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Phuket: 7 Things Travelers Need To Know Before Visiting

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Phuket is Thailand’s golden child. The idyllic island is the nation’s most popular tourist destination known for its breathtaking beaches, incredible food, natural beauty, and welcoming culture.

Last year, over 9 million international tourists visited Phuket to relax and unwind and enjoy everything the region has to offer.

two wooden boats sit in the blue waters of phuket with tree covered rock formations in the distance under a blue and orange sky

But before setting off to Phuket, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Phuket, including:

  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • Things to know about culture and etiquette
  • What are the top attractions?
  • How safe is it?
  • Local food and drinks
  • How good is the WiFi?
  • How long can you stay?

Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Phuket:

Beachgoers Enjoyig A Sunny Day At A Tropical Beach In The Island Of Phuket, Thailand, South East Asia Travel Concept

Did you know… Each year Phuket hosts a 9-day vegetarian festival that attracts visitors from around the world. Initially celebrated primarily by Chinese descendants across the island, the festival promotes physical well-being and spiritual cleansing.

Each fall, participants follow a strict vegan diet, take part in rituals including walking over hot coals, and practice acts of self-mutilation via spirit mediums – people who are believed to have their bodies possessed by the gods.

1) Phuket Affordability

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht or THB. The current exchange rate is ฿‎1 THB = $0.03 USD, and $1 USD = ฿‎34.52 THB.

Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:

Accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodations available to suit any budget or travel style in Phuket.

  • Average hotel price: One night at a 3-star hotel typically costs around $75, or around $200 for a 4-star hotel.
  • Luxury 5-star hotels: Luxury 4-star hotels average $350 per night, but there are plenty of options, especially if you want to splurge. For instance, the Trisara which offers travelers luxury villas in a gorgeous seaside location starting at $1000/night.
  • If you're on a budget: Phuket is a backpackers' paradise, with countless options for cheap hostels. A bed in a dorm at a well-rated hostel costs between $10-$15 per night, while a private ensuite room costs between $20 – $25 per night.

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colorful buildings line the street in Old Town Phuket Thailand

Food

Not only is the food in Phuket incredibly delicious, but there are also plenty of affordable options.  

  • A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two costs around $30.
  • For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant or from a street food vendor, expect to pay around $4.
  • A beer costs between $2-$3, while a cappuccino is about $2.

Transportation

  • Many budget travelers to Phuket choose to get around by local bus, minibus, or songthaew (covered trucks with added seating), these options can cost anywhere from $1.50 – $15, depending on your choice of transportation and how far you are traveling.
  • Taxi fares start at$1.25and cost an additional $2.35 per mile traveled. Motorbike taxis are also common, and a short trip typically costs around $2.
  • Phuket’s preferred rideshare service is called Grab, and it works the same way as Uber. Rates are usually cheaper than taxis.
  • Many tourists choose to get around at least once by Phuket’s iconic tuk-tuks (three-wheeled taxis), and drivers are notorious for overcharging tourists. Short journeys typically cost between $3 – $10, but be sure to negotiate for the best price and agree on a fee before getting in.
  • If you plan on exploring the island with a group or family, there are car rentals available for around $30 per day, but just beware that driving in Phuket can be a stressful affair.
two tourists hang their heads out of a red tuk tuk in Phuket Thailand

2) Culture And Etiquette In Phuket

Thailand’s culture and traditions are much different than those found in the West. Make time to read up on appropriate etiquette before taking off for your vacation.

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Phuket.

