Your Complete Phuket Travel Guide for First-Time Travelers
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A popular island in Thailand, Phuket is a rainforest-slash-beach strip that is home to many high-class hotels and resorts. Formerly known as Thalang, Phuket is the second-smallest province of Thailand. It is located at the Andaman Sea and is considered to be one of Thailand’s most popular island destinations. Within the city, you can find all sorts of activities from beaches, natural attractions, bars, temples, and museums.
In this Phuket Travel Guide Blog, we listed some tips on how you can do your own DIY trip to Phuket. We also included Phuket Itinerary, Things to do and see, how to get there and more.
Best Time to Visit Phuket
Tropical Thailand boasts sunny weather practically all year round. The rainy season starts from the month of April till the month of November with weather that’s reasonably wet, but not so much that you can’t explore the place. If you want to save on hotel rates, these are the best months to visit. High tourist season is right after these months spanning November to February. It’s termed as the cool season with temperature no more than 30 degrees Celsius. The months of March to May is terribly hot and not ideal for those who originate from cool climates.
Filipino Travelers are allowed to stay in Thailand visa–free up to 30 days if entering via international airport immigration and up to 15 days if entering through a land border immigration checkpoint from a neighboring country like Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.
For most international tourists, a Visa is not required before going to Phuket. All you need is a passport that’s valid for at least 6 more months beyond your intended stay. Your length of stay in the country must also be less than 30 days in total. Those who are not granted Visa exemption due to their country of origin, you can apply for a Visa upon arrival, costing around 1,000 baht and valid only for 15 days. If you intend to stay for more than 60 days as a tourist, you can also apply for a 60-Day Tourist Visa.
How to Get There
Phuket International Airport may be small – but it is equipped to accommodate many airlines flying from ASEAN Countries and back.
If you are coming from Manila, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, and AirAsia offer connecting flights to Phuket, Thailand.
There are many airlines offering flights from Bangkok to Phuket. The fastest flight to Phuket takes 1 hour and 5 minutes and the lowest fare costs $40 one way.
If you’re originating from Bangkok, you can also take local bus. It takes about 14-16 hours to reach Phuket from Bangkok. There are daily scheduled buses from private and government operated companies going to Phuket from Bangkok’s Mo Chit and Southern terminal stations. To avoid the hassle, we recommend that you book your bus ticket in advance. Book your Bus Ticket here.
From USA, UK, and ROW
If you come from the USA or the UK, you’ll need to take a flight to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore before grabbing a flight to Thailand. During the peak season, direct flights may be available.
Upon landing at Phuket Airport, you can take the bus, taxi, or minivan to Phuket City where your accommodation is located.
When exploring the City itself, you can opt for the same transportation or use the BTS elevate Skytrain – the city’s main mass transit. Vehicles may also be hired such as tuk-tuks, bicycle-powered rickshaws, or a self-drive motorcycle. Grab Taxi is also available in the city.
Where to Stay
Hotel Indigo Phuket, Patong
This high-end hotel is situated near the beach, allowing you easy access to the white sand and sea. Additional amenities include a pool, a gym, high-speed internet, a restaurant, a bar, and room service.
Mandarava Resort and Spa
Beautifully situated, this luxury hotel has wireless internet, a splendid pool, room service, free parking, and a fitness center. An in-house restaurant, spa, and bar are also available. All rooms come with a minibar and a refrigerator. They also have family rooms and accessible rooms.
Despite being a budget hotel, Surintra offers many features like an on-site pool, dry cleaning, internet services, and even babysitting services. The rooms are small but clean and provide an excellent view of the pool below. All rooms come with a convenient refrigerator.
Chanalai Hillside Resort
Cheap but luxurious, this hotel is situated near the famous Karon Beach, giving you easy access to the sea. It also comes with a pool, a bar, a restaurant, free parking, and high-speed internet. Breakfast is included in the hotel price with all rooms having a minibar. There are also smoking rooms available.
Where to Eat
Naka Palm Restaurant
Address: Pa Klok, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand
If you’re in search of authentic Thai cuisines, this is the place to visit. They also have vegetarian and vegan options as well as other Asian cuisines.
Address: 32/53 Moo 5 Ban Kamala, Phuket, Thailand 83150
For some cheap food options but still experience the excellent taste of Thai, the Butterfly Restaurant is a good choice. They have vegan options as well – all of which are served at a really low price.
The Palm Cuisine
Address: 35 Moo 4, Cherngtalay Thalang, Phuket, Thailand 83110
If you’re going during the peak season, the Palm Cuisine is a good choice because they accommodate online reservations. This way, you can easily guarantee a seat for yourself and your group without any problems. The food is perfect too – a combination of Thai and international dishes.
What to Do and See
Cruise Around with a Motorcycle
Perhaps the first thing you should do upon arrival is just to cruise around like you lived your whole life in Phuket. You can hire a motorcycle or if you have the time – just take a walk around the area. You can also hop onto the local buses to get a little bit farther in your adventure.
Go to the Beach
Mentioning just one beach would be unfair considering the many beaches in the island. You have the Layan Beach, the Kata Noi Beach, the Ao Yon Beach, and the Patong Beach, of course. It doesn’t matter where you go because all of them are gorgeous.
Phuket is a perfect place if you want to experience island hopping in southern Thailand. We listed here some of the best Island Hopping Tour Packages that you can book for your next Phuket vacation:
Rok and Haa Islands Speedboat Tour by Love Andaman
Surin Islands Speed Boat Tour by Love Andaman
Maya Bay & Koh Phi Phi Speedboat Tour
Check the National Parks
There are two national parks in Phuket: the Sirinat National Park and the Khao Phra Taew National Park. You can choose any one of those or even both! The Khao Phra Taew features a virgin rainforest, barking deer, monkeys, and other wildlife. It’s a good place to visit because few tourists actually go there.
Get a Massage
There’s nothing quite like an authentic Thai-style massage. They’re trained by the international spa academy so you’ll know you’ll be able to really relax after a long day.
For more unique activities in Phuket, check out our list of Best Things to do in Phuket.
WiFi and Internet Access
There are numerous internet cafes in Phuket, giving you multiple options if you want to get connected. Most hotels also offer wireless internet, so there shouldn’t be a problem if you want to upload pictures as soon as you get back to your room.
Mobile Internet is available from all providers, with True Move offering 3G access from a limited network of base stations on the eastern coast, including Patong, Kata, and Karon. The best way to get a prepaid SIM card is to go to the True Move booth upon arrival at the airport. BUY A SIM (PHUKET AIRPORT PICKUP)
Check Your Rented Vehicles
Take note of any damages or problems on your self-drive rented vehicle before taking it out. Make sure to show these initial scratches or problems to the lender so it won’t be blamed on you.
Book in Advance
Make sure to book VIP buses in advance if you want an assured seat. Spots can be competitive, especially during the peak season.
Sample Itinerary and Budget
Start with Patong Beach or really, any other beach on the island. Patong is by far the most popular but it’s also packed with tourists. You have other options like the Karon and Kata beaches.
Check out the Big Buddha and Wat Chalong Temples
For some fresh water love, you can go to the Bang Pae Waterfall before visiting the Karon Viewpoint. The viewpoint offers an amazing view of the stretches of beaches.
Finally, end your day with a visit to the Trick Eye and Up and Down Museum for some hardcore photo sessions.
Budget for Phuket is around $30 to $50 per day, depending on where you want to go or the activities you want to enjoy. That price is exclusive of hotel prices which can be anywhere from $9 to $25 a day.
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