7 Things To Know Before You Travel To Phuket


Phuket is known as one of the popular tourist spot in Thailand. It’s famous for their cheap accommodation, offshore islands, clear water beaches, and many more! But with lots of tourists, there comes many tourists traps you and I may not know of.

We visited Phuket in the mid of 2012, and we had lots of fun there in 4 days. We did quite a number of things, had lots of touring and exploring, and also realized some little traps here and there which we hope to share with you, to help you for your next trip.

PHUKET IS NOT REALLY A SHOPPING HAVEN

But that’s what most Singaporeans or tourists will do anyway. The apparels here are quite affordable, and I’ve seen tourists buying bags of branded clothes, bags, pants, shorts, undies?etc. Ok, the ‘fake’ branded goods.

Though they are so cheap, I can say they are not durable. But anyway, it’s still cheap! However, I wouldn’t recommend this place to be where you would want to do bulk shopping, like buying dozens to clothes to bring back to your home country to sell, or sell them online.

The goods here are quite limited, not in the volume, but in the choices. After walking around few stalls, you’ll realize most goods come from the same supplier, as most stalls are selling almost the same goods.

Phuket is a large island – so much so that it doesn't really feel much like an island at all
Phuket is a large island – so much so that it doesn’t really feel much like an island at all

There are also not many shopping malls around. The only one near where we stay is the Jungceylon Shopping Mall. It is more of an air-conditioned street market. More things to see, but more of the same things :P.

So if you wanna shop, do buy some funky ‘branded’ clothes for your own wear will do. Don’t bother bringing huge luggage over here to shop. If you want to do bulk shopping, then Bangkok is where you want to be at!.

BUT PHUKET IS A HAVEN FOR SERVICES!

Yes. We don’t come here and buy lots of stuffs. But we spend a lot on their services! Massage, hairstyling, personal grooming, pedicure, manicure? you’ll find it more affordable than your home town. For us Singaporeans? Definitely!

As you may already know, Thailand is famous for massage. Same for Phuket, you can find massage parlor everywhere. Thai massage? Foot massage? Aroma massage? Oil massage? Hot stone massage? You want it, you have it.

When looking for a massage parlor, make sure it looks clean and air-conditioned too. Because you’ll be there for at least 1 hour.

As for us, when we’re at Phuket, we went to try out as many massage services as we can, as they are really affordable with tip-top professional service. We are glad we found 2 really good ones, and we even went back for 2nd time before we fly off.

Ladies, looking to get your nails polished? Get it done here also. Even at an affordable rate, their services are first class.

And when the ladies polish their nails, what do the guys do?

You can go for foot massage! Even better, they have Wifi for you to access. Let them knead your aching muscles, and you go and surf?Facebook!

And If you had enough of thai massage, you can try letting these small fishes massage you.

THERE ARE MORE INTERNATIONAL FOOD THAN THAI FOOD AT PHUKET!

Thailand is famous for its thai cuisine, but I can say Phuket is not known so much for its food. You can still find thai food here and there, but don’t expect too much from it.

On the other hand, you’ll find more international cuisine that Thai food there. Japanese, Korean, Lebanese, Turkish, Persian, Chinese? you find more of those restaurants than Thai ones!

But, you can still find Thai food. You really have to take effort to find, because they are not that common on the streets. How ironic!

Here’s some thai food we tried, and kind of like it!

If you’re starving from a day of tour and you want to have a satisfying meal, then thai food may not be enough for you. I recommend you to eat at this Sushi buffet at Jungceylon shopping mall.

All you can eat within 1 hour 15 minutes. They have this clock to time you. If you stay too long, you may get charged. But I can tell you, 30 minutes of constant eating may be enough for you.

TRAVEL DURING NON-RAINY SEASON

When we book for our Phuket trip to be in June, we didn’t think much about weather forecast. After all, the last few times I’ve been to Thailand, there’s no rain. No Rain. Not even drizzle.

But when we were in Phuket, there’s no only rain, but constant rain for hours, from morning to night. You can imagine how much of our trip is be affected. Some roads had ponding, and cars couldn’t pass through easily.

The strong winds at sea almost forced us to abandon all our island hopping plans.

Luckily it was just 2 days of rain.

Hence, if you want to travel to Phuket, the best time is during December through March, where the weather isn’t so humid, and there’s cool breeze to keep you comfortable. Temperatures around 75F to 89F (24C to 32C).

The hottest time in Phuket would be from April to May, with temperatures ranking from 80F to 95 F (27C to 36C).

June, July, August tend to be the period where there’s heavy showers but sunshine in between (which is what we experienced!). September to October is then the rainy season.

BOOK THE RIGHT HOTEL

As Phuket is much a tourist haven, I see more tourists from all over the world along the streets than their local Thais. That’s why you’ll find really many hotels in Phuket.