  • DO return a wai:  A common gesture in Thailand is the wai  – if someone holds their hands together in a prayer-like gesture and bows their head, do the same. Similarly, if someone smiles at you, smile back.
  • DON’T point: Using your finger to point at someone or something (especially statues or images of Buddha) is considered inappropriate.
  • DO remove your shoes: when entering a temple or a home be sure to remove your shoes.
  • DON’T use your left hand: only use your right hand when handing objects or money to someone, as the left hand is considered unclean.
  • DO put on some clothes: Beachwear should only be worn at the beach and pools – once you venture into a restaurant, shop, or into town you should put on proper clothes. When visiting temples all visitors should dress appropriately and show respect.
Aerial View Of The Big Buddha Viewpoint At Sunset In The Phuket Province Of Thailand

3) Top Attractions in Phuket

Phuket is full of incredible things to do. Here are a few of the top things to see and do while exploring Phuket:

  • Big Buddha – A giant 148-foot-tall marble Buddha statue atop a hill. While the statue can be seen from all over southern Phuket, climbing up to the statue is a must-do to visit the Buddha and also to take in stunning views of the region’s mountains and sea.
  • Green Elephant Sanctuary Park – Visitors can get up close and personal with well-cared-for elephants at the Green Elephant Sanctuary Park. The park allows guests opportunities to feed, clean, and swim with the elephants.
  • Naka Weekend Market – Located in Phuket Town and taking place each weekend, the sprawling Naka Market is a great place for cheap eats, souvenir shopping, and people-watching.
Visitors greet an elephant at the Green Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket Thailand

4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

As with many Asian destinations, Phuket is very safe for travelers. However, there are still some things that travelers should keep in mind to stay safe during their visit:

  • Beware of thieves: Bag snatching and petty crime is common, so be sure to take extra caution in busy areas or tourist spots. Never leave anything of value unattended at the beach, as that is where many thefts occur.
  • Know how to call for help: If you or someone you are with need emergency assistance call 191.
  • Don’t do drugs: Thailand has very strict drug laws, and tourists have been known to end up in jail for breaking them.
  • Watch your drink: As with any area known for its rowdy nightlife, be mindful of your alcohol consumption and stay aware of your surroundings. Tourists have encountered mugging and violence after having their drinks drugged, but it is uncommon. Nevertheless, if you are out on the town be sure to always keep tabs on your beverage, and never take a drink from someone you don’t know.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Phuket trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
a lively night market in Phuket thailand with street lights and many people

5) Local Eats And Drinks

One of the best parts of travel is checking out the local cuisine, and Phuket is a fantastic place to try new foods. Don't let yourself leave without trying at least one of the following:

Food

Seafood lovers will be at home in Phuket with so many local options to choose from. One particularly wonderful food experience can be found at one of the floating restaurants off of Laem Hin Pier. A 5-minute free long-tail taxi boat takes diners to floating restaurants where the freshest seafood is artfully prepared.

  • Khanom jeen – soft, thin noodles made from fermented rice, served alongside soups, curries, and salads
  • Gaeng poo – a mild yellow curry with succulent bits of crabmeat served with rice noodles and fresh vegetables
  • Moo hong – slow-cooked pork belly stew that is flavored with plenty of garlic and pepper
  • Mee Hokkien Noodles – thick yellow noodles stir-fried with pork, egg, squid, prawns, and bean sprouts
  • Oh Eaw – a refreshing dessert of shaved ice served with toppings like red bean, grass jelly, or syrup
a bowl of yellow crab curry looks appetising at a Phuket restaurant

Drinks

  • Fresh juice – what better way to beat the heat than freshly squeezed pomegranate, orange, or sugarcane juice
  • Beer – the favorite local brew is Phuket Lager, a pale lager with a fruity taste, perfect on a hot day
  • Coconut water – fresh coconut water served sweetened or unsweetened

6) How's the WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in Phuket for March 2023 were 61.47mbps download and 14.92mbps upload.

A woman standing on a balcony looks onto the beach in Phuket Thailand

7) How Long Can I Stay?

U.S. Citizens do not need a visa to enter Thailand if they have six months of validity on their passport and can show proof of an onward journey. Visitors can stay up to 30 days, with the option to extend their stay an additional 30 days by paying a fee of $55 to the Thai Immigration Bureau office.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


JD

Friday 28th of April 2023

Phuket doesn't have any 3 wheel tuk tuks or songthaews and no-one drinks phuket lager.

Amy

Thursday 27th of April 2023

Fantastic place and lovely people.