Destination Guides, Thailand

Phuket On A Very Tight Budget ($10 A Day)

Dreaming of a trip to Phuket but hesitating because of your budget? What if I told you that you can survive on an ALL-IN budget of $10 a day without starving yourself or sleeping at crowded hostels? Here’s your ultimate guide to phuket on a tight budget. Including tips on what transport to use, where to stay, almost-free activities, cheap food and many more travel hacks!

I. TIPS ON TRANSPORTATION

Image source: airportbusphuket.com(image source: airportbusphuket.com)

Airport

From the airport, expect to be quoted 800baht for a private taxi to Patong – I know what you’re thinking (Phuket = Bankrupt). But relax, you can ride a shared mini van for only ฿180-200/pax depending on your destination. Another option is the Airport bus, which would cost from ฿30-100/pax.

Motorbikes

This is probably the cheapest option if you want to explore all the beaches in Phuket. You can rent a motorbike for as low as ฿200 for the whole day and renting one is a piece of cake. The vendor will ask you to sign some papers, ask for the payment, give you the helmet, the keys and you’re off to go. They won’t even bother asking for your driver’s license, but please make sure that you have one. Or else you risk getting fined ฿500 by the local police on their random checkpoints. (like us… Haha oops!)

Phuket Beach Buses (Songthaew/Baht Bus)

phuket-songthaew-baht-buses

But what if you don’t ride motorbikes? Going around Phuket can be expensive especially if you ride the tuk-tuk. We got quoted ฿700 for a trip to Phuket Town from Patong beach(30 mins journey). Crazy! No way I’m paying for that. If you want to explore different beaches without getting broke, and also not wanting to ride motorbikes, you should learn how to ride the Songthaews or Baht Buses. They are the exotic-looking blue vehicles with yellow stripes. Note that there are NO songthaews that can take you from beach to beach. All songthaews only follow ONE route and their destination is always to Phuket Town bus station(on Ranong Rd) and back to the beach of origin.

For example, you are on Patong Beach and you want to visit Rawai Beach. From Patong, you have to ride a songthaew to Phuket Town. Then, you have to find the songthaew that is labeled Rawai Beach. From Rawai Beach, you have to take a songthaew to Phuket Town again. Then, take the songthaew that will take you back to Patong.

We stayed in Patong and the fare was only ฿30/pax each way. EXACTLY. So you still want to ride that tuk-tuk? From our experience, Patong songthaews also stop in front of Central Festival. Use google maps to know as and when you have to ring the bell. But if you don’t have internet/phone, you can always tell the driver where you want to go before getting on the songthaew.

How to hail/ride a songthaew?
There are no bus stops on the island, all you have to do is find a main road and wait on the side of the road you wish to proceed. Once you see the blue songthaew, flag one down by waving your hand, palm down. Hop on the songthaew. Press the bell when you want to get off. Walk towards the driver’s window and pay. Voila!
(Tip: always bring exact/small change.)

 

II. WHERE TO STAY

image source: expedia(image source: expedia.com)

Personally, we stayed at Chusri Hotel & Apartment because they had a great deal on Agoda.coma twin room for only ฿250 per night. And no, we DID NOT stay in a filthy room with rats. Our room was surprisingly huge and spotless. I would recommend them for the following reasons: They are tucked away from the loud tourist area, but only walking distance to major establishments and attractions. I also loved the fact that we were surrounded by local stores, which means lower prices. We definitely had a more authentic experience finding local food stalls/eateries right outside our hotel. It also added that most of the staff can speak good English and was very helpful.

I’m not entirely sure if the hotel & apartment rooms are the same but there was a problem with my booking when we arrived, and we were brought to the apartment instead (which is just behind the hotel). Our room had a huge bathroom with hot and cold shower, balcony, fridge(with free bottles of water), microwave, water kettle, a big cabinet with hangers and umbrella. ALL THAT for ฿250??? I was quite happy with the booking error tbh. Haha

They also have their own restaurant. We tried their Chicken Burger with fries for only ฿99. It was good to have western food after eating thai food for a few days straight. They also have motorbike rentals and tour arrangements.

Tips on finding the cheapest hotel rooms (soon)

III. (ALMOST) FREE THINGS TO DO

Now that you know how to get around Phuket like a boss and have a place to stay, here are a number of super affordable things to do around the island.

1| Watch the sunset on Patong Beach

phuket-guide-things-to-do-best-sunset-patong-beach

Best things in life are FREE – including sunsets! One of the best places to watch the sunset in Phuket is Patong Beach, while relaxing on your beach chair, sipping fresh coconut, listening to the soothing sound of the waves. Another popular spot to watch the sunset is Promthep Cape, just be ready to share the experience with a bunch of chinese tourists with their selfie sticks.

2| Explore different beaches on a motorbike

As mentioned earlier, this is probably the cheapest way to explore different beaches in Phuket and there’s more than 30 beaches to choose from, but here are my favourites:

Karon Beach (picture above) – the most picture perfect beach that I went to during my visit. Surprisingly not as crowded as Patong beach even if it’s the second longest beach in Phuket. Quiet beach, but not too isolated.  Good for relaxation.