With so many hotels there, you can get a relatively good hotel at a low price. For our trip, we stayed at Patong Terrace Beach Boutique Hotel. It’s not those kind of big hotels with huge lobby and swimming pool. But it’s a simple B&B (Bed & Breakfast) accommodation.

It’s only a 3-storey hotel sandwiched between shophouses. So it’s not obvious when you first see it.

For the price we pay for, I have to give 5 Star for it! We paid S$35 per night?via online booking, and we were very happy about it. It’s very convenient, as you’re footsteps from everything in Phuket. It’s right at the central where the buzz of Patong is.

Bangla Road, where all the bars, clubs and Tiger shows are, is just a junction away. The Patong Beach, Jungceylon Shopping Mall, and all the street stalls and night market are just around the hotel.

Why service is excellent? On our last day, we are supposed to have a one full day island tour, then depart for hotel at night. We have to check out early morning, and that means we won?t have a bathroom to bathe after our island tour. However, when we returned after the tour, the staff allowed us to do a wash-up in their lobby toilet, which is very much like 5 star toilet, and provide us with soap and towels.

I?ll never hesitate to book this hotel again. We chatted with the boss, who is also an angmoh (Caucasian) who moved here many years ago to start his hotel business. A friendly guy, and makes you feel welcomed.

Of course, there are many more hotels at Patong, but some are not located as convenient as they said they are. When booking online, they would describe themselves as ?close to all the buzz?, but some are really FAR away. We saw it ourselves when we pass by a hotel we originally thought of booking. Fortunately, we give that a miss, as it was nowhere near any buzz.

If you were to book a hotel there, check out their price at Agoda, Booking.com or other booking services, and read tourist reviews at Tripadvisor or somewhere else before finally booking them. Do ask your friends also.

BOOK LOCAL TOURS IN PHUKET ITSELF, NOT?IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY, NOT EVEN FROM GROUPON!

This is one of the important things I have learned from this trip. We know Phuket is famous for its island tours, where it will bring you to various island for sight-seeing or water activities. These 1 day island tours are very attractive too, and many tourists would love it.

Before our trip, we saw a Deal.com.sg deal for a 1 day island tour to 4 islands (Koh Phi Phi, Maya Island Bamboo Island & 1 more) via Speedboat and with lunch provided for $58/pax. This price is also after almost 50% discount from its original price. I did some research online to compare other island tour and their prices, and I conclude that this Deal.com.sg deal is a better deal.

Read more: http://vietnam-luxurytravel.com/

We went for the island tour and we were very happy with the whole tour, the fun, the tour guide etc. However, we also realized that we can go for this same trip at a much lower price! How we know? Just talk to the people (other tourists) on the speedboat. Everybody paid different price for the same tour. Of course, there are also people who will pay more than us.

So is that $58 deal a steal, or is it just a package with price jacked up by 200% then bring it down to call it a deal? Anyway, I?m thankful I learned something new! If I were to visit Phuket again, I won?t book any local tours online (online prices are jacked up too!) or in Singapore. You just have to go there(Phuket), and there are many local tour agencies for you to choose and you can pick the best tour at the best price you want.

And I have to share an encounter I have with a Canadian tourist on the same island tour as us.

He?s the one who told me that I paid to much for the same tour he bought. Thanks to him, or I?m still in the dark. He managed to buy the same tour package as me at half of what I pay. And as I said earlier, I was at first still happy when the salesperson gave me some discount which I thought I was not entitled for.

I paid $1800 Baht per pax and I thought I got a good deal, until?he told me he paid only $900 baht. Wow.

For that particular tour, we sat on a big boat, which is even cheaper. A tour with Speed boat will cost slightly more. So now you see, how much higher the salesperson there have jacked up the prices and paste them on the brochures. Imagine how many more more full body massage you can go with the money you save from bargaining.

And the funny thing is, this Canadian guy told me ?You?re from Asia! You should have bargained more!?

I don?t know about you, but I always heard people say westerners (ang moh) don?t like to bargain because it?s their culture they don?t like to bargain. And here I have an ang moh who can bargain much much better than me. And he even teach me how to bargain next time.

And you know what? We talked so much, but didn?t know each other?s name!

Update Jan 2017: My friends have updated me that although?you can book the island tours when you’re at Phuket itself, it is risky because there may not be slots or availability for you, and all island tours may be fully booked, leaving you empty-handed when you are there.

Hence, you can still try your luck to book your tours when you reach Phuket, or you can book your tours online and you can get guaranteed ?your seats in those island tours. Viator is a world famous local tour booking website and I can say your booking will be safe with them. (Afterall, you don’t want headaches when you are at Phuket. Like you, we just want all the fun!)

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