Phuket is an easy-going safe destination with so much to see, do and eat! To ensure a safe and happy holiday, there are few basic facts to remember, based on the daily questions we get from readers around the world.
Yes, Pad Thai is great and you finally can get one… or three! But remember to be adventurous and try a different dish everyday! Thai cuisine is varied, affordable and Phuket is famous for its great seafood. So go around the island and try dishes you never tried before! See the 13 most popular Thai dishes or see the best seafood restaurants in Phuket and the best local restaurants and best street food in Phuket.
Everyone knows that bargaining is part of the shopping experience in Thailand, but you just don’t bargain everywhere. On a market you may start at 60-70% of the demanded price and go as you feel comfortable with. But don’t even consider bargaining at convenience store or in a shopping mall! You should bargain your bike rental, especially if you rented it for several days, but not international car rent brands.
In ‘real’ restaurants, the ones that bring a written bill, a 10% tip is appreciated but not compulsory if you are happy with the service. Usually restaurants already include 10% service charge so you don’t have to feel bad about not leaving one. However everyone leaves a little something since staff is not paid very high in those jobs. No tip is expected in street restaurants. If you go on a tour and you are happy with your day out, leave 100 baht to your tour guide, don’t be cheap by giving a 20 (20 baht is half a dollar !)
The breeze is cool and the sea is warm. It’s so easy to get carried away and enjoy a sunny day, especially if you are escaping the cold winter of your country. But don’t be fooled, that sun is mean and one thing is sure: if you get a serious sunburn on day one, it will ruin your potential suntan! So do wear a good sunscreen, it is easy to buy from everywhere, even 7-11!
“There are so many hotels in Phuket, it should be easy to get one in December so we’ll look at it a week before flying…” WRONG! If you come during low season between June to November, yes you can do that, it’s not even expensive. But if you choose to come around the peak season, December and January are surprisingly busy! The best hotels of course will sell out first, sometimes up to 3 months before! Then the closer you get to December, the harder it becomes to find a room. If you book at the last-minute, you will end up far from everything, or worse: in a hotel no one else wants to book! Seriously!
Insurance exists for a reason. Of course it feels like wasted money… until you need it. If you plan to rent a car or a bike, we urge you to get a decent travel insurance. Driving in Phuket is notoriously adventurous and it’s often the inexperienced driver’s own fault. If something happens, you want the best support you can get and fast.
During low season, hotels are cheap and there are actually a lot of sunny days. It’s always a lucky draw and once in a while, there will be several days with rain… not so many but it has to happen. However, one thing is sure: during low season the sea is very often rough and on some days, dangerous. ALWAYS respect the red flags! If you travel between June and November, do yourself a favour and pick a hotel with a beautiful swimming-pool! If the sea is quiet, then jump in the ocean but if flags are red, you still can enjoy a good swim (and a good pool bar too)
Thailand is hot all year round, not exception. The colder it gets here is probably 24 C and that is exceptional, usually around December. So all you really need to pack are tee shirts and short pants (and passport)! And remember, shopping is part of the fun in Phuket so you probably will end up buying more than you expect so keep your packing to the minimum. Absolutely everything you need can be found here, often cheaper than home!
It is understandable that most people prefer to stay at the most convenient beach, where the balance Sea/Food/Shop/Party fits their style best. Usually those beach would be Patong, Kata, Karon, Kamala and Bangtao Beach. Now keep in mind that there are 36 beaches in Phuket and the most beautiful ones are a bit further. Rent a bike or a car and explore! Use our list of ‘14 Most quiet beaches of Phuket‘ to show you the way to some hidden gems.
Don’t get me wrong, Phuket town is a beautiful heritage town with a lot of charm and a lot to discover, but so often travellers believe being in Phuket Town will allow them to go to the beach easily. Wrong again! Phuket town is 20 km from the closest beach (Patong) and traffic can be a nightmare (not really bad but no one likes a traffic jam on holiday). It is a lot better to stay by the see and take a day trip to Phuket town to enjoy the famous weekend markets and heritage streets!