If you looking for travel tips for Phuket then this is the right place. Thailand is known as the land of smiles, no surprise since everyone is really friendly and helpful. The most popular island to visit while travelling to Thailand is Phuket.
Phuket offers something for everyone
The island caters something for everyone from solo travellers, families, adventure seekers, honeymooners, explorers and even those who just want to unwind and enjoy lying on the beach in the sun all day.
If you planning to Travel to Thailand and looking for a good travel package then there are dozens of online specials that will pop up, making it easy to shop around and find a good travel deal.
Should you prefer to book your travels directly then there are excellent accommodation options for travellers with every budget from backpackers to five star hotel guests looking for luxury. (There are some really unique AirBNB’s in Phuket too!)
I have personally been to the island three times and planning another visit in October 2018. Here are 5 first timer travel tips for Phuket that I wish I knew on my first visit to this beautiful island.
1. AVOID PHUKET IN SEASON TO SEE MORE
Crowds can most certainly create a vibe, especially around Christmas and New Year when every one is in the holiday spirit but the island gets really busy during this time too. If you have the intention of lying on one of the deserted white sand beaches or capturing the perfect Instagram photo, just know that everyone else has the same intention. Phuket is not only a popular destination for its stunning beaches but it’s also a very central location to surrounding islands. With hundreds of tours running daily and it can get quiet congested.
Ethical tour choice: Phuket Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
If you avoid going between November and February you will experience more in a leisure-able way, queues will be far shorter, you will have a more personal experience and everything wont feel as commercialised. You are on holiday after all and don’t want to feel like you are rushed and herded from one place to another. It will be easier to explore as much of the islands as possible by avoiding holiday season. (It will be a lot easier to get those holiday selfies without hundreds of tourists in the background)
2. BOOK TOURS, TRANSPORT AND SCOOTERS THROUGH YOUR HOTEL OR A REPUTABLE COMPANY
There are many people who will take advantage of tourists, no matter what country you in. Be safe about choosing a tour and use a reputable company instead of a random guy selling unprofessional trips to unsuspecting tourist, alternatively speak to your hotel. If you hiring a scooter or vehicle it is best to speak to your hostel or hotel first. (They will always have referrals) or book a driver in advance if you need an airport pick up. If you hit the streets there are plenty options to hire pretty much any form of transport. (Even a Harley Davidson) However, hiring transport from road side locals becomes quite risky because they require your passport for security and if something happens you will have to pay some outrages amount of money to get it back.
Valid drivers licence
No doubt hiring a scooter is the best way to explore the island. Make sure you have a valid licence, even though you probably wont be asked to produce one but there are often road blocks and they love stopping tourists. In a day you can easily go through three or four depending on where you travel. You will be required to pay a spot fine so rather get a international bike licence back home. Another option is to hire a car with a driver for a day and they make great guides.
Safety first – follow the law
Scooters are the most popular form of transport, although most people don’t wear a helmet, just use your discretion. In fact, read up on your travel insurance, many companies require you to wear a helmet and have a valid international bike drivers licence in order to be fully insured. Remember you are in another country where the road rules are completely different and having to sort out medical and accident bills could be a real inconvenience and damper on your holiday. We strongly recommend that you have travel insurance while travelling, accidents happen and you never know when you may need it.
3. VISITING THE TEMPLES
Being a prominently Buddhist country the Island has a few Buddhist Temples which are extraordinary to visit and highly recommend. Being on a tropical island you will probably spend most of the time in bikinis and shorts, however you can’t walk into the temples dressed for the beach. It is a sign of disrespect to their culture and customs that have been around for centuries. Ladies, it is very humid on the island but always pack a scarf or sarong in you bag to wrap around your legs or shoulders. Men, make sure you wear a shirt before entering the temples. This is a place of worship for devotees and monks, they gladly welcome visitors but remember to respect their customs.
Related article: Tips that will make you a traveller and not a tourist
The Big Buddha
The Big Buddha is situated on the hill on top of the Island is a very popular tourist attraction with a beautiful story behind it. You will be rewarded with a 360 degree view and I highly recommend. (Don’t forget to wear appropriate clothing and respect all the Buddhist relics up there)
Related article: Bodh Gaya – Heart of the Buddhist World
4. THE FAMOUS BANGLA ROAD
The main area where most of the festivities happen at night is called Bangla Road which is in Patong. Patong beach is one of the most popular beaches. There are water sports, massages and it offers the most beautiful sunsets. During the day it’s a normal street but at night it closes to traffic and opens to become a very popular spot for just about anything. The street is lined with Go-go bars, live music bars and night clubs each having their own unique atmosphere and style (I have to just add I have watched some of the best Karaoke at some of these places)
Just a casual walk up this this road is very educational and the festivities can go well into the night. It is not very child friendly, chances are you will be slightly harassed by promoters try to get your attention at all times. This is also the best street to find lady boy cabaret dancers who will post for photos.
Drink prices at the bars are quiet competitive and it is legal to drink along Bangla Road. Pop into the one of many little shops and between the soft drinks you will find local beers and ciders for half the price. The beach end of the street is a little quieter and is taken up by restaurants, shops selling souvenirs and clothes. (Most of the clubs are on the other end) If you looking for the LGBT scene then check out this Complete Gay Phuket Guide.
5. SHOPPING IN PHUKET
Besides all the stalls along the road side, the best places to shop are the variety markets. Brush up on your negotiation skills, I usually go down just a quarter of what they asking. You can probably get it for even less most times but at the same time be mindful they trying to support their families. Secret Travel tips for Phuket: The Thai people believe it is really good luck if you are their first customer. I always loved that and some of them make quiet a fuss about it.
Phuket Easy Thai Cooking: 4-Hour Class & Local Market Tour
The best time to shop at the markets is at night because of the heat and humidity. The night markets are the best places to sample traditional Thai food it is really affordable. (So go hungry!) A first timers travel tips for Phuket regarding the clothing: The sizes are usually very small and the branding is an imitation. I found some the best markets and things to do around the island by speaking to other tourists. You can get honest opinions from people’s personal experiences and everyone is usually very friendly and helpful.
Planning on spending more time around the land of smiles? Check out these Thailand Travel Tips
6. BONUS: POPULAR TOURS TO BOOK IN ADVANCE:
Have you got any first timer travel tips for Phuket? What is your favourite island in Thailand? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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