Rawai Beach – a smaller romantic beach located on the southern end of Phuket. If you’re lucky, there’s a high chance of having the beach to yourself. Unfortunately, no swimming is allowed here but the views make up for it. Perfect for picnic on the beach or relaxing on your hammock.

Patong Beach – I know that you probably read on other blogs to stay away from this beach because of the crowd. But I actually enjoyed my time in Patong. I liked that there are many shops and good restaurants by the beach. It’s also just walking distance to Bangla Road and Jungceylon Mall.

3| Drive your way up to Promthep Cape

phuket-where-to-go-promthep-cape-sunset

Promthep Cape (or Laem Promthep) located in the far south west of Phuket. Famous for its spectacular views and the most popular spot for that perfect sunset shot. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay that long since it started to rain.

4| Have a short break at Karon Viewpoint

phuket-where-to-go-karon-viewpoint

On the way to Promthep Cape, you will surely pass by the Karon Viewpoint and I highly recommend that you take a short break to check out the view. From here, you will see Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon beaches. Click here for more information on how to get there. 

5| Window shopping at Jungceylon Mall

jungceylon-shopping-mall-phuket

I repeat, WINDOW shopping. Haha Besides that, Jungceylon Shopping complex is also a good place for people watching. You might also catch some hip hop dance performances at night. For more information about the stores click here. 

6| Enjoy Live Music and random street performances on Bangla Road

monsoon-bar-phuket-bangla-road

Soi Bangla or Walking Street is where the nightlife is centered. For the real cheapskates, you don’t have to go to the bars, entertain yourselves with random street performances that you can watch for free or a small donation. But if you have some extra change, go buy yourself a Chang beer for ฿49 and enjoy listening to live bands. My favourite would be Monsoon and New York Live Music Bar.

7| Get lost in Phuket Town’s instaworthy sino-portuguese buildings

Image source: phuket-holiday.com(image source: phuket-holiday.com)

The main attractions in old Phuket Town are the Sino-Portuguese buildings (or the Chinese row houses), Thai temples, public and weekend night markets. This is definitely a must-go for professional and amateur photographers.

 

IV. CHEAP FOOD & DRINKS

street-food-phuket

Image Source: www.bkkprep.ac.th

If you really want to save money on food and drinks – eat like the locals! And Thai people like eating out. They mostly buy cooked food from local eateries where you can just point and choose what you want to order. They usually serve in big portions so get ready to be stuffed. One meal with rice + two dishes would cost you around ฿50. I loved the fact that we got to try many Thai dishes without worrying on how to order them in local restaurants where there’s no English menu.

sai-ua-moo-ping-phuket

Moo Ping or BBQ pork skewers which can be eaten with or without sticky rice. It’s super cheap and only cost 10baht/stick. There was a stall nearby our hotel with a nice lady and her son selling this, and I just kept coming back every night. The idea alone already makes my mouth water. It also comes with cabbage and a special sauce. Sai Ua – a flavorful Thai herb sausage originally from Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai).

what-to-eat-khao-soi-phuket

Khao Soi – my favorite Thai breakfast. It’s basically a curry and coconut flavoured noodle soup with chicken topped with crispy wonton noodles. The chicken is so tender and melts right into your mouth. The best part is that it only cost ฿50 per bowl.

central-festival-phuket-food-court

Central Festival Food Court – I know that going to malls is a terrible idea especially when you’re on a tight budget. But if ever you find yourself in Central Festival Mall, go up where the Cinema is. Turn left and you’ll find an almost hidden food court. One/two dish with rice would cost you ฿50-100.

pineapple-fried-rice-phuket-what-to-eat

Pineapple Fried Rice (฿70-100) – not as cheap, but I decided to treat myself in a nice restaurant by the beach. The view was worth it anyway.

pad-thai-phuket

Pad Thai (฿100) – and of course, you just simply can’t leave Thailand without trying Pad Thai! This price is again by the beach so it’s a bit expensive. But I’m sure you’d be able to find cheaper ones on local food stalls.

For dessert, don’t forget to try the famous Thai banana pancakes with condensed milk or Nutella sauce. Yuuuum! Or the rolled/fried ice cream. They can cost around ฿50-100.

V. SUMMARY

Now… let’s do the calculations. How much exactly can you spend in one day?

Motorbike: ฿200/24 hours (can be divided by 2)
Hotel: ฿250 (again, divided by 2)
Food: (per pax)
Breakfast: Khao Soi = ฿50, Lunch: Local Food Stall = ฿50
Snack: Smoothie = ฿30   Dinner: Moo Ping and Sticky Rice = ฿30
Activities: FREE

TOTAL:  ฿385 per day (approx. US$10!!!)

