Phuket, Thailand has become one of the world’s best tropical destinations, renowned for its white sand beaches and crystal clear, turquoise waters. Whether lounging on the beach, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or any other myriad of beach activities tickles your fancy, Phuket has it all. Luxury resorts and high end accommodations dominate the island, but even a budget backpacker can find a place to enjoy on Phuket.
Cost and Budgeting in Phuket
Phuket is more expensive than most of the rest of Thailand, with the island covered with expensive resorts, hotels, and restaurants. While it is still possible for a backpacker to visit Phuket, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make it on a shoestring budget. One can get by on $30-$35/day, but street food, limited activities, and less than favorable accommodations will be the norm. It is more realistic to set aside at least $50/day for Phuket, more if you plan on eating on out or enjoying the activities that Phuket has to offer.
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Things to Do in Phuket
It’s no secret that the beaches are what draws a record number of visitors to Phuket each year. The west coast of the island is where the beaches are, ranging from popular, crowded and expensive to secluded and peaceful:
Ao Band Thao: home to mega resorts and a picturesque 8km long crescent shaped, white sand beach
Hat Kamala: one of the prettiest beaches and hardest hit by the tsunami. There are newer resorts on Kamala that can provide a good deal
Patong: the largest resort beach that is most popular and most crowded. If you’re looking for nightlife, look no further than Patong, sometimes described as next Pattaya. Take that for what it’s worth.
Hat Nai Thon/Hat Nai Yang: quiet and secluded on the northwestern coast of the island in Sirinat National Park. Lost of space and quiet, especially during the week.
Hat Surin and Pansea Beach: described as “the next big thing” in Phuket. Some top end resorts mixed in with other, more affordable options. Getting more and more crowded.
Kata Beach: busy, clean, beach with lots of tourists. Good for surfing and nightlife. If you want to sleep, stay at nearby Karon beach, just a short cab ride from Kata.
Karon: second most developed beach behind Patong. Developing rapidly, but still has a sense of isolation. Not far from Kata Beach, which has more of a nightlife.
Nai Ham: one of the least crowded and least developed beaches that is located on the southern end of the island.
Kalim Beach: Small beaches just north of Patong
There are also dozens of small islands between Phuket and Krabi. Ko Bon, Ko Hae, Ko Lon, Ko Mai Thon, Ko Maphrao, Ko Racha, Ko Sue, and Ko Yao are among them.
If scuba diving is your passion, then Phuket is the place for you. Phuket has the largest diving center in Thailand. Most dive sites are off islands close to Phuket, and distances are fairly short. Racha Yai is the most popular dive site in the Phuket because of its sloping rocky reefs and its multitude of solid coral forests. There is an exciting wreck about 25-35 meters down in Ter Bay. Racha Noi, south of Racha Yai, is a haven for experienced divers. The currents are stronger and the depths are greater. Phuket also has good snorkeling locations located off many of the most popular beaches.
You can also take part in many other activities on any of Phuket’s beaches. Surfing, swimming, sailing and yachting, windsurfing, and deep sea fishing are just a sampling of the activities available to tourists visiting Phuket. Rent kayaks on any of Phuket’s main beaches and paddle out to sea. If you want to get out for some exercise, get away from the beaches for a while to experience day hikes to several waterfalls located on the island. If you want to vary your activities, you can always check out the Phuket Aquariam in Cape Panawa, FantaSea, also known as the Disney Land of Southeast Asia, the butterfly farm, and the Chalong Temple.
Weather: The climate in Phuket is tropical with consistent average temperatures. Highs average highs of 29-33C (84-91F) and lows of 23-26C (73-79F). Rainy season is May-October and dry season runs November-April.