When you step off the plane at Phuket Airport, you invariably see groups of Singaporeans lining up at the duty free shop to buy bottles of Martell for their dirty weekend. Phuket is one of Singaporeans’ favourite holiday destinations, particularly for groups of guys who are there to party at bars with names like “Seduction”, and couples heading to fancy resorts.
While the main tourist area, Patong, is definitely not the most beautiful place you could visit in Thailand, flights are cheap and plentiful, there are lots of water sports facilities and the parties are about as wild as it gets. If you’re thinking of heading to Phuket, here’s how you can do it on a budget.
Return tickets to Phuket can vary quite wildly in price depending on how much research you do prior to booking. If your date are inflexible, you might end up paying about 250 SGD. However, use the flexible date function on Kayak and you’ll find quite a lot of tickets going for about 130 SGD to 170 SGD. On occasion, you might even be able to find return tickets under 100 SGD, although these are quite rare and only available on selected dates. Subscribe to budget airlines’ newsletters and keep an eye open for sales.
Cost: 150 SGD
While Thailand in general offers excellent value for money when it comes to accommodation, Phuket is without a doubt one of the better places to rent a room at a hotel or resort. While 10 SGD might get you a crummy room in a cockroach-infested building in Bangkok, in Phuket you can get a room in a small resort or legit hotel at that price if you’re lucky.
Check prices on Agoda, as resorts and hotels often let their rooms go at crazy discounts like 75%. For under 100 SGD you can bag a stay at a very glamorous resort. Travel with a friend, book on Agoda and for 10 SGD per person per night, you should be able to stay at a reasonably nice hotel with a swimming pool. No kidding, that’s why we love Thailand!
Cost: 10 SGD per night / 60 SGD for a week
Most Singaporeans already know how to bargain with tuk tuk drivers. In Phuket, and especially in Patong, tuk tuk drivers tend to be used only by tourists, which is why you’ll be met with some outrageous prices. If you’re travelling alone or on a very tight budget, take a songthaew instead—they’re a tuktuk-bus hybrid that you share with a bunch of other people. You can flag these guys down when you see them, and a ride should cost about 25 THB (0.96 SGD) to 40 THB (1.53 SGD) per person.
Solo travellers can also try going by motosai, which will have you riding pillion on the back of some guy’s moped. Just make sure they’re wearing the vests that indicate they are legit motosai drivers. These rides should cost much less than tuk tuk rides.
If you have to use tuk tuks, bargain like mad. For short rides around Patong, try to avoid paying more than 40 THB (1.53 SGD). If you’re going from Patong to another area like Phuket Town, they’ll try to charge you between 100 THB (3.83 SGD) and 200 THB (7.67 SGD). If the drivers aren’t amenable to your bargaining attempts, your best bet is a metered taxi—just make sure they actually turn on the meter.
The ride from Phuket Airport to Patong and back should cost about 800 THB (30.67 SGD) each way.
Cost: 800 THB + 100 THB x 7 (assuming you are travelling with one other person) = 1500 THB (57.51 SGD)
If you really want to go sightseeing, we suggest heading north to Bangkok, Sukothai or Chiang Mai instead. Most people come to Phuket only to do watersports, party and go for spa treatments.
There are a number of tours to neighbouring islands or for activities like diving and parasailing, but if you’re on a budget and want to stay entertained, you will probably end up going for multiple Thai massages instead–you can usually get away with paying no more than 200 THB (7.67 SGD)–and drinking on Soi Bangla.
Otherwise you can visit the various beaches such as Paradise Beach, walk around Phuket Town, visit some of the more well known shopping malls and hit up the weekend market.
Cost: Really depends on how much you drink, shop and spa, but 50 SGD for week is reasonable for a low-key week.
To be honest, food in Phuket’s touristy areas is pretty mediocre. But if you like Thai food, you’ll be satisfied enough.
If you have a normal appetite, you can eat well on less than 150 THB (5.75 SGD) per meal at small local restaurants or food stalls. This is already on the pricey side for Thailand, but due to the number of tourists it can’t be helped.
Add a bit more to your budget if you’re sharing large number of dishes amongst friends or eating a lot of seafood, less if you’re content with a single plate of pad thai or green curry with rice.
Cost: 300 THB per day / 1,800 THB (69 SGD) for a week
Total cost of a week-long holiday in Phuket: 386.51 SGD
In reality, Singaporean tourists in Phuket usually end up spending a lot more due to the party scene on Soi Bangla. Alcohol is a fraction of the price in Singapore, but that often makes people drink 10 times more than they would under sane circumstances.
Is Phuket one of your favourite holiday destinations? Share with us how much you usually spend on a trip there!