The cost of living in Phuket varies quite a lot, depending on where you stay on the island. There is a drastic difference of prices between the cosmopolitan resort towns on the west coast, and the capital city of the island and the rural areas on the east coast.
Following the rapid development of the island since the end of the ‘90s, Phuket Province was officially recognised as the most expensive place to live in Thailand in 2010 (right before Bangkok). This ranking is still relatively low, when compared to the costs of living in Europe, Australia, and United States of America.
If Phuket remains so successful as a tourist destination, it is surely for the fact that it remains affordable for its visitors from abroad. Here we give you an idea of the costs of living in Phuket by looking at a range of topics directly related to tourism, from accommodation to dining to nightclubbing to travelling around. This way, you will know exactly what to expect regarding Phuket rates.
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
Hotel for the Night
With over six millions foreign visitors in 2014, Phuket Island is the second most visited destination in Thailand after Bangkok. It takes quite a lot of rooms to accommodate such a crowd and, with almost 50,000 rooms, the island is up to the task. The extensive selection of hotels in Phuket means that, whether you are a backpacker on a tight budget or a mogul with a six-digit (or more) bank balance, there is a room right for you here.
Budget hotels: from 200 to 1,200 baht. The cheapest hotels/guesthouses are found in Phuket Town – Gotum Hostel, Cool Residence, or O'nya House Phuket. In Patong Beach, guesthouses charge between 400 and 1,200 baht. Try Bella Tropicana Hotel & Guesthouse, Tiger Inn, or B-Bossa Patong
Luxury hotels: high-end properties charge between 5,000 and 500,000 baht per night (please note that, for the latter price, you get a seven-villa complex). See Trisara, Banyan Tree Phuket, or Sri Panwa Phuket
One of the good things in Thailand is that basic food remains largely affordable. In a simple local restaurant of Phuket Town, you will get delicious dishes such as pad krapow gai (fried chicken with basil leaves served with rice) or khao pad gai (fried-rice with chicken) for about 50 baht; the same dishes in Patong Beach – particularly in tourist venues – shall be charged at between 80 and 150 baht. If you would like to sample the exact same dishes in more prestigious restaurants (or in some hotel restaurants), you could be charged up to 500 baht.
Budget local restaurants: Phuket Weekend Market, Kota Khao Man Gai, Mee Ton Poe
Mid-range local restaurants: Kaab Gluay Restaurant, Raya Restaurant, Kampong Kata Hill
Fine local restaurants: Old Siam Restaurant, Silk, Baan Rim Pa
International food can be food everywhere in the cosmopolitan place that is Phuket Island nowadays. Usually slightly more expensive than Thai food, it is nevertheless possible to find foreign favourites at affordable rates. Again, there are big differences of prices depending on the restaurants you eat at.
For instance, let’s take a club sandwich (usually served with French-fries or potato chips): the cheapest one you could find – in simple local restaurants – is about 80 baht and the most expensive one about 400 baht (in four- or five-star resort restaurants).
Budget international restaurants: Im-A-Roy (Phuket Town), or Steak Samkhong (Phuket Town)
Mid-range international Restaurants: Two Chefs Bar & Grill, Ella Bar & Bistro, or 2gether Restaurant
Fine international restaurants: Boathouse Wine & Grill, Home Kitchen, or DeDos
Is there something better than a cold ale after a long day sunbathing at the beach or exploring Phuket? A large range of local (Singha, Leo, Chang, and even Phuket Beer!) and international (Heineken, Carlsberg, Tiger, Asahi, and a good choice of genuine Belgian beers) can easily be found in Phuket.
The cheapest brews are at local grocery stores, 7-Eleven and Family Mart. Local beers are available at about 30 baht per can, and major brands such as Heineken at about 40 baht. In bars and restaurants, you can usually expect to pay 60 to 80 baht for local and 80 to 120 baht for foreign beers. In some high-end venues (restaurants or nightclubs), one beer can be charged up to 250 baht!
Travelling around Phuket
Travelling around Phuket is a domain that has raised a lot of complaints through the years, mostly due to the extravagant prices asked by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, even for short distances, and for their mob-like ways of settling conflicts with their customers and even with the authorities.
