14 Tips to Save Money in Phuket (Updated)

14 Tips to Save Money in Phuket (Updated)

14 Tips to Save Money in Phuket (Updated)

Phuket is not cheap, we all know that, but if you travel on a very tight budget there are still a few things you can do to save a bit and have a great time. These tips are based on real and personal experience. Just for the short story, I arrived in Thailand 20 years ago with basically no money and no job.

My first job in Phuket was only paid 12,000 baht so I had to find ways to pay the rent, still travel around and most of all, have fun. Here is a list of things I learned along the way. They might help you shaving a few bucks. Plan a bit in advance, read this page, and expect to do some waiting: you can’t have it all! (We have a few other pages with more useful info: “10 Things to Do in Phuket With a Small Budget“)

1. Change money in the street

Exchange Rates in Phuket

There are many ways to change your money when coming to Phuket, but it can make quite a bit of difference if 10 baht means a lot to you. Changing currency from home country is probably the worse option, as well as changing at your hotel in Phuket. Rate at Phuket airport is pretty good if you can sport the green ‘SuperRich‘ counter, convenient if you have to pay your taxi meter by cash.

Exchange rate from ATM is acceptable as well and is widely available at the airport and all around the island. The cheapest option is to change your cash in the streets. Look at the rate on the electronic board as it tends to differ just a little between each booth. The booths with no bank name are the  cheapest (probably not really legal but that is not your problem) double-check your change before leaving the booth. Thailand is not known to trick tourists like they often do in Bali money changers but better be safe. If you want to get an estimate of a pretty good low exchange rate check this page.

2. Rent a bike (wisely)

Rent a Bike

Renting a bike is the best and cheapest way to go around as Tuk Tuk are always too expensive. However you need to know about a few serious things: have an international driving license and wear your helmet. Police controls are not unusual and the fine of 500 baht will hurt your budget. Renting a bike can also lead to very costly accidents so in addition to driving carefully, having an international driving license is recommended. Read here to know more about renting bike in Phuket and here about “The Art of Driving in Phuket” and “14 Lifesaving Tips to Survive Driving a Bike in Phuket“. Read more

3. Eat in the street

Phuket Street Food

Yes that’s obvious and luckily food is great in the streets of Phuket. Unless you can’t wait for that famous Phuket seafood, avoid the seafood touts, it’s usually not cheaper than a restaurant. But is to eat in and around the markets or in the street stall. Streets and markets of Patong are always more expensive than any other market on the island. You don’t bargain on food. Read more

4. Shop at the market

Local Markets in Phuket

Markets are great to buy all kinds of clothing, bags, accessories, electronic and souvenirs. Here get ready to bargain. Not that brands you will find on market are obviously all fake and the quality and cut will probably show that. Read more

5. Shop at Super Cheap

SuperCheap Phuket

Not a well-known tip: If you really need to buy something from the convenience stores, avoid 7-11 and Family Mart. We did the research and these are actually the most expensive places to buy anything! But there is this local brand called ‘Super Cheap’ that looks like a big 7-11 but shop stripes are purple instead of orange and green. And it is significantly cheaper. Super Cheap was originally just a huge warehouse shopped became so popular with locals that those convenience store are now widely available around the island.

6. Use the Local Buses

Phuket Local Bus

There are 2 kinds of local buses. The Pink Buses go around Phuket town and only costs only 15 baht! There are several routes so use the below map to know when to change.

The Blue Buses go from the central market in Phuket Town to some beaches
Prices are from 15 to 45 baht and departures is every 30 minutes or so. Buses don’t go between beaches except:

  • Phuket town > Karon, Kata and Kata Noi beach and back
  • Phuket Town > Kamala, Surin and Bang Tao beach and back
  • Phuket Town > Rawai and Nai Harn and back
  • Phuket Town > Patong and Back

More details about the blue buses coming soon!

Phuket Pink Bus

7. Practice your bargain

Phuket Indy Market

If you shop in the streets or at the market you need to bargain. Most of us are not familiar with this practice and we tend to be a little shy. In most touristic areas, vendors are well aware of that and might try to take advantage by raising the price further. Bargaining is not easy but remember that the sellers do need to sell so you don’t have to be shy when doing a counter offer. So if you are in a Patong, bargain harder. By offering 50% you should be able to knock down 30% of the asked price. However, in more remote areas of Phuket don’t expect a big discount. Remember that you don’t bargain in restaurants, convenience stores and malls! If you are a walk-in guest in a hotel you can actually bargain the cost of a room night.

