Being a tourist destination, Phuket can be pretty expensive for even the simplest of things. However, with a little bit of effort you will find things to do and see at little or no cost. Here are a few we recommend (but keep them to yourself!).
Without doubt, Phuket is home to the best beaches in Thailand. Visiting the most popular beaches means you will be hassled to use sunbeds and umbrellas, only to be bothered by food and drink sellers and the massage lady. Go a little farther afield, away from the touristy spots, and you’ll find some hidden gems where you can laze on the sand and swim in the sea without anyone bothering you. Here are just a few: Bang Tao beach – the north end where it is still undeveloped. Nai Thon beach – you’ll probably have it all to yourself. Mai Khow beach – almost untouched by tourists. Laem Ka beach – only 150 metres long and only used by local Thais. Ao Yon beach – there are actually two beaches, both worth a visit.
2. Phuket Town
The busy, administrative centre of Phuket is overlooked by tourists in favour of the beach resorts, but there’s a lot to see and do in town. The activity is round-the-clock; in the very early morning, monks take to the streets on their daily alms round and the fresh markets are busy with restaurant owners buying supplies for the day. Non-stop bustle characterises the daytime, and lasts well into the evening. Take a day to walk around the town to see all the historical sights. We’ve published a recommended Phuket walk here.
3. Bus ride
Ok, this one is not quite free, but it’s so cheap it still counts. Take a local bus ride into town (less than 20 Baht), and from there take another to the south of the island. Ask around and you will find buses heading in all directions for just a few Baht. A great way to see the island and mix with the locals.
4. Big Buddha
Visit the recently completed big buddha on top of the Nak Kerd hills. There are stunning views here to the east, so take a map along so you know what you are looking at.
5. Windmill Hill and sunset at Prom Thep Cape
Watching the sunset is a must-do activity while you are in Phuket. On a clear day you can see Phi Phi island in the distance as well as many nearer islands (Koh Raja Yai, Koh Raja Noi and Koh Kiew). Prom Thep gets very busy just before sunset, but everbody leaves right after. Before heading up to see the sunset, stop off at Windmill Hill (just look out for the tall white wind generators). There is a great view here of Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches.
6. Plub Pla viewpoint
This is a little-visited, hidden spot since the restaurant that gave it its name closed down. The road is very steep, but the view at the end is worth the trouble.
7. Visit the monkeys
The road up to To Sae Hill is known locally as ‘monkey road’ after the troop of macaques that live in the trees at the roadside. Many thais leave fruit for the macaques, so they are used to people. Although they are not aggressive, keep an eye on any loose items, bags and cameras, and be careful with your children. Don’t bother going to the top of the hill as there is no view worth speaking of.
8. Kao Mai Tao 12
If you are in either Patong Beach or anywhere on the east side of the island, just look up and you will see what appears to be a large golf ball at the top of the highest hill. This is in fact the weather and radar station for Phuket and is at the highest point on the island. There is a steep winding road up to near the top entered from Chao Fao West Road (opposite the TOT offices and signposted for Villa Zolitude). Views from the top on a clear day are the very best on the island. You can look down on Patong to the west and in the east you can see from beyond Chalong in the south to past Phuket Town to the north. And you won’t see a single tourist!
We had to add this one even though it is a shop and you will probably end up spending some money. Even if you do, it will be very inexpensive as the name implies. Supercheap is a Thai style megastore selling everything from fresh vegetables and seafood to construction equipment and air-cons. If you don’t think a shop can be surprising or shocking, then you need to visit Supercheap just north of Phuket Town on the road heading to Sapam.
10. Learn some Thai
Yes, you can do this for free, and you don’t need to wait until you arrive in Phuket. Just visit the study-thai-online website and request a FREE trial class of 30 minutes. We know you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll end up booking more lessons!
See you online soon!