How to Survive on a Shoestring Budget in Phuket
By Matt Crook
Although Phuket was once a haven for backpackers traveling around the world with only a handful of baht in their pockets, development and a rapid increase in popularity have meant that prices on the island have risen dramatically. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to live the backpacker dream in Phuket, so don your flip flops and let’s see how to do the island without breaking the bank.
The biggest expense during any trip to Phuket is usually accommodation. Flashy resorts and pricey hotels have sprung up all over the island in recent years. Spa tourism is also popular in Phuket, but what if you just want a bed to call home? If you’re after a cheap guesthouse to use as a base in Phuket, you have a few options.
Phuket Town is a sleepy place and there are several decent guesthouses offering beds for a few hundred baht a night. Patong is the most popular part of the island and, as such, most things are expensive, but if you shop around it’s still possible to find reasonable guesthouse accommodation. However, a stay in Patong might not suit the backpacker ideal – the area is full of people and street hawkers.
Kata and Karon are popular with Swedish tourists and there are some great digs in the area that aren’t too pricey. The bonus of staying in Kata-Karon is that there are less of the annoyances that Patong is famous for.
Everyone has to eat – even backpackers. Forget the glitzy restaurants serving up all manner of international bites. You can eat like a king for less than 200 baht a day if you choose to only sample the delights of Thai street food. Noodles and rice make up the staple part of the meals, but there are some great treats on offer. It’s really just a case of walking around and finding a street vendor selling the type of food you want.
Be adventurous and experiment a little. The locals eat like this for a reason. You’ll be paying at least 10 times as much in most restaurants around the island.
Getting around Phuket can be a pain. Taxis are out of the question if you’re on a tight budget. The taxis aren’t metered and you can expect to pay several hundred baht to travel from place to place if you find one – the taxis aren’t actually allowed to pick up passengers anywhere other than the airport, although they do try and sneak a few customers where and when they can. Tuk-tuks rule the road and their prices are nothing short of extortionate.
It’s much easier to buy a map and rent a motorbike for a couple of hundred baht a day. Petrol isn’t that expensive and having your own wheels makes all the difference. Otherwise, there are buses running back and forth from Phang Nga Road in Phuket Town to most of the island’s main destinations. For short trips you can always jump on the back of a motorbike taxi.
If you want to drink, scope out local places where the beer isn’t excessively marked up. All in all, you could survive in Phuket on less than 1,000 baht a day.
The author is article knows that surviving on a shoestring budget in Phuket is easy and that planning ahead and researching your destination is essential. For all the latest travel information about Phuket, including news and details about Phuket nightlife and restaurants, visit Phuket Vogue.
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