The west coast roads ‘belong’ to them, so there’s no public transportation linking the main resort towns. A tuk-tuk ride from Karon to Patong costs about 300 baht (250 if you are lucky enough to find a gentle driver) and takes 10 to 15 minutes. If you really are on a budget and in no hurry, you can take a songtheaw (public bus) that will take you from Patong to Phuket Town, then another one from Phuket Town to Karon Beach. The total cost for the journey will not exceed 80 baht, but it will take you almost three hours to reach your destination.
Vehicle Rental in Phuket
Renting a motorbike is the best and most affordable way to travel around Phuket. The only downside of it is that it requires you to be extremely careful due to the poor driving skill of local people. The renting of a moped costs between 150 and 400 baht per day, depending on the rental shop and on your ability to bargain (keep smiling!).
Renting a car is also far cheaper than in Europe. Prices go from 600 to 2,500 baht, according to the type of car and the length of the rental. Thanks to a tax deduction for first-time car buyers, implemented by the government in 2013, the roads of Phuket at rush-hour are now almost as congested as Bangkok’s.
Day Trips to Phi Phi and Nearby Islands
Phuket is the departure port for a great deal of small tropical islands, which can be visited on day trips from one of the six main marinas/piers on Phuket’s east coast - Yacht Haven, Ao Po Grand Marina, Boat Lagoon, Royal Phuket Marina, Rassada Pier, and Chalong Pier. Three main types of boats are available for island-hopping day trips from Phuket:
Long-tail boat: These are the local boats, very good at sea but pretty slow. Originally used for fishing, their limited speed makes them best for short distances, so only the closest islands from Phuket can be visited. A trip to Coral Island costs 1,000 - 1,500 baht and takes about 30 minutes from Chalong Pier.
Speedboat: As its name implies, this type of boat is the go-fast of the seas. For roughly the same price as a long-tail, you’ll be on Coral Island in 10 minutes from Chalong Pier. Their speed allows them to cover longer distances at affordable rates. A day trip to Phi Phi Islands takes about 45 minutes and cost between 1,400 and 3,000 baht (lunch and snorkelling equipment included).
Ferry boat: The perfect choice for budget and any type of travellers who are in no hurry, ferries link Phuket to Phi Phi Islands in about two hours for a price of 350 - 500 baht (one-way ticket, depending on the place of purchase). There is even a day trip to Phi Phi (with lunch included) for a rate of between 950 and 3,500 baht.
Nightclubbing & Party
Most nightspots in Phuket have no entrance free or the fee includes a free drink. A few discotheques, like Seduction Nightclub in Patong, have special offers such as an open-bar from 10:00 – midnight for an entrance fee of 700 baht.
Drinks are usually more expensive in nightclubs than in bars on the street. Cocktails can be as cheap as 80 baht (at Phuket Weekend Market) and as expensive as 350 to 400 baht, depending on the venue.
Sightseeing in Phuket is certainly one of the cheapest way to enjoy all that the island has to offer. All Phuket Viewpoints (Kata-Karon, Radar Hill, Khao Rang, Promthep Cape, and Windmill, just to name the most famous of them) can be visited for free. The same goes for the Buddhist temples and Chinese shrines, though a small donation is welcomed to help maintain these holy buildings in a good shape.
Phuket Museums often ask for a small entrance fee (from 100 baht at Kathu Mining Museum to 200 baht at Phuket Seashell Museum). Animal and botanical parks charge about 500 baht. National Parks have an entrance fee of 200 baht, yet you have to pay this amount only once for one day. For instance, in Phuket you can start your day by visiting Bang Pae Waterfall, then go to Tonsai Waterfall, then go to Sirinat National Park in the same day.
As any world-famous holiday destination, Phuket has a great number of shops selling souvenirs, from colourful t-shirts to handcrafted wooden artefacts to silk products and more. Again, prices vary a lot depending on the location of the store where you do your shopping. The same ‘I love Phuket’ t-shirt costs 300 baht on Patong Beach Road and only 150 baht at Phuket Weekend Market or on Phuket Walking Street (after bargaining in both cases of course).
Regarding souvenirs shopping, bargaining is mandatory. Keep cool and smile, start by reducing the price asked by half, and see how it goes. In most cases, you will get the souvenir you want to purchase far cheaper than originally announced.