots, you should absolutely check out an old wooden staircase leading to “Naithon Beach,” one of Phuket’s best beaches. Enjoy a dramatic shade of sunset over the Andaman Sea while strolling down. 

Check out the old wooden staircase leading to "Naithon Beach," in North Phuket
Check out the old wooden staircase leading to “Naithon Beach,” in North Phuket
Plane Spotting at Mai Khao Beach

Plane spotting is a popular activity in Phuket. The hotspot for watching planes coming into land is at the southern end of Mai Khao Beach. One word of caution – the best season to see them landing directly over the beach is during the high season (December to April), especially between 10 am and 2 pm. So, make sure you plan accordingly. 

Plane spotting at Mai Khao Beach is worth the effort. But make sure you are there in the peak season.
Plane spotting at Mai Khao Beach is worth the effort. But make sure you are there in the peak season.
Visit the Instagramworthy Ma Doo Bua Cafe  

Get clicked at one of the most instagrammable spots in Phuket, where an artificial lake is covered with unusual giant circular floating leaves called Victoria Amazonica, the largest of giant water lilies. Ma Doo Bua Cafe is highly photogenic, with traditional Thai wooden houses and a long pier creating an illusion that the selfie’ models’ are in a local village. The resulting photos are beautiful, but the reality behind the photos is a little different. There is often a long queue to stand on that pier waiting for their turn, and the restaurant is crowded so getting a table takes time. Also, the restaurant has found a way to earn from Instagram crazy people by offering two photo options that you can’t do by yourselves. The drone photo starts at 500 baht for one person, 800 for 2, 1,000 baht for 3 and 1,200 baht for four persons. Standing on a leave costs 350 baht. I found the photo charges more expensive than the food, so I dropped the idea of getting clicked. The food here is Thai.

Get clicked at the Instagramworthy Ma Doo Bua Cafe  
Get clicked at the Instagram-worthy Ma Doo Bua Cafe in Phuket  

One important point, before booking your trip to Thailand don’t forget to read the 15 BIG MISTAKES YOU SHOULD AVOID IN PHUKET

The best area to stay in Phuket

One of the most important decisions to make while planning a holiday to Phuket, Thailand, is to pick the right area to stay in. While there are dozens of beaches around the island, each main resort area has a different and unique character catering to different kinds of travellers. If you choose the right one matching your needs and preferences, you should have a great holiday. Pick the wrong place, and it could ruin your trip. So, here are some areas that you could pick from depending on what you like:

Where to stay in Phuket Thailand
Where to stay in Phuket Thailand
What are best areas to stay in Phuket and the best hotels to stay
What are the best areas to stay in Phuket and the best hotels to stay

If you want to experience the touristy side of Phuket, then head to Phuket’s southwest coast. Most of the beaches like Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala are concentrated here. This area is the busiest, flanked by beach bars, cafés and jet ski operators. If you are someone like me who likes picturesque, pristine, quiet places, head to Phuket’s west coast, such as Surin, Bangtao and Layan. If you want a low-key experience away from the noisy tourists, go further up to the North West coast – Mai Khao, Nai Yang, Nai Thon beach.

Staying at Laguna Phuket

If you are looking serene yet exciting area to stay in Phuket, Laguna Phuket could be a perfect place for your next trip. A holiday paradise spanning 1,000 acres of lush tropical parkland with 3 km of pristine Bangtao Beach. Featuring more than 1,400 guest rooms across eight deluxe hotels, Laguna Phuket offers an abundant variety of choices for travellers. You can choose from any of the 8 world-class hotels – Banyan Tree Phuket, Banyan Tree Veya Phuket, Angsana Laguna Phuket, Angsana Villas Resort, Dusit Thani, SAii Laguna Phuket, Laguna Holiday Club Phuket Resort, and Cassia Phuket, all unique hotel resorts within Laguna Phuket are only minutes away from each other via complimentary shuttle bus or boat. Besides the hotels, Laguna Phuket also features beautiful lagoons, tropical parkland, an award-winning 18-hole golf course, tranquil spas, restaurants, bars, boutique shopping, and daily water sports activities. 

While all the eight hotels are unique in their own way, I chose to stay at a budget property – Cassia Phuket. This elegant six-storey hotel built in modernist architectural style starts as low as 899THB. Room rates depend on the dates, room types, and the number of guests, so please click online to see the latest and best offers! I had a fantastic experience staying at the lagoon-facing, all-suite hotel that delivers an idyllic beachfront living experience. There was a free shuttle service to take guests to the Bangtao beach or other nearby Laguna Phuket hotels. 

Cassia Phuket is a budget apartment styled accommodation in Laguna Phuket
Cassia Phuket is a budget apartment styled accommodation in Laguna Phuket

What I loved about this hotel was that it had a very perky personality, and the suite was outfitted with a fully equipped kitchen where I could cook my own meals. The staff was accommodating and courteous, and I even enjoyed a memorable sunset barbecue dinner fire dancers show. If you ever want to stay at a property that feels like a home. Try this one.

How many days are enough for Phuket, Thailand?

Phuket has a lot to do, and you can easily spend as much time as you want. The ideal time to enjoy its various islands, culture, food and nightlife would be seven days, but if you are hard-pressed on time and want to enjoy the highlights of Phuket, four days are enough.

