Updated: June 2019
If you looking for travel tips for Phuket then you have found the right blog. 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
We have personally been to the island four times now. 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.
There are over 30 beautiful beaches to explore. Check out our guide about the best beaches in Phuket to choose your favourite beach!
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 with Thailand island hopping tours. Don’t just settle for what sounds like a “good deal”shop around and do your homework.
Where to stay in Phuket?
Should you prefer to book your travels directly then there are great options on Booking.com 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!)
Phuket travel tips that I wish I knew on my first visit trip:
1. AVOID PHUKET IN SEASON TO SEE MORE
Crowds can most certainly create a vibe, especially around Christmas and New Year when everyone 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 in the clear waters with your GoPro, then 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 quite congested.
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 won’t feel as commercialised.
Remember you are on holiday after all and don’t want to feel like you are rushed and herded from one place to another. It is easier to explore the islands and travel Phuket by avoiding the holiday season. (It will be a lot easier to get those holiday selfies without hundreds of tourists in the background) Many honeymooners like to visit the island during this time.
2. BOOK PHUKET 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 of options to hire pretty much any form of transport. (Even a Harley Davidson) However, hiring transport from roadside 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.
You will need a valid International 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 won’t be asked to produce one but there are often roadblocks and they love stopping tourists.
In a day you can easily go through three or four roadblocks depending on where you travel. You will be required to pay a spot fine so rather get an 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 many people don’t wear a helmet, the police will fine you. Our first trip to El Nido in the Philippines no one wore helmets so we didn’t think of even asking for helmets. We presumed it is “safe”. Only after travelling more of SE Asia we learnt that your travel insurance requires you to wear a helmet and have a valid international bike drivers licence in order to be fully covered. Bottom line is that a helmet could save your life!
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 your 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.
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 a visit. (Don’t forget to wear appropriate clothing and respect all the Buddhist relics up there)
4. THE FAMOUS BANGLA ROAD
The main area where most of the festivities happen at night is called Bangla Road which is in Patong. 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.
Phuket at night along Bangla road
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 and Thai entertainment bands at some of these places but the drinks are very expensive.
Just a casual walk up this road is very educational and the festivities can go well into the night. A warning to families: Bangla road is not very child-friendly at night. Chances are you will be slightly harassed by promoters try to get your attention to watch a ping pong show or lure you into the bars with free shots or drink specials. This is the best street to find ladyboy cabaret dancers who will post for photos.
If you haven’t seen one before then a Cabaret show featuring the famous ladyboys can be a good laugh and round of entertainment for the evening.
Drink prices at the bars are quite competitive but many are rather pricey too. It is legal to drink along Bangla Road so pop into one of many little shops and between the soft drinks you will find local beers and ciders for half the price.
Avoid getting scammed at the bars
A scam to avoid is the bar staff challenging you to games. Here is how it works: If they win they will buy you a drink and if they win you need to buy them a drink. Sounds fair right?
Once they win they will show you a hidden sign or small writing on a menu that all staff drinks are 350 or 500 Baht. That is usually at least 5 times more than your drink is worth. Avoid it!
The beach end of the street is a little quieter and is taken up by restaurants and shops selling souvenirs & clothes. (Most of the clubs are on the other end)
Patong beach is one of the most popular beaches. There are water sports, Thai massage parlours and even tattoo studios if you would like to get a travel tattoo to remember your trip. The beach is perfect to enjoy the most beautiful sunsets with a few sundowners. There is also an active LGBT scene in Phuket.
5. SHOPPING IN PHUKET
Besides all the stalls along the roadside, the best places to shop are the variety of 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 quite a fuss about it.
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 tip for Phuket regarding the clothing: The sizes are usually very small and the branding is an imitation. I found some of 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.
POPULAR TOURS TO BOOK IN ADVANCE:
CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO TO SEE THE BEST PHUKET ATTRACTIONS:
Have you got any first timer travel tips for Phuket? What is your favourite island in Thailand? If you looking for more tips then read our top travel tips that we have learnt from travelling the world.
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* All cost for this Phuket trip was paid by us. Although we try to ensure that all our Phuket tips are accurate and correct, we cannot be held liable for any errors. This site may contain affiliate links which allow us to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you should you make a booking to keep this page running. All opinions are our own. Images for our Phuket travel tips may be used around the web as long as you credit us and link back to our website souldrifters.com. Images may not be used for advertising and commercial purposes. You are welcome to contact us for rates and terms for commercial rights.