8. Know your local brands

Thai Alcohols

When every baht counts you can go ‘local’. Food is easy to find in the streets and markets but you can also get cheaper beers (Cheers, Red Horse, Archa) and local Cokes aren’t bad (Est, Big Cola). We urge you not to smoke but local cigarettes are much cheaper (Krong Thip, SMS, Wonder) On the long run, your throat might become painful! Then you have the local alcohols that are quite alright but tend to give you a massive hangover the next day: Sang Som and the like. Those are often used in those famous ‘Buckets’ which are cheap mixes of local alcohol, soft drink and Red Bull  you can buy cheap in party places. Also known to give notorious hangovers. The famous Mekhong Whisky that used to be so popular is trying to reposition itself as a ‘luxury Thai Whisky’ and has become harder to find. What they call Thai whiskey is actually a spiced rum.

9. Book your hotel early and do your homework

Graceland Resort Phuket

You probably read this on all the  websites selling hotel rooms and in your mails but this is true. Booking early will often get you better rates as prices tend to increase when hotels occupancy increase. If you are really with a tight budget and you are 100% sure of your travel dates, the cheapest option will always be the non-refundable. In addition, if you plan to come for the high season (which wouldn’t be a good idea if you have a tiny budget anyway) rooms become difficult to find.

10. Stay on a quiet beach

Nai Yang beach

Not need for a long explanation here: Everything is more expensive on the most touristic beaches. Patong Beach is probably the most expensive, then Kata beach and Karon. Kamala Beach is a good compromise. Read more

11. Travel during low season

Nai Yang Beach

Hotels are significantly cheaper during low season but the overall cost of holiday gets lower as you can bargain better. Most business are running low so they really want your Baht, allowing you to be tougher with your counter offer.Just to be on the safe side, try to book a hotel with a nice pool as the sea can be rough: when the flags are red, respect them and stay out of the sea.

As we know you will ask what is the weather like during low season we wrote a couple of useful pages: What to Expect From Rainy Season, What to Do When it Rains, Phuket weather month by month.

12. Get a local sim card

SIMcard in Phuket

Roaming is expensive so get a local SIM card at the closest convenience store, they are everywhere, cheap and easy to refill. Even if you don’t speak Thai, staff at convenience store will know what you are looking for.

13. Skip the hotel breakfast

Patong Food Court

Unless you are the kind of person that can’t do the first step without having breakfast, better skip the hotel buffet. Even in a cheap hotel it’s usually overpriced. Eat in the street or go to the nearest food court. There is one near the beach in Patong (search for Loma Park) and a few restaurants right on the beach with a very good value breakfast such as ‘Chez Bernard’

14. Use the airport shared minibus

It’s about 250 baht per person and it’s even cheaper than a Taxi meter (Patong beach 180 Baht, Karon and Kata 200 Baht). On the other hand it will take longer to reach your hotel as you will have to wait for the van to be full plus you might be the last one to reach your destination. Having a lot of time is almost a requirement when traveling cheap and this applies to everything you will do if you want to cut cost. Yes, there is also a very cheap local bus but it would only take you to Phuket town from where you would have to get another local bus to your destination, then an overpriced Tuk Tuk to your hotel. Not worth the waste of time.

14 Tips to Save Money in Phuket (Updated)
4.5 (11 votes)

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

The Best FOOD Stuff
10 Most Romantic Restaurants
10 Best Local Restaurants
10 Best Seafood Restaurants
10 Great Thai Dishes
10 Phuket Typical Dishes
10 Best Classic Thai Dishes
10 Hardcore Thai Food

The Best EXPLORER Stuff
14 Hidden Beaches of Phuket
15 Islands Near Phuket
18 Nicest Mansions in Phuket
13 Viewpoints in Phuket
10 Things to See Off the Beaten Track
10 Most Quiet Beaches of Phuket

The FUN Stuff
16 Things to Do with Kids
10 Ways to Party in Patong
7 Best Beach Clubs
10 Best Rooftop Bars
7 Night Clubs
10 Romantic Things to Do in Phuket
10 Reasons Why We Can’t Leave Thailand

The USEFUL Stuff
10 Questions People Always Ask
10 Mistakes People Do on First Trip
13 Tips to Save Money
12 Things to Do on Small Budget
10 Quick Facts about Phuket

10 Things to Do When It Rains
What To Expect in Low Season
7 Beaches for Low Season

13 Really Weird Things in Phuket
10 Tips to Spot a Ladyboy
10 Insects for Gourmets
10 Clues you have been in Phuket TOO LONG!
10 Cheap Fun Things to Do in Phuket

Phuket Airport: Things to Know
Phuket Weather
Phuket Event Calendar
How to Pronounce Phuket
About Us – Contact us

Patong Beach ☆☆☆
Kata Beach☆☆
Karon Beach ☆☆
Kamala Beach ☆☆
Nai Harn Beach ☆☆☆
Kata Noi Beach ☆☆☆
Laem Singh Beach ☆☆☆
Bang Tao Beach
Mai Khao Beach
Surin Beach ☆☆
Nai Yang Beach ☆☆
Naithon Beach ☆☆
Rawai Beach

