12 Things to Do in Phuket with a Small Budget (updated)

12 Things to Do in Phuket with a Small Budget (updated)
12 Things to Do in Phuket with a Small Budget (updated)
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12 Things to Do in Phuket with a Small Budget (updated)

Phuket with a small budget is not as difficult as it may seem. Of course it’s not easy as in general Phuket is more expensive than anywhere else in Thailand. But if you start with these few suggestions you will be able to make the best of your holiday without spending a fortune. You might find the experience a lot more enlightening too!

One of the best ways to stay within budget is to rent a bike, as taxis and tuk tuks will increase your cost dramatically, expect to pay 150 baht a day but price goes down if you rent for a week or more. Of course, driving a bike in Phuket is a tricky thing and you will have to drive carefully, but many people do it without problems. All you have to do is keep your eyes on the road at all times, and you will need a driving license for the occasional controls (see driving in Phuket).

Worst case, even though there are no beach to beach local buses, there are ‘Beach to Town’ local buses. Local buses are cheap but a great waste of precious time, it is still better take a tuk tuk but agree on price before stepping in!

1. Visit Local Markets


Always fun to discover the colorful and vibrant Local Fresh Markets, if it is your first time in Asia, you will learn a lot more about Thais people’s life than in any tour! Also great for budget shopping Phuket Week End Market in Phuket Town is the very popular, not far from Central Festival Shopping Mall. Lately we have a new, fun and very cool night bazaar in Town called the Chillva Market.

2. Go Snorkeling


A great way to spend the day for free as Phuket has more than 36 beaches, but not all are good for snorkeling. Here are some with nice rocky ends and warm blue clear waters, often sheltering colorful fishes and corals. You should bring your own gear, it’s not easy to rent one, but buying mask and snorkel is affordable. Laem Singh Beach, Ao Sane, Ya Nui Beach, Banana Beach, Surin Beach, Nai Harn, Nai Thon and Kata Noi Beach.

3. Visit Temples

Wat Kao Rang

Also an obvious recommendation, but some of many temples and shrines around the island are really beautiful, and isn’t it time to pay respect to your ancestors and bring yourself some good luck? Of course, Wat Chalong is the most popular, but there are many Thai Temples and Chinese Shrines to enjoy. Read more about Phuket Temples

4. Eat like Locals

Kanom Jeen in Phuket

Sounds obvious? Some are a lot better than others! Listing them all would be impossible, so we picked 10 of them in town: Best Local Restaurant in Phuket Town. Eating in the streets is always cheaper but beachfront streets and seafood centers with touts trying to convince you to sit down might not. In the back streets you will always find cheaper, especially if all the seated guests are all Thais! Almost every shop can understand a simple order, or point at the images or at the food from your neighbours… lots of fun! Read more

5. Go from Viewpoint to Viewpoint

One of the great ways to explore Phuket is to go from point to viewpoints. As they are here and there on the island, they will give you a unique free overview of the island, and will be a perfect opportunity to see a lot and a chance to stop when you spot something interesting (or something appetizing!). See here all 10 Phuket Viewpoints.

6. Explore the Old Phuket Town


Hard to resist those old Sino-Portuguese streets with their beautiful shop houses and magnificent mansions. With many small cafes, bakeries and eateries along the way… it is perfect for a half day. Visit also the local markets near the bus station and explore the tiny streets here and there to discover some incredible abandoned mansions. Read more

7. Phuket Night Markets

Phuket Night Market

Phuket night markets are always fun, from the new Chillva Market to the giant Naka Weekend Market or the Sunday Walking Market in Phuket Town, almost everyone loves to browse the incredible array of things you don’t actually need. Phuket night markets are intense, colorful, surprising, fascinating, puzzling, smelly, messy, labyrinthine or overwhelming. But night markets all have one thing in common, they offer a unique glance of the daily life of Thai people, rich, poor or just like you and me… Read more

8. Go to Phi Phi by Big Boat

Dive sites near Phuket

Phi Phi is a wonderful island and going for a cheap day trip is possible. The cheapest is to go by bike and catch a ferry at Rassada Pier in Phuket Town for only 600 baht! But if you want the full day, best is to look around to find the cheapest price for hotel transfer + lunch + National Park fee included. Much safer if you are not sure you will be able to find the pier near Phuket Town in the morning. And make sure you don’t miss the ferry back to Phuket! Read more

9. Go to Phang Nga Bay


Phang Nga Bay for 1,100 Baht per person is the cheapest and most reliable we could find, and we tried it: see here. On the way, stop at the reclining Buddha inside Suwannakuha Cave and its monkeys. Cruise around Phang Nga Bay and visit a renowned water cave. Get a glimpse of daily life in Koh Panyi, the village on stilts and reach James Bond Island. This tour includes lunch and hotel transfer! Read about Phang Nga Bay.

10. Get a Glimpse of Bangla Road

Soi Bangla

Everyone should see it at least once, unlike what most people believe, Bangla Road is not ‘Sin City for Single Men’. It’s more of a colorful street full of life, restaurants, shops and bars and of course girls. Now if you want to know more, enter these famous Go Go bars and see for yourself what is this all about. Patong is a lot more easy-going than Bangkok or Pattaya and all the many beer bars sell beers from 90 baht. Read more...

11. How to find a cheap but good hotel

Little Nyonya Hotel

Phuket has a collection of small but good hotels and they are not that difficult to find. We get the question all the time: can you recommend a cheap hotel in Phuket? but there is no real fixed list for that as prices keep changing.

Here is how you can find it:

  1. go to your favorite online hotel website and us the filters!
  2. Select your location
  3. Select low price
  4. Select ‘highest guest satisfaction’

It’s that simple!

12 Travel by Local Bus (Song Taew)

Phuket Local Bus

Ride the local bus (known as Song Taew) is slow and complicated, but you can’t have it all! There are 3 kinds of buses: the blue bus, the pink bus and the airport bus. None is not very convenient because tuk tuk won’t allow local buses to touch their territory around the beaches, so let’s try to explain.

The one you need most are the blue bus, going FROM Phuket Town (Central market, Ranong road) TO each beach and vice versaBUT no bus goes from beach to beach!

The blue bus leaves roughly every 30 minutes from 6 am to 6 pm and ride costs 30 to 40 baht. A typical trip from Phuket Town to Patong is 50-60 minutes.

Once you know that, you understand why it’s not convenient. The only way to go from beach to beach is by Tuk Tuk and one way ride in a Tuk Tuk costs as much as a bike rental for 2 days!

Then you have the pink bus that circulates all around Phuket town, and the airport bus from Phuket airport to Phuket town and takes about an hour, leaves every hour and costs about 100 baht one way.

Other ‘Best of Phuket’ you might want to look at are:

Written by

Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world in my 20s and never stopped until I finally settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 23 years, my passion for photography and my natural curiosity has taken me to every corner of Thailand, jumping frequently between Bangkok and Phuket and basically everywhere I could go. I run 2 blogs: Phuket101.net and BangkokUndercover.com, I also manage 30 online travel guides in Asia and beyond, including Phuket.com, Bangkok.com and Bali-Indonesia.com