Just to be clear, your budget will always depend on how you decide to spend your money. Others don’t mind spending a lot on activities, while others(like me) can be easily satisfied by simply being on a postcard-ready beach, sipping on fresh coconut. Verdict is… you don’t need thousands of $$$$ to see the land of smiles. A super tight budget trip to Phuket is definitely doable. So…JUST BOOK THE DAMN TICKETS!!! 🙂

shernice

// PIN IT FOR LATER //

ultimate-guide-to-phuket

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24 Comments

  • Reply Lerato Bambo January 27, 2017 at 12:04 AM

    Phuket’s on my bucket list for 2017. Thanks for these amazing tips

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 11:55 AM

      You’re welcome. Hope it can help budget or plan for your trip. Thanks for dropping by!

  • Reply Efthimis K. January 27, 2017 at 2:45 AM

    I am so hungry right now after reading this post. The food looked so delicious and it is ridiculously cheap! The fact that there are no stops for songthaew on the island is so weird and unique!

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 11:57 AM

      Makes my mouth water just thinking about Thai food! It’s so hard to watch my diet as and when I’m there haha everything is just so good and cheap. Thanks for dropping by!

  • Reply Laura January 27, 2017 at 3:23 AM

    Love this! I truly believe that the best things in life are free. I travelled like this a lot in Asia and had a fantastic experience!

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 11:59 AM

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed traveling in Asia! 🙂 What are your favorite experiences?

  • Reply Caitlin January 27, 2017 at 7:40 AM

    I cannot believe how cheap it is. Thailand truly looks beautiful, and I would love to eat authentic Pud Thai (my favorite) but I just have no interest in visiting the country! Mainly because I am so scared of the humidity!!! I hate being hot!! How was the weather while you were there?!

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 12:05 PM

      We traveled to Phuket on August, which is known to be the rainy season. And weather wasn’t that bad. A few rainy days here and there, but most of the time was sunny. Yes, the heat can get annoying especially at noon. But it’s nice to explore the beaches from 4pm onwards. Or it’s better early in the morning as and when there’s less people. Hope you give Thailand a chance. It’s a beautiful country, with one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. ? Cheers!

  • Reply Anne January 27, 2017 at 3:35 PM

    I love your post – this is exactly the way I travel 🙂 so your tips are so much appreciated :-)) have been to Phuket before but only with my parents as and when I was younger- so I guess I have to come back! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 7:01 PM

      Happy to hear that you enjoyed reading my post. 🙂 Yes, you definitely should go back to Phuket. Cheers!

  • Reply Raksha Rao January 27, 2017 at 6:22 PM

    I have been to Phuket twice and both times I felt it’s way too expensive. Good to see that you can survive Phuket in $10 a day. I’m surely going to check out the sino-portuguese buildings next time in Phuket.

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 7:04 PM

      Phuket can easily make you bankrupt, especially that its packed with establishments targeting tourists. But I believe you can still have an authentic Thai experience by going away from the main tourist areas. You’ll never know what you’ll discover or experience. 🙂

  • Reply Hra January 27, 2017 at 8:04 PM

    I love Phuket!! I had an amazing time there! This guide is awesome for travellers 🙂

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 9:25 PM

      Thank you! Glad you loved it. Thanks for dropping by

  • Reply Erica - The Manini Experience January 27, 2017 at 9:29 PM

    I love how far our currency takes us in Thailand! And those food photos are making me HUNGRY! Definitely saving this, as I hope to start planning a trip there soon. Thanks!

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 27, 2017 at 10:41 PM

      Happy to hear that my post gave you an idea and hopefully help you in planning your trip! Good luck and enjoy!

  • Reply Chiera January 28, 2017 at 12:38 AM

    Budget travel is what it’s all about! I love seeing how you can have such a tight budget and still have a great trip! Thanks for the tips 🙂

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 28, 2017 at 12:30 PM

      A firm believer that the best things in life are free! 😀 Thanks for dropping by!

  • Reply Victoria Hawkins January 28, 2017 at 2:07 AM

    I’d go there for the food alone. I’m drooling ! LOL. Glad to learn all your handy tips for a trip there. Eating local is a sure way to save money!

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 28, 2017 at 12:31 PM

      TRUE. I’d go back anytime just for the food Haha 🙂

  • Reply Dmitriy January 29, 2017 at 2:31 PM

    Thank you for so many useful tips in your post. I have not visited Southeast Asia yet and Phuket is absolutely on my travel bucket list.

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess January 30, 2017 at 6:24 PM

      You’re welcome. Thank you as well for visiting my blog. Wish you more travels! Southeast Asia is waiting for you 🙂

  • Reply Sara Essop January 31, 2017 at 7:25 PM

    These are some great tips. I went to Phuket in December and wish I knew some of these budget tips before I went. I can’t believe you got that apartment for 250 Bahts. And I just realised that I forgot to eat pineapple fried rice.

    • Reply dreamsofawanderess February 1, 2017 at 8:52 PM

      Thank you Sara for the compliments. Yes, it was surprisingly cheap! I guess it’s also because it was low season as and when I went there. But I’m sure there are always promos around. 🙂 Ohh, pineapple fried rice! Another reason to come back then! haha

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