Freedom Beach ☆☆☆
Paradise Beach ☆
Banana Beach ☆☆
Ya Nui Beach ☆☆
Ao Yon Beach
Ao Sane Beach
Tri Trang Beach
Panwa Beach

Similan Islands ☆☆☆
Phi Phi Islands NEW!
Bon Island
Coral Island
Khai Islands
Racha Island
James Bond Island
Koh Panyee

12 Things to Do When it RAINS
John Gray Sea Canoe ☆☆☆
Phang Nga Bay ☆☆☆
Buddha Cave in Phang Nga
Phuket Town Walking Map
Thalang Road – Old Phuket Town ☆☆
Phuket Walking Street ☆☆
Simon Cabaret Show ☆☆
Phuket Fantasea ☆☆
Phuket Trickeye Museum
Upside Down House
Kao Rang Hill
Phuket Aquarium

Big Buddha ☆☆
Karon Viewpoint (Kata Viewpoint) ☆☆
Wassa Homemade Bar ☆☆
Windmill Viewpoint
Black Rock Viewpoint ☆☆
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint ☆☆
Promthep Cape Viewpoint
Panwa Viewpoint
After Beach Bar

Bangpae Waterfall
Kathu Waterfalls
Tonsai Waterfalls

Baan Chinpracha
Phuket Mining Museum
Thai Hua Museum

7 Buddha Postures for 7 Days
Big Buddha ☆☆
Wat Chalong ☆☆
Buddha Cave in Phang Nga
Wat Kao Rang and Sitting Buddha
Wat Phra Thong
Chinese Temples
Shrine of The Serene Light

10 Tips to Spot a Ladyboy
10 Ways to PARTY in Patong
Simon Cabaret Show
Paradise Complex
Party Drinks in Phuket
Phuket Fantasea
Rock City Patong

Cafe Del Mar ☆☆
Catch Beach Club
Dream Beach Club
Kudo Beach Club
HQ Beach Lounge
Iguana Beach Club
Xana Beach Club

Suzy Wongs A Go Go (HOT)
Devil’s Playground (HOT)
Diablo A Go Go
Exotica A Go Go
Harem A Go Go
Rock Hard A Go Go

Soi Seadragon (HOT)

Illuzion Phuket
White Room
Seduction Phuket
Tiger Club

Central Festival Phuket
JungCeylon Shopping Mall ☆☆☆
Phuket Price Check

Chillva Night Market ☆☆☆
Phuket Walking Street ☆☆
Phuket Weekend Market
Phuket Indy Market

Banzaan Market ☆☆☆
Phuket Amulet Market

Loy Krathong
Patong Gay Festival
Vegetarian Festival

Diving in Phuket
Thai Boxing Training
Wake Park
Dino Park Mini Golf
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Go Kart
Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay
Phuket Tree Adventures
Spas and Massages
Splash Jungle Water Park
Surf House Kata Beach
Surf House Patong
White Water Rafting

Phuket AIRPORT: Things to Know
Phuket Travel Tips and FAQs
10 Quick Facts about Phuket
Phuket FAQs
Driving and Renting a Bike or a Car
Phuket Price Check
Phuket Map – with all locations
Bangkok Blog


Sala Phuket Resort
Renaissance Phuket Resort
Banyan Tree Phuket
Hyatt Regency Phuket
Maikhao Dreams
Pullman Arcadia Naithon Phuket
Phuket Marriott Nai Yang
The Slate Phuket
Trisara Villas
TwinPalms Phuket

Amari Phuket Resort
Holiday Inn Phuket
Kalima Resort
Phuket Graceland
Le Meridien Phuket
Novotel Phuket Resort
The Kee Resort
Impiana Resort Patong
Swissotel Patong

Kata Rocks
The Shore at Kata Thani
Katathani Beach Resort
Mom Tri’s Villa Royale

Movenpick Resort
Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket

Westin Siray Bay Resort
Novotel Phuket Phokeethra
Little Nyonya

Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi
The Racha


La Gritta at Amari Phuket
Wok Pagoda
Da Maurizio
360 at Pavilions
Mom Tri’s Kitchen
Pan Yaah Restaurant
Tunk Ka Cafe
Gaetana Italian Restaurant
Blue Elephant
Panwa House at Cape Panwa

Mor Mu Dong Restaurant
Piang Prai Restaurant
Kan Eang 2 Seafood
Kan Eang @ Pier
One Chun
Kaab Gluay
Raya House
Tunk Ka Cafe
Paknam Seafood
Suay Restaurant
Kru Suwit Restaurant
Thanoon Seafood
Osha Phuket

8 Sunset Photo Tips
Phuket Funniest Photos
Phuket Tsunami

Bangkok Blog

Alexa Rank