Suggested Itineraries for Phuket Thailand

How to Spend Perfect 7 Days or less in Phuket Thailand:

unusual things to do in Phuket
Find out what are the unusual things to do in Phuket

Day 1

Morning: Reach the hotel and relax

Afternoon: Hire a two-wheeler or a car to visit the Big Buddha, Wat Chalong & Kata Noi Beach.

Sunset: Enjoy the sunset from the Karon View Point

Evening: End the day by visiting Karon Temple and Karon Market

Day 2

Morning and afternoon: Start early morning for Island Hopping and Snorkelling.

Evening: Visit the Chillva Market or return to your hotel and enjoy a Barbecue dinner with fire dancers

Day 3 

Morning: Water sports at Angsana Villas, Laguna Phuket or anywhere else you like

Lunch: Azura at Laguna Phuket

Post lunch: Spa at Banyan Tree or anywhere else you like

Evening: Dinner and Flyboard show at Atoll, Laguna Phuket

Day 4

Morning: Take a Thai cooking class

After lunch: Visit the Old Phuket Town

Afternoon: Visit the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Evening: Enjoy the Simon Cabaret Show

Late: Enjoy the nightlife of Bangala Road

Day 5

Morning: Explore Phuket on a 2-wheeler or car. Visit the old wooden stairs at Nai Thao Beach, and enjoy plane spotting at Mai Khao Beach (make sure you reach by 10 am in the peak season)

Afternoon: Explore Srinath National park – a coastal park – where you can walk on the white sandy beach and watch aircraft flying low over Mai Khao Beach for landing, kayaking or snorkelling. Another option is to go waterfall chasing like Kathu waterfall, Tonsai waterfall etc.

Evening: Watch the sunset at Bangtao Beach

Day 6

Morning: Visit the Racha Yai Island on a Catamaran. Snorkel and kayak 

Lunch: Enjoy a seafood feast on the catamaran

Evening: Dinner at one Chun restaurant in Phuket Town

Day 7

Fly home or your next destination 

I hope the above itinerary can help you plan your Phuket trip. In case you are still wondering what can you do in Phuket in 4 days, 3 days or less, just mix and match a few of the above activities in the number of days you have in hand, and voila you have your perfect Phuket trip itinerary.

Budget for Phuket Thailand

Phuket is a destination that is neither too expensive nor too cheap. Here’s a rough estimate on how to make a 4D3N budget trip to Phuket, Thailand, in under 50,000 INR 

International Flights: 15,000 – 40,000 INR depending on your travel season

Accommodation: 12,000 INR @ 3000 INR per night for three nights at a 4 star hotel/apartment

Local transportation: 5000 – 10,000 INR depending on whether you hire a motorbike or a car for two days

Food – 5000-10,000 INR

Activities – 5000-10,000 INR depending on what kind of island tours or activities you sign up

To know the average price of things and services in Phuket, do check out this link.

Best time to go

The best season to visit Thailand is during the dry season, November – March, when the weather is pleasant and it doesn’t rain. The temperature at this time varies from 23°C to 30°C and is drier with no monsoon showers. However, it is rainiest from October to December in the Lower Gulf regions such as Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, and Ko Tao. 

What is monsoon season like in Phuket?
What is monsoon season like in Phuket?

Where to go next?

Phuket has excellent connectivity to most of the country. So it depends on what you want to explore further. Mountains and valleys characterize the North; the south boasts stunning beaches and turquoise seas. The difference in landscape and experiences allow you to enjoy different activities.

North of Thailand – If you love history, heritage, ruins, mountains, and national parks, you should go here next. The best places to explore in Northern Thailand are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai.

South of Thailand: A paradise for beach bums with turquoise waters, white sand beaches and stunning islands. Besides Phuket, some of the most spectacular islands in the Andaman Sea include Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta. The most popular Gulf of Thailand islands as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

Central Thailand: Central Thailand is mainly plains and is a massive area of rice farming and agriculture. It is centred around the large urban agglomeration of Bangkok. The best places to visit in central Thailand are Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Phra Pathom Chedi, Bang Pa-In, and Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi Province.

Find more details about various regions of Thailand on the Tourism Thailand website.

Resources

While searching online for my trip, I came across many good Thailand Bloggers. You may want to check out the blogs of these top Thailand bloggers for more in-depth information about Thailand:

Tourism Thailand

Phuket 101

Richard Barrow in Thailand

Jamie’s Phuket Blog

The Thailand Life

Thaifoodmaster

SheSimmers

Tieland to Thailand

Related:

Beyond Bangkok: 10 Hidden Attractions in Thailand for laid-back travelers

I hope you found the above ‘Phuket Travel Guide’ helpful. And, you’ll be able to enjoy the island adventures and scenic beauty of Phuket at a budget price. Please share any questions or feedback in the comments section below. Save this post to Pinterest if you like it!

2 Comments

  • Robyn Bista says:

    I took nearly 8 mins to complete this reading lol.
    Such an interesting blog.
    I’m in love with Thailand now.
    Gotta visit it soon.

    Regards-Robyn Bista

  • Sanjay says:

    Super helpful information. I’m going to simply follow your itinerary for our trip to Phuket. Thanks for such an amazing blog.

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