Phuket is one of the top destinations in Thailand. My first impression of this island was that, There are no Thais in Phuket, only Farangs (foreigners). In 2004 report, 40% of the countrys tourism industry came from Phuket. As the biggest island covering 543 square kilometers, Phuket does not come short of beaches. In fact it boasts some of the nations most popular beaches such as Patong, Surin, Karon, etch. It also brags some of the top island destinations, thanks to its 32 smaller islands off coast including James Bond Island, Krabi and Phi Phi Island to name a few.
With an average temperature of 32° Celcius all year round, Phuket
First things first, Get a local simcard
Since we are living in a social media motivated generation, I had planned of buying a Thai sim with internet data included to update family and friends back home and around the world. Arriving at the baggage claim area, I was glad to spot a desk with Thai sims. They are free and can be topped up at any 7-11 or Family Mart stores. Quickly checking the information on each pack, I settled for the True Move simcard which gives 15 days unlimited data for 350 Baht. If you need to call and send sms, you must top up a bit more.
7-11 stores are ubiquitous in Thailand and Family Marts are there when the former is not. In fact, there was one right at the airport exit doors.
If you are arriving to Phuket by land or sea transportation, you can get a simcard at any 7-11 stores which are open 24/7.
Transportation from the airport
To and from the airport, a taxi costs 800 Baht. Some hotel charges 1000 Baht if you travel after 8pm. But if you walk along Patong Beach, you can find street travel agents who will book a taxi for you for 800 Baht any time travel.
Advantage: You get to your destination a lot quicker (40-45 minutes).
Disadvantage: More costly.
They cost 160 Baht per person and they will deliver you to your hotel.
Advantage: A lot cheaper than a taxi.
Disadvantage: From the airport if youre the last passenger, you get to your destination a lot slower. In our experience, it took us 4 hours because the driver didnt have an organised plan in dropping off passengers. We went around in circles a couple of times finding the next hotel. We even went to the wrong hotel much to the shock of the two Chinese passengers who couldnt hide their disappoint and confusion at what they expected to see.
Going out, you must give yourself a bit more time allowance as they pick up more passengers before heading to the airport. But once you hit the road, there are no more picking up of passengers.
It helps to have the phone number of the hotel where you are going in case a similar occurrence happens to you. With a Thai sim, you wont have to pay ridiculous roaming charges for calling local or even international numbers.
Where to Stay
Phuket is replete with hotels and guest houses with competitive prices. You dont need to book via Agoda or Booking.com unless you are arriving late at night and dragging a 20-kilo luggage on top of your backpack. You can just walk in and book upon arrival at the reception desk.
If you have any particular preference, check out the hotels from the internet, take note of their names, phone numbers and addresses. However, if they have got a website, its best to book directly way in advance in order to get the best deal. You can also book on arrival and if its off peak you pay from 500 Baht for a 3-4 star hotel.
Where to Eat
If you fancy European or western food, they cost twice as much as the local ones. Personally and being a south-east Asian myself, I vehemently refused to eat the same food I am eating back in Europe, especially not with paying about the same amount as I would back home. My rationale was that I did NOT travel halfway across the globe to eat the same food as I do in England! I wanted to eat local.
Whether you are in a tourist spot or not, Thai restaurants are scattered all over the country. Prices differ according to the ambiance of the place. I prefer the eateries with no names for obvious reasons. They make the same quality of food, so why pay more?
A word of advice: If you think you have got a sensitive stomach, buy charcoal tablets or capsules from any pharmacy and take them wherever you go. I bought 10 capsules in one of the pharmacies in Patong for 75 Baht and I think its a rip off. But its better to spend 75 Baht than to endure stomach upset. Later when I went to Bangkok, I bought 1 bottle of 1000 tablets for 250 Baht. Thats a real deal!
Where to buy Fruits
Thriving on tourism, Phuket business owners and all entrepreneurs including food vendors want their share of the pie. A kilo of mango normally costs 20 Baht but in a tourist area, prices are inflated up to 10 times as you can see in the video below. Try to look for pickups selling fruits on the streets, instead. They will peel and chopped the mangoes or pineapples for you without touching the fruit with their skin at no extra charge.
How to Book for an Island Tour
From the airport, you can pick up leaflets for the island tours. However, since you are booking through a third party, you will end up paying extra 500 Baht or more. The best way is to find out the contact details of the those boat tours and book directly to them. You can pm me if you need further information.
Carrying a power bank?
If you are departing from Phuket airport, you are allowed to carry with you a power bank with up to 32000 maH only. Put it in your hand carry bag to avoid the hassle of opening your luggage for inspection. They will have to check the item so to make your life easier, just take it out of the bag right away and put it in the same tray with your mobile phone devices.